Rockland Boulders Buzz: Off-Season Update
With the American Association playing a large number of games against Can-Am League teams, it makes sense to see what it going on in this independent league as well, so the Minor League Sports Report will do a monthly look at each of the off-season moves of the six teams in this league. When the season begins there will be a weekly recap for each team.
In just their fourth season in the Can-Am League, the Rockland Boulders caught lightning in a bottle last season, finishing with their first winning season in franchise history, winning their last two games of the season to claim the regular season title with a league best 56-40 record, and winning the Can-Am title in six games over the New Jersey Jackals. Clearly it was a season to remember.
To keep that winning feeling, the Boulders have done what they can to keep the nucleus of the roster intact but, as with any winning team, the challenge to repeat can be great. For roughly three months Rockland was fairly dormant in their moves, but March has seen them get busy with less than two months left until the season begins.
Two days after the season ended the Boulders dealt infielder Junior Arrojo and outfielder Antone DeJesus to South Maryland of the Atlantic League for two players to be named later. DeJesus had an outstanding season in Rockland, hitting .308 with 7 home runs and 43 RBI in 96 games. He also stole 20 bases and scored 70 runs. Arrojo also had a good season, playing in 60 games and hitting .261, scoring 27 runs a n driving in 18. Less than a month later both players would be brought back to Rockland.
On September 19, Rockland exercised the options on several of their players, including OF Ryan Stovall, INF Stephen Cardullo, and RHPs Luis Sanz and Chad Robinson. Robinson led the Boulders with 14 saves and had an incredible 1.03 ERA. Sanz was 2-1 with 2 saves and a nearly as outstanding ERA of 2.16. Stovall hit .312 and was tied for the team lead with 17 home runs, plus he led Rockland with 72 RBI. Cardullo hit .298 in 92 games with 6 home runs and 51 RBI.
Four days later the Arizona Diamondbacks purchased the contract RHP Joe Donino. The righty made 10 starts in 2014, was 5-4 and had a 4.31 ERA. He has outstanding stuff and a real dominant fastball.
The Boulders were quiet for the most part over the next few months, but the early part of December saw the team receive an early Christmas present. On December 5, manager Jamie Keefe re-signed for the 2015 season. It will be his third season will the team, and he returns as the league’s Manager of the Year. He led the Rockland Boulders to the Can-Am title and became the first manager to lead a team to the championship after trailing 2-0 in the championship series.
On March 16, Rockland signed RHP Marcus Jensen to a deal. The righty pitched for the Tampa Bay Rays in the first six years of professional career. Last season he pitched for their High-A Charlotte team where he pitched in 35 games, two of them starts. He was 5-7 with a 3.93 ERA. Jensen has good command of his stuff, walking just 20 in 87 innings pitched.
The next day JD Reichenbach was signed to a contract by Rockland. The lefty was a Cleveland Indians prospect from 2010-2013, but last year he pitched for Somerset, going 1-0 with a 5.17 ERA. He struck out 17 batters in 15.2 innings pitched, and will be a left-handed specialist out of the bullpen.
The next day RHP Stephen Harrold was re-signed by the Boulders. Harrold had an excellent season in Rockland in 2014, posting a 7-4 record in 23 appearances, 17 starts. He had an outstanding ERA of 2.87, allowing just 103 hits in 122.1 innings pitched, while striking out 83.
The frenzy continued on March 25 when Rockland signed four players. RHP Nate Roe re-signed for his third season with the Boulders. The righty was 5-1 in 29 appearances last season, with a 3.81 ERA. He can pitch in the rotation or out of the bullpen, and has outstanding stuff.
RHP Bo Budkevics was also re-signed. The right-hander split time between Rockland and San Angelo (United League) last season. He was 5-5 combined with a 3.34 ERA, but pitched much more effectively for the Boulders. In Rockland he was 3-2 with an outstanding 2.64 ERA in five starts.
Infielder Sean Gusrang played in 62 games last season for Traverse City of the Frontier League. He had one of his best seasons, hitting .260 with 2 home runs and 15 RBI. He did not have a lot of power last season, but did hit 15 homers for Traverse City in 2012.
Catcher/First baseman Joe Maloney was also re-signed. In 82 games last season he hit .271 with a career high 17 home runs and 66 RBI. He also had a career high 10 steals without being caught.
By Robert Pannier