It has been an exciting offseason for the New York Empires. The team is preparing for an exciting season as they go for a coveted three-peat as World Champions!
League MVP, CF Darren Lemming, barely beat out Cincinnati’s Davey Battle for the award. He is poised for another All-Star season. Flanked by LF Toddy Koovitz and RF Burt McCollom, the Empires will have one of the most feared outfields in baseball this year. The combination of speed and batting prowess could result in offensive and defensive league records that could stand for decades!
The infield also remains intact as SS Kippy Sunderstrom, 1B Julio Martinez, 2B Pedro Rodriguez and 3B Richard Zenk look to build on last year’s .965 fielding percentage (highest in the league).
The Empires will be breaking in a new backstop this year. The long awaited call-up of C Jason Chenier from AAA Asheville has come to fruition. Chenier hit .312 last season and caught prospective base stealers 52% of the time.
Skipper D. Lawrence Dunn said, “Jason’s ability to frame pitches is what will truly make him an asset this year. The extra strikes our pitchers will get should drive our team ERA even lower than the last 2 seasons. ”
The Empires are going to need that kind of success from their defense with all the changes to the pitching staff. Having lost key contributors in the offseason, the Empires will have some new arms going to the rubber.
Japanese sensation, Takeshi Kawabata, was acquired from the Fukuoka Daieh Hawks and will assume the staff ace role. He has a dazzling arsenal of pitches but questions about his stamina could be an issue throughout an arduous season.
The bullpen could prove to be the only weakness for this year’s team. Help may be on the way, though, as hard throwing Shane Mungitt is scheduled to start the year off at AA Utica. If the unit struggles, we may see Shane get his call to the majors this season.
Everything is shaping up well for our Empires to chase down another championship! It would take an upheaval of enormous proportions to prevent their 3rd straight title!
This season should be one for the ages for the New York Empires. You won’t want to miss it!
TAKE ME OUT
Written by Richard Greenberg
March 25-27; 30-Apr. 1
- Ivory Mazur as Darren Lemming
- Jon Scheiding as Kippy Sunderstrom
- Lon Nease as Toddy Koovitz
- Chris Koonce as Shane Mungitt
- Rick Hunt as Jason Chenier
- Boyang Zhang as Takeshi Kawabata
- Michael Urriquia as Martinez
- Glenn Childress as Rodriguez
- Mark Culp as Skipper
- Ron Mason as Davey Battle
- Bob Brumberg as Mason Marzac
- Brenden Blackburn, Jonathan Eckman, Garrett Parsons and Kenya Turner round out the ensemble
Tickets are available at: www.centerstageplayersinc.com