Millers Bringing Back Four Locals

05/03/2015 9:25 AM -

Millers Bringing Back Four Locals
Marc Smith
April 16, 2015

A strong base of local players is key for Western Major Baseball League teams in building a successful squad and the Moose Jaw Miller Express feel they have that with the four that they welcomed back on Wednesday.

Moose Jaw natives Ben Douglas and Brennan Reidy, along with Craik's Tanner Spencer and Coronach's Zach Shelstad are getting set for another year in black and yellow after the team announced their return for the 2015 WMBL season.

“Having those four guys, who have been successful in whatever role we've had them in, that helps to make it that much easier to find success,” said head coach Michael Hunt.

All four players were key contributors in different roles for the Millers during the 2014 season.

Douglas returned to Moose Jaw for the 2014 season and put together a great year at first base for the Millers. In 42 games, he had six doubles, one triple, four home runs, 34 RBI and hit .335.

This season at McMurry University, Douglas has continued to hit well, posting a team-high 14 doubles to go along with two home runs, 22 RBI and a .348 average.

“He's a guy that's been in the league a lot and we're going to rely on him in the middle of the order for when we get guys on to drive them in,” said Hunt.

Reidy, a second baseman, took on many roles for his hometown team last season and it earned him the Coaches' Choice award. He finished the year with one home run, four RBI and a .131 batting average.

He's been able to carry that over into a strong season with the Okanagan College Coyotes where he's hitting .293 with three doubles and 11 RBI in 16 games.

“He's a glue guy, role guy, a guy that can fit into a number of different shapes, whether it be a bench guy or a guy starting in the field,” said Hunt. “He's having a great season right now and we expect him to keep that up.”

On the pitching side, the Millers will welcome back Spencer and Shelstad into their rotation and bullpen this season.

Spencer was coming off of Tommy John surgery last year and working on an innings limit with the Millers. He was still able to start eight games and post a 2-3 record with a 7.68 earned run average, while picking up 21 strikeouts in 38.2 innings.

In two appearances this season with the Colby Community College Trojans, Spencer has pitched seven innings and has three strikeouts, three walks and a 3.86 ERA.

“This year he's 100-percent free of any limits and I expect him to slide in at the top of the rotation as a starter and throw a lot of quality innings and a lot of quality games for us,” said Hunt.

Shelstad has appeared in nine games this season with Miles Community College, putting up a 1-3 record with 24 strikeouts, 16 walks and a 5.09 ERA in 35.1 innings of work. Last season with Moose Jaw, the Coronach native went 0-2 with a 6.06 ERA in 16.1 innings with six strikeouts and 11 walks.

“He's a guy that's been out of the pen for the last couple of years, he knows his role, he knows he's a situational guy and he comes in and does his job,” said Hunt. “It's great to have a guy that's confident in his role, but also hungry to want to be bigger in those roles as well.”

These four are just the beginning of the roster for the Millers as they work towards the season opener on May 29th in Swift Current. Hunt said they've got a good base of players coming this season.

“Everybody that we've had committed has stayed committed, which is a little different than in years past,” said Hunt. “It's always cross your fingers and hope guys get here, but as of right now, our roster has stayed firm for the last three-plus months.”

The home opener for the Miller Express is on May 31st against Regina. For season ticket information, contact 306-691-1402.

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