Wild Things Win

Holly Tonini/for the Observer-Reporter

Wild Things closer Zach Strecker has a franchise record 52 saves and is re-signed for a fourth season in Washington.

When the Frontier League season begins in May, the independent baseball league will have a very different look. With the addition of five former Can-Am League teams, and the disbanding of the 2019 champion River City Rascals, the league has expanded to 14 teams in two countries.

While there will be new teams visiting Wild Things Park next summer, the home club’s roster will likely have many familiar names.

Washington announced Thursday the re-signing of 12 players from last season’s team, including relief pitcher Zach Strecker and four starting pitchers.

Strecker is a two-time Frontier League All-Star and his 52 career saves is the franchise record. This will be his fourth summer in Washington.

“Having someone as reliable, available and productive as Strecker is a complete luxury. He wants the ball in every late, tight situation and he is one of the best team-first guys we have,” Wild Things general manager Tony Buccilli said. “His family has become our family and their support of Zach and our organization speaks volumes.”

Joining Strecker in the bullpen are Jesus Balaguer, James Meeker and Zach Reid. All three posted career lows in ERA in 2019. Late-season Matt Marsili and Elliot Forde, who was injured last year, have re-signed for 2020.

Washington also re-signed starting pitchers John Havird, Michael Austin, Nick Wegmann and Nick Gallagher.

“Our rotation, in the second half of last season, showed to be a competitive group,” Buccilli said. “(They) strive to go deep into games and put us in position to win. The best rotations feed off each others successful starts and with another year together we look for them to challenge from within.”

Position players who have re-signed are infielder Chase Slone and outfielder Terrence Pinkston.

Earlier this week, Washington traded outfielder Blake Adams to the Sussex County Miners in exchange for infielder Jarred Mederos, who has signed a contract with the Wild Things.

Washington also picked up the 2020 option on first baseman J.J. Fernandez, first baseman Alex Murphy, third baseman Stephen Lohr, outfielder Hector Roa, pitcher Carter Johnson, catcher Lucas Herbert, pitcher B.J. Sabol, and second baseman J.R. Davis.

Washington has declined the options on outfielder Mick Fennell, third baseman Shaine Hughes, catcher Dom DeRenzo and pitchers A.J. Bgucki, Josh LaPiana, Troy Terzi, Zach Harvey and Dillon Sunnafrank.

Sports Editor

Since 1986, Chris Dugan has been covering local sports for the Observer-Reporter, and named sports editor in 2006. Before joining the O-R, he was sports editor at the Democrat-Messenger, and a former member of the Baseball Writers Association of America.

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