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Hartz to Return, Marcus Will Bring Lefty Power

February 24, 2015 ♦ by Patrick Reddick

Six of Ben Hartz's nine starts for the BlueSox last summer came on the road, but the changing scenery did not seem to affect him much. Coming off a light spring, he threw over 50 innings for the BlueSox in nine regular season starts. He will look to be a bright spot once again for the Sox in 2015.

"Ben just wants the ball and that type of attitude is, in my opinion, why he has been so successful with us," said Anthony Rebyanski, the BlueSox Direct of Player Personnel. "Having him return to the BlueSox in 2015 is great for our pitching staff. It's always good to have a few guys that are familiar with the league, with the way the coaching staff works, and that can be a leader on and off the field."

At one point in late June, Hartz combined in three consecutive starts to hold his opponents scoreless for 11.2 consecutive innings. In the second game, he turned in one of his best starts of the yearsix shutout innings, allowing only four hits and one walk against the Chillicothe Paints. The win was his third in four starts and pulled Butler closer to the Paints in first place.

The outing against Chillicothe was also one of five quality starts on the summer. His 2.27 ERA was second on Butler's staff among qualified pitchers. Hartz got the call against the Paints in Butler's first post-season game ever.

"He was one of the guys that helped get us to the post-season for the first time in franchise history in 2014," said Rebyanski. "We beleive he will do whatever he has to do to help get the 'Sox back there in 2015."

A native of Pittsburgh, Hartz played high school ball at Shady Side Academy, where he was the 2011 WPIAL Pitcher of the Year and the 2012 WPIAL Player of the Year.

David Marcus, INF, Cal U

Butler has had some great players from California University of PA in recent seasons, including Kyle Petty who was drafted by the Seattle Mariners in 2013. David Marcus will look to continue that trend.

"I am excited to have Dave come to Butler this summer, especially after seeing what he is capable of doing offensively this fall and winter," said Rebyanski. "He displays tremendous power from the left side and is a guy who attacks the baseball. I believe he will be a threat no matter where he is hitting in the lineup. It will be fun to see what he can do against quality arms in the Prospect League this summer."

Last spring he was named to the All-PSAC West Team along with teammates and former BlueSox Matt Peters and Mick Fennell. Marcus hit .324/.391/.465 in 46 starts as a sophomore last spring for the Vulcans, splitting time as a first baseman and DH.

Marcus tied Peters for the team leading 35 RBIs, including 11 that came with two outs. He also turned in an error-less performance in the field. Originally from Ontario, Marcus will be one of only a few Sox that have come from Canada.


Ross Will Bolster Bullpen Again

February 17, 2015 ♦ by Patrick Reddick

Austin Ross threw the strike three that clinched the BlueSox' first ever trip to the post-season last summer. He will look to help the Sox return to the playoffs in 2015.

"Austin was a major role player in our success in 2014," said Anthony Rebyanski, the BlueSox Director of Player Personnel. "He was an impact player for us and we expect him to be that same type of player in 2015. With another year at Radford under his belt, we believe he will come to us with even more to show."

Ross struggled last spring at Radford University, with only 11.1 innings on the mound and an ERA around nine. His summer with the BlueSox, on the other hand, could not have been any different.

His role entering the season was uncertain, but he became one of the best arms out of the pen. Ross's 42 strikeouts ranked 14th in the League and were the most of any reliever in the East Division, just one behind the league lead. His ERA ended up at 1.36—it never rose above 2.00 for the last month and a half of the summer.

Ross's 42 strikeouts were the most of any reliever in the East Division, just one behind the league lead.

"It was difficult at the beginning of last summer to decide which role to use Austin in, knowing he could both start and relieve," said Rebyanski, who managed the team last summer. "From the moment he went out in relief in his first outing, our coaching staff knew that was his nitch."

The Ks and low number of runs led to a spot as the team's closer, which Ross thrived in. His nine saves, which were just short of the League lead of ten, rank second all-time for the BlueSox.

The strong outings also resulted in a trip to the Prospect League All-Star Game, where Ross threw a scoreless inning with a strikeout.

Jack Cockrum, C, University of West Alabama

Over the past six summers, BlueSox fans have come to the ballpark expecting to see good pitchers. In that, they have not been disappointed, but those pitchers have excelled in part thanks to some great catchers. Jack Cockrum will look to continue that series of good backstops this summer.

"Jack comes to us with high expectations as well. He was referred to us by former BlueSox pitching coach Justin Thomas, who coached Jack last summer in the Carolina-Virginia League," said Rebyanski.

A 6'1" lefty from the University of West Alabama, Cockrum knows how to handle a bat. He finished second in the Gulf South Conference last spring with a .376 average, that was spurred on by 16 multi-hit games. His .440 OBP was second on the team.

"He is off to a very good start already this spring and in talking with him, he seems very eager to not only do well this spring at West Alabama, but to come to Butler and be an impact player. We are very eager and excited to follow this young man throughout the spring and have him with us this summer."

Behind the plate, Cockrum had a .978 field percentage with only five errors last summer for the Tigers, who went 27–18. He led the team with eight base runners caught stealing.

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May 27, 2015