SAUGET, IL – The River City Rascals announced on August 12th, 2019 that they were going to cease operations, ending their run that began in 1999. The Rascals responded by winning the Frontier League Championship in 2019, a fitting end to what was a sad story for the community of O’Fallon, Missouri. While the Rascals are no more their legacy in the Frontier League is still present in the St. Louis area. The Gateway Grizzlies spring training roster will include former Rascals manager Steve Brook as well as eight members of the 2019 Frontier League Championship team. What was once a cross town rivalry has become a partnership to build a new legacy within the Frontier League.
Former Rascals turned Grizzlies:
Steve Brook – Grizzlies Pitching Coach
During his tenure, Brook lead River City to a record of 542-415 (.566). The Rascals brought home the Frontier League title twice over the course of Brook’s regime (2010, 2019). Under Brook, the Rascals finished with a record under .500 only once. River City appeared in the Frontier League championship six times during that span.
Pitchers- (2019 Statistics)
Taylor Purus – 1-2, 2.70 ERA, 29 games
Purus, a left-handed pitcher from Hudson, North Carolina spent his first professional summer pitching out of the bullpen for River City. Before entering the Frontier, League Purus pitched two years at Western Carolina University where in his short time there amassed 186 strikeouts over two seasons.
Jason Zgardowski – 2-1, 2.38 ERA, 30 games
Zgardowski, a right-handed pitcher from San Antonio, Texas spent his college career at Angelo State University. Signed as a free agent in 2014 by the Philadelphia Phillies, Zgardowski spent two years in the Phillies system before being released. The River City Rascals signed Zgardowski who impressed in his first Frontier League stint leading to another major league opportunity with the St. Louis Cardinals, making it Double-A Springfield.
Zgardowski returned to the River City Rascals in 2018 and become a key piece of the Rascals bullpen in 2019.
Austin Dubsky – 1-1, 3.00 ERA, 8 starts
Dubsky, a right-handed pitcher from Omaha Nebraska spent his college career at Murray State University. Dubsky made his debut in the Frontier League in 2017 with the Southern Illinois Miners pitching 27 games mostly out of the bullpen. In 2018 and 2019 Dubsky won a total of 11 games before being moved midseason to the River City Rascals. Dubsky started 8 games for the Rascals going 1-1 with a 3.00 ERA.
Position Players- (2019 Statistics)
INF Trevor Achenbach – .259 BA, 14 HR, 45 RBI
Achenbach, a NAIA start Oklahoma Wesleyan University where he compiled a .476 batting average that included 21 home runs, 86 RBI, 10 doubles, and six triples his senior season.
Achenbach made his Frontier League debut with the Lake Erie Crushers in 2017 where he appeared in 12 games. Moving on to the River City Rascals, Achenbach thrived in 2018 and 2019 as a key contributor for the 2019 Frontier League Championship team.
INF Andrew Penner – .285 BA, 4 HR, 45 RBI
Penner, a utility player from Frazier Park California, played his college ball at California State University of Bakersfield before making his professional debut with the River City Rascals in 2019.
Penner was a versatile player playing both the outfield and catcher for CS Bakersfield. In Penner’s senior season he led his team in multiple offensive categories including batting average, runs, hits and slugging percentage. Penner’s versatility has continued at the professional level playing both the outfield and shortstop for the Frontier League Champions in 2019.
OF Nick Anderson – .242 BA, 10 RBI, (2 HR in playoffs)
Anderson, a Sugarland, Texas native played his college ball in state at Texas A&M Corpus Christi. 2019 was Anderson’s first professional season playing 50 games for the River City Rascals.
Anderson’s biggest impact came in game 3 of the Frontier League Championship Series where he hit a walk off homerun against the Florence Freedom.
OF Kameron Esthay – .267 BA, 8 HR, 45 RBI
Esthay, a native of Lake Charles, Louisiana was drafted by the Washington Nationals in the 26th round of the 2017 MLB Draft. Before entering the minor leagues Esthay spent three years at Baylor University where he had a career .303 batting average.
Esthay spent two years in the Nationals minor league system before joining the River City Rascals in 2019 where he appeared in 92 games.
Catcher Tanner Murphy – .221 BA, 6 HR, 25 RBI
Murphy, a native of Poplar Bluffs, Missouri was drafted by the Atlanta Braves in the 4th round of the 2013 MLB Draft. Murphy spent seven seasons in the Braves system moving all the way up to AAA Sacramento before being released by the organization in 2018.
Murphy signed with the River City Rascals in 2019 where he played in 66 games, providing stability behind the plate. Murphy’s affiliated experience will be an asset to the young staff of the Grizzlies heading into 2020.
The Gateway Grizzlies have found themselves at the bottom of the Frontier League for the past five seasons. The addition of the Rascals players will likely be a new beginning for the organization, with the leadership of Steve Brook along with current 500-win manager Phil Warren the Grizzlies should be in for an exciting 2020 season.
Photo Credit: Gateway Grizzlies