New York Boulders’ first-year manager T.J. Stanton looks at his new home, Palisades Credit Union Park in Pomona, and knows that a balanced offense will lead to success in the Frontier League standings.
“We have a very offensive park and the best way to expose it is to be multifaceted combining speed, power, contact,” Stanton said. “We hope to lead the league in home runs, but we expect to lead in doubles and runs scored – which is the only stat that matters.”
As he put together his list of infielders that will come to camp on May 17, Stanton looked to provide balance to his line-up.
“For every home run guy that has swing and miss or low OBP (on-base percentage), there is a counter player with high contact,” Stanton said. “Same goes for right/left splits. The theme of flexibility is also there, all the guys (infielder) have experience at shortstop, most were actually drafted as a shortstop before being moved.”
There will be no shortage of competition when camp kicks off with six pure infielders and an interesting “swing” player – Brandon Bingel, heading to Pomona.
“Brandon Bingel is a very interesting player,” Stanton said. “He was a two-way star for Northeast power Bryant (University) until he was drafted as a pitcher by Pittsburgh. After four years of just pitching in pro ball, he needed to hit in a game for the Winnipeg Goldeyes, where he went 3-for-4 with two doubles and even attracted attention from affiliated scouts.”
Bingel can play first, third and second base, but, Stanton said, “of course will be a major part of our bullpen.”
Bingel, 26, from Peabody, MA, a 22nd round MLB Draft selection by the Pittsburgh Pirates, spent the 2018 and 2019 seasons pitching out of the bullpen for the American Association Goldeyes. In 2018, he posted a 1.79 ERA, and followed that in 2019 with a 2.43 ERA.
“Two-way guys are super rare for a reason, but we are going to go for it,” Stanton said.
The most recent infield signing is Team Israel Olympian Zach Penprase.
Originally a 13th round MLB Draft choice of the Phillies in 2006 out of Mississippi Valley State, Penprase, a native of Moorpark, CA, spent two-plus years in the Philadelphia organization before signing as a free agent with Fargo-Moorhead of the old Northern League during the 2008 season. He played eight years with Fargo-Moorhead, helping the RedHawks win Northern League championships in 2009 and 2010.
During his time with the RedHawks, the team won Northern League regular season titles in 2008 and 2010. The RedHawks joined the American Association prior to the 2011 season and Penprase helped Fargo-Moorhead tack on first-place regular season finishes in 2012 and 2013.
While at Fargo-Moorhead, Penprase was a teammate of Stanton in 2009 and 2010, as well as Boulders’ assistant coach Kole Zimmerman from 2008-2011.
Although Penprase is 36 years old and officially retired after the 2015 season, the hard work and commitment to a successful comeback to competitive baseball was enough to convince Stanton to bring him to the Boulders.
“I have zero concerns about his (Penprase’s) age playing a negative role physically, he is 36 going on 26,” Stanton said.
In his eight seasons in independent ball with Fargo-Moorhead, Penprase posted a .286 BA and a .370 on-base percentage. He scored 584 runs and knocked in 333.
The remaining five infielders heading to camp include lefty swinging Tucker Nathans and switch-hitter Thomas Roulis.
Stanton describes Nathans, who played for Stanton at Trois-Rivieres in 2019, as the “ultimate pro’s pro.”
“(He) is the ultimate band-aid – whatever is your problem, defensively or offensively, he covers up the problem,” Stanton said of the Warwick, NY, native. “All he does is play all seven positions, hit for power, get on base, knock in runs, consistently for the last decade. And he is an incredible leader on and off the field.”
In 2019, Nathans, 32, hit .289 for the Aigles with a dozen home runs and 56 RBI.
Meanwhile, Roulis, 27, a switch-hitter who also played for Stanton at Trois-Rivieres in 2019 is an Ivy League product from Dartmouth and a natural shortstop.
“(He) can play all over the diamond, has good speed and is a great baserunner,” Stanton said. “He is probably the most experienced rookie hitter in the league.”
The remaining three, all righthanded batters, are Austin Dennis, Ray Hernandez and Zach Kirtley.
Kirtley, 24, possesses a “special combo of power, contact and eye” at the plate, Stanton said. “He was drafted as a second baseman, which is where we will focus him. My job is to figure out how to have as many runners on for his at-bats.”
Kirtley was a fifth-round choice in the 2017 draft by the St. Louis Cardinals and rose as high as Class AA in the organization with the Texas League Springfield Cardinals in 2019.
Versatility is what best describes Dennis, 23, and Hernandez, 24.
Dennis was a 20th round selection by the Houston Astros in 2018 and played for the organization’s Class A affiliate in the Midwest League, the Quad-City River Bandits in 2019; while Hernandez, who was a 29th round choice of the Atlanta Braves in that 2018 draft, spent the 2019 campaign with the Danville Braves of the Appalachian League (Rookie).
“(Austin) plays all positions, except catcher and pitcher, and is an extreme speed threat,” Stanton said. “He can literally fit into almost every batting order position. (Austin) gives us great contact and gap-to-gap presence.”
Stanton continued, “(Ray) was drafted as a shortstop and will play all over the diamond. He has decent speed for his size and will provide home run power to all fields.”
After an exhibition game on May 22 against the NYPD – game time is set for 6:30 p.m., the New York Boulders’ much anticipated Frontier League debut will arrive on May 27 when they host the New Jersey Jackals at Palisades Credit Union Park in Pomona.
Game time for Opening Day is 7 p.m.
The Boulders will conclude their two-game opening series with New Jersey the following day. That game is also a 7 p.m. start.
A complete New York Boulders’ 2021 schedule, as well as information regarding season tickets and packages for the 2021 season are available by calling 845-364-0009 or sliding to www.NYBoulders.com. Individual game tickets are on sale now.
Meanwhile, tickets for the NYPD exhibition game on May 22 are on-sale now.
Attendance at all home games at PCU Park is subject to New York State Department of Health guidelines and protocol.
Debuting in 1993, the Frontier League is the largest and longest-running of the modern independent leagues and features teams stretching from the Atlantic Ocean to the Mississippi River and from the Ohio River to the St. Lawrence Seaway. In September of 2020, the Frontier League reached an agreement to become a “Partner League” with Major League Baseball.
As a “Partner League,” the Frontier League and its teams will meet on a regular basis with MLB representatives to discuss joint marketing and promotional opportunities, as well as collaborate on initiatives to provide organized baseball to communities throughout the United States and Canada.
More information can be found at www.frontierleague.com.
About the New York Boulders and NYB, LLC
The New York Boulders are entering their 10th season of Professional Baseball as part of the newly-formed Frontier League and are in pursuit of a post-season appearance for the seventh straight season. Founded as the Rockland Boulders in 2011, the franchise rebranded as the New York Boulders in advance of the 2020 season. In 2014, the Boulders won the Can-Am League Championship and hosted the Frontier vs. Can-Am All-Star Game in 2019. Proud to be part of the rich history of professional baseball in the New York City region, during the 2017 season the team welcomed its 1,000,000th fan to Palisades Credit Union Park located in Rockland County, NY. In 2012 and 2014, Rockland was named the Can-Am’s “Organization of the Year.” The Boulders are owned and operated by NYB, LLC, a sports and entertainment company comprised of former executives from all levels of major and minor league sports. NYB is committed to providing superior customer service and quality, affordable family entertainment experiences for the New York Metropolitan area, Lower Hudson Valley and northeast New Jersey. Slide to www.nyboulders.com for more information.