The Rochester Royals are not going to have a lot of turnover in personnel this season, but player/manager Drew Block hopes the team can have players consistently attend games this season.
“We’ll probably have less turnover this year than in the last two or three years,” Block said.
The Royals, a Class B amateur baseball team, will again feature a veteran roster, but one that has not earned a state berth since 2016. The Royals are once again playing in Section 1B for the postseason along with Northfield, Dundas, Miesville, Elko and Hampton. Four of the six will earn state berths based on the outcome of the section tournament.
“It would be nice to get back (to state),” Block said. “We have one of the smaller sections of the four (in the state), but I would say our section might be the toughest from top to bottom.”
Block said developing continuity through the course of the season could be the key. The Royals are scheduled to open the regular season at Lake City on Sunday. Their home opener is Wednesday against Stewartville-Racine.
“As always with amateur baseball, it’s just getting guys to the field consistently,” Block said. “That’s going to be a point of emphasis for us this season, to get guys to the ballpark more consistently.”
The Royals’ pitching staff may get a boost this season. Left-hander Matt Meyer, a former Triple-A pitcher in the minor leagues, is expected to return after missing all of last season with an arm injury.
“Having him back will be a big addition for us,” Block said. “It’s (his arm) feeling better, so he’s going to try it.”
Some of the other key veteran pitchers on the squad include Josh Conley, lefty Brad Pfeffer, Jaron Christenson and Mike Stubbs. Two key newcomers on the mound should be former Carleton College pitcher Tyler Rolland, who recently moved to Rochester, and 2018 Century grad Palmer Mickelson.
“It’s all based on availability,” Block said of the pitchers. “We try to keep guys pretty balanced.”
The cast of position players is largely unchanged. Regular infielders back include Block, Matt Stubbs, Jordan Martini, Jared Campbell, Nick Pearson and first baseman/designated hitter Dave Adams, who is turning 50 this year.
Among the veteran outfielders back are Tim Oesterlin, Mike Stubbs, Alex Welder and Arron Hohensee.
Sam Warren, a 2018 Mayo grad, is on the roster, but he is expected to play this season with Albert Lea in the Frontier League, which is a league for current college players. Warren could play for the Royals some at the end of the season.
A few of the youngsters will include 2018 Mayo grads Alex Prindle and Carter Pasternak and 2019 Lourdes grad Caiden Bruns. Prindle is expected to handle most of the catching as veteran Dave Rojo had surgery in the offseason. Prindle, who played college ball at Division III Edgewood (Wis.) this spring, did play in about 10 games for the Royals a year ago.
“We’re looking forward to him stepping into the lead catching spot for us,” Block said of Prindle.
During the regular season, the Royals are playing in the Classic Cannon Valley League, which has a mixture of Class C and B teams. The Austin Greyhounds, a rival of the Royals, are no longer in Section 1B as they are dropping down from Class B to Class C for the postseason this year.
“It’s been kind of a difficult spring with the weather,” Block said. “I think we’re just kind of ready for the season to start.”
The Royals will not be charging admission for home games this season. They will still hold raffles and play bingo during games at Mayo Field. The team will hold a game to honor cancer survivors on July 17 and Fan Appreciation Day will be July 27.
Tim Oesterlin (OF/P), Jordan Stokes (2B/SS), Sam Warren (1B/OF), Matt Stubbs (3B/OF), Jared Campbell (INF), Jaron Christenson (P), Brad Pfeffer (P), Drew Block (1B/3B), Alex Prindle (C), Jaret Stellmaker (P), Mike Stubbs (OF/P), Arron Hohensee (OF), Josh Conley (P), Jordan Martini (INF), Nick Pearson (SS/2B), Matt Meyer (P), Dave Adams (DH/1B), Alex Welder (OF/1B), Dave Rojo (C), Tyler Rolland (P), Chad Weisner (P), Erik Thorvilson (P), Caiden Bruns (INF/P), Carter Pasternak (3B/OF), Palmer Mickelson (P).
(Home games at Mayo Field)
May 19 — at Lake City, 2 p.m. May 22 — Stewartville-Racine, 7:30 p.m. May 24 — Dodge County, 7:30 p.m. May 25 — Owatonna, 7:30 p.m. May 31 — at Northfield, 7:30 p.m.
June 5 — Lake City, 7:30 p.m. June 8 — at Owatonna, 7:30 p.m. June 9 — Dundas, 2 p.m. June 12 — Austin Greyhounds, 7:30 p.m. June 14 — at River Falls (Wis.), 7:30 p.m. June 16 — at Hampton, 2 p.m. June 19 — at Red Wing, 7:30 p.m. June 21 — Miesville, 7:30 p.m. June 26 — Cannon Falls, 7:30 p.m. June 29 — Hastings, 3 p.m. June 30 — Elko, 2 p.m.
July 7 — at Dundas, 2 p.m. July 12 — at Miesville, 8 p.m. July 14 — at Austin Greyhounds, 2 p.m. July 17 — Red Wing, 7:30 p.m. July 19 — Randolph, 7:30 p.m. July 21 — at Elko, 2 p.m. July 24 — Northfield, 7:30 p.m. July 26 — Hampton, 7:30 p.m. July 27 — Eau Claire (Fan Appreciation Day), 3 p.m.