CWS Sports Desk
October 14, 2013
Wisconsin Rapids — The Wisconsin Rapids Rafters have announced that four players from the 2013 team will be returning to Wisconsin Rapids next summer. Outfielder Taylor Stell (Texas), right-handed pitcher John Kravetz (Illinois), catcher/infielder Michael Jurgella (St. Cloud State), and right-handed pitcher Brandon Schmidt (Central Arkansas) have signed contracts to return in 2014.
OF-Taylor Stell, 6’4”, 200 lbs (R/R) Junior, Texas
Center fielder Taylor Stell had an outstanding first season with the Rafters, both in the field and at the plate. Stell graced the outfield this year, putting his body on the line while making nightly, highlight reel, diving and leaping catches to rob opponents of hits all season long. He’ll get another opportunity to hone his skills in the Witter Field outfield after the team announced that he has signed for 2014.
Stell appeared in 48 games for the Rafters this season and finished with a .981 fielding percentage, earning him the team’s Defensive Player of the Year Award. The speedster also finished his season with a .303 batting average, ranked second on the team in doubles (13), second in runs scored (48), third in hits (53), and ranked second on the team with 25 stolen bases. His 25 steals also ranked him 5th best in the entire Northwoods League. In addition, he led the entire Rafters team with a .434 on-base percentage, making him a valuable asset at the top of the lineup.
For his efforts, Stell was named the 33rd best prospect in the Northwoods League in the Top 200 Prospects list released by the League following the season. Stell will begin his junior season at the University of Texas in the spring.
RHP-John Kravetz, 6’4”, 215 lbs (R/R) Junior, Illinois
John Kravetz was an anchor in the Rafters starting rotation for 10 starts this season, posting a 4-3 record with a 3.26 ERA. In 60.2 innings pitched, he struck out 54 batters while walking just 12. His outstanding performance led him to being named to the Northwoods League All-Star Game in Eau Claire, Wisconsin as well as the 53rd best prospect in the Northwoods League for the 2013 Season.
Among other accomplishments, Kravetz was tied for the 6th best ERA in the Northwoods League and had the 9th best strikeout total in the League among all qualifying pitchers this year. He also was tied with Rafters hurler Brad Stroik for the team lead in wins (4) and ranked second on the Rafters in both strikeouts and innings pitched. Kravetz will play his junior season next spring at the University of Illinois.
IF-Michael Jurgella, 6’1”, 195 lbs (R/R) Junior, St. Cloud State
Jurgella will return for his third season with the Rafters in 2014 after posting a .286 batting average and .389 on-base percentage in 2013. The St. Cloud State product and Plover, Wisconsin native amassed 42 hits, 21 runs, two home runs, 19 RBIs and four stolen bases during the 2013 season and was subsequently named to the top 200 Northwoods League Prospects list, along with his teammates Stell and Kravetz. Jurgella will be a redshirt junior next spring for the Huskies.
RHP-Brandon Schmidt, 6’3”, 190 lbs (R/R) Sophomore, Central Arkansas
After coming out of the bullpen to start the year, Brandon Schmidt evolved into a dependable starter for the Rafters down the stretch and is set to return for a second season in 2014. Schmidt appeared in 13 games, making six starts, and posted a 3-2 record with a 4.29 ERA last summer. In 44 innings pitched, he struck out 45 batters while limiting opponents to a .286 batting average. He is slated to begin his redshirt freshman season for the powerhouse Central Arkansas Bears in the spring.
Watch CWS for upcoming interviews with returning Rafters …