The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

April 29, 2014

Miners look to avoid pitfalls

Rampant loss of players a focus in Epling’s recruiting efforts

By Gary Fauber
Assistant Sports Editor

BECKLEY — On the way to a second straight Prospect League championship, West Virginia Miners manager Tim Epling had to wear another hat.

“I had to play Dr. Phil a lot,” he said. “And I’m not a very good psychologist.”

That the Miners were able to win another championship under last year’s circumstances is a testament to the job performed by Epling and his coaching staff.

First, it took the team nearly a month to develop a winning chemistry. At one point, the Miners were 12-12 and bore no resemblance of a team built to win a title. Finally, things started to click and West Virginia ran away with the East Division championship.

Even so, players seemed to be leaving on a daily basis. From college coaches shutting their pitchers down, to homesick players calling it a summer, the attrition was relentless. West Virginia went undefeated in the postseason, including a two-game sweep of Quincy in the league championship series, but did so with only 18 players remaining from what had been a 28-man roster.

Winning was nice, but Epling never wants to go through those circumstances again. That was a major focus as he and his coaches built the roster for the 2014 season, which will begin Thursday, May 29, at Butler.

The rigors of the summer season were addressed up front with players and coaches as Epling recruited his team.

“I think communication, making sure the player understands what he is going to be coming into, I think that is vital,” Epling said. “The coaches have the power of the pen (in determining) whether they can come or not. I have not only persuaded the coaches, but also persuaded the players. Sometimes that’s easy, especially if you’ve got relationships with some of these guys. But then when you are trying to build new relationships with new players, it’s tough.”

Of the 27 players on the roster, only three were here last year: pitchers Kolin Stanley and Quinton Yocom and outfielder Zach Woolcock.

Stanley has been instrumental in both of the Miners’ championships. He got the save in the 2012 clincher at Dubois County, and he was the winning pitcher in West Virginia’s 4-3, 11-inning walkoff against Quincy last summer.

When Stanley puts on his jersey this year, he will become just the second three-year Miner in team history, joining former Marshall teammate Gray Stafford.

Epling is excited about the roster overall. He’s always encouraged by the pitching, which he says has been a “hallmark” of the Miners in their first four seasons, but he also thinks he will field a fast team that could hit well.

“You never know about paper. You look at the kids’ stats and those things can be deceiving,” Epling said. “But, for the most part, the coaches have given us pretty good accolades on the kids that we’ve gotten this year.”

Of course, a lot depends on how deep into the college postseason each player’s school goes. Then there’s the Major League Baseball draft, which Epling says could pluck two or three of his players before they even get to Beckley. That includes J.D. Hammer, a 6-foot-3, 195-pound right-handed pitcher at Navarro College, and 6-7, 210-pound RHP Jake Paulson of Oakland University.

Hammer is 2-0 with a 3.00 earned run average. Paulson, who beat nationally ranked Oklahoma State early this season, is 3-5 but has a 2.94 ERA (38 runs allowed, only 16 earned).

The Miners’ first home game is set for Saturday, May 31, against league newcomer Champion City Kings. First pitch will be 7:05 p.m., and the game will be followed by the traditional fireworks show.

— E-mail: gfauber@register-herald.com and follow on Twitter @GaryFauber.

2014 West Virginia Miners

Pitchers

Name    Pos.    B/T    Ht.    Wt.    School    Hometown

Andrew Bramley    RHP    R/R    6-4    200    Murray State    Louisville, Ky.

Abram Crtledge    LHP    R/L    6-1    230    Western Oklahoma State College    Thomson, Ga.

Trevor Conn    INF/RHP    R/R    6-3    205    Dalls Baptist University    KIngwood, Texas

Dalton Curtis    RHP    R/R    6-0    196    Lipscomb University    Marryville, Tenn.

Trey Gonsalez    RHP    L/R    6-3    210    New Mexico State University    Carlsbad, N.M.

J.D. Hammer    RHP    R/R    6-3    195    Navarro Junior College    Fort Collins, Col.

Ryan Lavoie    RHP    R/R    6-2    220    Eastern Michigan University    Sterling Heights, Mich.

David Martinelli    UTL/INF/RHP    L/R    6-1    195    Dallas Baptist University    Waxahachie, Texas

Seth Noreman    RHP    R/R    6-1    185    Rochester Institute of Technology    Old Bethpage, N.Y.

Kyle Palmer    LHP    L/L    6-0    185    Radford University    Ashland, Va.

Jake Paulson    RHP    R/R    6-7    210    Oakland University    Wixon, Mich.

Cody Pope    RHP    R/R    6-4    225    Eastern New Mexico University    Kingman, Ariz.

Kolin Stanley    RHP    R/R    6-0    165    Marshall University    Alliance, Ohio

J.T. Trujillo    RHP    R/R    6-3    200    Anderson University    Jupiter, Fla.

Quinton Yocom    RHP    R/R    6-3    220    Carson Newman University    Cabel, Ohio



Catchers

Name    Pos.    B/T    Ht.    Wt.    School    Hometown

Alex McKeon    C    R/R    6-3    210    Texas A&M International University    Hopewell Junction, N.Y.

Charlie Padilla    C    R/R    6-0    190    University of South Carolina Aiken    Atlanta

David Sheafer    C    R/R    6-2    185    The Master’s College    Mount Airy, N.C.



Infielders

Name    Pos.    B/T    Ht.    Wt.    School    Hometown

Mike Brosseau    SS    R/R    6-3    180    Oakland University    Portage, Ind.

Mike Escanilla    INF    S/R    5-8    170    University of Maryland Eastern Shore    Waldorf, Md.

Grant Massey    INF    R/R    5-11    190    Lipscomb University    Auburn, Ala.

Eric Schanzenbacher    INF    R/R    6-4    205    Mansfield University    Greencastle, Pa.

Paul Trenhaile    INF    R/R    6-5    215    Truman State University    Hannibal, Mo.



Outfielders

Name    Pos.    B/T    Ht.    Wt.    School    Hometown

Westyn Baylor    OF    R/R    6-3    210    Mansfield University    Bangor, Pa.

Gavin Culler    OF    S/R    5-10    170    Winston Salem State University    Houston

Zach Knese    OF    L/L    6-0    185    Quincy University    St. Louis

Zach Woolcock    OF    R/R    6-1    205    Radford University    Greencastle, Pa.



Coaching Staff

Tim Epling, Field Manager

Danny Flores, Infield/1st Base Coach; Joe Goddard, Bench Coach; Gary Epling, Assistant Coach.