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Terre Haute Rex

May 24, 2014

Rex set to begin Prospect League schedule on Tuesday

TERRE HAUTE — Fifteen U.S. states, one American territory and a foreign province are represented on the Terre Haute Rex’s baseball roster this season.

Throw in a bench coach — Tai Hayashi, whose home country is Japan — and you have a diverse mix of young men of different backgrounds set to gather for a 50-game season at Bob Warn Field.

Indianapolis native and former Indiana University Hoosier Bobby Segal, who also coaches at Wabash Valley College, will have the job of blending the talents into a successful product for Terre Haute-area fans.

“We’re pretty diverse at Wabash Valley. It’s amazing when baseball can bring people together from all different states, cultures,” said Segal, who is quite familiar with two players of Puerto Rican descent on the team.

Manuel DeJesus hit .374 with 31 stolen bases for Segal, who in the spring served as hitting coach for one of the most well-rounded offenses in the nation at the junior college ranks.

Fellow Puerto Rican Ray Perez, Wabash Valley’s shortstop, hit .309 with 26 stolen bases.

Indiana State pitcher Jeff Degano also is more than 2,000 miles from home, originating from Surrey, British Columbia. The tall southpaw sat out the spring season for the Sycamores, but he could gain some valuable experience in the Rex rotation this summer.

ISU teammate Landon Curry, who hit .279 with a team-high 41 runs and 18 stolen bases as a junior in 2014, gives the Rex another speedy threat to help generate offense in the wooden-bat league.

“We’re really excited for the makeup we’ve got,” Segal said of his roster. “Left and center field, middle-infield positions, get a lot of speed, as much as you can. And hope your corner-infield guys are good power guys.”

Among those power guys might be 6-foot-4 first baseman Grayson Atwood, who sat out the spring after transferring from North Carolina to Appalachian State.

Two Terre Haute natives will be able to help the Rex players who arrive with hometowns from New York (Hofstra pitcher Kevin Weissheier) to New Mexico (University of Southern Indiana pitcher Matthew Chavarria).

Redshirt freshman Tony Rosselli was a key reserve for coach Mitch Hannahs’ ISU team, hitting .206 with a home run. Right-handed pitcher Damon Olds, a former Terre Haute South standout, had a strong year for Lincoln Trail College.

The last of four Sycamores on the Rex roster is Brad Lombard, who was ISU’s No. 2 starter this season. The right-hander is 6-3 with a 3.48 ERA in 85 1/3 innings this spring.

Like Lombard, Western Michigan right-hander Chad Mayle compiled a big innings total with a 2.59 ERA in 94 innings for the Broncos.

College coaches might suggest an innings cap for guys like Lombard and Mayle, Segal said, meaning it’s possible Lombard and Mayle become impact relief pitchers for the Rex.

Younger players who didn’t rack up big innings, Wichita State southpaw Reagan Biechler, for example, could be stretched out and used in the rotation. Biechler might be a guy who wants to prove himself to the Shockers’ coaching staff as a starter next year. He was 0-1 with a 2.11 ERA in 21 1/3 innings this season.

A second Wichita State pitcher, Austin Gardner, a 6-2, 215-pound Texas native, also will join the Rex.

“The thing I’m excited about too — it’s not to say we’re extremely youthful — but we do have a good mix of guys that have a great ceiling,” Segal said. “It’s exciting to watch them and see them develop over the summer. When they go back to school, they can be that No. 2 or No. 3 starter. That’s what I’m excited about is seeing guys make progress.”

Andrew Cope of USI will be the only returnee to the Rex from last season, but his squad is still alive in the Division II World Series, meaning he’ll be late to arrive in Terre Haute.

So could be hitting coach, Terre Haute native and former Rex player Cole Vicars, who serves in the same capacity at Vincennes University. The Trailblazers are playing in the Junior College World Series.

Segal has yet to meet most of the players on his roster, but he did have the chance to see Iowa Western catcher Kaden Moore, a 6-3, 225-;pound sophomore from South Sioux City, Neb.

Moore batted third and had a hit as Iowa Western ended Wabash Valley’s season in the equivalent of an NCAA super regional. Moore batted .289 this spring.

“He’s definitely got a pro body and pro tool set,” Segal said. “Getting paid to play baseball is something he could definitely do down the road. He’s a monster. Really receives it well back there.”

Zach Welz is coming off a .300 season for Texas Southern and outfielder Andre Jernigan, who had 13 stolen bases as a freshman for Xavier, are two more promising players for the Rex.

Terre Haute will look to return to the playoff scene in the Prospect League after finishing nine games behind West Division champion Danville in 2013.

The season opener is Tuesday at Danville, with the home opener slated for June 2 against Hannibal.

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Terre Haute Rex
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    July 5, 2014 3 Photos

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    July 5, 2014 2 Photos

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    July 4, 2014

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    July 2, 2014

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    June 27, 2014 2 Photos

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    June 26, 2014

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    June 25, 2014

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    June 23, 2014 4 Photos

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