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Michiganders, prospects headline projected Nuts Opening Day Roster

The Lugnuts have eight members of the projected roster listed among Baseball America’s Top 40 A’s prospects
Jeff Criswell, one of the Oakland Athletics' top pitching prospects, is expected to start his...
Jeff Criswell, one of the Oakland Athletics' top pitching prospects, is expected to start his season at High-A Lansing.(Lansing Lugnuts)
Published: Apr. 30, 2021 at 10:10 AM EDT
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LANSING, Mich. (Lansing Lugnuts) - The Lansing Lugnuts, High-A affiliate of the Oakland Athletics, announced their projected Opening Day roster, featuring Michigan natives, Ivy Leaguers and a collection of promising prospects.

“They had a really good spring, I really liked the energy they brought. They play hard,” said manager Scott Steinmann about his projected 2021 Lugnuts. “I like our speed, grit, determination and how we play the game. We’re going to bring an exciting brand of baseball. It’s going to be great for the fans after going a year without baseball.”

The projected roster is headlined by 2020 second-rounder Jeff Criswell (Portage Central H.S., pictured above, photo courtesy of the Oakland Athletics), who joins Michigan Wolverines teammate Jack Weisenburger (Rockford H.S.) among the projected pitching corps. They would become the fourth and fifth Wolverines in Lugnuts team history, following 2019 starter Troy Miller and Major Leaguers Rich Hill and Jake Fox. Eastern Michigan infielder Max Schuemann (Portage Northern H.S.), meanwhile, would become the first Eagle to play for the Lugnuts.

The Lugnuts have eight members of the projected roster listed among Baseball America’s Top 40 A’s prospects, led by 2017 first-round center fielder Austin Beck (No. 13) followed by Criswell (No. 14), third baseman Jordan Díaz (No. 18), outfielder Michael Guldberg (No. 23), pitcher Colin Peluse (No. 26), catcher Drew Millas (No. 27), pitcher Richard Guasch (No. 35) and pitcher Stevie Emanuels (No. 39). MLB.com ranks Criswell even higher, as the A’s No. 8 prospect in the organization. The Athletic’s Keith Law is higher still, placing Criswell as the No. 5 prospect in the system.

Criswell is one of nine Lugnuts who would make their professional debuts in their first game in Lansing, accompanied by Guldberg, the A’s third-round selection in 2020; Emanuels, the A’s fifth-round selection in 2020; Shohei Tomioka, signed as an international free agent from Japan in 2020; Harvard first baseman Patrick McColl and outfielder Jake Suddleson, who starred together with the Crimson; and all three catchers on the roster: Millas; Jared McDonald, a slugging standout at Western Oregon; and William Simoneit, who turned in an impressive grad transfer campaign at Wake Forest after four years with Cornell.

Add Dartmouth product Michael Danielak to the trio of McColl, Suddleson and Simoneit, and the Lugnuts have four former Ivy Leaguers on the projected roster.

The rest of the pitching staff is filled out by a pair of lefties, fireballer Brady Basso and the returning Dalton Sawyer, who last pitched in a game in 2017, in addition to right-handers Reid BirlingmairCharlie CernyCharles HallRafael KellyAiden McIntyreBryce Nightengale and Seth Shuman. Hall notably set the Division-II strikeout record at Tusculum University with a 22-K performance, while McIntyre, a 2019 Midwest League All-Star, led the Athletics organization two years ago with 150 strikeouts. In addition to Schuemann, Díaz and McColl, the Lugnuts’ projected infield includes Cobie Vance, who started all 168 games in three seasons at Alabama; Elvis Peralta, the Most Outstanding Hitter at the 2017 JUCO World Series; and Ryan Gridley, who was First Team All-SEC at Mississippi State and would be celebrating his birthday on Opening Day.

Lastly, the Lugnuts’ projected outfield sees Beck, Guldberg and Suddleson joined by Lester Madden, signed as an international free agent from Cuba; and Shane Selman, who ranks in the top five at McNeese State in eight different offensive categories.

The Lansing Lugnuts Opening Day roster will be finalized on Tuesday, May 4th, with the Lugnuts opening up their 25th season at 7:05 p.m. against the Lake County Captains at Jackson Field. This is the Lugnuts’ first season as both an Athletics affiliate and at the High-A level.

The 120-game season concludes on September 19th.

Copyright 2021 WILX. All rights reserved.

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