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Stingers sign four players

WILLMAR -- The Willmar Stingers continued to solidify their 2012 roster with four more additions Monday.

Joining the Stingers are junior infielder Corben Green (Louisiana-Monroe), junior outfielders Forrestt Allday (Central Arkansas) and Stephen Talbott (Purdue) and sophomore catcher Mike Hollenbeck (Illinois State).

The group includes two junior college transfers in Green and Allday.

Allday played two seasons for Alvin (Texas) Community College and will debut with Central Arkansas this spring.

The outfielder out of Friendswood, Texas, was a force on offense for Alvin CC last season, putting up a .424 batting average and .554 on-base percentage. He didn't hit any home runs, but knocked 61 hits and 25 RBIs in 144 at bats.

"The word on this kid is that he can just flat out hit," Stingers co-owner Ryan Voz said. "He's a gap, base-hit guy. I know Central Arkansas is excited to have him."

Green, a native of Tuscaloosa, Ala., will be looking to re-establish himself with the Stingers. He played 14 games for La.-Monroe last season after two seasons at Shelton State (Ala.) Community College, but was hurt running to first base and missed the rest of the season. He was batting .491 with one home run in 57 at bats at the time of the injury.

He took an injury redshirt and will be a junior for the upcoming season.

"(Green) hasn't been the most durable of guys, but the kid can really hit," Stingers manager Matt Hollod said. "He's probably more of a gap-to-gap, average guy. Usually with power guys you don't see a .491 average even if it's in 57 at bats."

Hollenbeck is entering his sophomore year for Illinois State. He was drafted by the Boston Red Sox in the 14th round of the 2010 Major League Baseball draft but elected to go to college instead.

"I wasn't ready for 'the real world' at the age of 18," Hollenbeck said. "(College) is something to fall back on. If I (go pro and) get injured at the age of 21, I'll get released and be bagging groceries.

"So far, I'm really happy with my decision. I'm really hoping to have a good junior year so I can get picked up again," he said.

Hollenbeck said he had knee surgery his freshman year and mainly was the starting designated hitter for Illinois State while catching once a week.

He hit .265 with three home runs and 42 RBIs. He also showed excellent plate discipline, walking 28 times and striking out 24.

He briefly played in the Northwoods League in 2011 for the Madison Mallards, appearing in six games in June, but hurt his ankle which put him out for the rest of the summer.

Hollenbeck, who bats left-handed, will platoon with the right-handed hitting Dillon Haupt at catcher and may see some time at first base.

Talbott has the most experience against Division I competition of the group.

He is coming off his first year as a starter for Purdue. In 196 at bats, he hit .301 with two home runs, 32 RBIs and had a .418 slugging percentage.

"Talbott is a .300 hitter at the D-I level in a pretty good program and conference," Hollod said. "He was also 17-for-17 in stolen bases. I think he's going to be a solid player."

Talbott will join Allday, Brady Anderson, Mitch Rowan and Pat Stover to complete the Stingers' outfield.

Rowan, one of the Stingers top players last season, will be the anchor in right field.

Voz said that Allday will likely start in left but could see some time in center.

"Between Talbott, Allday and Anderson, one of them will secure that center field spot," he said.

He also said the Stingers would like to have Stover back in left field, but that he's projected to be an early pick in the MLB draft.

"We've got six guys slated for the outfield," Voz said. "Realistically we'll end up with five."

Hollod said he's recruited plenty of guys in case that happens.

"It's up in the air whether he'll get the money he wants (from the draft)," Hollod said. "If he gets drafted, he goes -- that's what we want."

After slowly adding players throughout the winter, the Stingers' roster now stands at 20. So far, they have collected two catchers, six infielders, five outfielders and seven pitchers.

With 10 roster spots remaining, the focus is now on pitching, Voz said.

"We're going to look for a third catcher and we need a bunch of arms," he said. "We'll end up signing another nine pitchers. Typically 16 pitchers and 14 position players is where you want to sit."

Notes: Stingers' pitcher Ben Burns made his 2012 debut for Daytona State College last week. He pitched 5 2/3 innings, giving up two runs and striking out four.

Ben Brewster

Ben Brewster covers the Willmar Stingers and other area sports, as well as laying out the daily sports section cover for the West Central Tribune. Follow him on Twitter @benbrewster.

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