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Stingers bring back 5 players for 2014

Tribune photo by Ben Brewster Third baseman Max Kuhn will return to the Willmar Stingers for the 2014 season.

WILLMAR — A week after locking up manager Matt Hollod for the 2014 season, the Willmar Stingers announced Thursday six player signings for the summer.

Five of the six are returners from the 2013 season, led by Kentucky junior third baseman Max Kuhn.

Also returning are University of San Francisco pitcher Sheldon Lee, MSU-Mankato pitcher Josh Matheson, UT-Arlington pitcher TJ Whidby and California shortstop Max Dutto. The sixth signing is Pepperdine infielder Hutton Moyer, the son of former MLB pitcher Jaime Moyer. Hutton had signed to play for the Stingers in 2013 but had to sit out the summer due to injury.

Kuhn, who typically slotted into the No. 5 hole in the Stingers’ lineup, was third on the team in at bats in 2013 behind No. 3 hitter and Northwoods League co-MVP Marc Flores and cleanup hitter Michael Suchy.

He hit .280 while slugging .418 and getting on base at a .375 clip, while knocking six home runs and driving in 46.

Whidby posted a 5.55 ERA, but led the Stingers with 58.1 innings pitched in 2013 and was able to turn a strong spring at Central Arizona CC into a Division-I scholarship at Texas-Arlington.

Lee worked 39 innings for Willmar and started six games, taking on a heavier workload after the Stingers lost some of their first-half pitchers to the draft and innings limits. 

He struggled early in the summer but finished the final weeks of the season with two earned runs allowed over 17.2 innings.

Matheson was part of the MSU-Mankato team that nearly won the Division-II World Series and was drafted by the Milwaukee Brewers in the 19th round of the 2013 draft. He played out the summer with the Stingers, though, putting up a 6.25 ERA in 31.2 innings and didn’t sign a pro contract.

Dutto was overmatched at the plate in his first NWL season, coming off his freshman year at California where he rarely played. But he drew rave reviews for his defense at shortstop for the Stingers and got into 49 games and hit .193 in 145 at bats.

As always, the MLB draft could change some of the Stingers’ plans. Kuhn, Lee and Whidby are juniors and draft-eligible, as is sophomore Matheson since he is over 21 years old. Kuhn was previously drafted out of Zionsville (Ind.) High School by the Oakland Athletics in the 24th round of the 2011 draft.

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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