The Wisconsin Timber Rattlers begin defense of their 2012 Class A Midwest League
Championship tonight when they face the Chiefs in Peoria. Manager Matt Erickson will have a chance to work with a lot of talent to start the 2013 season, but that talent is really young.
AUDIO: Matt Erickson on his young roster :19
The Timber Rattlers will return just six players from last year’s championship team, most of them weren’t starting position players. The only player who somewhat qualifies is center fielder and 2012 1st round draft pick Mitch Haniger. Haniger played in 14 games last season before suffering a season-ending knee injury.
AUDIO: Mitch Haniger said the injury is in the past :06
This years roster includes 15 players selected in last year’s major league baseball amateur draft. The Brewers other top pick in 2012, catcher Clint Coulter.
Wisconsin will start the season with five players ranked among the Milwaukee Brewers top 30 prospects according to Baseball America.
Last year, the Rattlers had just 3 of the top 30 players in the organization, yet still went out and won the Midwest League Championship.
Manager Matt Erickson said their number 1 goal is player development, but that doesn’t mean they don’t want to win.
AUDIO: Matt Erickson says they want to move the players and win at the same time :14
22-year old reliever-turned-starter, Tyler Wagner will get the opening day assignment for the Timber Rattlers at Peoria tonight. Wagner was the Brewers 4th round pick in the 2012 draft.
AUDIO: Wagner on making the adjustment from reliever to starter :20
The Rattlers will return home to play their home opener Monday night against Cedar Rapids at Fox Cities Stadium. It’ll be the first game since the completion of a $6.2-million renovation project.