A quiet February was followed by a somewhat more active March in the German Bundesliga after it was announced that the season would begin as scheduled on April 1 – at least for the clubs in the southern division.
The southern German states recognized the Bundesliga as a professional league, thus making it exempt from the public health restrictions on organized, amateur sports on account of the coronavirus pandemic. The northern German states did not grant the Bundesliga the same status and thus the northern clubs will be forced to stay in their dugouts until the weekend of May 8-9. The restrictions mean that the northern clubs will play just 14 regular-season games, while the southern clubs play twice as many.
The 28-year-old Victor Velázquez has joined the northern German club from the perennial Spanish champion Tenerife Marlins. Velázquez, who will join his brother Vicente in Dortmund, played two seasons (2010-11) with the Atlanta Braves’ academy in the Dominican Summer League. In his 264 games in Spain’s first division (recently rebranded as the Spanish Baseball League), the power bat, who plays behind the plate, owns a .285/.362/.413 slash line. In abbreviated play last season (15 games, 54 at bats), he hit .389 with one home run. The Spanish international’s best offensive season came in 2018, when he hit eight home runs to accompany an impressive .347/.444/.636 slash line.
Also joining the club from Tenerife is Jorge Martín, a 20-year-old pitcher who can also play in the infield, and Ricardo González, a 22-year-old LHP, will join Dortmund after having spent three seasons in Italy. In 2019, the Venezuelan González, while pitching for Salerno in Serie B, struck out 105 batters in 61.1 innings of work, including 17 in one game against Livorno.
The Wanderers also strengthened their youth system by bringing on Dennis Rübenstahl, the current coach of the Swiss U15 national team. Before his current role with the Swiss federation, he was Poland’s U15 national team coach (2016-18).
Elías Macías, who played his college baseball at NCAA Division II Valdosta State University (2017-18), signed on with the club in Germany’s southwest. It is Macías’ second stop in Europe after having spent the 2019 summer in Switzerland with the Embrach Mustangs of the Swiss NLB, the Swiss second division. He served as player-manager with the Mustangs and certainly delivered on the field, producing a.556/.662/.944 slash line and 40 stolen bases in 18 games.
Stuttgart also broke ground on a new stadium, with the ambitious goal being – over roughly two years – to build “one of the most beautiful baseball grounds in Europe.”
The 2016 Bundesliga champion appointed German international Nicolas Weichert as player-manager after the team’s appointed manager, the Australian Austin Gallagher, was unable to travel due to coronavirus restrictions. The club entered the 2021 season without any imports on its roster.
The club has joined the streaming revolution with HeideköpfeTV, which will broadcast the defending German champion’s home games on YouTube. Upwards of 400 fans tuned in to watch the club’s Easter Sunday victory over the Munich-Haar Disciples.