After a few weeks of wild rumors the Mannheim Tornados finally introduced their new acquisitions on Tuesday at a press conference. Shortstop Dennis Kelly and starting pitcher/third baseman Cory Stevens will join the reigning vice champion of the German Baseball-Bundesliga. They additionally announced that Jan Ruessel will mainly serve as pitching coach.
The 26-year-old Kelly is well known around Europe, having played for the Swedish club Karlskoga Bats in 2008 and the French club Montpellier Barracudas last season. Both times he was named as best batter in the league at the end of the year. Before coming to Europe he set several records at Austin College. He batted .411 (OBP .463/SLG .607) with one homerun, five triples, eight doubles, 29 runs and 23 RBI in 24 games last season in the French Elite League.
Stevens is 22 years old and he played the last four seasons at Austin College (NCAA Division III) as an infielder and a pitcher. In 37 appearances (27 starts) on the mound he had an 8-17 record with an ERA of 7.06, while striking out 138 batters (89 walks) in 153 innings. At the plate he batted .293 (OBP .345/SLG .394) with three homeruns, ten doubles, 29 runs and 35 RBI in 188 at-bats through 87 games in his college career. He is expected to be the second starting pitcher besides Rene Franke.
The Tornados, which will face the Buchbinder Legionaere Regensburg on Monday to open the season, had to battle financial problems during the winter. Billy Hess, Chris Falls (Italy), Martin Dewald (Heidenheim Heidekoepfe), Philip Cass (Saarlouis Hornets), Fred Kraft and Mike Otto have left the team of head coach Georg Bull. They will also replaced by young players like Matthias Schmitt, Christian Schuler, Jonathan Wagner, Marius Jelloneck, Tim Beigl and LeRoy Ewart, who were named during the press conference as candidates to receive more playing time.