WI Rapids Rafters Program - Page 13

Ben Heller (’12) – RHP, Drafted (22nd Rd by CLE), AAA Scranton Wilkes-Barre (NYY)

Ben Heller is not only the first Rafters player to make his Major League debut, but one of two former Rafters players acquired by the New York Yankees in mid-season trade last summer. Heller made his debut with the Yankees on August 26th, 2016 in a 14-4 victory against the Baltimore Orioles, tossing a scoreless frame. Before he was traded to the Yankees as a part of the Andrew Miller deal involving the Cleveland Indians, Heller made a rapid ascent through Cleveland’s minor league system, posting high strikeout totals with a blazing fastball that has touched 100 MPH. The righty was drafted in the 22nd round of the 2013 MLB Draft by the Indians and made an appearance with six different Cleveland affiliates, including the AAA Columbus Clippers. Heller has appeared in 10 games with the Yankees in his career, also splitting time with AAA Scranton Wilkes-Barre. In spring training this year, Heller showed off his stuff in bright fashion, pitching in a team-leading nine outings. The righty put up electric numbers, owning a 0.93 ERA in 9 2/3 innings pitched.

J.P. Feyereisen (’13) – RHP, Drafted (16th Rd by CLE), AA Trenton Thunder (NYY)

When the Yankees came calling for more pieces in the Miller deal, the team turned to J.P. Feyereisen as a player they desired. Alongside Heller, the two were dealt on July 31st, 2016 to the Yankees. Before the trade to New York, Feyereisen was turning in dominant performances in the Indians system. With four different club affiliates he totaled 27 saves in two seasons, making the right-hander stand out as a difference-maker when the Yankees were looking at prospects. Since joining the New York system, he has not disappointed. Feyereisen has pitched his way to a 3-0 record in AA Trenton, holding an outstanding 1.58 ERA in 34 innings pitched.

Justin Jirschele (’10-11) – INF, free-agent contract (Chicago White Sox), Manager of the Kannapolis Intimidators (CWS Class-A affiliate)

While Justin Jirschele, 26, put up impressive numbers as a player, it is now coaching taking center stage for the former Rafter. The University of Wisconsin at Stevens Point graduate suited up for the Rafters for two years in 2010-2011, driving in 21 runs during his summer baseball career in Wisconsin Rapids. Signing as a free agent after the 2012 MLB Draft with the Chicago White Sox, Jirschele rolled through the ranks of the minor league system, reaching the AAA level during the 2015 season. A career hitter of .277 in the minors, Jirschele turned his attention in 2017 to a different aspect within the White Sox system: the new manager of the Kannapolis Intimidators, the teams Class-A affiliate. Justin joins his father, Mike, in the family’s coaching tree. Mike is currently in his fourth season as the third base coach of the Kansas City Royals.