Expect a familiar face -- or two -- behind the plate as the Richmond RiverRats return for a fourth season in the Prospect League.
Catchers Kyle Bischoff and Kevin Franchetti are both expected to return for a second season with Richmond's woodbat collegiate baseball team. The RiverRats' first game is May 29 at McBride Stadium.
Bischoff is from Decatur and plays at Purdue. Franchetti is a Highland native who plays for Ball State.
"I'm really looking forward to it," Bischoff said recently of the upcoming campaign. "I like the atmosphere. I like the team. I like the fans. It's definitely good competition."
Bischoff played in 45 games last summer for the RiverRats, and Franchetti in 23. Franchetti hit .222, while Bischoff, who also played in the field, hit .196 with 12 RBIs.
"Bisch is a great kid to have around," said Tyler Lairson, who is returning for a fourth season as Richmond's manager. "He's very versatile. He can play first, third, catch. He'll pretty much run through a wall if you ask him to."
Through Friday, Franchetti had played in 17 games and started 14 for Ball State. Richmond High School graduate and former RiverRat Mitch Widau was second for the Cardinals with his .282 average and 17 RBIs.
Lairson said Franchetti brings several positives defensively.
"He obviously has a tremendous arm -- is a great catch and throw guy," Lairson said. "We're hoping Kevin finds it with his bat this year."
Lairson also said Jake Mahon of the University of Evansville will be in the catching rotation. Mahon also is an infielder.
In Mahon's latest outing for the Purple Aces, he went 3-for-5 with a double, RBI and two runs scored in a loss to Dayton.
"He's a very versatile kid. He can play third, first, and brings a big-time bat to the lineup," Lairson said of Mahon. "He's a starting guy for Evansville and we're glad to have him."
Richmond finished 26-30 last season as Quincy won its second Prospect League title in three years.
The RiverRats play in the six-team East Division, along with Lorain County, Butler, West Virginia, Chillicothe and Slippery Rock.
"Everybody seems to be very excited about coming into Richmond," said RiverRat co-owner and general manager Deanna Beaman. "Overall (the players) seem to be doing really well. We hope that will continue as we start into our season."
Bischoff is eager to return for a second season at McBride.
"I liked that we played every day. It's similar to a minor league schedule," he said. "It will be exciting to see how we come together as a team. I'm just excited and looking forward to it."
Sports editor Josh Chapin: (765) 973-4463 or email@example.com.