KENOSHA — Time will tell if Josh Daniels advances to higher levels of baseball, but no matter what the 6-foot-6 right-hander can lay claim to this historical footnote: he’s the first player with a direct “Kenosha connection” to play for the Kenosha Kingfish in their inaugural season in the Northwoods League.
An Elk Grove, Ill., resident, Daniels has pitched the last two seasons at Carthage College. The senior-to-be went 3-2 with a 3.76 ERA in nine starts for the Red Men in 2014.
Daniels, 22, joined the Kingfish at the beginning of this month and has appeared in four games — all in relief — and is 0-0 with a 6.75 ERA. He’s allowed seven hits while walking five and striking out eight in 5
“I’ve known Cory (Everts) and Augie (Schmidt) over there and I kept saying, ‘Hey, we’re Kenosha’s local team and we’d love to have a local guy out here this summer. Let me know when you think you’ve got a guy who might be ready. If you think of someone who can play in this league, we’d love to have him,’ Kingfish general manager Jake McGhee said of his conversations this spring with Carthage’s pitching coach (Everts) and head coach (Schmidt).
“So after a few more injuries went down, I kept checking in and checking in and they said, ‘I think Josh is your guy that could come in and help you guys out to pitch. I know he’s been good with the team and guys have enjoyed him. I think with a few more games in, he’s going to get the hang of it.”
Daniels had a brief stint last summer with the Green Bay Bullfrogs of the NWL, going 0-2 with an 18.89 ERA in five relief appearances spanning 3
innings. Though he didn’t fare as well as he would have liked, Daniels said that experience helped him adjust to the crowds of 3,000 or more common in the Northwoods League.
“Compared to 100 (fans at Carthage games), my first appearance (in 2013) I was in Madison and there were nearly 6,000 people there,” he said. “It was unreal. It was a lot of fun.”
When Daniels got offered the opportunity to join the Kingfish, he jumped at it.
“This was one of the teams I wanted to play for. It’s just a great experience actually being part of some of the best competition in the country,” he said. “I’m loving every minute of it.
“It’s great to be home. My natural home is about an hour away, and I’m going to school right down the street so it’s great to be right around here and playing for the city of Kenosha.”
McGhee and Daniels each said he has to improve his control if he wants to possibly get more chances to pitch the rest of the season.
But at 6-6, McGhee said Daniels presents a unique challenge for opposing hitters.
“It’s nice to have someone come in who has a little bit of height and that added dimension,” McGhee said. “You can bring him in in relief, and it’s a totally different arm angle and totally different ball coming at you that you haven’t seen coming from a guy like Rex or Rico who are a little shorter. (Kingfish starting pitchers Rex Morrow and Rico Garcia are 5-8 and 5-11, respectively.) He’s got good stuff, but he’s a really good guy, too. I’ve enjoyed getting to know him.
“If he throws strikes — kind of like every pitcher — he’s going to be good for us. ... I think as he settles in, he’ll get more comfortable, and he’ll be throwing strikes and that’s really the key.”
While Daniels admitted he would love to get a chance to play professionally after he graduates from Carthage, he said right now he’s “just taking it day by day and seeing where it takes me. I’m playing in a great spot and a great city.”
Before becoming a Kingfish, he actually had spent time on the Simmons Field mound.
“Before we ended up having the construction over at Augie Schmidt Field (that was completed in spring 2013), we actually had fall ball here,” Daniels said. “So before the construction, before they had everything completed, I actually got to see what (Simmons Field) was before to where it is now.
“They did a fantastic job (renovating the ballpark). It’s a great place to be.”