ÉQUIPE QUÉBEC SELECTS LHP NICK HORVATH WITH FIRST PICK OF 2021 FRONTIER LEAGUE DRAFT

With the first overall pick of Tuesday’s 2021 Frontier League Draft, Équipe Québec selected twenty-four-year-old left-handed pitcher Nick Horvath. Horvath played at the University Florida and was drafted by the Baltimore Orioles in the 25th round of the 2018 MLB June Amateur Draft. He then played for Baltimore affiliates Aberdeen and Delmarva, and then joined the Joliet Slammers last year in the City of Champions Cup.

“We like his resume,” noted Québec manager Patrick Scalabrine. “He’s a good left-handed pitcher, with good velocity. He also addresses a team need for us. Overall, he’s a good-looking kid.”

When asked about his journey to this point, Horvath mentioned the importance of his experience in the game. “My past experience is everything. It’s helped mold me as a player and as a person.”

Horvath played both Outfielder and Pitcher during his time at Florida and with the Orioles organization. While Horvath’s role with Québec this season is yet to be determined, his versatility was certainly another factor that likely made him the first overall selection.

“I’m just grateful for this opportunity. I got released in 2020, but I’m more than ready to get back at it,” said Horvath.

The full list of drafted players is:

Pick Team # Pos Player
1 Equipe Quebec 114 LHP Nick Horvath
2 Washington Wild Things 112 LHP Ryan Hennen
3 Gateway Grizzlies 80 RHP Jared Wright
4 Joliet Slammers 430 2B Lane Baremore
5 Windy City ThunderBolts 606 SS Manuel Blanco
6 New York Boulders 111 LHP Dario Polanco
7 Schaumburg Boomers 119 RHP Ryan Middendorf
8 Sussex County Miners 125 RHP Gavin Sonnier
9 Tri-City ValleyCats 66 RHP Zaquiel Puentes
10 Southern Illinois Miners 70 RHP Kaleb Schmidt
11 Gateway Grizzlies 631 INF Abdeil Alicia Diaz
12 New Jersey Jackals 201 C/RHP Colin Butkiewicz
13 Evansville Otters 409 2B Trent Nash
14 Sussex County Miners 128 RHP Baylor Sundahl
15 Equipe Quebec 234 C Jorge Gutierrrez
16 Washington Wild Things 700 OF Jordan Anderson
17 Joliet Slammers 225 C Tyler Blaum
18 Windy City ThunderBolts 400 2B Peyton Barnes
19 New York Boulders 212 C Miguel Molina
20 New Jersey Jackals 100 LHP Jake Allen
21 Tri-City ValleyCats 107 RHP Raibel Custodio
22 Southern Illinois Miners 210 C Fernando Villegas
23 Lake Erie Crushers 47 RHP Aaron Glickstein
24 Florence Y’alls 133 RHP Ean Walda
25 Evansville Otters 78 RHP Jake Woods
26 Equipe Quebec 789 OF Dane Tofteland
27 Schaumburg Boomers 122 LHP Jesse Remington
28 Tri-City ValleyCats 639 SS Brendon Dadson
29 Southern Illinois Miners 63 RHP Wes Noble
30 Lake Erie Crushers 209 C John Tuttle
31 Florence Y’alls 205 C Colton Parrish
32 Evansville Otters 238 C Joe Sullivan
33 Lake Erie Crushers 132 RHP Tyler Vogel
34 Evansville Otters 32 LHP Tristan Baker
35 Evansville Otters 621 SS Cristopher Pujols

Spring Training for Horvath and all the other draftees will begin on May 13, with the regular season beginning May 27.

150 PLAYERS INVITED BACK FOR TUESDAY’S GAME ACTION

150 of the 300 players in attendance for day 1 of the Tryout Camp and Draft have been invited back for Tuesday’s game action.  The Frontier League managers in consultation with the MLB scouts in attendance developed the list of returning players.

Pitchers can contact Justin Reschke at jreschke@californiawinterleague.com for FlightScope data.

FlightScope will also be set up for Tuesday’s game action.

Mercy Health Stadium will open at 7:30 AM on Tuesday.  Be ready for a stretch led by the athletic trainer at 8:00.  After stretch we will do infield/outfield with the goal of starting the game at 9:00 AM.

Pitching and batting orders will be sent later tonight.

Players asked to return for Tuesday are:

# First Name Last Name Pos.
30 Adolofo Espinoza RHP yes
32 tristan baker LHP yes
37 Bradley Burdett LHP yes
40 Justin Curry RHP yes
46 Bryan gilliam LHP yes
47 Aaron Glickstein RHP yes
51 Alex Jacobs RHP yes
53 Stephen Knapp RHP yes
58 Kyle Lugar RHP yes
59 Courtney Mack RHP yes
63 Wes Noble RHP yes
66 Zaquiel Puentes RHP yes
69 Emmanuel Rosario RHP yes
70 Kaleb Schmidt RHP yes
73 Albinson Volquez RHP yes
75 Gavin Weyman RHP yes
78 Jake Woods RHP yes
80 Jarod Wright RHP yes
81 Max Maarleveld LHP yes
84 Dakota Grant RHP yes
85 Willy Mendez Toribio RHP yes
100 Jake Allen LHP yes
102 Aaron Beck RHP yes
103 Harold Boyce RHP yes
107 Raibel Custodio RHP yes
109 Patrick Donohoe RHP yes
112 Ryan Hennen LHP yes
113 Jackson Hicks RHP yes
114 Nick Horvath LHP yes
116 Kevin Kirley RHP yes
119 Ryan Middendorf RHP yes
120 Johnny Morell RHP yes
121 Dario Polanco LHP yes
122 Jesse Remington LHP yes
125 Gavin Sonnier RHP yes
126 David Sorrell RHP yes
127 Alexander Stobert RHP yes
128 Baylor Sundahl RHP yes
129 Ryan Tomao RHP yes
130 Jonathan Vance RHP yes
131 Jose Vasquez RHP yes
132 Tyler Vogel RHP yes
133 Ean Walda RHP yes
134 David Worrell RHP yes
135 Danny Zardon RHP yes
137 Brenden Kudlinski LHP yes
176 Michael Blanchard RHP yes
201 Colin Butkiewicz RHP yes
200 Chris Brady C yes
203 Michael Luker C yes
204 Omar Ortiz Vazquez C yes
207 Zak Schueller C yes
209 John Tuttle C yes
210 Fernando Villegas C yes
212 Miguel Molina C yes
225 Tyler Blaum C yes
227 Kevin Ciprian C yes
229 Michael Giordano C yes
234 Jorge Gutierrez C yes
237 Brian Sanchez C yes
238 Joe Sullivan C yes
240 Brandon Weathers C yes
241 Janigson Villalobos C yes
306 Nikaylen Morrison 1B yes
310 Ian Ascuasiati 1B yes
312 Bryce Bisenius 1B yes
314 Noah Childress 1B yes
318 Rami Jadallah 1B yes
319 Bradley Kavka 1B yes
321 Angelo Pahila 1B yes
322 Brandon Williams 1B yes
323 Seth Strong 1B yes
400 Peyton Barnes 2B yes
401 Landen Barns 2B yes
409 Trent Nash 2B yes
410 Bradley O’Neal 2B yes
411 Ryan Osko 2B yes
430 Lane Baremore 2B yes
431 Enrique Batista 2B yes
433 James Spera 2B yes
96 Spencer Henn 3B yes
97 Frank Podkul 3B yes
502 Justin Cohen 3B yes
503 Brett Donaty 3B yes
508 John Lantigua 3B yes
509 Kaleb Lemos 3B yes
511 Rey Serrano 3B yes
513 Nicholas Sciubba 3B yes
514 Austin Newman 3B yes
515 Jerrod Johnmeyer 3B yes
516 James Smibert 3B yes
601 Dylan Arnold SS yes
603 John Benevolent SS yes
606 Manuel Blanco SS yes
607 Josh Burns SS yes
611 Walner Espinal Fernandez SS yes
613 Edwin Gil SS yes
614 Pablo Gomez SS yes
615 Gabriel Lozada SS yes
616 Ernesto Manzanillo SS yes
617 Skylar Mercado SS yes
619 David Ortiz SS yes
620 Shea Patterson SS yes
621 Cristopher Pujols SS yes
623 Ezequiel Santana SS yes
624 Juan Jose Santana SS yes
625 Christian Stanziano SS yes
628 Hamley Volquez SS yes
630 Brandon Wilson Jr. SS yes
631 Abdiel Alicea Diaz SS yes
632 Eric Meyer SS yes
633 Malik Blaise SS yes
638 Cesar Cuevas SS yes
639 BRENDON DADSON SS yes
642 Douglas Johnson SS yes
810 Keaton Slack SS yes
811 Alejandro Gonzalez SS yes
700 Jordan Anderson OF yes
706 Dez Chumley OF yes
708 Branfiel Concepcion OF yes
713 Darlin De la Rosa OF yes
714 Bryce Denton OF yes
715 Dontavious Dickey OF yes
718 Joba Ferrell OF yes
720 Sean Guida OF yes
721 Dalton Hansel OF yes
722 Jalen Horton OF yes
723 Matthew Ing OF yes
728 Pierre Martinez OF yes
730 Liam McArthur OF yes
746 Dimas Ojeda OF yes
747 Chandler Palyas OF yes
748 Davis Purviance OF yes
751 Chase Redick OF yes
752 Austin Riggins OF yes
756 Jabin Smith OF yes
758 Brandon Taylor OF yes
759 Neil Taylor OF yes
766 John Williams OF yes
767 Frank Yackovich OF yes
768 Steven Mouzon OF yes
776 Shawn Barrowdale OF yes
780 Tristan Graham OF yes
782 Dominic Kenyon OF yes
785 Mario Ramsey OF yes
787 Cesar Sandoval OF yes
788 Payton Smith OF yes
789 Dane Tofteland OF yes
791 Jermond Williams OF yes
793 Gabriel Wurtz OF yes

2021 FRONTIER LEAGUE TRYOUT CAMP & DRAFT MAY 10-11

The 28th annual Frontier League Tryout Camp and Draft will be held on Monday, May 10 and Tuesday, May 11 at Mercy Health Stadium in Avon, Ohio, home of the Lake Erie Crushers.

CLICK HERE TO REGISTER FOR THE 2021 TRYOUT CAMP & DRAFT

All 14 Frontier League teams playing the 2021 season will be represented at the workouts, and scouts from multiple Major League Baseball teams also attend each season.  Representatives from other independent leagues participate as well.  Advance registration is available at frontierleaguetryouts.eventbrite.com.

The workouts officially begin at 9:00 AM on May 10 and will feature running, fielding and throwing drills for infielders, outfielders, and catchers, and batting practice for position players while pitchers will throw 15-20 pitch bullpens.  Following the first day, the field managers will post a list of players invited back for inter-squad games on May 11.  At the conclusion of the games, action will break for 30 minutes as clubs and prepare for the draft.

Social distancing protocols will be observed during the Tryout Camp, including masks required for all attendees not actively participating in baseball activities.

An average of 35 players each season have been drafted and signed to spring training contracts over the past eight years.  Each year, at least one tryout camp participant has been selected for the Frontier League’s All-Star Game. Several draftees have gone on to be signed by Major League Baseball organizations, with four having ascended to the Major Leagues (Chris Jakubauskas, Seattle; Josh Smoker, New York Mets; Chris Smith, Toronto; and Robert Stock, San Diego).

“We take great pride in giving players an outlet to showcase their talents and provide a quality experience at minimal cost,” said Frontier League Deputy Commissioner Steve Tahsler.  “Our clubs take this event very seriously as they look to complete their spring training rosters, and with new teams joining for the 2021 season we expect more opportunities for players to be signed.”

Debuting in 1993, the Frontier League is the largest and longest running of the MLB Partner Leagues and features teams stretching from the Atlantic Ocean to the Mississippi River and from the Ohio River to the St. Lawrence Seaway.  More information and the complete 2021 schedule can be found at www.frontierleague.com.

Mercy Health Stadium is located 20 miles west of downtown Cleveland at exit 151 off I-90.  Spring training for Frontier League teams begins on Thursday, May 13 with the regular season opening on May 27.

IMPORTANT: As per the manufacturer’s warranty for the artificial playing surface at Mercy Health Stadium, all players trying out must wear turf shoes or molded cleats. No metal cleats will be allowed. This policy is the same that is in effect for all events at Mercy Health Stadium. Players attempting to enter Mercy Health Stadium with metal cleats will be immediately disqualified from the workouts.  In addition, there is a strict no seed policy at the stadium, and all tryout participants are not permitted to bring seeds into the facility.

Share this event with your friends on Facebook by clicking here. 

MINERS ADD RON BIGA TO STAFF

The Southern Illinois Miners announce that Ron Biga has joined manager Mike Pinto’s staff as an advance scout and instructor for the upcoming 2021 season.

No stranger to Southern Illinois, Biga spent three years as an assistant coach and advance scout with the club from 2008-10, while also assisting in player procurement. Following his first stint with the Miners, Biga, a Chicago-native, served as Vice President of Baseball Operations with the Joliet Slammers in 2011 and 2012.

He then became the manager of the Windy City ThunderBolts in 2013. Over the course of his six years on the bench for the ThunderBolts from 2013-18, Biga became the longest-tenured manager in club history while also setting a new franchise record for wins.

“It’s wonderful to bring ‘Beegs’ back home with us,” Pinto said. “He was such a big help in our early years- a sounding board for ideas, and instrumental in helping us find some really great Miners. During his time with the Slammers and ThunderBolts, we always remained close friends. His knowledge of the league and its players made it a natural choice to add him to the staff this season.”

Prior to joining the Miners, Biga was an assistant coach with the Sioux City Explorers in the American Association from 2006-07.

“It’s exciting to come back to where it all started,” Biga said. “Some of my best friendships and baseball memories have been in Marion. My role with the team will be similar to what it was in the past- advance scouting, instructing, and helping Mike with whatever he needs. We work well together, and I understand what he needs from me. I look forward to being back in the organization, and in the Frontier League.”

The Southern Illinois Miners are the Frontier League’s most-successful franchise since debuting in 2007, winning the 2012 Frontier League Championship as well as division titles in 2010, 2014, 2015 and 2016. They have been awarded the Frontier League Organization of the Year award three times since their inception, and also set a new Frontier League attendance record in their inaugural season. In addition, they have sent 59 players to MLB organizations in their 13 years of operation. For ticket information, contact the box office at (618) 998-8499. For additional information, visit our website at www.southernillinoisminers.com.

BATTLE LOOMS FOR SPOTS IN BOULDERS’ BULLPEN

Every successful team has strong relief pitching and New York Boulders’ manager T.J. Stanton believes in the arms that he has signed to fill out his bullpen this season, the initial Frontier League campaign for the franchise.

A Baker’s Dozen of relievers are expected to show up at Boulders’ pre-season camp when it begins on May 17.

James Mulry, 27, and Carson Ferry are the lone lefthanders in the group that rounds out with 11 righties.

Mulry originally signed with the Ottawa Champions of the Can-Am League out of Northeastern University in 2017. The next year, he moved on to the Schaumburg Boomers of the Frontier League before heading back East and connecting with the Boulders in 2019.

Mulry also pitched for the Boulders in the All-American Baseball Challenge last summer.

“(He) will be counted on heavily in our pen,” Stanton said of Mulry, noting that over the last two years, the southpaw tossed 54 2/3 innings for the Boulders and allowed only 35 hits while pitching to a 1.81 ERA.

Ferry, 24, comes to the Boulders after three years at Northlands College (WI) with a fastball that tops out at 95 MPH.

While most of the righthanders are hard throwers, there is a trio of righties that bring a different dimension to the bullpen – Brandon Bingel, Zach Schneider and Jake Dexter are sidearmers.

“I love having that option to balance out all the uber-velo guys we have,” Stanton said.

Bingel, 26, is the most intriguing option of the trio since he is expected to make the Boulders’ roster because of his ability to play the infield. A 22nd round MLB Draft selection of the Pittsburgh Pirates, Bingel advanced as high as the Class A West Virginia Black Bears of the New York-Penn League before signing with the Winnipeg Goldeyes of the American Association for the 2018 season.

Bingel pitched two seasons with Winnipeg, splitting six decisions while striking out 77 and surrendering 88 hits in 95 innings of work.

“(Brandon) will be a utility infielder and a big factor in our pen,” Stanton said. “He has a sidearm delivery with rare high velo for the angle.”

Schneider, 24, was an All-American closer for Florida Atlantic University in Conference USA, saving 31 games over two seasons (2018-2019). He spent the summer of 2019 with the Boston Red Sox Gulf Coast League team; while Dexter, 24, signed with the Los Angeles Angels in 2019 after three years at Southern Maine University, spending that summer with the Angels’ Arizona League rookie team.

“(Zach) uses a sidearm delivery for deception and movement,” Stanton said. “Jake uses his sidearm delivery to induce grounders at a high rate.”

Meanwhile, the remaining righties looking to hook on with the Boulders include Nathan Alexander, Alex Carrillo, Lucas Burton, Mason Alexander, Gaylon Viney, Tanner Kiest, Jordan Scott and Orsen Josephina.

The 24-year-old Alexander was a 24th round choice of the Miami Marlins out of Texas-San Antonio in 2018. That summer was spent with the Marlins’ Gulf Coast League team before Alexander moved up to the Clinton LumberKings of the Class A Midwest League for the 2019 season.

“A classic Texas flamethrower,” Stanton said of Alexander. “He has closing experience and is a 95 (MPH) guy.”

Carrillo, 23, spent the 2019 season with the Texas Rangers’ Arizona League team, signing with the organization out of Faulkner University (AL); Burton, a local product from Rockville Center on Long Island, spent four years pitching for Molloy College (NY) before joining the Boulders for their final Can-Am League season in the summer of 2019.

Last summer, Burton pitched in the All-American Baseball Challenge for the Boulders.

“Alex has great reviews from scouts and coaches and gives us flexibility,” Stanton said. “Lucas has some small experience with the Boulders in ’19 and ’20, has extremely explosive stuff and has been working very hard for more consistency – he is a 95 (MPH) guy.”

Mason Alexander, 24 and a 2019 graduate of Ecclesia College in Arkansas where he was an All-American, caught the eye of Stanton and the Boulders after a strong showing in the California Winter League in 2020; while Viney, 26, last pitched for Central Oklahoma University in 2018.

“Gaylon will be making his pro debut after he has great years at the University of Central Oklahoma where he played in very much a hitters league,” Stanton said.

Kiest, 26, was a 27th round selection in 2013 by the Los Angeles Dodgers, but went unsigned and back into the player pool for the next year’s draft, where he was chosen in the 28th round by the Philadelphia Phillies.

Kiest spent the 2014 and 2015 seasons with the Phillies’ Gulf Coast League rookie team. Since then, he has toiled for nine teams, including the Sussex County Miners of the Can-Am League in 2016. Kiest helped the St. Paul Saints win the American Association championship in 2019 and then split the following season between the Saints and the Fargo-Moorhead Red Hawks.

“Tanner has huge experience in late game situations, including being the closer for the Saints’ championship team in 2019,” Stanton said. “At times, he has been the best reliever in all of Independent ball.”

Scott, 26, a native of Atlanta, GA, signed with the San Francisco Giants in 2018, spending that year with their Arizona Rookie League team. The next season, he split time between the Arizona League and the Salem-Keizer Volcanoes of the Class a Northwest League.

Meanwhile, Josephina, 25, inked a deal with the Pittsburgh Pirates in 2019 after two seasons pitching for Palm Beach Atlantic University (FL). That summer, he played with the Pirates’ Gulf Coast League team.

“Jordan has shown great success after a transition from the rotation to the pen – he gives us great flexibility,” Stanton said. “Orsen has dominant stats that are coupled with explosive stuff – he should be a huge force for us late in games. He (Orsen) is a 95 (MPH) guy.”

After an exhibition game on May 22 against the NYPD – game time is set for 6:30 p.m., the New York Boulders’ much anticipated Frontier League debut will arrive on May 27 when they host the New Jersey Jackals at Palisades Credit Union Park in Pomona.

Game time for Opening Day is 7 p.m.

The Boulders will conclude their two-game opening series with New Jersey the following day. That game is also a 7 p.m. start.

A complete New York Boulders’ 2021 schedule, as well as information regarding season tickets and packages for the 2021 season are available by calling 845-364-0009 or sliding to www.NYBoulders.com. Individual game tickets are on sale now.

Meanwhile, tickets for the NYPD exhibition game on May 22 are on-sale now.

Attendance at all home games at PCU Park is subject to New York State Department of Health guidelines and protocol.

Debuting in 1993, the Frontier League is the largest and longest-running of the modern independent leagues and features teams stretching from the Atlantic Ocean to the Mississippi River and from the Ohio River to the St. Lawrence Seaway.  In September of 2020, the Frontier League reached an agreement to become a “Partner League” with Major League Baseball.

As a “Partner League,” the Frontier League and its teams will meet on a regular basis with MLB representatives to discuss joint marketing and promotional opportunities, as well as collaborate on initiatives to provide organized baseball to communities throughout the United States and Canada.

More information can be found at www.frontierleague.com.

About the New York Boulders and NYB, LLC

The New York Boulders are entering their 10th season of Professional Baseball as part of the newly-formed Frontier League and are in pursuit of a post-season appearance for the seventh straight season. Founded as the Rockland Boulders in 2011, the franchise rebranded as the New York Boulders in advance of the 2020 season. In 2014, the Boulders won the Can-Am League Championship and hosted the Frontier vs. Can-Am All-Star Game in 2019. Proud to be part of the rich history of professional baseball in the New York City region, during the 2017 season the team welcomed its 1,000,000th fan to Palisades Credit Union Park located in Rockland County, NY. In 2012 and 2014, Rockland was named the Can-Am’s “Organization of the Year.” The Boulders are owned and operated by NYB, LLC, a sports and entertainment company comprised of former executives from all levels of major and minor league sports. NYB is committed to providing superior customer service and quality, affordable family entertainment experiences for the New York Metropolitan area, Lower Hudson Valley and northeast New Jersey. Slide to www.nyboulders.com for more information.

SLAMMERS ANNOUNCE 2021 FIREWORKS DATES

The Joliet Slammers are excited to announce that Fireworks Fridays presented by DuPage Medical Group will return in 2021.  In addition to nine Friday Fireworks shows, the Slammers will have additional shows on Saturday July 3rd, Sunday July 4th, and Sunday September 5th.  Five game and 10 game fireworks ticket plans are available starting at $45.  A full listing of fireworks dates with scheduled musical themes is below.

Friday May 28 (theme TBD)*^

Friday June 4 (theme TBD)^

Friday June 25 (theme TBD)^

Friday July 2 (Hamilton themed)^

Saturday July 3 (Patriotic themed)*

Sunday July 4 (Patriotic themed)^

Friday July 16 (theme TBD)^

Friday July 30 (theme TBD)*^

Friday August 13(Super Hero themed)^

Friday August 20 (Princess themed)*^

Friday September 3 (theme TBD)^

Sunday September 5 (Classic Rock)*

*included in 5 game plan

^included in 10 game plan

Other daily promotions that return in 2021 are $2 Tuesdays presented by 1340 WJOL with reserved seat tickets just $2 and Thirsty Thursday presented by Bud Light with discounted drink specials.

Also returning in 2021 are some of the most popular theme nights.  Super Hero Night and the annual Guns ‘n’ Hoses game between the Joliet Police and Joliet Fire Department returns on Friday, August 13th.  Several Super Heroes will be in attendance and fans are encouraged to dress as their favorite Super Hero.  Princess Night returns on Friday, August 20th.  Princesses will be around the stadium and fans are encouraged to dress as their favorite princess or prince.

Pet Days return on Tuesday July 13th, Sunday August 1st, and Monday September 6th.  Fans can bring their pets (on a leash or in a carrier) to the Slammers game those days.  Military Appreciation Day presented by DuPage Medical Group returns on Saturday, July 3rd and Friday, September 3rd.  The Slammers will wear special jerseys on those nights that will be auctioned off September 3rd with proceeds benefiting a veterans charity.  Scouts can spend the night on the field on Saturday, August 14th as part of the annual Scout campout.

Season tickets are still available for just $300.  Individual tickets are available online and over the phone starting Monday, May 3rd.  For more information on tickets and for the most up to date promotions schedule, visit www.jolietslammers.com or call 815-722-2287.  Please note that all theme nights and games are subject to change.

About the Joliet Slammers: The Joliet Slammers play at DuPage Medical Group Field in downtown Joliet, Illinois, and are members of the professional, independent Frontier League.  The Frontier League is entering its 29th season of play in 2021.  It is the largest MLB Partner League with 16 teams spanning from the Mississippi River to the East Coast.  Visit the Slammers online at www.jolietslammers.com or call the ticket office at 815-722-2287 for more information! Don’t forget to “Like” the Slammers on Facebook at www.facebook.com/jolietslammers or follow them on Twitter at @jolietslammers!

CAREY, JACKALS READY FOR 23rd SEASON

It will be a new day and the start of a new era in the history of the New Jersey Jackals when the team opens its 23rd season on the diamond on May 27.

Major League Baseball made sweeping changes to the minor league system over the winter, the biggest changes in decades, and the Jackals are going to be a part of the new look.

First, after competing in three much smaller leagues over the years, the Jackals will now be playing in the newly-expanded, 16-team Frontier League, the biggest, longest-running and most successful independent league in the country.

And, beginning this year, the Frontier League has been designated as an MLB-Partner League.

“Being a partner with Major League Baseball is obviously a big deal,” said Jackals third-year manager Brooks Carey.

“We’ll just be getting it off the ground this season, but the possibilities for the future are endless. This is the start of something that can be very exciting for the team and, most importantly, for the fans.”

The Frontier League is still an independent league with no MLB-affiliated teams, but it’s now a league with an even bigger pipeline for players to move on to affiliated teams and, ultimately — hopefully — to Yankee Stadium or Citi Field.

The partnership also could give Frontier League teams possible opportunities to participate in MLB’s tinkering and experimenting with rules and other aspects of the game.

In the winter shakeup, MLB reduced the number of affiliated teams from 160 to 120 and cut the annual draft from 40 rounds down to 20 rounds. Those two moves, alone, will eliminate spots for close to 2,000 young, hungry players who would have been in the affiliated system and, instead, will now head for independent leagues, like the Frontier League, which already had the most successful track record of sending players on to big-league organizations.

“There are a lot of players out there,” said Carey. “On the other hand, that really doesn’t make it any easier to put together a roster. You’re always trying to fill holes, to fill your needs, and you’ve also got to have a roster that complies with league rules about numbers of players in the various categories of experience levels.”

That’s what Carey and his staff are up to at the moment – working the phones, scanning the transaction wires and staying glued to the internet in search of just the right player to make the team better.

Founded in 1998, the Jackals played their first seven years in the Northeast League and the Northern League before joining the Can-Am League for the 2005 season.

In 2019, New Jersey won its first Can-Am championship, defeating the Sussex County Miners in the final round of the playoffs.

Now, it’s on to the Frontier League.

“It’s a big step up for us,” said Jackals owner Al Dorso.

“The Can-Am was a good little regional league, but the Frontier League is more of a national presence. It’s going to be exciting. In many ways, it’s a new beginning. The only thing that doesn’t change is that we want to win ballgames, no matter what league we’re in.”

The Jackals will be playing in the Frontier League’s Can-Am Conference, which includes many old opponents from the now-defunct Can-Am League plus two new names – the Tri-City Valley Cats and the Washington Wild Things.

The Cats are from Troy, NY, and the Wild Things are based in Washington, PA, 30 miles southwest of Pittsburgh and 18 miles from the West Virginia border. Washington is 376 miles from Little Falls.

Virtually all of the Jackals games this year will be played against other teams within the Can-Am Conference, in part a concession to travel issues due to the corona virus. The only exception occurs in August, when the Florence Y’Alls, out of the league’s Midwestern Conference, travel from their home in Kentucky to Yogi Berra Stadium for a weekend series with New Jersey.

Both conferences are split into two divisions. The Jackals are in the four-team Northeast Division of the Can-Am Conference. After a 96-game season, the winners of the four divisions will square off in the Frontier League playoffs.

In other words, it’s win your division or go home as far as the postseason is concerned.

“That’s the goal, to win the division” said Carey, speaking by phone from his home in Tampa.

“Right now, my most immediate goal is to put together a team that will live up to expectations both on and off the field.”

As a lefty pitcher who grew up in Key West and played for Florida State University, Carey was drafted by the Baltimore Orioles in 1978 and reached the Triple-A level with the O’s, then with the Cincinnati Reds.

Before he took over the Jackals in 2018, Carey was manager of the Normal CornBelters, an Illinois team that played for him in the Frontier League. This year, because of MLB’s recent shuffle, Normal is now in a Prospect League – a collegiate, wood-bat, summer league.

Meanwhile, the Frontier League gained new teams by absorbing the Can-Am League and gained in reputation with the MLB partnership.

“No doubt about it, it feels good to say we’re part of the Frontier League,” said Jackals general manager Gil Addeo.

“We hope that connection to Major League Baseball will help us reach out in the community, too. That MLB logo will be nice to have.”

The Jackals open the season 50 miles north at the Sussex County Miners. After two games there, the team returns to town for the 6 p.m. home opener on Saturday, May 29, with fireworks to follow the game.

“It’s been a long time that we’ve gone without baseball,” Addeo said. “I can’t wait for that first pitch. We all deserve it.”

By Carl Barbati, former sports editor of the New Jersey Herald, Daily Record and The Trentonian.

ALLEGHENY COLLEGE PRODUCT SIGNS WITH WILD THINGS

The Washington Wild Things announced the signing of left-handed pitcher and Pittsburgh native Sean Kealey, who pitched for the Steel City Slammin’ Sammies in pod play fresh off his time at Allegheny College where he matriculated to from Baldwin High School in Pittsburgh.

Kealey tossed eight innings across his five appearances at Wild Things Park this past summer. In that work, he walked four and struck out 15 opposing batters. He did not allow a hit or run.

“Sean had his senior season at Allegheny College get cut short and used those circumstances to showcase himself at the professional level,” said president and general manager Tony Buccilli. “He presents a large frame from the left side and a pitch mix to challenge hitters from both sides of the plate. Sean should provide depth to our group, pitch in meaningful innings and receive great support from the local Baldwin community.”

Kealey said the enthusiasm from the top for the team was a big reason he decided to sign to play this season.

“Tony was really enthusiastic about the direction that the team and the league was going in. I had been keeping in shape and contemplating a return and he made that decision really easy for me,” said Kealey. “Playing professionally close to home in a league this talented is hard to pass up.”

At Baldwin High School, Kealey was a two-year letterwinner. He’d head to Allegheny and pitched four seasons there, which included an NCAC Pitcher of the Year selection and multi-time all-conference honoree. Other local names to win Pitcher of the Year for the Gators are Canon-McMillan head coach Tim Bruzdewicz and W&J College head coach Jeff Mountain.

As a freshman, Kealey was 5-1 in 14 appearances (one start) and logged 25 innings. The next season he was named honorable mention All-NCAC after posting 53.1 innings across 11 appearances (nine starts) with 56 strikeouts. The yearly award came in 2019, where the former Highlander was 6-3 in 12 starts across 69.1 innings. He fanned 75 and allowed just 61 hits. His 2020 season was going well before the COVID-19 pandemic shut the season down. In 13 innings, he hadn’t walked a batter and punched out 22 in two starts.

“I had a chance to play with a lot of the guys on the current roster last summer with the Sammies and against the Wild Things. For how brief the time was, my experience was great and my teammates were all pretty close-knit,” said Kealey. “We all celebrated each other’s successes and showed up every day trying to get better at a very uncertain time.”

He described himself as competitive and enthusiastic, as every time he takes the mound he’s looking to help his team win any way possible.

“Knowing that the defense reacts to the tone you set on the mound is something I’ve learned over the years and take pretty seriously,” said Kealey. “In the dugout I just try to be the best teammate possible and set an example for upcoming players that have a similar path that I took in baseball.”

He also said the easy answer to team goals is to compete for a championship, but he feels he has something to prove.

“I feel like I’m coming in with something to prove not only to myself but to everyone who has supported me in baseball,” said Kealey. “If I get better every day and give my team a chance to win every time I’m on the mound then I think we are going to do some pretty special things this year.”

In another move today, the Wild Things also announced the official signing of infielder Andrew Penner, whom the team selected in the Frontier League Dispersal Draft.

Kealey and his teammates report soon to prepare for the 2021 campaign, which begins at Florence Thursday, May 27.

ABOUT THE WASHINGTON WILD THINGS

The Washington Wild Things are a professional baseball team in the Frontier League, partner league of Major League Baseball, that plays in Washington, PA. Since their inception in 2002, the Wild Things have won six division titles and earned numerous playoff appearances. Fans and media can stay aware of all the happenings in the Wild Things’ organization by following the team’s social media platforms and website, washingtonwildthings.com. For other inquiries, call the front office at 724-250-9555.

 

SUSSEX COUNTY ADDS FORMER SETON HALL STAR BILLY LAYNE

Billy Layne Jr. grew up in New Jersey, the New Jersey that’s on the water, just north of Keyport, just across from Staten Island, with a great view of the Statue of Liberty across New York Harbor.

He’s never been to Sussex County.

“I’m looking forward to it,” he said by phone recently from Cliffwood Beach, newly-signed and eager for the Miners season-opener on May 27 at Skylands Stadium. 

“You want to experience new things and new places,” he said. “ I just want to pitch. It doesn’t matter where; I want to pitch, and I want to get guys out.”

A 24-year-old right-hander, Layne has pitched in Vermont, Texas, and Washington, spending the past two years with Texas Rangers farm teams, after the Rangers drafted him in the 11th round out of Seton Hall University in 2018.

That was the second time the Rangers drafted him. He had said “no thank you” to them and headed off to college when they first drafted him out of Old Bridge High School in 2015.

Layne started his little league days as a catcher, and he enjoyed it. But, in the middle of a local mayor’s-trophy game, his team ran out of pitchers and his coach told him to take the mound and give it a try.

“I struck out the side, and that was it,” Layne said. “I loved baseball and I loved being a catcher, but pitching was something entirely different. I instantly loved pitching.”

He would still catch a little, and he played some center field as a high school freshman. After that, it was all pitching, leading his team deep into the state playoffs his junior and senior years, posting a 1.96 ERA and drawing the attention of pro scouts.

Instead, he chose to attend Seton Hall, where he was a red-shirt in 2016 and a spot-starter and reliever in 2017, finishing the year 3-1 with a 4.43 ERA.

Not bad, but not so sensational, either.

Then, things changed for the skinny kid who stood 6-foot-4.

Playing summer ball after his sophomore year, Layne bumped into a coach named Evan Wise, who is now the “pitching lab coordinator and director of player development” at Wake Forest University.

“I was always very quiet,” Layne said. “I kept to myself, including when I pitched.

“He told me that I needed to start acting like I knew I was good. One time, we got into it a little bit with each other and he said that’s what he wanted, to see me get fired up.

“He said that I had to go out to the mound thinking that I’m Roger Clemens, that nobody could touch me.”

The new, aggressive approach certainly worked.

Layne returned to the South Orange campus in 2018 with a new attitude, even a swagger, and he threw some beauties in that breakthrough year, including his nine strikeouts in six shutout innings in the Big East Conference championship game.

“Even my parents couldn’t believe how emotional I was on the mound that year,” he said. “They had never seen me showing any emotion on my face or hitting myself in the chest or anything like that.”

     After the season, he signed with the Rangers and reported to the Arizona Rookie League, moving on to the organization’s Short-Season Class-A team in Spokane in 2019.

He’ll arrive in Augusta with what Miners manager Bobby Jones calls “a starter’s body,” as he’s gone from his thin 170-pound frame a few years ago to a current weight around 215.

“I’ll probably get to 220 by the time I get to camp,” he said.

Ice cream? Lasagna?

“Definitely not,” he answered. “I fell in love with the weight room this year. I’m there five or six days a week.”

Jones knew all about it.

“That’s part of his development as a pitcher,” Jones said. “You learn that being in the weight room is your friend, not your enemy.”

The skipper was aware of Layne back at Seton Hall and has since talked about the young hurler with several of his many colleagues in the coaching and scouting worlds.

“Nothing but glowing reports,” Jones said. “He’s a very bright kid. I’m excited to see what he does here.”

A fan of both Manhattan and the Jersey Shore, Layne called Hall of Famer Greg Maddux his favorite all-time pitcher because of his use of guile to get the job done.

“In an era of so many flame-throwers, he made it look easy by fooling batters with all of his other pitches,” said Layne, a lifelong student of the game, who’s visited “awesome” Cooperstown several times.

“You want to be Roger Clemens all the time, but you can’t be, and that’s when you go for Greg Maddux and try to outsmart people,” he said.

When Layne takes the hill this year, batters will see a big, strong, 6-4 hurler, and they’ll be expecting plenty of heat.

But, with a sinker, slider, curveball and changeup in his repertoire, Layne will force them to do some guessing and second-guessing in the batter’s box. And that’s exactly what this thinking-man’s pitcher wants.

By Carl Barbati, former sports editor of the New Jersey Herald, Daily Record and The Trentonian.

FRONTIER LEAGUE ANNOUNCES 2020-21 HALL OF FAME CLASS

The Frontier League is proud to announce the Inductees for the Hall of Fame class of 2020-21. Due to the fact that the League did not play in 2020 due to Covid-19, the classes have been combined to honor the recipients.

The Hall of Fame Committee that made the selections was comprised of a member of the Board of Directors, a field manager, a general manager and members of the League Office. Six players from three different decades in League history and two special contributors comprise the Class.

“This class represents some of the finest players to ever take the field during the League’s first 27 years. The contributions of Rich Sauget Sr. and Kevin Rouch will never be forgotten.” says Commissioner Emeritus Bill Lee.

The Inductees are:

 

Corey Morris – 1990s era

  • Ohio Valley Redcoats, 1994
  • .394 avg, 19 home runs, 63 RBI, 67 runs scored, 22 doubles, 47 walks, 1.252 ops
  • Led FL in home runs, RBI, runs, doubles, walks; 2nd in average in 66 games
  • 1994 league Most Valuable Player
  • Second highest OPS in league history
  • Limited to one season due to playing rules at that time

 

Joe Pass – 1990s era

  • Richmond Roosters 1996-98, Dubois County Dragons 1999
  • .325 avg, 133 RBI, .391 opb
  • Post-Season All-Star in 1996 and 1999
  • Served as player-manager for Dubois County in 1999

 

Josh Loggins – 2000s era

  • Washington Wild Things 2002-03
  • .339 avg, 31 doubles, 29 home runs, 117 RBI
  • 4th in avg in 2002; 3rd in avg, 1st in home runs, 4th in RBI in 2003
  • League MVP in 2003 despite signing with Colorado Rockies in mid-August

 

Jared Howton – 2000s era

  • Washington Wild Things 2003-03, Richmond Roosters 2005
  • 21-8 record, 2.94 ERA
  • Led league in ERA (1.89) and tied for wins (11) in 2002
  • 2002 league Pitcher of the Year

 

Jonathan Kountis – 2010s era

  • Lake Erie Crushers 2012, Frontier Greys 2013, Washington Wild Things 2014-15
  • 11-14, 3.00 ERA, 59 saves, 188 k in 162 innings over 113 games
  • Post-Season All-Star Relief Pitcher in 2012 and 2014
  • Ranks 2nd all-time with 59 career saves

 

Mike Torres – 2010s era

  • Windy City ThunderBolts 2010-15
  • .294 avg, 207 RBI, 153 sb over 565 career games
  • Played in league-record 339 consecutive games from 6/1/11 to 7/29/14
  • Played in 565 out of 575 possible games in his six seasons
  • 2011, 2012, 2013, and 2015 All-Star second baseman

 

Special Contributor – Kevin Rouch

Kevin Rouch first joined the Frontier League as the radio broadcaster for the Zanesville Greys from 1993-96. He then was the voice of the Chillicothe Paints from 1997 to 2000.  He was selected as the Frontier League Broadcaster of the Year in 1998.  Kevin then became Deputy Commissioner and League Council in 2001, serving in these roles through the 2009 season.  Kevin created the first Frontier League website and was responsible for the Frontier League qualifying for P-1 work visas for international players.

Special Contributor – Rich Sauget, Sr.

The owner of the Gateway Grizzlies joined the Frontier League in 1999. From 2003 through 2020, he served as the President of the League Board of Directors. During Sauget’s tenure, the League experienced tremendous growth. Annually, the League attracts approximately 1.5 million fans. Throughout his Presidency, six new stadiums were built. Also, he helped to oversee the admission of the teams from the Can-Am League after the 2019 season.  In 2020, MLB named the Frontier League as a Partner League, one of the most important moments in League history.

Morris, Pass, Howton, Loggins, Kountis and Rouch will have their Induction Ceremonies in Washington, Pa., on June 19, 2021. The Ceremony will take place prior to the Wild Things game against the Lake Erie Crushers. Induction ceremonies for Sauget and Torres will take place in Gateway and Windy City. Dates for those ceremonies will be announced at a later date.

The Frontier League of Professional Baseball is an official Partner League of Major League Baseball and the largest independent professional baseball league in North America.  The Frontier League features 16 teams and has moved over 1,000 players to MLB Teams in its 29-year history.  Please visit www.frontierleague.com.

.300 HITTER JOHNSON JOINS GRIZZLIES FOR 2021

Axel Johnson‘s career has certainly been a journey, but he’s found his home in Sauget for the 2021 season. After five years of bouncing around not only different teams, but different positions, Johnson is set to make his debut in a Gateway Grizzlies’ uniform in May.

Following the conclusion of his college career, Johnson joined the Joplin Blasters, then a member of the American Association of Independent Professional Baseball. Johnson was slated to be a pitcher. Once again, he struggled on the mound, and after just a season in Joplin, the organization folded.

When Johnson made his way to the Cleburne Railroaders (American Association) for the 2017 season, it was clear that his pitching days were numbered, and that he was turning into a full-time outfielder. Johnson spent most of the season roaming the corner outfield spots. Despite five innings on the mound, his career was clearly headed down the path of being an everyday outfielder.

Johnson enters the 2021 season coming off of his best year yet in 2019. He spent his summer in California with the San Rafael Pacifics, a member of the Pacific Association of Professional Baseball Clubs. Johnson thrived on the Golden Coast. In his lone season in the Pacific Association, he dominated in almost every statistical category that existed. He was top 20 in batting average (.296), second in home runs (19), first in RBIs (67), and top five in OPS (1.038). It was truly a coming-out party for Axel.

While Johnson is slated to make his Grizzlies debut in May, this will not be his first taste of Frontier League baseball. In 2018, he spent a large chunk of his summer with the Windy City Thunderbolts. There, Johnson slashed .303/.349/.458 with eight home runs and 43 RBIs. Johnson impressed in his short stint in the Frontier League, and the Grizzlies took note.

Following the conclusion of his high school career in 2011, Johnson chose to play collegiate baseball at Texas Christian University. At the time, he was a pitcher. However, he never seemed to find his footing at TCU. After just two years, 1 1/3 innings pitched, and 26 plate appearances, Johnson decided it was time to make the switch to NCAA Div. II Missouri Southern. It’s safe to say he made the right choice. Johnson found himself in a much more consistent role for the Lions in his junior year and, by his senior season, he was an everyday piece in the lineup. His strong senior year was a key factor in the Lions’ dominant 40-14 season.

Johnson’s baseball story continues to unfold, and there’s seemingly no end in sight. In 2021, Sauget will join Cleburne, San Rafael, Joplin, and Crestwood in a long list of cities that Johnson has called home. Whether it’s switching colleges, moving across different professional leagues, or even substituting the dirt on the mound for the turf in the outfield, Johnson is certainly no stranger to change. And who knows, maybe his days on the mound aren’t completely behind him. Axel still found himself on the mound for three innings in San Rafael. So, if the Grizzlies ever find themselves in an 18-inning game, don’t be surprised if new manager Cameron Roth gives Axel Johnson the nod.

ÉQUIPE QUÉBEC UNVEILS BRANDING

The Capitales of Quebec and the Aigles of Trois-Rivières today unveiled their identity for the 2021 season. It is under the name of Équipe Québec that this team will play in the Frontier League and will return to the country, if the situation allows it, on July 23 to play matches at the Stade Canac in Quebec and at the Stade Quillorama in Trois-Rivières.

The two organizations have joined forces over the past week to prepare a visual identity that will appeal to fans. In the center of the shirt is the main logo of the team, made up of the name Équipe Quebec in cursive letters, and a fleur de lys which refers to the fleurdelisé just like the royal blue and the white that can be found on the jersey.

On the back of the jersey are the number and logos of Chaussures Pop and Vertdure, two major partners who make this adventure possible. Also, the logos of the cities of Quebec and Trois- Rivières secondary logo (ÉQ) was also created. It appears in particular on the cap and various clothing of the players. In all cases, the use of acute accent is important. Despite the fact that Équipe Québec is joining a circuit made up entirely of American clubs, its name will not be changed in any way.

Remember that Équipe Québec’s training camp will begin on May 14 at the home of the Tri-City ValleyCats in Troy, New York. The season opener is scheduled for May 27 against the Gateway Grizzlies.  Équipe Québec will visit all 13 of the Frontier League’s United States ballparks during the 2021 season.

BOULDERS TO HOST ARMY-NAVY BASEBALL GAMES

The New York Boulders and the United States Military Academy announced today that Palisades Credit Union Park in Rockland County will host Army and Navy baseball doubleheaders on May 8th and May 9th.

Game time for the first game on May 8 is set for 1 p.m., while May 9’s first pitch is scheduled for 2:30 p.m.

Tickets for the single-admission doubleheaders are $10 for one day, while admission for both days will cost $15 when purchased in advance.  Tickets go on sale Wednesday, April 28 at www.nyboulders.com and at the Palisades Credit Union Park box office.

Members of the military attending in uniform will receive free admission to that day’s games.

“We are honored to host the Army/Navy baseball games this year,” Boulders’ Team President Shawn Reilly said. “We welcome the families and classmates of the Cadets along with fans from throughout the New York area to come to our beautiful ballpark in Rockland County to cheer on our nation’s best!”

Reilly added, “I think I share the sentiment of many when I say I can’t wait to sit outside and watch baseball again.”

Army and Navy both play in the Patriot League.  This season, with the Patriot League divided into two divisions, Army sits atop the North, while Navy is second in the South. Barring a post-season meeting, these four games will be the only time the two service academy rivals will face each other on the diamond this year.

The Army-Navy baseball series began in 1901. Since then, Navy holds a 126-118 advantage over the Cadets. The games at PCU Park will be the first between the two teams since the 2019 season. That year, Army took three of four regular season Patriot League contests from the Midshipmen – splitting two games at West Point and sweeping a two-game set at Annapolis.

In May of 2019, the two teams squared off in the Patriot League championship with Army winning the best-of-three series, two games to one.

The two were scheduled to play in Philadelphia’s Citizens Bank Park in 2019 but did not play due to COVID.  They played in Fenway Park in Boston in 2018 and Baltimore’s Camden Yards in 2006.

CBS Sports Network is set to televise the 2:30 p.m. game on Sunday, May 9, while the remaining three games will be available on the ESPN3 network. After an exhibition game on May 22 against the NYPD – game time is set for 6:30 p.m., the New York Boulders’ much anticipated Frontier League debut will arrive on May 27 when they host the New Jersey Jackals at Palisades Credit Union Park in Pomona.

Game time for Opening Day is 7 p.m.

The Boulders will conclude their two-game opening series with New Jersey the following day. That game is also a 7 p.m. start.

A complete New York Boulders’ 2021 schedule, as well as information regarding season tickets and packages for the 2021 season are available by calling 845-364-0009 or sliding to www.NYBoulders.com. Individual game tickets, including the exhibition against the NYPD and the Israeli Olympic Baseball Team’s game against the Boulders on July 12 are on sale now.

Game time for the Team Israel game is set for 6:30 p.m.

Attendance at all home games at PCU Park is subject to New York State Department of Health guidelines and protocol.

Debuting in 1993, the Frontier League is the largest and longest-running of the modern independent leagues and features teams stretching from the Atlantic Ocean to the Mississippi River and from the Ohio River to the St. Lawrence Seaway.  In September of 2020, the Frontier League reached an agreement to become a “Partner League” with Major League Baseball.

As a “Partner League,” the Frontier League and its teams will meet on a regular basis with MLB representatives to discuss joint marketing and promotional opportunities, as well as collaborate on initiatives to provide organized baseball to communities throughout the United States and Canada.

More information can be found at www.frontierleague.com.

About the New York Boulders and NYB, LLC

The New York Boulders are entering their 10th season of Professional Baseball as part of the newly-formed Frontier League and are in pursuit of a post-season appearance for the seventh straight season. Founded as the Rockland Boulders in 2011, the franchise rebranded as the New York Boulders in advance of the 2020 season. In 2014, the Boulders won the Can-Am League Championship and hosted the Frontier vs. Can-Am All-Star Game in 2019. Proud to be part of the rich history of professional baseball in the New York City region, during the 2017 season the team welcomed its 1,000,000th fan to Palisades Credit Union Park located in Rockland County, NY. In 2012 and 2014, Rockland was named the Can-Am’s “Organization of the Year.” The Boulders are owned and operated by NYB, LLC, a sports and entertainment company comprised of former executives from all levels of major and minor league sports. NYB is committed to providing superior customer service and quality, affordable family entertainment experiences for the New York Metropolitan area, Lower Hudson Valley and northeast New Jersey. Slide to www.nyboulders.com for more information.

WILD THINGS ADD OF GRANT HEYMAN

The Washington Wild Things have announced a series of transactions that includes the addition of outfielder Grant Heyman, a trade and a payer being placed on the inactive list today. Washington signed Heyman, traded Joe DeLuca to the Southern Maryland Blue Crabs (Atlantic League) for a player to be named and placed Randy Cesar on the inactive list.

Heyman most recently played for the then Rockland Boulders in 2019, the final season of the Can-Am League. Heyman won the Frontier League-Can-Am Home Run Derby by defeating Wild Things’ outfielder Hector Roa in the finals, 11-10. On the year, the left-handed hitter belted 12 home runs and drove in 44 runs. The home run total was tied for sixth in the league.

That came off a 19-home run 2018 season with Tom Vaeth and the Winnipeg Goldeyes. That total stands as Heyman’s career high. That season, the Pittsford, New York native slashed .272/.319/.507 with the 19 home runs, 23 doubles and 45 RBI.

“Heard nothing but good things about Grant since his Diamondbacks days. He and Tom built a strong rapport during his time in Winnipeg, so we look for that relationship to restore elite production,” said president and general manager Tony Buccilli. “A piece like Grant provides great balance to our lineup, adding another former All-Star to our squad and an experienced weapon.”

Vaeth is excited to reunite with Heyman on the field.

“I signed Grant when I was in Winnipeg back in 2018 and he had a monster year for us,” said Vaeth. “He’s a big, strong, athletic kid who will bring a power presence to the middle of our lineup. A big left-handed bat that can leave the yard in any direction. He should fit nicely with Bralin and Hector.”

Heyman was drafted out of Sutherland High School in the 11th round of the 2012 draft by the Blue Jays. He did not sign, went to Miami and then the College of Southern Nevada before being drafted in the 8th round by the Diamondbacks in 2014. That occurred after Heyman was Scenic West Athletic Conference Player of the Year at Southern Nevada. He’d go on to play parts of four seasons in the D’Backs farm system and enjoyed his best seasons in 2016 and 2017.

In 2016, Heyman split 101 games between Visalia and Kane County and slashed .262/.288/.398 with 10 home runs and 46 RBI. Then in 2017, Heyman spent his whole season with the Visalia Rawhide (CALL) and hit 24 doubles, belted 18 home runs and knocked home a career-best 70 runs.

The multi-time pro All Star now joins the Wild Things.

“I had the pleasure of playing for Tom Vaeth and alongside Alex Boshers in Winnipeg and couldn’t pass up on an opportunity to play for them,” said Heyman. “I have heard great things about the Wild Things organization and am excited to be a part of it.”

Heyman has been finishing his college degree and playing college football at Hobart College since the 2019 season while staying ready for baseball season.

“I want to be a reliable player who puts together consistent AB’s and performs with runners in scoring position. Most importantly, I want to be a good teammate and provide a veteran presence for the younger players,” said Heyman. “I am a bigger lefty that tends to hit for power. I love to have fun and I take pride in playing hard.”

The Wild Things also announced that infielder Randy Cesar has been placed on the inactive list as well as a trade sending Joe DeLuca, whom the Things acquired last week as part of the return for Steve Brown, to the Southern Maryland Blue Crabs of the Atlantic League for a player to be named.

Washington opens the 2021 season with a two-game series May 27-28 at Florence. Individual tickets go on sale May 3 for the home schedule.

ABOUT THE WASHINGTON WILD THINGS

The Washington Wild Things are a professional baseball team in the Frontier League, partner league of Major League Baseball, that plays in Washington, PA. Since their inception in 2002, the Wild Things have won six division titles and earned numerous playoff appearances. Fans and media can stay aware of all the happenings in the Wild Things’ organization by following the team’s social media platforms and website, washingtonwildthings.com. For other inquiries, call the front office at 724-250-9555.

 

OTTERS ADD RHPs BUKOWSKI AND SPRING

The Evansville Otters have signed right-handed pitchers Reid Bukowski and Tyler Spring to contracts for the 2021 season.

Bukowski, from Grapevine, Texas, most recently pitched collegiately at Louisiana State University-Alexandria in a shortened 2020 season.

He finished with a 4.76 ERA in five appearances, striking out five in 5.2 innings with one save.

“Reid was working out with Ryan Long, and he passed his name on to us,” Otters manager Andy McCauley said. “Reid sent some video with Rapsodo information on it, and it intrigued Max and I enough to want to see it in-person during Spring Training.”

“He throws from a lower arm slot that should prove effective in the middle to later innings.”

Early in his college career, Bukowski pitched at Clarendon College.

“I’m looking forward to playing professional baseball and have heard nothing but great things about Evansville and the Otters franchise,” Bukowski said. “I can’t wait to compete at a high level every night and show what I can bring to the table to help the team win.”

Spring, from Wiggins, Miss., also most recently pitched at the college level at Southern Mississippi.

In a shortened 2020 season, Spring made one start in five appearances, striking out 14 in 10 innings.

“I am grateful for the opportunity to start my professional career with the Otters, and I hope to make an immediate impact to the pitching staff and help this club win a championship this season,” Spring said.

“I plan to prove to the coaches and my teammates that every time I step on the mound, we have a chance to win and that they know they will be getting 100% out of me every game.”

Prior to Southern Miss., Spring pitched at Mississippi State, teaming up with current Otter Elijah MacNamee.

“Elijah recommended Spring to us,” McCauley said. “His limited numbers in college are impressive enough for us to see him in-person and compete for a bullpen spot.”

Spring started his college career at Jones College, where he was a NJCAA first team All-State and national team member in 2018.

The Evansville Otters are the 2006 and 2016 Frontier League champions.

The Otters play all home games at historic Bosse Field, located at 23 Don Mattingly Way in Evansville, Ind. Stay up-to-date with the Evansville Otters by visiting evansvilleotters.com, or follow the Otters on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

California Winter League

 

Frontier League Transactions