I was kicking around the idea of what to write about today - with almost a foot of wet, heavy snow having built up outside, followed by a few inches of ice and freezing rain (hey, it's like I'm back in Rochester...) I have had a whole bunch of appointments cancel, and I really am melancholy about the day. Good news is that pitchers and catchers report shortly, which means that baseball is here shortly. I thought I would write about what we do all day (I always get asked "what do you do in the off-season??"), but want to save that for another day. Since we are preparing to announce a very exciting signing this week, the kind that will put us on the map more so than we already are, my thoughts turned to the team that we have assembled.
Fans will be happy with some of the returners. Simon Anderson who used an athletic 6' 4" frame and fastball that sits in the low 90s to become a premier closer in the WCL, is back for a second season. Anderson's season helped elevate his profile as he was listed as one of the top 35 prospects in the WCL by Perfect Game. We expect him to continue to develop and provide a consistent power arm. He may even get a few starts depending on where we end up depth-wise. As we saw last season, with a pitchers ballpark, we build from there. Tyler Billen will also be returning, so the hope is that these two will provide a versatile and effective L/R combo.
As far as position players go, Kalani Brackenridge, Kevin Hawk, and Andrew Mendenhall will all be returning, as will Brett Jacobs. Kalani started and ended the season hot, and his ahleticism will provide a lot of options to keep him in the lineup. I always wonder what would have happened had he not hurt his wrist/thumb early - he and Alex Stanford might have been the best up-the-middle duo in the WCL. Hawk is solid, dependable and calls a great game - he can be trusted, which is what you want from a catcher. What many don't know is that he too was coming off of injury last year (wrist) and really was playing his way back into shape. Mendenhall quietly was one of the best outfielders in the league. On defense, he covers a ridiculous amount of ground and has a sneaky effective arm...plus he can effectively play all three spots. Offensively, he has some power, and combined with his speed, if he can live in the gaps at Borleske he can be a doubles machine.
New talent coming in looks like it will be able to make an impact as well. Parker Morin gets approving nods from coaches and scouts when we tell them he is coming to W2 this season. In addition to his defensive capabilities, he has a track record of being able to perform offensively at CSI. We are also looking forward to Nick Vilter - a freshman at UC-Riverside, his size, athletic ability and the potential that he is the starting shortstop for UCR (as a freshman!!) are indicators that we are turning the corner in terms of competing for the blue chip prospects in the country. The great thing is that these players also fit the mold of what helped us be successful last season - unselfish, team-first, work hard and do the right thing for the right reasons.
I'm ready to go today!