The Toronto Maples are looking every bit like a playoff team for the first time in their history. After a typical April/May where they played 26-31 ball June ‘changed their tune’ with a 14-9 record and July ‘they let it fly’ (thanks Paul Simon) going 19-10. This morning their record is 59-51 as they find themselves 5 games back of the league leading Windsor Vigilantes.
The Maples lead the Canadian League in Runs Scored, OBP, and Batting Average. The Starting Pitching is ranked 3rd.
Kevin Thomas…just 1 HR but a .343 BA and a .432 OBP means he’s the ultimate table setter. His 135 hits is only second to one player in the league.
Hilton Madore, LF, leads both leagues in Hits with 146 and he has 15 HR’s.
Henri Francois, quite possibly the pitching face of the GLBL has not missed a beat since he defected from the World Champion Milwaukee Eagles as he has a 12-3/ 1.96 ERA line for Toronto.
Stephen Gilbert 1b in his 3rd season with Toronto gets better and better with the bat as he has turned in a .284/.377/.513 line up to now.
When it comes to closers, lights out closers, River Guiterrez is the man. River is practically unhittable as he has allowed 26 hits and 8 walks in 46 innings pitched which translates to a 0.38 ERA and a 0.72 WHIP. No surprise as this guy has turned in WHIP’s of 0.76 and 0.77 in previous years. His K/BB ration is 12.9.
The Hamilton Mounties trail Toronto by 4.5 games so the fortune of the Maples could go either way. Some big Sunday – Tuesday series coming up this week and next as Toronto faces Hamilton next week and Windsor the week after.
Stephen Gilbert, 1B; #23 overall pick
The Toronto Maples thought enough of him to burn their #2 pick in the inaugural draft on the then 23 year old first baseman from San Rafael, CA. Last season, as a 24 year old he hit .287 in AA for Prince Edward Island while striking out 95 times, not eye popping numbers for that level at that age.
Gilbert was promoted to the AAA Mississauga Mad Catz for 2016 and is hitting .262 while striking out 11 times in 61 AB’s. He’s muscled out 3 long balls to improve his SLG. average to .475 this season but at the expense of a falling OBP which is currently .318.
The Toronto Maples have 32 year old Art Hubert who played last season for Milwaukee holding down first base this season but chances are Hubert is going to run out of time before he establishes himself. The question is whether or not he will get his first hit (yes, he is 0 for 12) before he gets the hook.
Will Gilbert have to prove himself in AAA before he gets the promotion or will the team go with the ‘now or never’ approach? With 11 RBI’s, tops on the Mad Katz, Gilbert is making a case, albeit not an overwhelming one, but leading the team in that category from the six hole is sending the message that he can produce.
It was a rebuild year. GM Martin Abresch made it clear. We’re drafting for the future. So, after the draft, Toronto Maples rated #1 in Minor League Organizations. So far, so good. Right on script they lost their first four contests scoring a scant 5 runs total. But, wait, 18 games into the season and Toronto is ahead of Windsor and Hamilton in the standings playing .500 ball. And, just 3 games out of first. Huh?
Boasting the North of Borders best defense, second best SP ERA, and third best Relievers ERA this team appears anything but just a team of the future. It’s an interesting organizational mix with several wily veterans doing the pitching for the Maples with about to turn 29 Wayne Conboy as the youngest of the Starters.
With all that team pitching and D something has to come up short, right? OK, the offense it not very good. OK, they are dead last in runs scored. Yet, they are fast (first in stolen bases) but they don’t hit a lick after top of the line up Kevin ‘Wino’ Thomas bats. So, will Toronto reconsider year one and shop for offense? Fred Morris, 27 year old journey man for Mississauga Mad Katz, says, ‘coach I’m hitting over .350!
After taking the first game in Thunder Bay 2-1 the Maples will try and rebound from the 4-0 shutout last evening.