Godzilla at the Plate

When you are 23 years old and playing at the GLBL level you are usually riding the bench hoping for an opportunity for a spot start here and there always with the hope that you impress the manager enough to give you another opportunity, hopefully in the form of a start.  Less likely, but still possible, you might be the benefactor of a long term injury to a player that moves you up the depth chart (Google Wally Pipp).

In the case of Guillermo ‘Godzilla’ Garcia he has already eclipsed the status described above as he is now the starting RF while spending some time in CF.  He’s 4.8 ZR combined.  But, we are not here to talk about his glove, or his arm (7 assists).

It’s the bat that carries his .416 batting average.  89 hits in 214 at bats qualifies him as a legitimate challenger to ‘Sourface’ McNiven of Toledo for the leagues highest batting average in 2021.  And, you don’t want to face this guy in a matinee contest as he hits .445 during the day hours.  In 316 AB’s he hit .341 in 2020.  In the current season he has posted 0 HR’s and 1 triple  and appears to be the classic slap and hit batter who uses his speed to beat out infield hits.  No question, Godzilla is a legit candidate to lead the league in batting for quite some time.

McNiven presses on

After 59 games he was hitting .395.  Having played 106 games Carl is now at .396 and definitely capturing the attention of stat freaks all over the Great Lakes area.  Is the 36 year old second sacker distracted with all the media attention?

Carl had this to say. ” Are you serious?  We’ve got a pennant to win.  Anything else is back seat stuff, mister.”

Where is Walt James bat today?

We know where the man is physically located….at the Bay of Quinte mid way  between Kingston and Toronto.  This little fishing village is home to the AAA Herons where Walt plays his baseball these days.  But, it wasn’t always this way for James as but two years ago he was east of this sleepy village  stealing bases, hitting extra base hits and posting a 3.8 WAR for the Kingston Comets, part of the GLBL.

A year later the Architects claimed him off waivers from Kingston but his stay was short in Chicago as his 7 AB’s hardly constituted a cup of coffee, to quote the iconic former catcher Joe Garagiola.  The Waveriders inked him to a one year deal on April 1 (you can read whatever you want into that signing date) but Owen Sound did not get what they thought they were buying as Walt totaled 20 hits in 109 AB’s with this batting line:  .183/.217.211.  Having committed just 1 error his entire career, short as it’s been, this guy could flash the D, definitely run, and hit better than the virtual replacement player by a long shot.   Just 32, one can only wonder what went wrong.

Who will hit the most HR’s in 2021?

Tied for the league with 24 is Dave ‘Mustache’ Teague.  He’s been an All Star every season, won 3 Lake Erie Awards, was twice the MVP in the Canadian Playoffs, is hitting .304 with a .974 OPS, and plays three different positions.  Throw in 47 BB/ 50 K ratio and you have quite an offensive force.  Teague has a lifetime 124 dingers and has hit less than 20 just one time.  Many pick him to win the home run crown while vying for League MVP.

 

 

 

 

His main competition comes from an unlikely source.  Tied with 24 homers is Jim Copeland of the Kingston Comets.  The Scouting Book on Copeland is that he is a not a leader, not very smart, not loyal, and has poor work habits.  He batted .180 last season and is hitting .214 with a .262 OBP.  Copeland has walked 24 times and fanned 97.  His WAR to date is 0.6.  But, he is a masher.  With 71 RBI’s to go with the 24 big flies he is on pace to hit 35 homers and bat in 104 runs.  Most prognosticators don’t favor him to win any award but the reality is he can’t be ignored.

 

 

Once is good, Twice is better

On July 16, 2021 Jean Vilain handcuffed the TC Bears striking out 11, walking but 2, and allowing 0 hits in the 2-0 No-No for the Waveriders.  For Jean, it was deja vu all over again as two years ago, while pitching for the Toronto Maples, he shut down the Windsor Vigilantes racking up 6 K’s, yielding 2 walks, and allowing 0 in the hit column.

With 7 No Hitters in the 6 year history of the GLBL Vilain now owns two of them.

Make Room for the #7 Prospect

Roberto Nieto is on his way to the GLBL as the 7th overall prospect is rising through the minors at a meteoric pace.  The 2021 first round 6th overall pick has already graduated from AA in half a season and is now raising eyebrows at AAA Pointe Pelee.

Nine HR’s in 166 AB’s, 36/44 W/K rate, a .417 OBP. and a .506 SLG., and 2/2 stolen bases all points to a 4 tool player in the making (slow afoot).  His 6 assists in the OF speak to the potential for a cannon for an arm.   Look for Oakdale, Minnesota native, and graduate of Western Ontario to make his mark sooner rather later in the GLBL.

Roberto Nieto

BB/K King

Kevin ‘Wino’ Thomas at the age of 35 continues to demonstrate the ability to read the pitches and determine whether to swing or take the free pass.  This year K.T. has worked the walk 48 times and fanned but 28.  His lifetime BB/K ratio:  502 to 330.  With his .351 batting average he is a force to reckon with batting out of the #2 hole.  With speedster Ben Wotherspoon batting lead-off you might say the hit & run is a pretty nice option for GM David Jones.

Could he hit .400?

59 games played and 223 At Bats logged and the GLBL has a player hitting .395.  Cal McNiven, has flown under the radar of many having played for a team that is not very often in the mix for a playoff berth.  He’s a prankster that keeps the Neptunes loose in the dugout but in the batters box he’s anything but funny to the opposing pitchers.  Cal has hit .344 and .355 (2017 & 2018) but this season he is eclipsing even those stellar performances.  Think he can’t do it?  He’s had 2 hits or more in 7 of the last 8 contests.  A long shot?  Yes.  But with each week his average is going up, not down.

Quite the Championship Series

duluth_sea_gulls shrunk     vs.     hamilton_mounties shrunk

The Duluth Sea Gulls won their first ever USA Championship with an 82-62 record than rallied from 0-2 to finally overtake back to back GLBL Champs, the Chicago Architects in a tight 7 game series for the rights to represent the USA League Having scored 563 runs they had offense enough to get the job done, but would the pitching hold up?

From the Canadian League the Mounties steam rolled the Owen Sound Waveriders, winners of the most games in the GLBL in 2020, by surprising outscoring them 27-12 in the four game sweep.  Only Chicago of the USA League has notched more W’s than Hamilton but still the Mounties had not one a championship in the brief 6 year history of the league.

When Duluth won the first 3 games of the series it looked pretty much over as scores of  2-1, 4-1, and 3-1 didn’t make much of a case for a Hamilton miracle and many thought Tate Cosby’s 1-0 shutout in game 4 was only a stall for what surely would be a Duluth championship.

Eyebrows were raised when Hamilton won Game 5 by a 5-2 score.  And, when Dave Teague hit his 2nd homer of the post-season in a 4-1 win at Duluth many wondered if the GLBL was not primed for yet another 0-3 deficit on way to a championship.

In Game 7 Norm Blooms 2 run single helped the Mounties cling to a 2-1 league.  But, when Mr. Teague launched a solo shot in the top of the 9th it really did appear that the Mounties were destined to win their first championship.

Randy Costello was called on to close it out for Hamilton but when the first two batters singled you could feel the hope swell in Sea Gull Ball Park as it now seemed entirely possible that Duluth might come back.  Danton flew out bringing on pinch hitter Karl Swerdlove who ripped a pitch into the gap and just like that 2 runs scored and the game was tied, 3-3.  Blashill saved the Mounties from a 9th inning walk off but having lost the lead so late in the game could they rally, again?

In the bottom of the 11th Jim Danton doubled with 1 out putting runners on second and third with one out.  After the intentional walk Jerry Gauthier a .207 hitter during the year, but a .308 one in the post-season grounded a ball past 3rd base and into left field giving the Sea Gulls the 4-3 win.

The Duluth Sea Gulls are the 2020 Champs!

 

2020 Vision

The 2020 Season is about to celebrate Opening Day.

Spring Training has been completed and the results are in.  But, do they actually mean anything?  There may be more questions than answers right now.  Let’s take a peek into Season #6 of the Great Lakes Baseball League and preview some of the anticipated action.

Question #1:  Will the Chicago Architects three peat?

If the spring results are a harbinger of things to come then it’s hoist the pennant flag time in the windy city as Chicago put up an impressive 13-5 record.  Twenty three year old Jimmy Preston hit .342 and dazzled the team with his speed and defense.  Thirty year old Chris Anderson was used primarily in relief last year  turned in three perfect 4 inning stints this spring not allowing any runs and yielding but 6 hits.   With Cardy and Northeast the team has ‘nasty’ starting pitching and look out for 25 year old Foster Broun who did not allow a run in his 3 starts in spring to make things even more miserable for opposing batters.  With a full season under his belt this kid is getting stronger and once he masters the change up he will spell trouble for opposing hitters.  Actually, he is already trouble.

 Runner up MVP in the American League Lake Superior Award,  C Bill Durand

Question #2:  Will Windsor take the final step and win a championship?

In their history the worst record they have posted is 69-71.  Three times they have  been to the post-season including an improbably come back against the Maples in the 2019 first round before giving up a 3-0 lead to Chicago and falling 3-4.  How close can you get?  Jerry Barker has been added but he’s not a high impact guy.  Luca Carlier may be ready to wrestle the catching job from vet Kenny Shaw but either way will production rise from the catching position?  Still, the Vigilantes remain a threat to advance to the Championship Series based on what they bring forward from 2019.

Question #3:  What about that new guy in Owen Sound?

The Waveriders have been the most active team in the off-season inking star power to Owen Sound contract dotted lines in the form of Longchamps, Berger, Alvarez, Trudel, Ralph, and none more significant than Kevin Thomas former mainstay of the Toronto Maples.  With Dave Corbin falling off last year the decision was made to allow him to enter the free agent market and he is now a Duluth Sea Gull.  Ronnie Peyton purportedly has made huge steps forward while playing for the Herons in AAA  as his athleticism could be boost to Owen Sound if not breaking spring training then later in the season. The same could be said for SS Erik Howell.  This is a team to watch moving forward.

 Ronnie Peyton

Question #4:  Can Toronto keep moving forward?

Could a team have been any more on the cusp of a date with the League Championship in 2019 than the Maples?  No need to relive the heartbreak and angst  the Maples move forward and this season without 3b Kevin Thomas.  While Thomas signed for $14M with Owen Sound 3b Roberson signed for $20M with Toronto.  Roberson will mean more big flies than Thomas but that doesn’t necessarily mean he will bring more to the table.  Yet, the Maples are in good hands with Roberson at the hot corner.  His superior range should also help the Maples pitching, too.

Question #5:  Will the additions in Duluth be enough?

Next to Owen Sound the Sea Gulls have been very busy, too, landing Silas Carvalo and Dave Corbin.  Gone are John Freake (no small loss), Bill Starr, and Daniel Pepys.  Key to the pitching staff might be just how well AAA SP Jeff Munson performs as the 24 year old had a fine 2.72 ERA at Green Bay last season.  23 year old Stinson was even better with his 2.31 ERA and throw in 23 year old emerging star Charles Colle and you have the makings of a very revamped Sea Gull squad for 2020.  AA Catcher Jim Danton has a shot at being the team’s catcher this season and probably is the leading candidate to replace Freake.

 Shotgun

Question #6:  They won the inaugural GLBL championship, so what about this years Caribou squad, can they get back to the big dance?

Inaugural champs Thunder Bay quietly improved to 76-64 last season good for 3rd place.  But, they lost a ton of star power in Lefebre, Ramos, Li, and Trudel.  Bringing Derek Savary on board will help but it’s going to take more unless the Caribou can get some WAR from the minor leagues.  Both Corrigan and Harris may need more seasoning in AAA Pointe Pelee.

 Derek Savory

Question #7:  Does the Comets first place spring finish mean anything?

It’s hard to argue that the Comets will not be a better team on the field in 2020.  Coming off their 12-6 spring they have some new pieces in Dennis Picard and Mooney who will help the pitching. This is a team that builds from the inside out (think Cardinals and Dodgers) and we’re close to seeing the likes of SP’s Palma and Estrada along with outfields Graham and Rogers.  23 year old All Star and GG winner Nabhan Ubadah has a full 2 seasons under his belt and is likely to begin building on his consistent 3.9 WAR contribution each of the past two years.  Brown, Torres, and Joyner form a capable outfield so one of the biggest question mark franchises will be interesting to watch.  I can see them going either way.

 Nabhan ‘Wacky’ Ubadah

The GLBL is ready for Opening Day!