Jim Swanson

Thanks to the addition of one of the players in the latest group of HarbourCats signings, the team now has both of the B.C. Premier Baseball League’s MVPs from 2017.

With local product Jason Willow, a fielder now at UC-Santa Barbara, already in the fold, the HarbourCats have added RHP Michael Stovman, who is at Indian Hills CC, in his freshman season. Willow and Stovman shared the PBL’s MVP award last summer, and were teammates on Canada’s national junior team.

“Stovman has been a two-way guy, but his place in the game at higher levels might be in developing more on the mound,” said Brad Norris-Jones, General Manager of the HarbourCats. “We’re bringing him in knowing he has velocity, in the 90s, and developing skills as a pitcher, and can also really handle the bat, if (head coach) Brian McRaesees a need. Stovman and Willow know each other well, and their dedication to a baseball-first program like the HarbourCats, a jump from high school level, will only help and challenge their development.

“It’s a big, big jump from the PBL, to college baseball, then to collegiate summer league, and I’m not sure players are really prepped for that until they are in the fire itself. Each of these player announcements gets us even more excited about the season that is fast approaching, with the home opener on June 1 against Wenatchee.”

The other nine players signed today come from top-end programs, including NCAA Division-1 schools – and the D-1 level gets going with games on Friday. Adding OF Michael Malinchak and IF Aharon Modlin from Pepperdine, catcher Caleb Ricketts from the University of San Diego, and Cal Baptist bats Harrison Spohn (IF) andNick Plaia (an OF who played for Yakima Valley/WCL last summer) only adds to McRae’s solid lineup options.

RHP Tyler Hilton from Mesa CC in Arizona, righty Alex Griggs from Baylor, RHP Gunnar Friend from NAIA school Avila, in McRae’s hometown of Kansas City, and RHP Jorge Valerio from Cal Baptist, along with Stovman, further fills out the pitching staff.

**INFO ON NEW SIGNINGS

RHP MICHAEL STOVMAN, INDIAN HILLS CC – Freshman, from Maple Ridge, 6-3/210, bats L/Throws R, with the Langley Blaze led the PBL in strikeouts with 82, had an ERA of 0.76 – and did that in 64 innings over 11 appearances, 10 starts. Also hit .349 with three home runs. Beat Cuba in start in Thunder Bay at World Junior tournament in September, going eight innings in a 4-2 win.

RHP TYLER HILTON, MESA CC – Sophomore from Mesa, AZ, bats and throws right, 5-11/175, was 4-5 with 4.36 ERA in 64 innings in 2017, striking out 40.

RHP GUNNAR FRIEND, AVILA (NAIA) – Sophomore workhorse, 6-3/210, from Webb City, MO, already 1-0 this season with a 1.80 ERA, was 6-5 with 5.06 ERA in 19 games, 14 starts, in 2017, throwing 85 innings, when HarbourCats assistant coach Jason Leone was with Avila.

IF AHARON MODLIN, PEPPERDINE – Sophomore, 5-10/170, from Irvine, CA, made 37 starts as a true freshman and hit .296 with 15 RBIs, and a .371 on-base percentage, can play any IF position. Economics major.

OF MIKE MALINCHAK, PEPPERDINE – Freshman, pro-size already at 6-4/190, from Delray Beach, FL, blue-chip recruit in moving to Malibu. Son of Bill Malinchak, who played 10 years in NFL for Detroit Lions and Washington Redskins, and sisters Courtney (tennis) and Ashley (golf) are Division-1 athletes. Hit .360 as a high school senior with a .500 on-base percentage.

C CALEB RICKETTS, UNIVERSITY OF SAN DIEGO – Freshman, 6-3/185, left-handed hitter, from Orange, CA, from Orange Lutheran High School, can also play 1B. Hit .321 in 2017.

IF HARRISON SPOHN, CAL BAPTIST – Freshman, named No. 2 prospect on Perfect Game list of Division-2 baseball players, third baseman is 6-3/185 and has won both defensive and offensive player honors. Hits right, from Upland, CA, and three-year captain in high school, hitting .419 as a senior and winning league title.

RHP JORGE VALERIO, CAL BAPTIST – Freshman, 6-3/200, from Ferris, CA, twice a high school MVP in Mountain Pass League thanks in part to a pair of no-hitters, has his eyes squarely on a pro career.

IF NICK PLAIA, CAL BAPTIST – Sophomore, versatile player who can play IF or OF, 6-3/175, right-hand hitter, from Santa Clarita, CA, majoring in Athropology. Played in 50 games and hit .291 with 11 extra-base hits as a freshman and named to academic All-PacWest team. Once led his league in stolen bases. Played for Yakima Valley in WCL in 2017, hitting .269 in 35 games, stealing six bases.

RHP ALEX GRIGGS, BAYLOR – Freshman, 6-4/210, from Colleyville, Texas, out of Covenant Christian Academy, recently turned 20. Impressive 61 strikeouts in 43 innings and 2.28 ERA in his final high school season, also hit .400 that season. Redshirted last season.

2018 ROSTER

Roster to date – 38 players – C Tanner Rempel; C/3B Kekai Rios; C Ty Haselman; C Caleb Ricketts; IF Tanner Haney; IF Rowdey Jordan; IF/OF Jaxxon Fagg; IF/OF Nick Plaia; IF/P Jedd Fagg; IF Jack Smith; IF Harrison Spohn; IF/OF Jason Willow; IF Aharon Modlin; IF Chang-Chih Yeh; OF Cole Roederer; OF Hunter Vansau; OF Mike Malinchak; OF Ethan Lopez; OF/P Trevin Reynolds; RHP/DH Carter Loewen; LHPs Ethan Fox, Claire Eccles, Connor Nantkes; RHPs Wyatt Boone, Garrett Goodall, Garrison Ritter, Luke Manuel, Lawson Humphries, Hao-Chun Cheng, Ping-Chun Ho, Po-Jui Huang, Cade Brown, Nate Walker, Alex Griggs, Jorge Valerio, Tyler Hilton, Michael Stovman, Gunnar Friend.

*Rempel, Rios, Willow, Vansau, Lopez, Fox, Eccles, Boone, Manuel and Ritter have all played previously for the HarbourCats

**Luke Manuel was with Bellingham last season, Plaia was with Yakima Valley

***Rempel, Willow, Loewen, Fox, Eccles, Goodall, Stovman and Manuel are Canadians.

2018 COACHING STAFF, VICTORIA HARBOURCATS

Head Coach – Brian McRae (second season, former MLB player)

Pitching Coach – Ian Sanderson (first season)

Assistant Coaches – Todd Haney (first season, former MLB player), Jason Leone (second season), Troy Birtwistle (second season)

**BLUE JAYS/MARINERS WEEKEND IN SEATTLE — August long weekend

The HarbourCats are also pleased to be teamed once again with Wilson’s Transportation and Flight Centre to offer a three-game, three-day trip to Seattle to see the Mariners host the Toronto Blue Jays (Aug 3-4-5). The cost, based on double-occupancy, is $899 per person, or $825 per person for our season ticket holders. It includes bus travel, ferry, two nights of hotel at the Embassy Suites in Lynwood, shopping trips, opportunities for golf, and lower-level tickets to three games at Safeco Field.

This is a trip that has sold fast in the past two years. To sign up, contact Carey Shelby of Flight Centre at carey.shelby@flightcentre.ca.

GREAT TEACHERS CONTEST

The HarbourCats continue to take nominations for the Great Teachers Contest, sponsored by Mayfair Optometric Clinic. The winner for February will be announced soon.

Each month until May, the HarbourCats will select a teacher, whose class will be guests of Mayfair Optometric Clinic at the team’s annual School Spirit Game – a day-game (11am) on June 7. Nearly 1,000 school kids/teachers are already signed up for this great field trip day.

To nominate a great teacher, email a submission to greatteachers@harbourcats.com

SEASON TICKETS STILL AVAILABLE

The HarbourCats have seen an uptick in season ticket purchases, and as corporate partnerships are completed, the selection of season ticket locations and single-game walkup options is getting less and less. Seats in the Diamond Club, the two-year-old on-field section, are sold out, but there remain available seats in the popular padded/served Campbell Real Estate Club Section, and in the Main Grandstand.

To buy season tickets, or to see the new merchandise coming in this fall, call the office (778-265-0327) or stop in at 101-1814 Vancouver Street.

OFFICE HOURS

With the off-season now upon us, the team’s office at 101-1814 Vancouver Street will see reduced hours through to April.

MONDAY-FRIDAY – 10am-4pm (usually open until 6pm weekdays)

SATURDAY-SUNDAY – Closed (Except by appointment)

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