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West Coast League

Dr. Randy Gregg and Edmonton Riverhawks preparing for inaugural season

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Dr. Randy Gregg gets behind the plate after announcing the the newest baseball team in Edmonton, The Riverhawks, a baseball club, which will play out of RE/MAX Field in the n the West Coast League, on Sept. 15, 2020 in Edmonton. PHOTO BY GREG SOUTHAM /Postmedia

By Derek Van Diest – Toronto Sun

Former Edmonton Oilers defenceman Dr. Randy Gregg is spending a lot of his spare time of late at RE/MAX Field in the heart of the river valley.

As the managing director of the Edmonton Riverhawks, Gregg has been working tirelessly to try and get the facility ready for the upcoming West Coast League season, which is a wooden-bat collegiate circuit that operates in the summer.

Dr. Randy Gregg and Edmonton Riverhawks preparing for inaugural season
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The Riverhawks were to play its inaugural season this past summer, but the COVID-19 pandemic made Gregg and his group wait another year.

“All of these young players that are in college, they are wanting to get either drafted or signed, and will be enticed to play summer collegiate baseball,” Gregg said earlier this week. “The Cape Code league is probably the ultimate league on the East Coast, but when it comes to the West, the West Coast League is by far the highest quality league.

“In fact, in 2019, 90 players that were selected in the Major League Draft had played in this league. It’s considerably important for these young players in the summer — not only do they want to get out of Arizona because it’s 120 degrees — but they want to come up and be coached by good quality coaching and get some extra at bats and swings and things like that.”

Gregg won five Stanley Cups with the Oilers during their glory years, but has always had a soft spot for baseball.

“I was probably a better baseball player than hockey player, but by the time I could get a scholarship down in the ’States, I was in medical school,” Gregg said. “And I thought I better not give up medical school. I loved hockey, of course, it’s a great sport, but I also loved baseball.”

The West Coast League is made up of 15 teams divided into three divisions. The South Division comprises of teams in Oregon and Washington, the North is made up from teams in Northern Washington, while the Canada Division has four teams in B.C., along with Edmonton.

“We’re so excited to have our head coach Kelly Stinnett, who played 15 years of Major League Baseball, so he knows what it takes to be at that level,” Gregg said. “And by having a coach with that kind of reputation, we’re getting some young recruits that not only love to come to Edmonton because it’s going to be a lot cooler than it is in the south, but with his reputation, with 9,000 seats here in the city, and the size of Edmonton, we’re going to have a really competitive team and it’s going to be a wonderful experience for our fans to see these young fellas.”

Edmonton will be the biggest market in the league and have the best facility. Gregg and the Riverhawks signed a lease agreement for the Triple-A rated facility and the crew has been hard at work making upgrades to the park.

Along with a new infield turf, the group put up a new scoreboard and made upgrades to the dugouts and club houses.

“It’s amazing. Fans that haven’t been here in a few years are not going to recognize the place with the new turf and everything else going in,” said Riverhawks pitching coach Ethan Elias. “It’s special. I’m really excited to see what we’re going to get and this is just the tip of the iceberg.

“It’s awesome to bring back a really high level of baseball in the West Coast to come play here. It’s going to blow people’s minds the level of talent that’s going to be here, so it’s going to be exciting and I guess the next step is to count the big leaguers we file out of here, that’s kind the goal.”

The Riverhawks replace the Edmonton Prospects as the main tenant at RE/MAX Field. The Prospect, who play in the Western Canadian Baseball League, also a summer wood-bat circuit, are moving to Spruce Grove for the upcoming season.

The Riverhawks’ roster will be made up of college players throughout North America. The 54-games season begins on May 31 and runs through the first week of August.

“We started recruiting players back in June and July,” Elias said. “We have most of our roster already selected, the updates will be coming up here shortly, but it’s an on-going process.

“Guys are going to fall out, guys might get hurt, guys might throw too many innings in the spring for their college teams, respectively, and so we have to adjust, we have to be able to take things as they come and deal with it.”

Either way, the Riverhawks are expecting to field a competitive team out of the gate, using the city and facility as a draw for young college players. Every player in the league has to have at least one year of college eligibility left.

“We’re not going to bring in a guy like Connor McDavid,” Gregg said. “But what we want to do is maybe bring in a young pitcher throwing 95-97 (mph) that is at Arizona State and all of a sudden three or four years from now he’s playing with the Dodgers in Los Angeles and we saw him here in Edmonton.”

 

Summer Collegiate

Three returning players, one a WCL all-star, and local infielder highlight eight NightOwls signings

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Those announced today:

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OF/LHP Riley Paulino, University of Pikeville, 5-11/180, Fife, WA (returning player)

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C Sammy Torres, University of Pikeville, 5-9/200, Yuaco, Puerto Rico (returning player)

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LHP Richtter Castillo, University of Pikeville, 6-0/215, Maracay, Venezuela

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IF Lucas Laukkanen, Cloud County commit, 6-0/190, Nanaimo

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LHP Carson Jones, St. Martins, 6-0/180, Walla Walla, WA (returning player)

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RHP Christian Lucero, Arizona Christian, 6-1/190, Sacramento

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OF Sammy Kahler, San Diego State, 6-0/185, Stockton, CA

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OF Drew Rutter, San Diego State, 6-1/190, Trabuco Canyon, CA

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Summer Collegiate

Victoria HarbourCats – Manny’s hitting coach added to staff by Coach Haney

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2024 HarbourCats Coaching Staff – Front Row (L to R) Scott Anderson (Pitching Coach), Todd Haney (Head Coach), Trovin Valdez (Hitting Coach), Steve Sinclair (Bench Coach); Back Row (L to R): Ethan Fox (Bullpen Coach), Troy Birtwistle (First Base Coach).

For immediate release

April 16, 2024

VICTORIA, B.C. — An already strong coaching staff under WCL Coach of the Year Todd Haney just got stronger with the addition of Trovin Valdez, a former pro who made it to AAA in the Montreal Expos system.

Valdez, 50, was the personal hitting coach of Manny Ramirez during much of his record-setting MLB career and now works extensively with his sons Manny Jr. and Lucas, who have joined the HarbourCats for the 2024 WCL season. Valdez, who was once traded for lefthander David Wells, also works with a number of MLB players from his base in Florida, moving around the continent — and now will spend the summer exclusively in Victoria working with all HarbourCats hitters.

Haney, who has been with the HarbourCats since 2018 and Head Coach since 2019, is proud to unveil the entire staff for 2024:

  • Todd Haney, Head Coach (5th year, 4th as Head Coach)
  • Trovin Valdez, Hitting/Outfield Coach (First year)
  • Scott Anderson, Pitching Coach (Second year)
  • Troy Birtwistle, First Base Coach (Sixth year)
  • Steve Sinclair, Bench Coach (Second year)
  • Ethan Fox, Bullpen Coach (Third year, former HarbourCats player)

Under Haney, the HarbourCats led the WCL in hits, runs and stolen bases in 2023 and set a WCL record with an astounding 25-2 home record at Wilson’s Group Stadium at RAP, adding two more home wins in as many dates in the playoffs. The HarbourCats reached the WCL’s final game for the third time in five seasons.

Jaxon Williams (pictured right), part of the 2023 staff, is unable to return due to career reasons and the HarbourCats thank him and wish him all the best, he will always be a part of the HarbourCats family.

“This is a tremendous staff under incredible leadership from Todd — our players will be well served in their development,” said Christian Stewart, GM of the HarbourCats. “We couldn’t be happier with the makeup of this group, and we’re excited to see Trovin go to work. Our team set multiple team and league records on the offensive side of the game last year and that exciting style of play will be on display for our fans again.”

Valdez stole more than 250 bases as a pro, spanning nine seasons, and he joins former pro players Haney (five years MLB with Expos, Cubs and Mets), Anderson (also Expos system), Sinclair (MLB lefty with Blue Jays and Mariners), and Birtwistle (Australia). Fox played college ball and is the Head Coach of the Golden Tide CCBC team.

The HarbourCats open on the road May 31 in Kamloops, the start of back-to-back series in Kamloops and Kelowna, before returning for the June 7 home opener against Wenatchee. The HarbourCats will be on the road this summer in Kamloops, Kelowna, Edmonton, Wenatchee, Ridgefield, Port Angeles, Bellingham, and six games in Nanaimo against the Island-rival NightOwls at Serauxmen Stadium. Teams visiting Victoria this year are Wenatchee, Nanaimo, Bellingham, Port Angeles, Kelowna, Edmonton (two series), Kamloops and Corvallis, along with non-league games against the Redmond Dudes, Dub Sea Fishsticks, the SIBL All-Stars, and Victoria Mavericks All-Stars.

The regular season runs until August 7, with WCL playoffs running from August 10 to August 16.

Single game tickets are now available for the HarbourCats 2024 season including the home opener on Friday, June 7, 2024 at 6:35pm against the Kamloops NorthPaws. These can be purchased online through our one and only ticketing partner, Select Your Tickets, at www.harbourcats.com/tickets or at the HarbourCats office at 101-1814 Vancouver Street.

Season tickets and 10-game flex packs are also now on sale via the HarbourCats office or by calling 778-265-0327.

 

 

 

 

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Summer Collegiate

Victoria HarbourCats – Manny Ramirez’s two sons sign with HarbourCats

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April 4 2024

VICTORIA, B.C. — Their father was once the most-feared hitter in the Major Leagues, a perennial all-star with a big personality who won a World Series, a batting title, and could change any game with one swing.

Manny Ramirez Jr., 21 (pictured above left), and Lucas Ramirez, 18 (pictured above right), carry the same potential — Manny Jr., a booming right-handed power hitter, with Lucas a lefty with a power stroke who has committed to the University of Tennessee for the fall.

Both outfielders who can DH, Manny Jr. and Lucas are excited to be coming to Victoria, to further develop under Head Coach Todd Haney, a former MLB player, and a coaching staff that also includes former pro player and coach Scott Anderson and former MLB pitcher Steve Sinclair.

“These are notable signings not just for us, but for the entire West Coast League — this will be exciting news for our fans and sponsors, no question,” said Jim Swanson of the HarbourCats. “They come highly recommended by our former pitching coach, Alec Adame, who is coaching Manny Jr. at ELAC (East LA College). It’s been a pleasure working with the family to set this all up, and we know Victoria will welcome them all with open arms — to the city rated the best city in the world. Alec was here in 2015 and knows how great the baseball environment is at Wilson’s Group Stadium at RAP.”

So far this spring Manny Jr. leads ELAC with three home runs and has 18 runs driven in over 20 games, adding nine doubles and walking 14 times. The 6-3/210 outfielder is a freshman who is a product of Calvary Christian high school in Clearwater, FL.

Lucas is a graduating high school senior at powerful American Heritage in Florida and is a possible high-round pick in the upcoming draft thanks to already developing power from the left side. He is already built like a pro at 6-3/200.

They have a tremendous baseball role model to aspire to. Manny Ramirez played 19 seasons and batted .312 with 555 home runs, the 15th highest total in MLB history — he starred for Cleveland, Boston, and the Dodgers, and finished with time for the Chicago White Sox and Tampa Bay Rays. He was a 12-time all-star, was MVP of the 2004 World Series when the Red Sox ended their long title drought, won the 2002 American League batting title, and was the Hank Aaron Award winner in 1999 and 2004. He was also part of a second Red Sox team to win the World Series in 2007, and hit more post-season home runs (29) than anyone else in the history of the game. He finished top-10 in MVP voting in the American League eight years in a row (1998-2005).

The HarbourCats open on the road May 31 in Kamloops, the start of back-to-back series in Kamloops and Kelowna, before returning for the June 7 home opener against Wenatchee. The HarbourCats will be on the road this summer in Kamloops, Kelowna, Edmonton, Wenatchee, Ridgefield, Port Angeles, Bellingham, and six games in Nanaimo against the Island-rival NightOwls at Serauxmen Stadium. Teams visiting Victoria this year are Wenatchee, Nanaimo, Bellingham, Port Angeles, Kelowna, Edmonton (two series), Kamloops and Corvallis, along with non-league games against the Redmond Dudes, Dub Sea Fishsticks, the SIBL All-Stars, and Victoria Mavericks All-Stars.

The regular season runs until August 7, with WCL playoffs running from August 10 to August 16.

Single game tickets are now available for the HarbourCats 2024 season including the home opener on Friday, June 7, 2024 at 6:35pm against the Kamloops NorthPaws. These can be purchased online at www.harbourcats.com/tickets or at the HarbourCats office at 101-1814 Vancouver Street.

Season tickets and 10-game flex packs are also now on sale via the HarbourCats office or by calling 778-265-0327.

IMPORTANT NOTE:  If you are a 2023 Season Ticket holder who has not yet renewed your seats for the 2024 season, please do so by April 15th, 2024 or your seats will be released and available to the public for sale. Please call Christian at 778-265-0327 ASAP to renew your seats.

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