By Chris Lazar
It is the unofficial midseason point of the IBL season, and there have been some positive surprises and some unfortunate disappointments. This week I will be handing out midseason grades for each team based on performance and preseason expectations.
#8. Brantford Red Sox (2-18, Previous Week: 8)
Expectations for Brantford weren’t very high coming this year, but they were supposed to improve and put forth a more competitive team in 2023. While they’ve been slightly better this season than last, they’re still quite a bit away from the rest of the teams in the league. With only two wins and a run differential of -151, it is hard to say it’s been a successful campaign.
Midseason Grade: D
#7. Guelph Royals (7-12, Previous Week: 6)
Expectations weren’t sky high for Guelph due to the predicted roster turnover despite the club battling for the pennant in 2022, and halfway through the year those lower expectations have been well justified. Currently sitting in the bottom half of the season, it is hard to see them having a significant turnaround unless they can get Custodio back for the stretch run as well as a few other pieces. They have found a good young core that they can build around in the coming years, so it hasn’t been all bad news for the Royals.
Midseason Grade: C-
#6. London Majors (6-12, Previous Week: 7)
It is hard to say the first half of the year has been anything but a disappointment for the team in the Forest City. Outside of excellent seasons from veterans Byron Reichstein and Owen Boon, not much has gone right for the Majors. Subpar pitching and a lack of team offense has London firmly entrenched in the bottom half of the standings. They picked up a pair of impressive wins this weekend so maybe they’re turning the corner, but they have a lot of work to do if they want to catch up to the teams at the top.
Midseason Grade: D
#5. Toronto Maple Leafs (11-9, Previous Week: 4)
The Leafs have shown flashes of the juggernaut they can be, although it hasn’t been consistent. Their lineup has been solid from the very beginning, but the pitching staff has left a lot to be desired. Nobody should put too much stock in what they’ve seen from Toronto however – they always find a way to raise their level come playoff time. With a couple of additions to the pitching staff and the potential return of Marcus Knect on the horizon, this team should look much different in the second half.
Midseason Grade: C+
#4. Hamilton Cardinals (12-8, Previous Week: 3)
The new era of baseball in Hamilton has gotten off to a good start, as they’ve already equalled their win total from a year ago. On pace to set a franchise record for wins in a season, there is a lot to like from what this team has done. They are a young, fun, exciting group, and while that is their greatest strength it could also be their biggest downfall. Their youth and inexperience has shown itself at points this season, and could be what holds them back from competing for a championship, but the talent is certainly there to make it happen.
Midseason Grade: B+
#3. Welland Jackfish (14-6, Previous Week: 1)
Vibes around the Rose City seem to be volatile through 20 games – it’s either been “We might never lose again” or “the sky is falling”. Luckily for them, the vibes have been mostly immaculate. After losing the first two games of the year, Welland reeled off 13 straight victories before dropping four of their last five. The Jackfish have been very streaky, and that’s a dangerous game to play because if you go into the playoffs hot, it works to your favour. If you go in cold, it could be a short and painful finish to your season. Either way, you can’t say it hasn’t been a good half of baseball when the team is first in the standings, but it feels like they’re capable of more than they’ve shown.
Midseason Grade: B+
#2. Kitchener Panthers (13-7, Previous Week: 5)
It’s no secret that the Panthers offense has carried them to where they are this season – they lead the league in runs scored and have only scored less than five once in 20 games – but their pitching has held up fine, led by their ace Christian Hauck who was an honourable mention for Player of the Month in June. Their pitching depth remains a question mark, but when the offense is averaging over 10 runs a night the pitching doesn’t need to be spectacular. Overall, a very impressive start to the year for Kitchener.
Midseason Grade: A
#1. Barrie Baycats (13-6, Previous Week: 2)
After 10 games of being a middle of the pack team, the Baycats turned it on and have soared to the top of the standings and the rankings, with their signature wins being a pair of convincing victories in Welland. Frank Garces has firmly re-established himself as the top pitcher in the league, and the lineup has exceeded all expectations. There’s not much to criticize in Barrie as they have been outstanding for the better part of the last month, and are clearly one of the top teams in the league halfway through the season.
Midseason Grade: A+
News: IBL Veteran Brett Lawson Re-Signs with Hamilton
The Hamilton Cardinals have re-signed veteran right-handed starting pitcher Brett Lawson.Standing tall at 6-foot-8 and hailing from Burlington, Lawson made a mid-season move to the Cardinals from the Welland Jackfish during the 2023 campaign. Despite a limited regular-season engagement, where he pitched 7 innings for the Cardinals, Lawson stepped up remarkably in the playoff series…
The Hamilton Cardinals have re-signed veteran right-handed starting pitcher Brett Lawson.
Standing tall at 6-foot-8 and hailing from Burlington, Lawson made a mid-season move to the Cardinals from the Welland Jackfish during the 2023 campaign. Despite a limited regular-season engagement, where he pitched 7 innings for the Cardinals, Lawson stepped up remarkably in the playoff series against Barrie, delivering a standout performance by striking out 10 batters across 8 innings and achieving a commendable ERA of 3.37.
With a rich career spanning over 500 innings in the IBL and accumulating more than 400 strikeouts, Lawson’s experience is unparalleled in the league. His illustrious career includes clinching the IBL’s prestigious Dominico Cup with the Barrie Baycats from 2014 to 2018. Lawson’s professional journey was kickstarted when he was drafted by the Minnesota Twins in the 15th round of the 2001 MLB June Amateur Draft, following his tenure at Northwestern Oklahoma State University, marking the beginning of a six-season journey in professional baseball. The Cardinals will continue to lean on Lawson’s proven leadership and track record of success throughout the 2024 season.
“Lawson is one of the model IBL veterans, and with a young roster, we’re fortunate to have him back with us,” said George Halim, Hamilton Cardinals General Manager. “He’s a lifetime pro who knows how to get outs, and knows how to compete while giving us a chance to win when he’s out there.”
About the Hamilton Cardinals
The Hamilton Cardinals Baseball Club are a member of Canada’s best league, the Intercounty Baseball League. The over 100-year old summer league is one of the oldest baseball leagues in the world, established in 1919. For more information visit: https://www.theibl.ca & https://www.iblcardinals.ca
News: JACKFISH ANNOUNCE CHAMPION VS. CHAMPION GAME AGAINST QUEBEC CAPITALES
WELLAND – The Welland Jackfish, Niagara’s sports entertainment destination, is excited to announce they will host the 2023 Frontier League Champions Quebec Capitales for a preseason game at Welland Stadium on Monday, May 6.Gates are scheduled to open at 6:00 p.m. and first pitch is set for 7:05 p.m. Concessions will be available and tickets…
WELLAND – The Welland Jackfish, Niagara’s sports entertainment destination, is excited to announce they will host the 2023 Frontier League Champions Quebec Capitales for a preseason game at Welland Stadium on Monday, May 6.
Gates are scheduled to open at 6:00 p.m. and first pitch is set for 7:05 p.m. Concessions will be available and tickets can be purchased over the phone by calling 905-735-9834 or by clicking here.
“It will be great to open the doors on May 6 for the exhibition against Quebec,” team President and Director of Fun, Ryan Harrison said. “I appreciate Pat Scalabrini and the entire Quebec Capitales for making this happen for us and all of our fans. It will be tremendous for our players – and our gameday staff – to get in a preseason game under the lights as we continue to prepare for Opening Day. It’s incredible to be home at the Pond.”
The Québec Capitales (French: Les Capitales de Québec) are a professional baseball team based in Quebec City, Quebec. The Capitales have been members of the Frontier League since the 2020 season after a merger between the Can-Am League and the Frontier League in October 2019. Since the 1999 season, the Capitales have played their home games at Stade Canac.
The Jackfish return to The Pond on Saturday, May 18th at 6:05 pm for their 2024 Home Opener. Season membership and flex plans are on sale now at wellandjackfish.com/2024 or by calling 905-735-9834.
The Welland Jackfish are a member of Canada’s best league, the Intercounty Baseball League. The over 100-year old summer league is one of the oldest baseball leagues in the world, with the league established in 1919, drawing significantly more fans, in a friendly ballpark experience, than any league of its kind. For more information, visit www.wellandjackfish.com or follow the Jackfish on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter at @wellandjackfish.
News: Leafs Re-Sign Pitcher Chris Nagorski
TORONTO, Ontario – The Toronto Maple Leafs Baseball Club (@MapleLeafsBaseball) announced today the re-signing of 5 time IBL Champion Right-Handed Pitcher Chris NagorskiNagorski returns for his 3rd season with the Leafs after spending 8 seasons in the IBL with Guelph and Barrie. Nagorski is 2nd all time in IBL career saves (25) and 12th all-time…
TORONTO, Ontario – The Toronto Maple Leafs Baseball Club (@MapleLeafsBaseball) announced today the re-signing of 5 time IBL Champion Right-Handed Pitcher Chris Nagorski
Nagorski returns for his 3rd season with the Leafs after spending 8 seasons in the IBL with Guelph and Barrie. Nagorski is 2nd all time in IBL career saves (25) and 12th all-time in appearances (136 games) . Last season in 12 games, Chris stuck out 8 and had an ERA of 5.26 in 13.2 Innings pitched.
“Chris is a tremendous team player and understands his role as a leader and late inning relief pitcher. He knows how to be ready to pitch and helps the younger players adjust to the IBL. We are excited to have him back this year.” GM Jeff Lounsbury
“I am thrilled to run it back with the boys and contribute to a new era of Toronto Maple Leaf Baseball” said Nagorkski
The Toronto Maple Leafs are a member of Canada’s best league, the Intercounty Baseball League. The over 100-year-old summer league is one of the oldest baseball leagues in the world, with the league established in 1919, drawing significantly more fans, in a friendly ballpark experience, than any league of its kind. For more information, visit www.mapleleafsbaseball.com or follow the Maple Leafs on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.
This announcement is brought to you by NEW ERA CAP COMPANY official hat supplier of the Toronto Maple Leaf Baseball Team. New Era | New Era Hats & Apparel – New Era Cap
Photo: Craig Aikin