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Pro baseball bloodlines follow Hisle to Nanaimo

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When Jax Hisle opened his uniform package in the offices of the Nanaimo NightOwls, he knew this was meant to be.

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Hisle, an 18-year-old infielder/outfielder heading to Parkland College after graduating early and taking a gap year to add strength, saw No. 9 staring back at him as he stood in the depths of historic Serauxmen Stadium.

That was the number his grandfather Larry Hisle Sr. wore as a member of the Milwaukee Brewers, where he was an all-star in 1978 and finished third in MVP voting after a season with a .290 average, 34 home runs and 115 RBIs. No one with the West Coast League team knew that number meant so much — call it a fateful and welcomed coincidence for the 6-3/205 pound switch hitter who has a pro frame already, and was on display at the Hank Aaron Invitational last summer.

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The elder Hisle debuted with Philadelphia in 1968, was later traded to the Minnesota Twins and led the American League in RBIs with 119 in 1977 and went to his first of two all-star games. He played 14 MLB seasons and just shy of 1200 games in total.

“His reaction caught me off guard, and was priceless— I’d like to say we planned it, but we didn’t,” said Jim Swanson, GM of the NightOwls, who recruited Hisle (pronounced HIGH-suhl) — more on that tie later.

Jax, who tripled in a game in Kelowna on the team’s first road trip, is extremely proud of his grandfather, known best in Canada for his time as hitting coach of the Toronto Blue Jays under Cito Gaston — yes, THOSE years, the World Series banner flying north of the border for the first time, 1992 and 1993. He refined the swings of many Hall of Famers such as Paul Molitor, Dave Winfield and Rickey Henderson, and sweet swingers like John Olerud, Devon White and Joe Carter.

Jax’s father, Larry Jr., is also a role model, in part for being named the Wisconsin Gatorade Basketball Player of the Year for high school basketball (being 6-5 surely helps), and playing pro ball including two seasons as a power-bat outfielder with the Grand Forks (ND) Varmints of the independent Prairie League. He played collegiate ball at the University of Dayton for Mark Schlemmer, also his manager for one season with the Varmints.

Swanson was the administrator/commissioner of that league in 1996 and the GM of the Varmints for the 1997 season, and the two have kept in touch since then. Hence, the signing of prospect Jax, born years after the Prairie League went defunct.

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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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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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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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