They are the first three and might be the only locals to dress for the Victoria HabourCats baseball team for its West Coast League debut of 2013.
Then again, there could be more Island players, said HarbourCats general manager Holly Jones.
Pitcher Connor Russell, outfielder Austin Russell and pitcher Nick Pivetta, all graduates of Lambrick Park secondary’s baseball academy, have been selected out of Victoria’s current crop of collegiate baseball players. They were half of the first six players to be named by the HarbourCats on Tuesday (Dec. 18).
“It’s a good league, with lots of drafted players, and it’s at home, so it’s a great team for me to be on,” Pivetta said.
The HarbourCats expansion season roster has already been selected, but the names will be released gradually so the stories behind each player won’t be lost in one big announcement, Jones said.
Royal Athletic Park will be a lot closer to home than the Perfect Game Collegiate Baseball League in New York State, where Pivetta played last summer.
“(Perfect Game) is another wood bat league but I think the WCL is going to be a step up, and we’re going to have a strong team.”
During the college season the 6-foot-5 right handed pitcher plays for New Mexico Junior College and has committed to play for the University of New Mexico Lobos (NCAA Div. 1) in September 2013. During midget (16-18), Pivetta played for the Victoria Eagles with coach Gautam Srivastava.
“Basically, Gautam put my name forward to the (HarbourCats). I let them know I was interested and it was done by email,” Pivetta said.
Srivastava, the former Canadian youth coach of the year, and Lambrick’s Mike Chewpoy, who also coaches the midget Victoria Mariners, are two of the most influential figures on male college and university-bound baseball players from Victoria.
So it’s only logical that HarbourCats co-coaches Dennis Rogers and Bob Miller would lean on them as the two California-based coaches make inroads into the Island’s baseball scene.
“I had a suspicion (Chewpoy) had put my name forward, then I got a call in September asking if I could play,” Connor Russell said.
The 20-year-old is in his third year at Vancouver Island University. In 2010 he was part of the Victoria Mariners’ conquest as B.C. champions, along with Austin Russell. Last summer Connor won five games in eight starts for the Okotoks Dawgs (Calgary) of the Western Major Baseball League.
“It’s going to be fun having a couple of friends on the team, with Austin and Nick. We’ve all played for and against each other.”
The HarbourCats also announced the signing of three Americans, all of whom are MLB-drafted: catchers Casey Schroeder (University of Kentucky) and David Schuknecht (Riverside City College) and pitcher Connor Baits (University of California Santa Barbara).
Blue Jays buzz reaches Vic
Don’t assume Victoria is too far from Ontario to share in the excitement of the Toronto Blue Jays recent trades and signings, including much sought after Cy Young winner R.A. Dickey.
The thrilling memories of the Blue Jays’ back-to-back championship seasons of 1992 and 1993 are being brought to the forefront of Victoria baseball fans, as Vegas odd-makers have the Blue Jays as the 2013 World Series favourites. That in turn could affect the stands as of RAP this summer, Jones said.
“It’s just as exciting to think one of these (HabourCats) could end up on the Blue Jays one day.”