ISN Pre-Season Baseball Preview Part IV
Story and Photos by Christian J. Stewart (ISN)
Welcome to Island Sports News’ fourth installment in our 2012 Baseball Preview, this time featuring a review of the Victoria Mariners Premier squad.
The Victoria Mariners enter the 2012 season with the hopes of remaining among the elite in the BCPBL. With a 3-1 record so far, the Mariners are off to a good start in that regard and sit fourth behind Nanaimo, Okanagan and Coquitlam. They will look to improve upon that record this Saturday when they hold their home opener against the North Delta Blue Jays at Henderson Park.
The Mariners return 12 players from 2011’s team, and the coaching staff led by veteran Mariner Coach Mike Chewpoy feels this year’s squad is up to the challenge of improving on last years Final Four finish.
AROUND THE INFIELD:
The Mariners will run out arguably the leagues best infield. Shortstop Jesse Hodges – a member of the Canadian Junior National Team – and second-baseman Daryl Blaskovich will be the M’s double play combo for a third straight year. Both players have played huge roles since 2010 and this year will be no exception. Expect to see three hole hitter, Hodges knock in leadoff hitter Blaskovich all summer long.
Jesse Hodges (left) and Daryl Blaskovich (right) provide a lethal defensive and offensive combination for the M’s (Photos by Christian J. Stewart – ISN).
Highly talented Morgan Varley will see the majority of time at third base. Varley, an excellent bat handler, will hit out of the two hole this summer. Jesse Long will be the clubs first baseman. Long is in his third season with the M’s organization. With the ability to play all four infield positions, Long should be one of the better defensive first basemen in the PBL.
Both Morgan Varley (left) and Jesse Long (right) can play a range of infield positions, but should find themselves at third and first respectively for most of the 2012 season (Photos by Christian J. Stewart – ISN).
The Mariners will bring talented sophomore Matt Wellington (2011 AAA Bantam BC Champion) and sure handed junior Drayson Lum into the infield mix this summer as well. Wellington plays both corners and carries a big bat that will get him regular time in the middle of the line-up. Lum possesses leadoff type quickness and will be counted on to swipe bases and give the senior middle players days off throughout the summer.
Speedy infielder Drayson Lum (left) and second-year star outfielder Brendan Somers (right) will see plenty of playing time in 2012 (Photos by Christian J. Stewart – ISN).
IN THE OUTFIELD:
Patrolling the Mariner outfield in 2012 will be returning centerfielder Matt Bryan. Bryan is one of the better defenders in the PBL and has given pitchers a rough time in the early part of 2012. The M’s are fortunate to have Bryans glove, speed and ability to hit for one more season.
Joining Bryan and playing right field is Junior Brendan Somers. Somers had an impressive 2011 rookie campaign in which he hit .275 and reached double digits in stolen bases. Somers should have a breakout year for the Mariners.
Matt Bryan (left) will see the bulk of duty in centre, while Dave Warren (right) will see duty in left or right (Photos by Christian J. Stewart – ISN).
Second year outfielder Nathan Donaldson will see the majority of time in left field. Donaldson gives the M’s added speed in the outfield and on the base paths. Joining the M’s outfield in 2012 will in Junior Dave Warren and Senior Joel Podmoroff. Both Warren and Podmoroff have good speed and are tough outs at the plate. Podmoroff could also see time behind the plate this summer.
Nathan Donaldson (left) and Joel Podmoroff provide the M’s with outfield options and can be tough outs at the plate (Photos by Christian J. Stewart – ISN).
BEHIND THE PLATE:
Ty Russell begins his final season with the Mariners as the clubs starting catcher and cleanup hitter. Russell has enjoyed success in his years in both the JPBL and PBL. Russell is sure to be a league leader in most offensive categories this season and is off to a good start, leading the PBL in hitting with a .615 average and tied for second in RBIs after just four games. Junior Evan Willow will be groomed to be the starting catcher next year and will see a lot of innings behind the plate. A big strong kid, Willow has the potential to not only be one of the better catchers in 2013, but also one of the better hitters. The M’s are also excited with prospect Brandon Ashford who will start the season as the Jr Mariners starting backstop. Ashford is a middle of the order type hitter, with excellent catching abilities.
Ty Russell will see the bulk of the duty behind the plate and should provide plenty of offence in the number four spot in the line-up (Photos by Christian J. Stewart – ISN).
ON THE MOUND:
Right-hand pitchers Erik Phillips, Nathan McKinlay and sophomore Colton Wood have emerged as the top three weekend starters for the M’s. Both Phillips and McKinlay were starters for last years club and will log significant innings this season. Wood could arguably be the best sophomore pitcher in the province by seasons end.
Mariner Pitcher Erik Phillips (left), Nathan McKinlay (centre) and Colton Wood (right) will be the top three in the Mariner’s rotation this summer (Photos by Christian J. Stewart – ISN).
As usual there will be stiff competition for the fourth spot in the rotation. Senior right-hand pitcher Graeme Godfrey has given himself a chance to start in addition to his closing duties. Godfrey has a plus fastball and will see time in many roles for the M’s. Left-hand pitchers Riley Rebitt and Nick Gardler have impressed early. Rebitt is in his third year with the M’s and will see his share of starts this summer. Gardler, who has a submarine-sidearm approach, is extremely tough on left-handed hitters and will be used for lefty situations and will also see time in the rotation. Rounding out the staff is right-hand pitcher Kaelin Norris-Jones. A converted catcher, Kaelin has an above average fastball and is working hard to develop off-speed pitches necessary to succeed at the PBL level.
Riley Rebit (left), Nick Gardler (centre) and Kaelin Norris-Jones will all see time on the mound for the M’s in 2012 (Photos by Christian J. Stewart – ISN).