by Jim Swanson
February 3, 2014, Victoria (ISN) – The Victoria HarbourCats are pleased to announce the latest round of signings, which include all Division 1 players, including a starting pitcher from last season’s WCL all-star game and a player with very deep pro sports bloodlines.
With the addition of these five players, the roster for the West Coast League club now stands at 19, with more contracts close to finalization.
Right-handed pitcher Bret Helton represented the Walla Walla Sweets when he was named starting pitcher for the North team in the memorable 2013 WCL All-Star Game, which was played in front of a WCL-record crowd of 4,210 at Royal Athletic Park. The sophomore, a native of Colorado Springs, Colorado, who measures 6-3/215, is now serving a key late-game role in the bullpen for the Utah Utes.
Rocket-armed third baseman Cole Kreuter, a right-handed hitter who is closing out his high school career at famed Westminster Christian Academy in Florida (the same school that produced Alex Rodriguez), is the son of former MLB catcher Chad Kreuter, also the former head baseball coach at the University of Southern California (USC).
Kreuter’s grandfather is Mike Gillespie, the former head coach at USC (20 years) who is now head coach at University of California-Irvine – where the younger Kreuter will report as a prized freshman in the fall. (Interview here — http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tYbhh7P2isw)
“I think it’s important to note the caliber of players that are coming to our program after just one season in the West Coast League – it shows, to us, what our organization — and more importantly our community — earned for a reputation as a place to play, to be welcomed, and to develop in a pro-style environment,” said John McLean, President of the HarbourCats.
“Our coaches are working very hard to add the best players possible and build a winning tradition. To have Cole Kreuter, John Grimsley (son of former MLB reliever Jason Grimsley) and Bret Helton, the all-star game starter for the North team last year, wanting to come to Victoria and be HarbourCats, we are very happy with what that says about the organization.
This will be an interesting year to be at Royal Athletic Park for our fans.”
Also signing with the HarbourCats are versatile infielder Noah Cummings, a standout freshman at Oral Roberts University; Pepperdine catcher Aaron Barnett, a blue-chip recruit who boasts power from the left side; and Barnett’s teammate Devin Carter, a sophomore outfielder with a booming bat from the right side and plenty of speed.
“These signings are big steps in giving us the depth to compete for a championship,” said General Manager Jim Swanson. “These are some of the most highly-regarded players in college baseball and they are all focused on what is important – using their Victoria experience to move up in the game of baseball, develop a winning approach, and be ready to lead their college teams next winter.”
IF NOAH CUMMINGS, ORAL ROBERTS UNIVERSITY (NCAA-D1) – The athletic 6-0/175 Oral Roberts University star is a freshman who can play third base or either middle infield position, and boasts a strong arm. A native of Alpine, California, and graduate of Granite Hills High School (in El Cajon, California, a suburb of San Diego) in 2013. His parents, Bill and Katie, also attended Oral Roberts… Batted .438 with four home runs, 12 doubles and 32 runs in his senior year of high school… Bats right… Had scholarship offers from Hawaii and Cal State Northridge… Considered primarily a shortstop, but more than able to be slotted at any infield spot… Was an offensive leader and off-field leader for a high school powerhouse program with a strong winning tradition. High contact rate, drives the ball to gaps, causes trouble for opposition with his speed.
3B COLE KREUTER, UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA-IRVINE (NCAA-D1) – Son of 16-year MLB catcher Chad Kreuter, former head coach at USC, and younger brother of Arizona Diamondbacks draft choice Cade Kreuter. Senior at baseball factory Westminster Christian Academy in Florida, same school that produced Alex Rodriguez. Committed to University of California-Irvine for the fall, where his grandfather Mike Gillespie is the head coach. Can also play shortstop, his position at WCA… Said Gillespie: “Cole has demonstrated uncommon instincts and I.Q. for the game and will no doubt adapt well to the UCI style of play, which requires completeness in all facets.”… Second “son of a former MLB player” to sign with HarbourCats (John Grimsley, son of Jason).
RHP BRET HELTON, UNIVERSITY OF UTAH (NCAA-D1) – Bats right, throws right… The starter for North in the 2013 WCL All-Star Game at Royal Athletic Park, representing the Walla Walla Sweets… Being transitioned to a key late-inning bullpen role this year with the Utes… A two-time all-state at Cheyenne Mountain High School, in part for his hitting — .375 with seven home runs and 26 RBIs – and is listed as a RHP/OF on the Utah roster, because his bat can play at higher levels… With Walla Walla, was 2-1 with a 2.49 ERA in eight games, six of them starts, striking out 38 batters. Measures 6-3/215… Might be the best athlete overall on the HarbourCats this year. Was honourable mention All-State as a high school quarterback (2,295 yards and 24 touchdown passes), and also in basketball. And this will make HarbourCats owner/president John McLean, a big San Francisco 49ers fan, a happy guy – Helton’s father Barry, a punter, was an All-American football player at Colorado and went on to a four-year NFL career at Candlestick Park.
OF DEVIN CARTER, PEPPERDINE (NCAA-D1) – From Temecula, California, and Temecula Valley High School… The sophomore OF is 6-0/190, and bats and throws right… Born in La Jolla, California, near San Diego, will major in sports medicine… Hit .295 for the North Shore Navigators, with two home runs and nine stolen bases, in 30 games in the Futures Collegiate Baseball League last summer. Speed and gap power with ability to develop more home run power.
C AARON BARNETT, PEPPERDINE (NCAA-D1) – The second receiver to sign with the HarbourCats, joining Victoria product Kelly Norris-Jones… Lefty-hitting catcher stands 6-0/185, and is from Mission Viejo, California, where he graduated from Capistrano Valley HS after hitting .337 for his high school career. Is expected to play a significant role as a freshman for the famed Pepperdine program… Majoring in economics… Projected as an impact offensive player at the NCAA level… Team MVP and two-time captain of his high school varsity team… Barnett is noted for his character, in large part due to the time he spends away from the game on charity work… Pepperdine head coach Steve Rodriquez on what Barnett brings to the program: “Aaron is a very good catch and throw catcher whose ability to hit from the left side makes him very valuable. We are expecting Aaron to step in and contribute right away. He is a good athlete who can play multiple positions if needed.”… His favourite professional athlete? Try Sidney Crosby.
2014 roster to date:
- C – Kelly Norris-Jones, Aaron Barnett
- IF – Griffin Andreychuk, Gabe Clark, Cole Kreuter, Noah Cummings
- OF – Danny Collier, Nick Rutckyj, John Grimsley, Andrew Calica, Devin Carter
- P – LHP Carson Schneider, RHP Jacob McAdams, RHP Brandon Feldman, RHP Cameron Cotton, LHP Quintin Torres-Costa, LHP Will Dennis, RHP Matt Susac, RHP Bret Helton
The HarbourCats, coached by Dennis Rogers and Bob Miller, open the WCL season on the road in Kelowna against the Falcons, on Friday, June 6. After that three-game series, the HarbourCats return to RAP for the home opener – Tuesday, June 10, 7 pm, against the Cowlitz Black Bears. The HarbourCats will play a combined Eagles/Mariners (PBL) team in an exhibition game on Thursday, June 5, 7 pm at RAP.