HarbourCats add six high-end players, including two Kentucky stars

HarbourCats HeadOnly

by Jim Swanson

April 2, 2014, VICTORIA, B.C. (ISN) – The talent pool for the 2014 Victoria HarbourCats keeps getting deeper, as the team sets its sights high for the coming West Coast League season.

The latest signings are highlighted by Sacramento State standout outfielder Nathan Lukes (pronounced LU-kess), who has put up impressive numbers through his college career. Given the speed of the 5-11/175 sophomore outfielder, it’s fitting he hails from Antelope, California, and the lefty-hitting right fielder started all 59 games as a freshman for the Hornets, batting mostly out of the second spot in the order.

The other five players announced today are being looked to for key contributions. Infielder Ted Boeke (BOH-key), who can play either third base or shortstop, is from Loyola Marymount University, and first baseman Thomas Bernal of Kentucky is a player very familiar to HarbourCats Head Coach Bob Miller, as Bernal played his high school baseball near Cuesta College in California, where Miller coaches.

Right-handed pitcher Andrew Nelson is also very familiar to Miller, as he transferred to Kentucky from Cuesta, and Nelson, a starter for the Wildcats, is also coming to Victoria. Another pitcher added is Orange Coast College standout Jacob Hill, a hard-throwing lefty who will join the University of San Diego in the fall, and right-hander Preston Ryan is another quality player for the HarbourCats from the University of New Mexico program.

“These are the kind of players we believe can put give us quality bats through the lineup, night after night, and that important depth in the pitching staff – you need those things to compete,” said General Manager Jim Swanson. “Bob Miller and Dennis Rogers worked very hard to recruit these players from outstanding programs, and it’s up to us to put them in situations where they will find the best chance of success. It’s two months to the start of the season, and people are getting very excited in Victoria.”

PRESTON RYAN, RHP, NEW MEXICO (NCAA-D1) – A standout in high school in his native Tempe, Arizona, the 6-0/195 freshman was a prized recruit coming out of McClintock High School. Has already been given two starts in his NCAA career, despite being in his first season. Considered a power pitcher who is fast developing command of the strike zone.

JACOB HILL, LHP, ORANGE COAST COLLEGE (JC) – Will transfer to University of San Diego in the fall, the hard-throwing lefty is 6-2/210 sophomore and has twin brother David, a right-hander, on the OCC roster. Jacob Hill is 8-0 with a 1.08 ERA so far this season, striking out 48 in 50 innings and giving up just 34 hits. (His brother David is 7-0 with two complete games and a 0.81 ERA, fanning 74 batters in 66.2 innings.)

ANDREW NELSON, RHP, KENTUCKY (NCAA-D1) – A standout at Cuesta College, where he was a key piece in two conference championships, Nelson is in the starting rotation for the University of Kentucky. Named conference pitcher of the year in 2013 while at Cuesta. A strike-thrower at 6-3/210, he hails from Omaha, Nebraska, and is 1-2 with a 3.21 ERA through eight appearances (five starts) for Kentucky.

THOMAS BERNAL, 1B, KENTUCKY (NCAA-D1) – From Paso Robles, California, Bernal is hitting .288 with one home run and 14 RBIs and a .404 on-base percentage. Has yet to make an error this season in 19 starts. The junior, 6-0/210, bats right and throws right, and can play either corner infield spot or catch, if needed, and is used as a lockdown first base defensive option in late innings. UK was 21-6 in 2013 until Bernal went down with an injury, and went 10-19 after that – will be looked to for his character and leadership. Sorry, ladies, he’s taken — married his high school sweetheart in 2012, Lauren Redberg. Struck out just six times in his final high school season and his coach, Derek Stroud, called him “the ultimate team player.”

NATHAN LUKES, OF, SACRAMENTO STATE (NCAA-D1) – Lukes is without question the key offensive player for the Hornets, and bats either leadoff or third nearly every game. As a freshman, he led Sac State with 232 at-bats, hitting .315 with 13 doubles, four triples and two home runs. This year, the sophomore is hitting .327 with 34 hits and 22 runs in 27 games, proving his Division-1 debut was no fluke. Has been held hitless just four times in 2014.

TED BOEKE, IF, LOYOLA MARYMOUNT UNIVERSITY (NCAA-D1) – A freshman with the Lions with a pro frame, Boeke can play third base or shortstop and brings a potent right-handed bat. From La Crescenta, California, he’s 6-3/180 and is hitting .271 in 20 game appearances in his first college season. Had a six-game hitting streak this season. Team captain in high school, he was also his high school league’s player of the year as a senior.

2014 roster to date – 33 players

  • C (3) – Kelly Norris-Jones, Aaron Barnett, Alan Baldwin
  • IF (7) – Griffin Andreychuk, Gabe Clark, Cole Kreuter, Noah Cummings, Bryce Greager, Ted Boeke, Thomas Bernal
  • OF (9) – Nathan Lukes, Danny Collier, John Grimsley, Andrew Calica, Devin Carter, Hunter Mercado-Hood, Wyler Smith, Matt Bryan, Darren Honeysett
  • P (14) – LHP Carson Schneider, RHP Jacob McAdams, RHP Brandon Feldman, LHP Quintin Torres-Costa, LHP Will Dennis, RHP Matt Susac, RHP Bret Helton, RHP Mike Gershman, RHP Mikey Wright, RHP Alex Rogers, RHP Eric Hegadoren, RHP Andrew Nelson, LHP Jacob Hill, RHP Preston Ryan

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