Gabe Clark returning for 2015, OSU sends Red Sox draft pick

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(ISN) – September 3, 2014 VICTORIA, B.C. – A big piece of the offensive puzzle for the Victoria HarbourCats is returning for a second season, as Oregon State University has placed Gabe Clark with the West Coast League organization.

Clark (left), a right-handed hitting first baseman from Riverside, California, who is entering his junior season as a Beaver, hit eight home runs and drove in 31 runs in 40 games, while batting .291. He also had eight doubles and posted a .494 slugging mark.

Joining Clark from OSU will be infielder Michael Gretler, a Bonney Lake, Washington product who measures 6-2/180 and was drafted by the Boston Red Sox in the 39th round of the 2014 MLB draft. A shortstop at Bonney Lake High School, the right-handed hitting Gretler is penciled in as the starting third basemen for the powerful OSU program this year.

“Having Gabe return, and joining previously announced returnees Alex Rogers, Alex FaGalde and Griffin Andreychuk will be something our fans can really get excited about going into 2015,” said General Manager Jim Swanson. “These are great players, and excellent people off the field. They all played well, and it’s been a priority for us to look to continue relationships with their schools and get the best players we can so we can strive for the playoffs.”

Clark’s presence in the order gives new Head Coach Graig Merritt someone to build around as recruiting efforts continue for 2015. Clark, who measures 6-1/200, and Rogers were named to the 2014 WCL All-Star Game, and Clark won the Home Run Derby in impressive fashion. That night, July 21, might have brought the best story of the year, as Clark’s father Jim drove 14 hours (with wife/mom Monica) to throw the pitches for Gabe in the Home Run Derby. It was an event and a moment the family will never forget, and it brought great cheering from the crowd on hand at Kiger Stadium in Klamath Falls, Oregon.

“Gabe really progressed over the past year. As a scout, I saw how much he was beginning to believe in his ability to drive the ball and be a leader,” said Merritt, an area scout for the Tampa Bay Rays who enters his first year as Head Coach of the HarbourCats. “I am excited to work with him and develop him even further, and I know he’s working with great coaches at OSU who will get the most out of him this fall and spring.”

Previously, the HarbourCats confirmed that Andreychuk, a sophomore second baseman from Seattle University who hails from Nanaimo, B.C., and right-handed pitcher Alex Rogers, also from Nanaimo, and right-hander Alex FaGalde of Cuesta College in California, would be returning. Rogers is a sophomore at Trinidad State Junior College in Colorado.

In Gretler (left), the HarbourCats have a potential impact bat and a plus defender who was at the top end of recruiting lists coming out of high school. Gretler batted .395 with 11 doubles and 27 runs driven in for Bonney Lake, helping his high school to its best showing ever in the state playdowns, losing in the final. Gretler was team captain for three years, and is the first player from Bonney Lake to ever be drafted.

“Oregon State is one of the top programs in NCAA and to have them send us their top hitter and their top recruit, we think that says something about our organization, about our community’s profile, and about the coaching staff we’ve put together with Graig Merritt and Alec Adame,” said Swanson. “Gretler is a player we are excited to track through the college season and are eager to put him in a HarbourCats uniform.”

Merritt, Adame and Swanson continue to work on recruitment for the 2015 team, working with schools that have previously had relationships with the HarbourCats and building new connections. No fewer than 30 schools are currently in discussions with the HarbourCats’ coaching staff to send top talent to Victoria.

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