2016 is the fourth season of HarbourCats baseball in Victoria, dubbed the ‘Grand Slam Season’
VICTORIA B.C– The Victoria HarbourCats are pleased to announce the club’s finalized coaching staff for the 2016 West Coast League season. The staff is lead by returning head coach Graig Merritt, who lead the team to a franchise-best 29 wins in 2015, as well as returning assistants Joe Meggs and Andrew Wilson. New additions include Joe Fabre and Kelly Norris-Jones.
The team also announced that 2015 assistant coach Jerry Pena and pitching coach Alec Adame are unfortunately unable to return to Victoria this summer for personal and professional reasons.
“Jerry and Alec are both outstanding men who were exemplary representatives of the HarbourCats organization,” says Brad Norris-Jones, General Manager of the HarbourCats. “We would like to thank both of them for their contributions to our club. They will always be HarbourCats, and we are absolutely open to working together again in the future if an opportunity arises.”
HEAD COACH– Graig Merritt, Maple Ridge, BC, Chico State
ASSOCIATE COACH/HITTING– Joe Meggs, Terre Haute, IN, Washington
PITCHING COACH– Joe Fabre, Ventress, LA, LSU Eunice
DEFENSIVE COACH– Kelly Norris-Jones, Victoria, BC, Illinois
BULLPEN COACH– Andrew Wilson, Victoria, BC
Graig Merritt guided the HarbourCats to a 21-8 record down the stretch in 2015, narrowly missing a WCL playoff berth. Merritt was drafted twice as a player, in 1996 and 1997 by the LA Dodgers. Graig played collegiately at the College of Southern Idaho and then at Chico State University where he won an NCAA Division 2 National Championship. He signed with the Tampa Bay Rays in 2001 and played six seasons in the Rays organization, reaching double-A in 2006.
Merritt is a former member of Canada’s Junior National Team and has won Canada Cup and Baseball Canada Senior Championship titles. Graig brings his wealth of experience as well as an up-tempo, energetic atmosphere to the club, which his players rally around.
Joe Meggs returns for his second season on the HarbourCats coaching staff in 2016. Meggs played collegiately at the University of Washington (NCAA Div. 1; Pac-12) where he started 148 games over three seasons in the Huskies outfield after transferring from Indiana State after his freshman year. Graduating in 2013, Meggs was twice named All Pac-12 Academic Team, and was a 2011 honourable mention All-Pac 12 player.
Joe played a season in the Dodgers organization in 2014 before beginning his coaching career and has been the Director of Baseball Operations at Washington since 2015. His father Lindsay has been Washington’s head coach for seven seasons, and brother Jack currently plays for the Huskies.
Joe Fabre joins the HarbourCats staff this year as pitching coach. Fabre is an assistant coach at his alma mater, LSU Eunice where he works with pitchers and catchers. The Bengals are a perennial junior college power winning five NJCAA Div. 2 National Championships since 2006. Fabre pitched collegiately, beginning his career at LSU Eunice in 2009-10 before transferring to Lee University (NCAA Div. 2) for his final two seasons.
Fabre began his coaching career as an assistant coach at Lee University in 2014 working with pitchers and catchers for two years before joining the staff at LSU Eunice.
Kelly Norris-Jones joins the HarbourCats coaching staff in 2016 recently completing an accomplished collegiate playing career. Norris-Jones was drafted by the Toronto Blue Jays upon graduating from Lambrick Park Secondary School and the Victoria Mariners in 2010, but elected to play collegiately at the University of Illinois (NCAA Div. 1; Big Ten).
An excellent defensive catcher, Kelly committed just one error in four years at Illinois. He played for the HarbourCats in 2014, posting a .300 batting average with five RBIs.
“It is exciting to have our first former player join the coaching staff, and have it be a Victoria product in Kelly,” says Jim Swanson, Managing Partner of the HarbourCats. “This shows the maturation of the organization in just four years.”
Andrew Wilson is a talented local baseball coach and returns for his second season with the HarbourCats. In 2015, Wilson volunteered in a part-time observational role and earned great respect and developed a strong working relationship with Coach Merritt’s staff. Andrew has enjoyed great success as a head coach at the youth level, guiding his teams to two provincial titles.
The HarbourCats are very excited about this coaching staff, and are confident that this is the right group to lead the HarbourCats in 2016 as the club looks for its first WCL playoff berth.