Core Returns as Baycats Eye Sixth Straight Championship
BARRIE - After a cold, snowy and long winter, the Barrie Baycats are ready to begin their quest for a sixth straight Domincio Cup.
But for Barrie Baycats general and field manager Angus Roy, he is just looking forward to getting back to the yard.
"For me, it starts when [Major League Baseball] spring training starts. Baseball has been a major part of my life ever since I can remember. It is a passion of mine.
"The anticipation builds and builds, and then when opening day arrives, it is like a kid on Christmas morning. The clock can’t move fast enough."
For Roy, the offseason was rather predictable.
Ace Frank Garces, who dominated the league in unprecedented fashion last season, signed in the Mexican League, while veterans Chris Nagorski, Jaspreet Shergill, Brett Lawson, Tim Smith and Brandon Dhue moved on.
They will be replaced -- in some capacity -- by a group of newcomers, headlined by a pair of former Baycats in Jon Waltenbury and Conner Morro.
A fourth import is also expected to sign with the team soon.
"The word I would use is okay," said Roy when asked to assess the team's offseason. "We lost Garces, Smith, Dhue, Nagorski, Shergill, Lawson and [Evan] Kiser. We replaced them with [former Burlington Bandit pitcher Brandon] Hillier, [pitcher Ryan] Johnson, Morro, [former Cincinnati Reds farmhand Darren] Shred and Waltenbury.
"Personally I would have liked to return everyone from last year and have some upgrades but it didn’t work out that way. We did a decent job of replacing the guys we lost. Now the new guys just have to perform."
While the Baycats enter the season as favourites, Roy is well aware that the competition this season is going to be the best it has been in years, with the London Majors, Toronto Maple Leafs and Kitchener Panthers expected to be championship contenders once again.
The Hamilton Cardinals, Welland Jackfish and Guelph Royals will also field competitive teams, having a combined fourteen imports between them.
The Brantford Red Sox are also looking to return to glory this season after overhauling their roster in the offseason.
They'll have five imports on their roster, highlighted by pitcher Abel De Los Santos, who played for the Washington Nationals in 2015, and the Reds in 2016.
Roy said he welcomes the competition and acknowledged that a competitive season will be good a league that has lacked parity in recent years.
"It is fantastic," said Roy. "You want to go to every game knowing that you have to play good baseball to win. That wasn’t always the case for the last few years.
"Now, every team has solid ownership, a quality fan-base and a quality roster. John Kastner has a lot to do with that as well. He has done a tremendous job as commissioner. And all of the people within every city have done a tremendous job developing their organizations."
With a competitive season expected, Roy said it will be important for his team to start the season off better than they did last season, but said there is still a bigger goal in mind.
"Last year we got off to a slow start and we tried to wait it out," said Roy. "But there was a fundamental issue in our lineup. We gave it as much time as we could to make sure but we had to make a move and it ended up changing our season.
"So this year will be the same. We will try and truly evaluate what is happening. And if changes need to be made we will make them, but if not, we will just go through the process of the regular season, try and get everyone playing time to evaluate, but most importantly, make sure as best we can that everyone is healthy heading into the playoffs.
"Sometimes you get caught up in results, but we try and evaluate how we are playing without getting caught up in the results."
The Baycats begin their season this Sunday afternoon against the Majors.
Start time from Coates Stadium in Midhurst is set for 2:00 PM.
* Santos Arias
* Matthew St. Kitts
* Adam Hawes
* Emilis Guerrero
* Darren Shred
* Jon Reid
* Brad Bissell
* Brandon Catena
* Brandon Hillier
* Ryan Johnson
* Kyle Degrace
* Parker Walker
* Jordan Castaldo
* Branfy Infante
* Starlin Rodriguez
* Kevin Atkinson
* Ryan Rijo
* Conner Morro
* Carson Burns
* Jeff Cowan
* Glenn Jackson
* Ryan Spataro
* Stevie Lewis