Friday, February 8, 2013

HarbourCats roll out an impressive expansion roster

Tim Richards
I must admit that I was initially a little worried about the quality of players who might be suiting up for an expansion franchise's inaugural season, but the release of the full HarbourCats roster on Thursday put those concerns completely to rest. Head coaches Dennis Rogers and Bob Miller are to be commended for their recruiting efforts, as the 32-man roster is chock full of highly skilled players from top-notch baseball institutions.

The roster includes a grand total of seven players who have been previously drafted by MLB teams and it's highly likely that other HarbourCats will be selected in this June's draft. In addition, 10 of our guys will play this spring for teams listed on Baseball America’s ranking of the Top 25 NCAA Division I baseball squads: two players from the University of Kentucky (ranked 11th), one from UCLA (12th), two from the University of Oklahoma (19th), one from the University of New Mexico (21st), three from Cal State Fullerton (22rd) and one from the University of San Diego (25th).

Although the team is long on skill, the players are a bit less experienced than I was expecting. Of the 32 players, 19 are currently college freshmen and one -- slick-fielding shortstop Tim Richards -- is in his senior year of high school. Of course, the Wenatchee AppleSox carried a similar number of youngsters on their roster last year and they went on to win their fifth WCL championship.

Although not many guys play in the WCL prior to their freshman season of college, Richards certainly won't look out of place competing against more experienced opponents. Last summer, he narrowly missed making USA's U18 national team. ESPN recently ranked Richards as the second-best middle infield prospect in high school, while some have even predicted that he'll be taken late in the first round of this year's MLB draft. He has been compared to Dustin Pedroia for his "high energy approach to the game" and he should be a joy to watch play.

A modest total of seven sophomores and five juniors are also included on the HarbourCats roster. Most of those veterans are found on the pitching staff, which at first blush appears to be the strength of this team. Given the skill, size and experience of our hurlers, opposing batters probably won't be feeling all that comfortable in the Royal Athletic Park batter's box this summer.

  • All 32 players on the current roster have been signed to a full-season contract. The team expects to sign other players to 10-day contracts as we get closer to opening day. In the West Coast League, 10-day contracts are typically used to fill out the roster at the beginning of the season (e.g. when full-season guys are still involved in playoffs with their college team).
  • More info on the other players signed can be found on the HarbourCat's official site
  • Stay tuned to this space for additional player profiles.

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