The Victoria HarbourCats open their second home series of the year at RAP tonight against their fellow expansion cousins, the Medford Rogues.
Fresh off a three-game sweep of Kelowna - the First ever opening series sweep by a WCL expansion team – the Cats look to keep the magic going against the Rogues. Medford comes to Victoria having played twice as many games, going 3-3 over their first six, losing two of the first three against Bellingham before taking two of three against Kitsap, including a 5-1 victory last night.
The Rogues are in a similar position to Victoria, and are carrying a bevy of 10-day contract players while they await the completion of the college season and the arrival of several key players. The Rogues fared excellent in last week’s MLB draft with three players being selected... RHP Keynan Middleton went 95th overall to Anaheim, SS Tyler Smith went 237th to Seattle, and OF Dane McFarland went 360th to Arizona. The three have not suited up in the first 6 games for Medford, not sure if we will see any of them this week – or ever if they end up signing.
Medford is led by lefty starting pitcher Bret DeRooy, who struck out 7 batters last night in Kitsap in the victory. He is currently second among WCL pitchers with 12 Ks. We won’t see DeRooy in this series, nor will we see the Rogues other top 2 starters Jake Lessel or Brandon Williams.
There will certainly be hometown bragging rights on the line Tuesday as Medford boy Mike Bradshaw gets the ball in his second start of the season after giving up a run on 2 hits over 5.1 innings in his first start. He will toss against Victoria boy Connor Russell, who had probably the best start of the season so far in last Thursday’s win. Game 2 of the series will see Mac Acker will go for Medford. Acker had an excellent first outing, throwing 5 no-hit shutout innings in his start against Bellingham. At this point, he’s scheduled to go against Victoria’s Nick Pivetta. Pivetta is still eligible pending his decision to sign with the Nationals who drafted him last week. Thursday Medford has Jamie Flynn scheduled for his first start, while Victoria counters with Friday’s game starter Joe Navilhon. Overall, the Rogues boast an excellent early-season rotation with a combined ERA of 2.06 over the first 6 starts. The bullpen hasn’t helped, boasting a combined 5.59 ERA over the same period.
On the offensive side, Medford is either feast or famine when it comes to manufacturing runs. While they are capable of putting up double-digit totals, they also struggle against top pitching to produce any runs at all. The key to this team seems to be speed, with 12 stolen bases over the first two series, including 5 from league leader Quentin Urban. Urban is batting a buck-five in 19 plate appearances though, so keeping him off the base paths will help keep that stat in check. Not a powerhouse team, Medford has only a single home run this season, courtesy of Caleb Palensky.
As will be the usual for the next while, Victoria will see new faces in this series as the top prospects arrive from late-finishing college seasons and take their place in the lineup. Watch for newcomers Alex Real (C/DH/1B), Brandon Smith (OF), and Clark McKitrick (P) to be in the lineup tonight. Look for all three to have a positive impact on the HarbourCats, both on offence and defence.
Let’s hope fan interest stays high at RAP despite the forecast for gloomy skies tonight and tomorrow. Victoria currently leads the league in attendance, as expected. Game start times are 7:05 Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday. Let’s hope Medford was able to figure out the ferry schedule!
I'll go out on a limb and predict another three game sweep for the Cats in this series. It's a risky prediction for sure, but given Victoria's top starters are in tact for the set, and Medford is running two new starters to the mound, Victoria's ability to produce offence should be able to dominate.