Monday, February 3, 2014

Four schools open ‘Cats talent pipeline

Bret Helton
The Victoria HarbourCats announced five more signings today and all five come from an NCAA school that didn't supply any players to the ‘Cats in their inaugural season. The roster additions give the team a total of 19 players, 15 of whom are playing for a Division I school this spring.

Hardcore Victoria baseball fans will remember the name Bret Helton -- he was the North Division starter in the West Coast League All Star Game at Royal Athletic Park last July. Helton gave up an earned run on three hits in his one inning of work that night, including a double off the bat of none other than Alex Real of the HarbourCats. On the summer, he went 2-1 with 2.49 ERA in 39 ⅔ innings pitched for the Walla Walla Sweets, striking out 38 and walking 19 batters. A closer inspection of the stats shows that Helton’s WHIP was a worrisome 1.67, but we’re pretty confident that he’ll improve on that mark with another year of experience under his belt and that he'll find his way back onto the WCL All-Star team.

Noah Cummings
Helton is a 6-3, 215 lb. sophomore at the University of Utah (Salt Lake City). He can also play some outfield, and in his freshman season with the Utes he hit .231 with no homers and three RBI in 26 at-bats, while posting a 10.57 ERA with eight strikeouts and four walks in 7 ⅔ innings on the hill. In high school, Helton was named All-State twice and he helped lead Cheyenne Mountain High School to a 4A state title in 2011. In his senior year of high school he had a 2.17 ERA and 1.24 WHIP (70 strikeouts and 20 walks in 61 ⅓ innings) to go along with a .348 batting average, seven homers and 26 RBI in only 69 at-bats. On top of being a baseball star in high school, he was also a very accomplished football and basketball player. His father, Barry Helton, was a punter who spent four years in the NFL and won two Super Bowls with the San Francisco 49ers.

Noah Cummings is a 6-0, 182 lb. freshman at Oral Roberts University (ORU) in Tulsa, Oklahoma. The middle infielder hit .438 with four homers and 32 RBI in his senior year at Granite Hills High School in El Cajon, California. Cummings is a right-handed hitter who might see a fair bit of action at third base for the HarbourCats. It's not that surprising to see Victoria sign a player out of ORU, as HarbourCats coach Bob Miller spent six years there (1996-2001) as an assistant coach and recruiting coordinator.

Devin Carter
The H-Cats have signed a couple of players from Pepperdine University in Malibu, California. The first is outfielder Devin Carter, a 6-0, 190 lb. sophomore who can also play some first base. Carter struggled in his freshman season, hitting .118 with no homers and a pair of RBI in only 34 at-bats sprinkled across 20 games played. He played for the North Shore Navigators (Lynn, Ma.) in the Futures Collegiate Baseball League (FCBL) last summer and he performed well enough to be named to that league's All-Star team. Carter hit .295 with two homers and 12 RBI in 112 at-bats with the Navigators; he also stole 9 bases in 10 attempts. The Pepperdine Waves have four freshman outfielders on their current roster, so Carter should get significantly more playing time this season. The right-handed batter has some real power potential and he could break out in a big way this spring or summer.
Aaron Barnett

Aaron Barnett should have no trouble adjusting to living in Canada, since he lists hockey as his favourite sport (other than baseball). Barnett, a freshman at Pepperdine, is a left-handed hitting catcher who can also play some first base and outfield. The 6-0, 185 lb. native of Mission Viejo, California hit .337 with two homers and 13 RBI in 101 at-bats in his senior year of high school. We’re sure that Aaron will have a great time during his summer in Victoria, but here’s a tip for him to make his stay even more enjoyable: If you’re a Ducks or Kings fan then you might want to downplay that here in Canucks country.

Cole Kreuter
Cole Kreuter, a senior at Westminster Christian High School in Miami, is the second player signed by the HarbourCats who's the son of a former big-leaguer (John Grimsley, son of Jason Grimsley, was signed three weeks ago). Cole’s Dad, Chad Kreuter, was a catcher who had his best season with the 1993 Detroit Tigers, but also played for the Rangers, Dodgers, White Sox, Angels, Royals and Mariners in a Major League Baseball career that spanned 16 seasons. Cole plays shortstop at Westminster Christian (A-Rod's old high school) and he can also hold down the second sack, but he might be used primarily at third base this summer. The 6-1, 180 lb. switch hitter will attend UC Irvine in the fall and play for his maternal grandfather, Mike Gillespie, who’s the head coach of the Anteaters.

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