Thursday, August 14, 2014

HarbourCats look forward to 2015, sign Graig Merritt as Head Coach

With the 2014 HarbourCat season barely in the books, GM Jim Swanson is wasting no time at all getting ready for 2015.

Hot on the heels of Sunday's departure of coach Bob Miller, the Cats met with media and fans today to announce and introduce 2015's new head coach, Canadian Graig Merritt. 
GM Jim Swanson (L) and Owner John McLean (R) introduce 'Cats new Head Coach Graig Merritt

Merritt is a Canadian from Maple Ridge BC with Div 2 college plying experience. He was twice drafted by the LA Dodgers in 1996 and 1997, and signed with the Tampa Bay Rays in 2001. Graig made it as far as AA in his playing career before becoming a scout for the Rays.

A catcher by trade, Graig's strengths as a coach comes from his ability to manage a pitching staff and understand the defensive side of the game. He sees himself as a players coach first and foremost, someone the players can relate to, respect, and learn from. He is an energetic guy with loads of baseball experience - one of those guys who doesn't seem to have an off switch.

While not his full-time job (none of the WCL teams have full-time coaching staff), Graig will have more time to dedicate to the Cats than Bob Miller did. Craig's focus will be on the North West area, where he will be doing work for the PBL as well - work that nicely dovetails with his HarbourCat scouting and recruiting.

In addition to Merritt, the search is on for a new pitching coach. Offers are on the table, looking at someone from the Southern California area who can assist with recruiting from that part of the country. Whomever it is, Ben Jackson will not be back.

Merritt will take the reigns immediately, beginning to look at team composition for next season. That work started "about two weeks ago" say GM Jim Swanson, with a priority being to re-sign some of the core group from this year. A tall order, that means working with both player and school to confirm intentions. Confidence is high that we will be in luck - perhaps as many as eight players may return. No names yet, but expect some announcements soon.

Merritt's full career stats can be found here, and the official press release can be found here.

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