Monday, January 12, 2015

H-Cats sign five from Pacific Northwest colleges

Matt Fish
The HarbourCats have signed five more players for the 2015 season and all are from community colleges in the Northwest Athletic Conference (NWAC). In previous years, the ‘Cats have made minimal use of NWAC players, although both Dylan LaVelle and Clark McKitrick did appear in a HarbourCats uniform in 2013. I would expect the ‘Cats roster to include more NWAC players in the future, because the conference features a quality brand of baseball and players are typically quite enthusiastic to show what they can do when given a chance in the tough West Coast League.

Perhaps the biggest fish landed by the HarbourCats in this group of five newcomers is sophomore left-handed reliever Matt Fish of Pierce Community College in Lakewood, Washington. The Michigan native was outstanding in limited action as a freshman, posting a 2.95 ERA and 1.13 WHIP in 21 ⅓ innings on the hill. Not only did opponents hit a paltry .195 off of him, but Fish also struck out a whopping 13.1 batters per nine innings. That performance was good enough to attract the attention of the Utah Valley Wolverines, who signed Fish to pitch for the NCAA Division I team beginning in the fall of 2015. Incidentally, Fish’s older brother Zach, a former star outfielder with the Oklahoma State Cowboys, won the Big 12 Conference Player of the Year award in 2014.

John Naff
Three of the players signed are from Everett Community College, including sophomore outfielder John Naff. The Marysville, Washington native hit .311 with no homers and 21 RBI in 122 at-bats in his freshman year with the Trojans. Although he’ll see action as a corner outfielder with the HarbourCats, Naff can also play first base. The left-handed contact hitter spent last summer with the Everett Merchants of Pacific International League (PIL), posting a .324 / .360 / .390 slash line. Naff has committed to play for the University of Washington Huskies starting in the 2015-16 season.

The second Everett CC Trojan inked by the 'Cats is RHP Kyle Francis. The 6-3, 205 lb. freshman had a big season in his senior year at Redmond High School and was named to the All-State First Team (Class 4A) by the Washington State Baseball Coaches Association. In addition to playing in the outfield, Francis posted a 6-1 record on the mound, thanks to a 1.37 ERA and 1.16 WHIP in 51 innings pitched. Although he only gave up 36 hits all season and struck out close to a batter an inning, Francis did walk a generous 4.1 batters per nine innings. The big righty can both start and work out of the pen.
Jamie Umbinetti

Sophomore Jamie Umbinetti from Edmonds Community College will also be donning a HarbourCats uniform this summer. Although he played third base and DH in his freshman season, Umbinetti is expected to back up All-Star Gabe Clark at first base for the ‘Cats. The left-handed slugger not only helped lead Edmonds CC to last season's NWAACC Baseball Championship, but he was also named to the All-Tournament Team. In 92 at-bats last season, Umbinetti hit .250 with three homers and 18 RBI. He is a graduate of Mariner High School in Everett, Washington.
Curtis Bafus

The third player signed from Everett Community College, Curtis Bafus, is a 6-7, 225 lb. freshman from Woodinville, Washington. The imposing right-handed starting pitcher put up solid numbers in his senior year at Inglemoor High School (Kenmore, WA), posting a 2-3 record with a 2.80 ERA and 1.26 WHIP. Not only did Bafus strike out close to a batter per inning last year, but he showed very good control, walking only 2.3 batters per nine innings. His 3.8 strikeout-to-walk ratio hints at a very promising future -- of course, being six-foot-seven doesn't hurt either.

The signings bring the HarbourCats roster up to a total of 23 players. With roughly 40 players committed to suiting up for the ‘Cats this summer, you can expect more announcements like this over the coming weeks.

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