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Knights Daily Update

Big Knights news coming up soon!

October 13, 2011

We can't spill the beans just yet.

But we'll have some news to report on Tuesday that should please you fans out there, and make it more convenient to purchase tickets for our 2012 games.

So, although you might be able to put 2 and 2 together, our lips are sealed until Tuesday. Stay tuned!

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The 2012 West Coast League schedule is still going through final revisions. It should be available shortly, and when it is we'll post it ASAP.

League play is scheduled for start on June 1; our first game is tentatively scheduled for Sunday, June 3, and our home opener is set (right now) for Wednesday, June 6.

The regular season closes on Aug. 9, with the best-of-3 divisional and championship playoffs to follow. No games will be played on July 23 and the All-Star Game is set for July 24 at Walla Walla.

The same nine teams will return in 2012 and the divisional lineup is unchanged as well: Wenatchee, Walla Walla, Kelowna and Bellingham in the East Division and Corvallis, Bend, Klamath Falls, Kitsap and Cowlitz in the West Division.

And for those of you counting, it's 234 more days until our June 3 opener. Let the countdown begin!

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Here's a link to today's Corvallis Gazette-Times story on the return of WCL all-league pitchers Chris Johnson of Portland and Max Beatty of Pacific Lutheran.

Now, we realize some things might change before June 3, our projected opening night (the season starts June 1, but we're not scheduled to play then). But with Johnson, Beatty, returnee Kyle Hart and perhaps one other returning all-star as probable starters and all-league closer Mark Trentacosta in the bullpen, our pitching staff could be pretty darn salty.

Excellent pitching has been a Knights' hallmark ever since current Atlanta Braves' ace Tommy Hanson and current Houston Astros starter Bud Norris anchored the staff of the 2005 Aloha Knights in the first year of the WCL. That shouldn't change in 2012.


All-stars Johnson, Beatty to return in 2012

October 12, 2011

Two 2011 West Coast League all-star pitchers and another veteran highlight our latest signees.

Portland junior Chris Johnson, who won our Top Pitcher award, and Pacific Lutheran senior Max Beatty will return to the team in 2012. Both were second-team all-WCL in 2011 and pitched in the all-star game.

A native of Edmonds, Wash., Johnson was 6-0 with a 2.91 ERA and 37 strikeouts in 46.1 in 10 games. A third-year Knight from Vancouver, Wash., Beatty was 6-2 with a 2.70 ERA in 12 games, with 53 strikeouts in 63.1 innings.

Also returning is catcher/outfielder Dane Lund, a sophomore at Mt. Hood Community College. The Astoria native hit .259 with six RBIs in 26 games.

The Knights have also signed outfielder Jacob Hoffman, a sophomore at PLU, and shortstop Caleb Whalen, a freshman at Portland.

Hoffman is a 6-4, 200-pounder from Fircrest, Wash., who was all-state, all-area and all-league at Curtis High in Tacoma. He also made the Northwest Conference 2011 all-star team, when he hit a team-high .390, with 14 RBIs and 11 steals in 27 games in his first season with the Lutes.

The 6-1 Whalen was a three-time Greater St. Helens League all-star at Union High in Vancouver, Wash., before signing with the Pilots. Here's a story on Whalen from his high school newspaper.

"Caleb could play just about anywhere on the field. He is a plus runner, he can throw, hit and hit with some power," Portland coach Chris Sperry said. "I've seen him play a ton and, in addition to his tools, I have been most impressed with his desire to have the ball hit to him.

"He has a knack for being in the right spot at the right time. He is a born leader, a special player, and excels at many things."

So, our returnees so far are pitchers Johnson, Beatty, Mark Trentacosta and Kyle Hart; catcher/outfielder Dane Lund; infielders Nate Roberts and Alex Foulon, and outfielders Matt Nylen, Cade Gotta, Nate Blackham and Connor Hofmann.

Several more returnees are expected to sign before all is sazid and done.

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Some news from around the WCL:

BEND: The Elks set a franchise record and were 14th nationally in attendance.


Knights were 15th in attendance growth

October 11, 2011

Amazing the information you can discover about summer college baseball with some searching.

And today's news is good. According to information combiled by Ballpark Digest, the Knights ranked 15th nationally in increasing our average attendance 27 percent from 2010 to 2011, from 1,001 per game to 1,274 per game.

Those figures were for West Coast League regular-season games. Our total attendance (42,447, or 1,286 per game) includes playoffs, the All-Star Game, WCL Portland games and our exhibition with the T. Gerding American Legion team.

We ranked 41st in total attendance (league games only).

And here are the league-by-league numbers, again from Ballpark Digest. We ranked fourth in the WCL.

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An interesting handout at the WCL fall meetings detailed the market size of the current WCL franchises, and the market size of several possible expansion cities. Again, interesting stuff if you're a numbers geek like myself.

The population of Corvallis is roughly 55,000; Benton County's population is 85,000. That makes us one of the smaller WCL markets, although that's somewhat misleading because it doesn't include Linn County and we've got lots of fans from the Albany/Lebanon area.

On the other hand, part of Corvallis' population is based on Oregon State University students, most of whom aren't in town in late June, July and August, when we play our games.

Here's the market size of other WCL franchises, with city population first, followed by county population:

FRANCHISE: City population; county population

BELLINGHAM: 80,000; 200,000

BEND: 80,000; 160,000

COWLITZ: 50,000; 100,000

KELOWNA: 110,000; 165,000

KITSAP: 60,000; 250,000

KLAMATH FALLS: 50,000; 65,000

WALLA WALLA: 30,000; 60,000

WENATCHEE: 40,000; 100,000

And here are the same numbers for some possible expansion cities:

MEDFORD: 75,000; 200,000

NEW WESTMINSTER: 60,000; NA

REDDING: 90,000; 180,000

VICTORIA: 80,000; 330,000

YAKIMA: 90,000;240,000

Yakima appears taken for the moment. The proposed shift of the Northwest League's Bears to Vancounver, Wash., has encountered some serious roadblocks, although the Portland suburb of Milwaukie looks ready to fill the void and pursue a NWL franchise.

We also didn't include Coeur d'Alene, which already belongs to the old Spokane RiverHawks franchise, or Olympia, a market I've always thought would be perfect for the WCL if it had a ballpark anywhere close to what the league requires.


All quiet at the WWHQ

October 7, 2011

It's all quiet on the western front of Madison Plaza in downtown Corvallis, the location of the Knights World-Wide Headquarters (or the WWHQ, as you faithful readers of the Knights' blog already know).

Team president Dan Segel and assistant general manager Bre Kerkvliet are in Portland, attending the West Coast League's fall meetings, which continue through Saturday.

Agenda items include:

* A first look at the proposed 54-game 2012 league schedule.

* Expansion. The WCL will have the same nine-team lineup as in 2011, but the league is considering adding as many as two clubs for the 2013 season.

* The All-Star Game. Revived after a two-year hiatus to great success in Corvallis this past July, the 2012 ASG is set for July 24 at Walla Walla. League owners will discuss sites for future All-Star Games.

No one asked for my opinion, but I'd guess Bend and Wenatchee would certainly be in the mix, considering the great support those clubs receive from their communities.

* Any other old or new business.

We hope to have our 2012 schedule ready for release later this month.


It's official: C/OF Dane Lund to return in 2012

October 6, 2011

We'd announced it several weeks ago but now his paperwork has arrived and it's official.

The versatile Dane Lund of Mt. Hood Community College will return to the Knights in 2012, giving us experience and added depth to our roster.

Lund hit .259 with no homers and six RBIs in 26 games as a catcher and outfielder. He was a good bunter and also stole two bases.

Lund hit .287, with a homer, 20 RBIs and a team-high 12 steals, at Mt. Hood in 2011. He's a sophomore from Astoria.

Other returning Knights are pitchers Kyle Hart of Redlands, Mark Trentacosta of UC Irvine and Chris Mendoza of Santa Clara; outfielders Nate Blackham of Washington State, Connor Hofmann of Oregon, Matt Nylen of Western Oregon and Cade Gotta of Riverside CC; infielder Nate Roberts of Seattle U; and shortstop Alex Foulon of Mt. Hood.

We expect contracts from several more returnees in the near future.

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Here's today's story in the Corvallis Gazette-Times about the signing of returnees Nate Blackham of Washington State, Kyle Hart of Redlands and newcomer Jack Graham of Youngstown State.

Incidentally, one of Graham's high school teammates was Liberty University player Lyle Bream, the son of former MLB first baseman Sid Bream.

Graham's Seneca Valley High team reached the semifinals of the Pennsylvania state tournament this past spring. He was picked in the 50th round by the Chicago White Sox during his team's playoff run as the 1,521st selection of the draft. He was nine picks away from being baseball's "Mr. Irrelevant."

"Jack was very important to our success this season," SVHS coach Eric Semega said. "He got away with some raw talent. I hope his stock rises."

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We just received more 2011 Knights commemorative championship tee-shirts down here at the WWHQ.

They are $22.50 apiece, and are available at our offices in the Madison Plaza building in downtown Corvallis (corner 4th Street and Madison Avenue), or by mail at PO Box 1356, Corvallis, OR 97339-1356.

Checks should be made out to "Knights Baseball Club." If you need your tee-shirt (or shirts) shipped, please add $7.50 to your order for shipping & handling.

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Some news from around the West Coast League:

KLAMATH FALLS: The Gems have three more players and have almost completed their 2012 roster.


Knights sign Youngstown State 2B Jack Graham

October 5, 2011

The Knights have signed second baseman Jack Graham, a freshman at Youngstown (Ohio) State.

A native of Cranberry Township, Penn., Graham was taken by the Chicago White Sox in the 50th round as their final selection in the 2011 MLB draft.

He was a three-year letterman at Seneca Valley High in Harmony, Penn., where he also played football. SCVH advanced to the semifinals of the PIAA state tournament in 2011.

Graham signed with Youngstown State in Dec., 2010.

"Jack has good hand defensively, and he has some pop coming from second base," YSU coach Rich Pasquale said in announcing Graham's signing. "He is a very smart baseball player who has a tremendous work ethic.

"He's just a gamer."

Maybe it's in his blood. His father, Brian Graham, starred at UCLA and played in the minors for several organizations and has a rich background in professional baseball.

The elder Graham then managed in the Cleveland farm system, coached with Cleveland and Baltimore and worked in Pittsburgh's front office. He's presently Baltimore's coordinator of minor-league instructions.

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Former Knights Matt Boyd and Matt Duffy are listed in Perfect Game's list of the top 300 draft prospects for 2012.

A left-handed pitcher from Oregon State who was an honorable mention WCL all-star for us in 2010, Boyd checks in at No. 100. A shortstop from Long Beach State, Duffy is No. 212. He was a second-team WCL all-star for us in 2010.

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Some news from around the West Coast League:

BELLINGHAM: The Bells have hired Nick Caples, who worked seven seasons for the Wenatchee AppleSox, as their new general manager.

A graduate of Washington State, he interned with the AppleSox prior to joining the staff full-time in 2008. He most recently has been working in real estate sales in Southern California.


Welcome back Kyle Hart of Redlands

October 4, 2011

More good news from the Knights to start the day.

Junior Kyle Hart of the University of Redlands will return for another summer in Corvallis, and that's great news for our pitching staff.

A 5-foot-11, 155-pound righthander from Burroughs High School in Burbank, Calif., Hart was 4-1 with a 2.95 ERA and 44 strikeouts in 42.2 innings in 13 regular-season games and 5-1 with a 2.84 ERA and 45 strikeouts in 44.1 innings in 14 total games.

Kyle was the winning pitcher in relief in the WCL Championship Series opener at Walla Walla, and he also helped us clinch the West Division regular-season title with a one-hit, 10-strikeout gem over seven innings at Klamath Falls on Aug. 3.

Hart was battered for eight earned runs in two innings in a loss at Bellingham on July 18. But he did not allow more than one earned run and was 4-0 with a 1.18 ERA in his other 12 regular-season appearances and he pitched 1.2 shutout innings at Walla Walla in the finals.

Kyle was also a Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference and NCAA Division III regional all-star at Redlands in 2011.

Here's a good story on Kyle that appeared earlier this year in The Burbank Leader, his hometown paper.

Hart's just one of many projected returnees from our 2011 championship team. We've also received contracts from pitcher Mark Trentacosta of UC Irvine; outfielders Nate Blackham of Washington State, Connor Hofmann of Oregon, Matt Nylen of Western Oregon and Cade Gotta of Riverside CC; pitcher Chris Mendoza of Santa Clara; infielder Nate Roberts of Seattle U; and shortstop Alex Foulon of Mt. Hood.

We've also got oral commitments from several other 2011 Knights, but haven't received their official paperwork yet. So, while you will need a program to identify every Knight in 2012, you'll see plenty of familiar faces.


Pitching staff strengthened

October 3, 2011

The Knights aren't an intercollegiate team and don't send out letters of intent, per say. But we do sign players to non-binding contracts, and when the paperwork is returned we announce that a player has agreed to play for us next summer.

We also have oral commitments, and we're happy to announce we've received four more from key members of this past summer's West Coast League championship pitching staff.

Knights' president Dan Segel announced today in this story on the website that pitchers Max Beatty of Pacific Lutheran, Chris Johnson of Portland, Kyle Hart of Redlands and Dylan Stuart of UC Riverside have said they will return in 2012.

That's a huge boost for our pitching staff, which already includes WCL all-league closer Mark Trentacosta. Stuart (2-1, 1.38), Johnson (6-0, 2.91) and Beatty (6-2, 2.70) were each second-team all-league and played in the WCL All-Star Game, and Hart (5-1, 2.84) was outstanding over the second half of the season.

Johnson had a 27-inning scoreless streak at one point, was the winning pitcher in a playoff game against Bend, and was named the Knights' Top Pitcher.

Speedy outfielder Nate Blackham of Washington State has also signed and is official for next season. A wrist injury limited him to only 19 at-bats in 2011, but he hit .316 for us after hitting .400 as a true freshman at WSU. He and signed returnee Connor Hofmann of Oregon give us a very fast two-thirds of an outfield.

Other returnees in addition to the aforementioned seven are outfielders Cade Gotta of Riverside CC and Matt Nylen of Western Oregon; pitcher Chris Mendoza of Santa Clara; infielder Nate Roberts of Seattle U; and catcher/outfielder Dan Lund and shortstop Alex Foulon of Mt. Hood.

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We just received another batch of 2011 Knights commemorative championship tee-shirts down here at the WWHQ.

They are $22.50 apiece, and are available at our offices in the Madison Plaza building in downtown Corvallis (corner 4th Street and Madison Avenue), or by mail at PO Box 1356, Corvallis, OR 97339-1356.

Checks should be made out to "Knights Baseball Club." If you need your tee-shirt (or shirts) shipped, please add $7.50 to your order for shipping & handling.

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Former Knights' infielder Carter Bell (2009) just got engaged to OSU graduate Ashley Sears. Carter is in the Arizona minor-league system and played at Yakima in the Northwest League this past summer after leaving OSU following his junior season.


Three Ducks sign with Knights

September 30, 2011

The Knights have signed three University of Oregon players for the 2012 West Coast League season, including returnee Connor Hofmann.

A sophomore outfielder from San Diego, Hofmann and freshmen right-handed pitchers Cole Wiper and Sam Johnson will join the Knights next June after the Ducks conclude their season.

Hofmann (5-11, 168) hit .213, with no homers and an RBI, in 34 league games and .226, with no homers, two RBIs and 12 steals, in all games in 2011. However, he hit .317 after Aug. 1 and his speed and defense helped him play a key role in our drive to the West Coast League championship.

Wiper (6-4, 180) was PerfectGame Crosschecker's No.2 prospect in Washington and was ranked 111th nationally after a standout career at Newport High in Bellevue, Wash. He was ranked No. 75 nationally by Baseball America.

Wiper was invited to the U-18 USA Baseball tryouts and also played for the Washington Nationals in the 2010 Area Code Games.

Here's more on Wiper from the Oregon baseball website.

Johnson (6-0, 180) was rated as the top player in Oregon and No. 130 nationally by PerfectGame Crosschecker after a standout career at Westview High in Beaverton. He was a two-time, second-team 6A all-star and played in the 2011 Reser's Oregon All-Star Series.

He also played for the Washington Nationals in the 2010 Area Code Games and was a three-year standout at Westview.

Here's more on Johnson from the Oregon baseball website.


Seattle University 3B Nate Roberts to return

September 29, 2011

Nate Roberts' first go-round with the Knights lasted only two games before the Seattle University third baseman was sidelined for the summer of 2011 by a wrist injury.

Roberts - and the Knights - are hoping for better luck the second time around. This week he became the seventh member of the 2011 Knights to re-enlist for 2012 and we're hopeful he can reproduce the productivity he displayed with the 2010 Moses Lake Pirates.

Roberts (5-9, 170) was 0-for-9 with one RBI in two games for the Knights and hit .172 with a homer and eight RBIs in 30 games for the RedHawks in 2011. He missed the final 1/3 of the spring season trying to rehab the wrist injury, then tried to return for the Knights but was unable to play without pain.

Roberts was one of the WCL's most productive hitters in 2010. He was sixth in the league with a .335 average, had a league-leading 35 RBIs and was a second-team All-Star.

He started 50 games as a freshman at Seattle in 2010 and hit .241 with a homer and 22 RBIs. He was a standout at Central Kitsap High School in Silverdale, Wash., where he hit .410 for his career.

Roberts is the seventh members of the 2011 Knights to sign for the 2012 season. He joins pitchers Mark Trentacosta (UC Irvine) and Chris Mendoza (Santa Clara); catcher Dane Lund (Mt. Hood CC); shortstop Alex Foulon (Mt. Hood CC), and outfielders Cade Gotta (Riverside CC) and Matt Nylen (Western Oregon).

We'll have more signing to announce shortly, as the paperwork arrives.

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Nice story on former Knights' pitcher Jace Fry in the Portland Tribune.

OSU's pitching staff will have a real Knights' feel to it again next year, with ex-Knights Fry, Matt Boyd, Ben Wetzler, Scott Schultz and Adam Duke and future Knight Michael McCall.

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Some news from around the West Coast League:

KLAMATH FALLS: The Gems have pretty much completed their recruiting with the addition of six more players. They have 29 under contract and plan to sign 6-8 more.

That's all for today.