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Knights Daily Update

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.


The 2012 Knights are taking shape

September 28, 2011

We've got two more signings to announce today as our 2012 team continues to take shape.

The newest Knights are right-handed pitcher Michael McCall, a 6-foot-2, 155-pound Oregon State freshman from Gig Harbor, Wash., and right-handed pitcher Justin Fischer, a 6-2, 195-pounder from UC Santa Barbara and Agoura High in Calabasas, Calif.

McCall was rated as the No. 11 player in Washington and 498th nationally by Perfect Game USA heading into his senior season. Here's a story on McCall from the OSU website; he also played for the U-18 Narrows Baseball Club team.

Fischer also played for the Quakes Baseball Club.

So far, six members of our 2011 West Coast League championship club are slated to spend another season in Corvallis: 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).

Newcomers so far are the aforementioned McCall and Fischer; catcher Austin Barr (Camas High/Stanford 2012-13); first baseman Nick Torres and outfielder Alex Michaels of Cal Poly, and infielder Alex Silver and pitchers Justin Peters and Trevor Teykl of our newest partner school, the University of Texas.

Our other Oregon State signees will be announced shortly and we also expect to announce the return of several more players from our 2011 champions. So stay tuned to the blog and also check out our transactions page for more information.

The WCL fall owners meeting is Oct. 7-8 in Portland and hopefully the 2012 schedule will be completed and ready for publication. All nine franchises are expected to return.

There should not be any expansion for 2012, but that's certainly on the horizon as the league grows possible ownership groups crop up in viable Northwest markets.

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Our signing of Western Oregon outfielder Matt Nylen and Camas (Wash.) High catcher Austin Barr was on our website on Tuesday but good news always bears repeating.

So here's the story again from today's editions of the Corvallis Gazette-Times.

And here's a longer version, with more information on the signings and other topics, from Our Sports Central.

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Some news from around the West Coast League:

COWLITZ: It's old news that Black Bears coach Bryson LeBlanc is leaving after two seasons to become an assistant coach at UC-Riverside.

But for some reason, this story on his departure popped up this morning as "new" during our daily Internet search for WCL-related items. But it's pretty informative, so we linked it anyways.


Nylen to return; Knights sign Barr

September 27, 2011

More good news in today's Knights' blog.

Outfielder Matt Nylen, a key member of our 2011 West Coast League championship team, will return to the Knights for the 2012 season. A two-year standout at Mt. Hood CC, he's now a junior at Western Oregon.

The Knights also announced the signing of catcher Austin Barr, a senior at Camas (Wash.) High School who will play at Stanford in 2013.

Nylen joined the Knights as a 10-day signee and eventually made the full-time roster. He hit .238 with no homers and 16 RBIs in 43 regular-season games, and .258 overall, with no homers and 19 RBIs, including non-league games and the playoffs.

Nylen was a first-team NWAACC South Division All-Star in 2011 for MHCC. He also played for the Saints in 2010 after graduating from Clackamas High School.

Barr is a 6-foot-2, 210-pound right-handed hitter who was recruited by almost every Pacific-12 Conference team. He made the Vancouver Columbian newspaper's all-region team and was a first-team Greater St. Helens League all-star as a junior in 2011.

"He's a five-tool kid. He has it all. He has exactly what a baseball body should be. He's big, strong and has a 4.0 grade-point average," Camas coach Joe Hallead said of Barr.

Nylen is the sixth member of the 2011 championship team to re-sign with the Knights. He joins catcher Dane Lund and shortstop Alex Foulon of Mt. Hood CC; outfielder Cade Gotta of Riverside (Calif.) CC; and pitchers Mark Trentacosta of UC Irvine and Chris Mendoza of Santa Clara.

More signings will be announced as their paperwork arrives.

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Our 2011 Knights commemorative championship tee-shirts have arrived!

They are $22.50 apiece, and are available at the WWHQ, 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.

Some fans have already ordered by mail; we'll get your shirts out to you ASAP!

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Knights' coach/general manager Brooke Knight is preparing for his second season with the Perth Heat in the Australian Baseball League and will join the club soon, according to the West Australian newspaper.

A few details get lost in translation; Brooke's coming to Oz from San Diego, not Santiago, and the Knights won the West Coast League title, not the Western League.

You should notice another familiar name in the story. Former Crescent Valley High/Oregon State standout Kevin Hooker will assist the club until Knight's arrival. Kevin's older brother, Geoff Hooker, is the founder of the ABL.

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Speaking of Knights in Australia, former Knights player and coach Billy Clontz and ex-Knights star Dylan Jones are coaching the Morley Eagles, a junior team in the Western Australia State League.

Ex-Knights catcher Travis Anderson (2008) is playing for the Black Ducks of the Swan Districts Baseball Club in the same league.

Billy will be the assistant head coach of the Klamath Falls Gems in 2012, working with ex-Knight/new Gems' head coach Josh Hogan.


Knights notebook for 9/26

September 26, 2011

We did some research this morning to see if we missed anything Knights-related during the second half of our season and in the five weeks since we defeated Walla Walla to capture our second West Coast League championship.

Turns out we did overlook a few items, and we'll make amends for that today in the lead item of your daily Corvallis Knights blog.

* Outfielder Kramer Scott of the University of Portland was named a West Coast Conference second-team academic all-star. A senior, he has a 3.44 cumulative grade-point average in organizational communication.

Ex-Knights pitcher Kyle Kraus (2009-10) of UP earned honorable mention all-academic; he's a senior marketing and management major. Kyle also earned first-team all-league honors as a pitcher, but I think we reported that already. He spent this past summer pitching for Hyannis in the Cape Cod League.

* Pitcher Kyle Hart of the University of Redlands was named a third-team NCAA Division III West Region all-star for his stellar 2011 spring. Hart was 9-3, 3.94 and had 80 strikeouts in 88.1 innings.

Infielder Dan Winterstein (2009) and pitcher Brian Ranta (2011) of George Fox University, each of whom played briefly for the Knights as 10-day signees, earned second- and third-team honors, respectively.

* Ex-Knights first baseman Dean Green (2008) of Oklahoma State and Lee University was a New York-Penn League all-star and went 1-for-4 with an RBI in the short-season single-A league's All-Star Game.

Green played for the Connecticut Tigers, a Detroit affiliate, and hit .341, with seven homers and 44 RBIs, for the Norwich-based team.

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Good news for those of you patiently waiting for your 2011 Knights commemorative championship tee-shirts. We just heard from our supplier, and they should be ready and in the office by Tuesday afternoon.

They are $22.50 apiece, and are available at the WWHQ, 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.

Some fans have already ordered by mail; we'll get your shirts out to you ASAP!

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Former Knights shortstop Justin Viele of Santa Clara (2010), a mainstay of our 2010 West Division regular-season championship club, played for the Eau Claire (Wisc.) Express in the Northwoods League this past summer.

Here's a story about his summer from the SCU website. Justin will be a junior at Santa Clara next spring.

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Our own big-leaguer, Chicago White Sox third baseman Brent Morel, hit a two-run homer against Kansas City on Saturday.

He now has eight homers and 19 RBIs in September and is hitting .251, with 10 homers and 41 RBIs, for the season and has proven he belongs in the major leagues.

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That's it for today, barring something unexpected. See you on Tuesday.