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Knights Daily Update

Connor Lambert returning for third season with Knights

October 16, 2012

We've got some great news to report today.

Pitching coach Connor Lambert will return in 2013 for his third season with the Knights, general manager Bre Kerkvliet announced this morning.

The pitching coach at Tacoma Community College during the school year, Lambert has enjoyed considerable success in his first two seasons with the Knights. They led the West Coast League in ERA in 2012 (2.80) and 2011 (2.47) and established a WCL record (since broken) with 401 strikeouts in 2011.

"It's our pleasure to have Connor back for a third season," Knights' head coach Brooke Knight said. "Connor's growth and development from 2011 to 2012 was impressive, and I am eager to see what he will bring to the table in his third season.

"He is competent and fair, firm yet compassionate, and it resonates with our players. He also has the ability to add and facilitate development of an additional pitch for many of our guys, something that can be empowering when they return home for their fall seasons.

"Connor is a great guy to work with and he is loyal to our organization. He meets my expectations and more."

Read more about Lambert's return in this story on our website.

We'll announce the identity of the assistant coach who is succeeding Andy Jenkins in the near future. Jenks is now coaching at Oregon State after spending the 2012 season with us.

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Here's a WCL notebook, with updates on several topics, from The Daily News newspaper of Kelso-Longview, the home of the Cowlitz Black Bears. We've already reported some of the items, but better to read something twice than never at all.

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Some news from around the West Coast League:

KLAMATH FALLS: The new ownership of the Gems have hird former Cowlitz GM Grant Wilson as their GM. Here are more details from the Klamath Falls Herald and News newspaper and here's more from the Gems' website.

VICTORIA: So, what exactly is a HarbourCat, the nickname of the new Victoria franchise? Here's an explanation, from the team's website.

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That's all for today. We've got a staff retreat to plan for 2013 over the next three days, so we'll see you again on Monday with more Knights news.


Welcome the Victoria HarbourCats!

October 12, 2012

The rain finally returned to Corvallis this morning, but we're still talking summer baseball here at the blog.

HarbourCats it is!

The new Victoria, British Columbia, franchise in the West Coast League announced its new nickname on Friday at an 11:30 a.m. luncheon in that fine city. They'll be known as the HarbourCats, with a navy blue/aqua blue color scheme.

Here's the official announcement from the club:

Owner John McLean and General Manager Holly Jones are pleased to announce that Victoria's West Coast League baseball franchise will be called the Victoria HarbourCats.

McLean and Jones were on hand Friday at the Shark Club in the Sandman Hotel in Victoria where they unveiled the team name and logo to a crowd filled with local media and fans.

"We are excited to introduce the HarbourCats brand to the City of Victoria and to our fans," noted Jones. "We feel that the name fits well with the geography of the region, as it's a nod to the importance and beauty of Victoria's Inner Harbour. It also fits well with other team names in the West Coast League and Minor League baseball in general."

The team's logo features a colour scheme of dark navy blue text and the graphic of an imposing cat, with two prominent fangs, trimmed with an accent colour of deep aqua blue. There is also a matching "V" logo that will be featured on various merchandise and marketing materials as representation for Victoria.

"We wanted a team name and logo that accomplished a number of things," said team owner McLean. "The name had to have a good baseball feel and be a name that fans could easily relate to. It needed to be bold and edgy, while looking sharp on uniforms, merchandise, the web, advertising and social media.

"It also needed to be representative of the City and the region. I am very pleased that our name and logo accomplishes all of these requirements."

To assist in selecting the name, the team held a "Name the Team" contest that saw over 600 suggestions come across Jones' desk, all of which were valuable for seeing key themes and coming up with the final decision.

"We received many thoughtful, exciting names, but we felt this was the most appropriate submission, and one that worked well on all fronts," noted Jones.

The first 250 people that suggested a name in the contest, as well as an additional 5 names that were drawn from the additional entries, will receive a pair of general admission tickets to a 2013 HarbourCats game as a reward for their suggestions. The winners will be notified by February of the New Year.

Now that the team name and logo are in place, Jones and her staff will be working to finalize the design of the team uniforms, as well as all related merchandising such as hats, t-shirts and other souvenir items.

"In addition to getting our official team merchandise ready for fans to purchase, we are working on the team mascot," noted Jones. "We're also evaluating season ticket packages and single game ticket options and prices, so please stay tuned for these announcements in the near future."

The HarbourCats also announced their new web and social media addresses today, which include:

Web: www.harbourcats.com

Facebook: www.harbourcats.com/facebook

Twitter: www.harbourcats.com/twitter

Victoria and expansion partner Medford will begin play in 2013, making the WCL an 11-team league. Victoria will join Wenatchee, Bellingham, Walla Walla and Kelowna in the East Division; Medford joins Corvallis, Klamath Falls, Kitsap, Bend and Cowlitz in the West Division.

Victoria GM Holly Jones was the assistant to the GM for the Knights in 2005-6, when they we were based at Mt. Hood Community College, and in 2007, our initial summer in Corvallis.

The club will be skippered by Riverside (Calif.) City College head coach Dennis Rogers, a longtime friend and supporter of the Knights. They will play at Royal Athletic Park.

So, a big welcome to the HarbourCats!

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We wrote on Thursday about Jerry Walker and Lisa Walker, the new owners of the Klamath Falls Gems. Well, here's even more information on the Walkers and on the sale of the franchise, from the Gems' website. Just click the appropriate link on the homepage.

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Here's a story from today's Oregonian on Oregon State senior cornerback Jordan Poyer, who played for us briefly in 2010 before deciding to concentrate on football. He was 1-for-3 with an RBI in seven games before leaving the team.

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That's all for this week. Have a great weekend!


New owners for the Klamath Falls Gems

October 11, 2012

Big news out of Klamath Falls that will make the West Coast League even stronger.

The Klamath Falls Gems have new owners. Jerry Walker and Lisa Walker have assumed 100 percent ownership of the team, which has been owned by the league since joining the WCL for the 2011 season.

The Walkers are well-known in Oregon baseball; they own and operate the Salem-Keizer Volcanoes, San Francisco's affiliate in the Class A (short) Northwest League. Their ownership of the Gems is immediate, and they plan to name the team's general manager soon.

Here are more details on the sale from the Klamath Falls Herald and News newspaper. And here's more on the subject from Ballpark Digest, another great site for all things baseball.

The Walkers are a proven commodity with a track record of success. This sale definitely helps strengthen the WCL, which, like any circuit, is only as strong as its weakest link.

Welcome to the league!

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Some news from elsewhere in the West Coast League:

VICTORIA: The expansion franchise will unveil its colors and nickname on Friday in a special luncheon. Here are more details from Victoria, which should be a great addition to the WCL family.

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That's all for today. We'll be back on Friday, with news about Victoria and other Knights- and WCL-related topics.


New merchandise has arrived

October 10, 2012

We heard from some fans last summer that we did not have enough men's merchandise. That problem has been resolved.

We just received two boxes of men's Nike tees this week, and they're down here at the WWHQ, ready for sale. One box contained the popular cardinal tee, with the Knights shield across the front; the other contained black tees, with "Corvallis" across the chest.

So head on down to Madison Plaza in downtown CorVegas and check out the tees and all our caps, sweatshirts, polos and other merchandise.

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Yesterday we listed the six alums (Tommy Hanson, Chris Stewart, Bud Norris, Marc Rzepczynski, Chris Davis, Jason Hammels) of current West Coast League teams who played, or are playing, in the MLB playoffs this month.

Eleven other alums of current or former WCL teams also appeared in MLB games this summer: Jacoby Ellsbury, Boston (Bend); Clay Mortenson, Boston (Wenatchee); Brent Morel, Chicago WS (Knights); Eric Sogard, Oakland (Bend); Tyler Graham, Arizona (Bend); Jeff Francis, Colorado (Bellingham); Bud Norris, Houston (Knights); Stephen Fife, LA Dodgers (Bellingham); Nyjer Morgan, Milwaukee (Kelowna); Jeremy Hefner, NY Mets (Spokane), and Matt Hague, Pittsburgh (Knights).

Another 17 spent all or part of the season at triple-A. Ex-Knights Drew Garcia (2007, Charlotte); Bobby Scales (1997, Buffalo) and Rocky Gale (2007, 2009, Tucson) are among that group, which is just another example of the high caliber of baseball played in the WCL.

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Here's more on the hiring of ex-Knights' star Josh Hogan (2007-09) as Medford's new head coach, from the Medford Mail-Tribune newspaper. Sounds as if Hogie's learned one thing from the Knights: The importance of 10-day players, who can make-or-break your club in early June, before the regulars arrive.

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Don't forget, the new Victoria expansion team announces its nickname and colors on Friday. Stay tuned to the blog for updates.

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That's probably it for today. We should have some more signings to announce soon; the players are committed, we just haven't received their paperwork.


Medford names ex-Knights' star Josh Hogan as coach

October 9, 2012

Big news to start out your Tuesday.

The West Coast League's as-yet unnamed Medford expansion franchise has selected Josh Hogan as its first head coach, according to this story on the Our Sports Central website, a great place for WCL news.

A former Mt. Hood CC/Oregon middle infielder from Churchill High in Eugene, Hogie was our starting shortstop/second baseman from 2007-09 and helped us win a WCL Championship (2008), three WCL West Division regular-season and playoff titles (2007-09) and to second place in the WCL (2007, 2009) in three standout seasons.

He assisted with the Cowlitz Black Bears in 2010-11, and then was the head coach at Klamath Falls in 2012. He led the second-year Gems to within one game of a playoff berth, as they rallied from a 2-18 start to contend with Cowlitz for second place in the West Division behind the Knights.

Medford also announced the signing of seven players, and its pitching coach. You can read about them on the linked story as well.

A contest is underway to choose the team's nickname, which should be revealed shortly. The team will play at Harry and David Field, which is undergoing a $500,000 renovation.

So, congrats to Hogie, an all-time Knights' great. See you this summer!

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Six West Coast League alums played for MLB teams that advanced to the postseason this year. Three of them are former Knights, and five of them are still competing for the World Series title.

* Knights' alums Tommy Hanson (2005) was on the Atlanta club that was eliminated by Marc Rzepczynski (2006) and the St. Louis Cardinals. They are pitchers.

* Knights' alum Chris Stewart (2001), a catcher for the New York Yankees is playing against Wenatchee alums Jason Hamel and Chris Davis, a pitcher and first baseman for Baltimore.

* And Wenatchee alum Tommy Milone, a pitcher for the Oakland A's, started his team's series opener against Detroit.

For a complete list of WCL alums in MLB and the minor leagues, please click right here.

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Some news from around the WCL:

KITSAP: The BlueJackets have re-signed pitcher Kyle McKay, a junior at Jamestown (ND) College. He's a 6-2, 190-pound righty from Ferndale, Wash., who was 1-1, 7.22 in 23.2 innings over 10 games for Kitsap in 2012. He played at Olympic (jr.) College before transferring to Jamestown.

WALLA WALLA: The Sweets have announced their 2012-13 front office staff in the linked story on their website. I expect we'll see them again in June, as it seems we always head up there very early in the season.

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That's all for today. See you on Wednesday.


It's a back-to-work Monday

October 8, 2012

We are back, after a nice, long holiday weekend. Hope your's was as nice as our's was.

The first draft of the 2013 West Coast League schedule is due to be completed early this week. Hopefully it will require just a few tweaks and adjustments and we can announce this summer's slate in the very near future.

It's taken a little bit longer than usual (we had last year's by Oct. 31, 2011), thanks to the addition of Victoria and Medford as our 10th and 11th franchises. But I'm sure it will be well worth waiting for.



OSU's Gabe Clark signs with Knights for 2013

October 5, 2012

It's finally Friday, and another sunny one at that. Can we put our order in right now to have the weather we've enjoyed this September and October to return to Corvallis next June? That would be mighty sweet, and help our early-season ticket sales, for sure.

Here's something else that should help draw some fans to Goss Stadium in 2013. The Knights have signed Gabe Clark, a slugging corner infielder who is a freshman at Oregon State.

The Beavers are very high on the 6-foot-1, 200-pounder from North High School in Riverside, Calif., native, and here's why.

Clark was a four-time letterman at North High and was co-MVP of the Big VIII League as a senior. He hit .511, with 11 homers, 41 RBIs, 38 runs and 18 stolen bases, was a first-team Max Preps all-state (large schools) selection, and a Riverside Press-Enterprise newspaper Inland Empire all-star.

Clark hit .425 as a junior, with five home runs, 13 doubles, nine stolen bases and 32 RBI, and helped North win the CIF Southern Section Division I championship at Dodger Stadium. He was also the 2011 High School GameTime Player of the Year.

He was a second-team Big VIII League all-star as a sophomore and junior, and played for the Riverside Falcons and Colton Nighthawks in summer ball.

Here's some 2011 video of Gabe from HS GameTime, shot after North won the CIF Southern Section Division I championship in 2011.

Welcome aboard, Gabe. We'll have more OSU signings, and more signing from our other partner schools, to announce in the coming months.

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This video about the Burlington (Iowa) Bees doesn't really have anything to do with the Knights. But it speaks to the charm of a small-town baseball team (which we are) and the connection that can be forged between the franchise and the city it's located in.

As Knights' skipper (and Corvallis native) Brooke Knight said after watching it (and I think he speaks for all of us here at the WWHQ, "That is what the essence of this game means to me."

So, enjoy! And have a great weekend!


Grant Melker to play for Knights

October 4, 2012

Thursday already? The week is blowing by and it's almost Friday, our favorite day.

But before we get there and start tailgating for Saturday's big football game against Washington State, we've got some Knights' news you might be interested in (actually, if you're reading this, you WILL be interested, not might be interested).

The Knights have signed University of San Diego sophomore Grant Melker for the 2013 season. He's a 5-8, 160-pound outfielder from Claremont High School in Claremont, Calif.

Grant played in nine games as a USD freshman in 2012, scored two runs, and was hitless in his only at-bat. He was a four-year starter at Claremont High, hit .300 or better every season, was the team MVP as a freshman and earned team Defensive Player of the Year honors as a junior and senior before signing with the Torrerros.

Grant's older brother, Adam Melker, starred for the Knights in 2008 and 2009 while at Cal Poly. He now plays in the St. Louis Cardinals' minor-league system and just completed his first season with Springfield in the double-A Texas League.

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Three members of the 2009 Knights, who lost to Wenatchee in the WCL Championship Series, earned all-league honors for their respective minor league teams in 2012.

* Pitcher Tyler Anderson (Oregon), the initial Corvallis Knight to be selected in the first round of the MLB draft, was a South Atlantic League all-star. He was 12-3 with a 2.47 ERA for Colorado's affiliate in the Class A (low) league.

* First baseman/DH Taylor Ard (Mt. Hood CC/Washington State) was a Northwest League all-star. He hit .284 with 12 homers and 58 RBIs for Everett, Seattle's affiliate in the Class A (short) circuit.

* Pitcher Matt Andriese (UC Riverside) was a California League all-star. He was 10-8, 3.58 for Lake Elsinore, San Diego's affiliate in the Class A (advanced) league.

Congrats to all three players, who we'll keep track of as they make their way toward (hopefully) the major leagues.

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Some news from elsewhere in the West Coast League:

VICTORIA: The to-be-named club has hired Christian J. Stewart as its Director of Communications and Photography, according to this story in the Island Sports News newspaper.


Medford hires Heeman as new GM

October 3, 2012

There's lots of news today about the new Medford franchise, which will join the West Coast League in 2013 and expand our footprint further into Southern Oregon.

Former Klamath Falls general manager Chuck Heeman has been named the new general manager of the expansion team, which will begin play this summer at a renovated Harry and David Field in that region's largest city.

Here's a story with more details from the Summer Ball website. Here's another story from the Medford Mail-Tribune. Also, if you're interested in naming the new club, you can send your suggestion to the Mail Tribune newspaper. Just click here to vote.

Medford should be a great addition to our growing league. It will join the Knights, Bend, Cowlitz, Kitsap and Klamath Falls in the West Division; the new Victoria club will join Wenatchee, Walla Walla, Kelowna and Bellingham in the East Division.

You can probably anticipate more expansion in the future. Yakima, Coeur d'alene and Redding and Chico, Calif., have been mentioned as possibilities.

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Here's some news from around the WCL:

KITSAP: The BlueJackets have signed outfielder Daniel Jewett of North Kitsap, P/UTIL Allen Hewey of Central Kitsap and 1B Daniel Orr of Kingston and Everett CC for the 2013 season.

Kitsap's been very active in signing 2013 players. Here's a complete rundown on the BlueJackets' 2013 signings from their twitter page.

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We'll be back on Thursday with more Knights/WCL news.


Marc Gallegos coming back

October 2, 2012

Happy Tuesday, everyone.

Maybe you saw it in today's Corvallis Gazette-Times, or on our website. But if you didn't, you now know that infielder Marc Gallegos of Corban University will return for an encore appearance with the Knights next summer.

A sophomore from Astoria who played shortstop, second base and DH, Gallegos hit .309 in 52 games, with no homers, 19 RBIs and a team-record 25 stolen bases. Originally a 10-day signee, he earned a full-time position and eventually led the Knights in runs (36) and hits (58), and was a second-team all-West Coast League selection.

Gallegos hit .346, with 26 RBIs and 33 steals, at Corban in 2012 and was an NAIA West first-team all-star selection, and an NAIA West Gold Glove selection.

He's the second returnee to be signed so far; pitcher Chris Bishop of Pacific Lutheran signed last week.

We expect to announce more signees, and more returnees, in the coming weeks. The 2013 schedule should be released some time in November.

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Pitcher/1B/DH Greg Mahle of UC Santa Barbara was named the Knights Most Outstanding Player for 2012 in a vote of the coaches. He led the Knights with a .337 average and was 3-1, 2.54 as a pitcher, with three saves and the first nine-inning no-hitter in Corvallis Knights history.

Rob Dittrick of Pacific University was named the Most Valuable Pitcher. He was 5-1, 0.95 overall and led the WCL with a 1.10 ERA in league games. A 10-day signee like Gallegos, he led the team in wins (5), innings (57) and strikeouts (33).

Catcher/infielder Chris Rabago of UC Irvine earned the Joe Segel Hustle Award, given to the player who best exemplifies the spirit of the Knights. Segel is the team's co-founder.

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That's all for today. It's a pretty slow time of the year.