C’s Recap – Ring Day

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The 2017 ring of the Northwest League champion Vancouver Canadians. (Image courtesy of CanadiansBaseball.com)


 

C's RecapThe 2017 Vancouver Canadians got to relive the joy of winning the Northwest League championship all over again this spring. The players were presented with their championship rings late last month in Dunedin as part of a ring ceremony that also honoured the Florida State League co-champion Dunedin Blue Jays. Six members of the 2017 C’s did see some time in Dunedin in righthanders William Ouellette, Bobby Eveld and Jared Carkuff, infielders Deiferson Barreto and Kevin Vicuna and catcher Owen Spiwak.

A number of players took to social media to show off their championship bling.

Wilfri Aleton

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Matt Shannon

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Graham Spraker

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Donnie Sellers

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Kevin Vicuna

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Juan Nunez

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Reggie Pruitt

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Chavez Young

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Matt Morgan

matt-morgan-ring-vancouver

Brandon Polizzi

brandon-polizzi-ring-vancouver

Nate Pearson

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Brayden Bouchey

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Samad Taylor

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2015 Vancouver Canadians first baseman Connor Panas was a member of the 2017 FSL co-champion Dunedin Blue Jays.

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2015 C’s pitcher Tayler Saucedo also earned himself a ring with Dunedin.

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Congratulations again to the 2017 champion Vancouver Canadians.

The Dunedin Blue Jays 45 former Vancouver Canadians on its 2017 championship roster. Seasons spent in Vancouver are in parentheses. The breakdown was 20 position players and 25 pitchers.

Position Players 

Christian Lopes (2012)
Andrew Guillotte (2015)
Connor Panas (2015)
Max Pentecost (2014)
Juan Kelly (2015)
Dalton Pompey (2012)
D.J. Davis (2012)
Lane Thomas (2015)
Andres Sotillo (2015)
Michael De La Cruz (2014)
Cavan Biggio (2016)
Nash Knight (2015)
Deiferson Barreto (2016-2017)
J.C. Cardenas (2015)
Kevin Vicuna (2017)
Jon Berti (2011)
Carl Wise (2015)
Ryan Hissey (2015)
Mike Reeves (2013-2014)
Owen Spiwak (2015)

Pitchers

Conor Fisk (2015)
Ryan Borucki (2014-2015)
Josh DeGraaf (2015)
Angel Perdomo (2015)
T.J. Zeuch (2016)
Tayler Saucedo (2015)
Ryan Cook (2015)
Tom Robson (2013, 2015)
Zach Jackson (2016)
Jackson McClelland (2015-2016)
Daniel Young (2015)
Alonzo Gonzalez (2013)
Jared Carkuff (2016-2017)
Dan Lietz (2014-2016)
Andrew Case (2014-2015)
Justin Shafer (2014)
Patrick Murphy (2016)
Nick Hartman (2016)
William Ouellette (2017)
Denis Diaz (2016)
Geno Encina (2016)
Aaron Sanchez (2011)
Taylor Cole (2012)
Jon Wandling (2014-2015)
Bobby Eveld (2017)

Congratulations to the co-champion Dunedin Blue Jays.

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C’s Chat – Justin Dillon

Vancouver Canadians Justin Dillon

Justin Dillon was 2-1 with a 1.96 earned run average with Vancouver in 2017.


cs_chat_logo2017 Vancouver Canadians righthander Justin Dillon is on the bump for the latest instalment of C’s Chat.

The 6-foot-3 hurler first drew the attention of scouts after a successful high school career at El Dorado High School in his hometown of Placerville, California. The 2012 season saw Dillon earn Sierra Valley Conference MVP honours by winning nine of 10 decisions with a 0.95 earned run average. He tossed nine complete games that included five shutouts and notched four saves. Dillon also could swing the bat by hitting .511 with nine home runs, 11 doubles and two triples.

The Colorado Rockies decided to select him in the 39th round of the 2012 draft. However, Dillon opted to attend Sacramento State.

“It was a bittersweet kind of thing. I had high expectations too. I guess it was more, it came across more for the money just because I was younger and it would take me away from college and all that. When we sat down to talk about a number, we didn’t really match up. It was one of those things that the older (I got), a couple of years after and reflecting on it, it was a pretty awesome experience.”

Dillon then compared his draft experiences with Colorado and Toronto, who took him in  the 10th round of the 2017 draft.

“Honestly, I didn’t even know my name got called in the (2012) draft. I was outside working on a (construction) property and I came back in. I saw a text from my coach saying that, ‘Congratulations, you got drafted.’ And it was just one of those things. I was like ‘What? Are you serious?’ It was kind of one of those things. It felt amazing. After all that, I got some time to reflect. It was kind of like, ‘Wow!’ It was always a dream of mine just to get drafted and be able to play professional baseball and have it.

Then when it happened with the Blue Jays, I knew I was going no matter what. It meant even more to me because I was older and more mature. It was an amazing feeling to see my name get called. Then to get a call from the scout (Darold Brown) and start talking to him about when I was flying out. Just the excitement through all that.”

Dillon on pitching at Sacramento State

It was a long, hard road for Dillon between his draft experiences. His college career with the Sacramento State Hornets was delayed for a year because he had to undergo Tommy John surgery on his right elbow. He said going through and recovering from the surgery was a learning experience.

“It was definitely tough but it made me realize that there is so much more to pitching than just picking the ball up and throwing. Sitting out for a full year and then trying to come back and feeling like you’re not even close to being as sharp as you were. You can’t really spot up that well. Your velocity is there one day and it’s not there the next. It really made me try to be more present in the moment, try to learn more mentally and just be ready to go at any time. I’ve been on top of that, trying to look for weaknesses in hitters and just be a little bit more well-rounded.

It was hard. I just turned 19 and I was still at the point that I was a little immature. I just wanted to throw a fastball by every guy. Throw it when I got ahead and throw something off-speed in the dirt and let them swing. I think it helped my career the older I got.”

The surgery was just the first obstacle Dillon said he had to overcome.

“Honestly, it was a grind of just getting my body right. Everything was going great and then I had Tommy John surgery and it felt like every single time that I felt really good and I just back dominating, an injury would happen. It was like after Tommy John, I started feeling good again.

I remember my opening game against Auburn, I ended up throwing in the first inning, I pulled my abs and had to sit out a year because I pulled it like two different times during that year.

It was one of those things. It was just like trying to overcome adversity. We had big injuries to a couple of our pitchers or some hitters. It was always just trying to make the best with whatever you got.”

It was the better part of two years before Dillon felt he was all the way back from the surgery.

“It took probably about the end of that next year so I’d say 16-to-18 months I felt like I was myself. I was draft-eligible the year after that and I put a lot of pressure on myself. Physically I was there, like everything was there but I just put too much pressure on myself. It definitely had a negative effect on me. I think overall, it was probably about 16-to-18 months before I felt like I could spot up again, I could throw my stuff and feel confident in it.”

Vancouver Canadians Justin Dillon

Justin Dillon did not allow a run over eight appearances in July by striking out nine batters over eight innings.


As for his stuff, Dillon says he has a four-pitch mix.

“It’s a four-seam fastball that cuts. I get around it just a hair so I would have a natural cut to it. And then I have a curveball that I flip in there. It’s not 12-6, more kind of like a slurve, and then a slider. And I’m still developing a changeup.

I kind of become more consistent with all four. It’s really just learning where my strengths are and living down in the zone. You get away in college and high school and even some rookie ball or something like that, throwing mid-thigh or not quite down at the knees. But the higher you go, you have to be able to pound down in the zone. That’s really where I’ve been working lately, just all four pitches down in the zone.”

Dillon really had his pitches working on February 23, 2017 when he threw a no-hitter for the Sacramento State hornets against Northern Kentucky.

“It was awesome. It actually took me pretty much all the way until the end of the year before it really hit. We had one of our starting pitchers go out so I felt like I never had really reflect on anything.  Sometimes I was coming out of the pen or I was working on something else just trying to give our team always a chance to win. When I did get a chance to reflect on it and the feeling that I got that night was unbelievable.

You know, it’s funny is that I didn’t feel like I had my best stuff. I just felt like I executed a lot of pitches in great counts. It was incredible. I didn’t even know I had a no-hitter going. I know I had two outs, I threw a fastball up and in to a righty and it was a jam shot. For the first baseman, there was a little bobble and we ended having an error. I didn’t know if they had marked it as a hit or error so I just got up there, the next guy came up and I struck him out. The next thing I know, everyone just erupted.

It was one of those things in that I was so focused on the game in that present moment that I didn’t even realize if there was a hit or an error. I just tried to attack the next guy.”

Dillon said he didn’t notice whether he noticed his teammates were acting differently around him between innings during his no-hitter.

“Not really. We actually had this little guy. He’s about five years old. His name, we always called him ‘Rock’ and he had muscular dystrophy. He was always in the dugout and actually, he was climbing up on me at one point and trying to play catch with me in the dugout. I would talk to him a little bit.

I don’t really believe in the superstition and all that kind of stuff too much. I didn’t mind it at all. I didn’t really notice too much going on but I noticed him always being around me.”

Dillon on pitching in Vancouver

Vancouver Canadians Justin Dillon

Justin Dillon struck out 28 batters in 23 innings and held Northwest League hitters to a .207 batting average.


Dillon began his professional career with Vancouver in 2017 as he made his debut in Everett June 26. His Nat Bailey Stadium debut did not go as planned when he took the loss in relief against the Eugene Emeralds June 30 but he would later get his revenge against the defending Northwest League champions. The 6-foot-3 righthander would then reel off seven scoreless appearances in a row, earning his first pro victory in Hillsboro August 4.

Another highlight for Dillon was pitching on Tim Raines Night at The Nat on August 22 and wearing Montreal Expos-style uniforms.

“It’s to represent a Hall of Famer. You’re sitting out there. He was in our shoes at one point. You just try to take it all in and just love the moment that you’re in and to be present with that. I mean, it’s hard. You sit there and start thinking about the future and you think about his career. But at the same time, you have to compete. You got to go and do everything that you can do to get that win for the C’s.

It was awesome. He was in our locker room. He’s just a down-to-earth guy. It was so great just to talk to him and have a little conversation with him and all the other teammates about it.”

As the season wore on, Dillon would be paired up with lefthander Zach Logue as tandem starters. Overall, Dillon felt the partnership was successful.

“It was different, that’s for sure. I mean, that was the first time that I’ve done that. However, Zach and I always came in in clean innings and it was kind of like even though he might be coming in the fourth or whatever or I might be coming in, it was clean so we acted as if it was our own start. But you kind of have to pay attention to what that other pitcher is doing and if he is having success, say inside on righties or whatever. You just kind of go off of that.

It was definitely different but it was good because (the way) Zach and I throw – our velocities are similar. We were actually catch partners so I knew what his ball did, he knew what my ball did. He has a good two-seam action where it sinks pretty good. It like since I had to cut (my fastball) – our balls both kind of travel the same direction even though I’m a righty and he’s a lefty. It was actually fun. We enjoyed it and we were always talking about it and what we saw so it actually made it kind of easy.”

Dillon said he really enjoyed pitching in front of 6,000 fans at Nat Bailey Stadium.

“They’re always behind us. It was just a great feeling walking out there and pitching in front of those fans because even in college, we pitched in front of some big crowds at LSU and (Texas) A&M and all that but it wasn’t quite like pitching in front of the fans at the C’s place. They were always in it. They’re yelling and screaming. I mean, they’re always behind us. It didn’t matter if we were down or if we’re up, it was one of those feelings that you just went out there and you knew everyone was behind you.”

Dillon on pitching in the 2017 Northwest League Playoffs

Vancouver Canadians Justin Dillon

Justin Dillon is shown on the video scoreboard at Nat Bailey Stadium before starting Game 4 of the Northwest League final.


Dillon carried over his regular season success with the C’s into the playoffs. After celebrating his 24th birthday two days earlier, Dillon was on the mound for Game 2 of the North Division final against the Spokane Indians. He relieved Logue in the fifth inning and made sure a 2-0 lead stood up by allow just one run over three innings thanks to six strikeouts. Dillon was credited with the win as the C’s advanced to the league final against Eugene.

He said it was a case of just sticking with what made him successful.

“You walk in there and you just try to put it in the perspective that it’s a new day. Some days, you’ll have unreal stuff and hitters will hit you. Other days, I mean, it feels like nothing’s working but hitters are struggling against you.

You start eliminating all those negative thoughts, going ‘Oh, they killed us the other day or whatever.’ It’s a new day. You go out and you attack and you play to your strengths so that kind of what I did.

It was an awesome experience to go out there and just believe in your own stuff and know that you can go out there and compete against whoever.”

Vancouver Canadians Justin Dillon

Justin Dillon finishes a pitch in Game 4 of the 2017 Northwest League final.


Dillon was back on the hill again in another clinching situation when he got the start in Game 4 of the Northwest League final against Eugene.

He ran into trouble early as a leadoff single by Zach Davis and a pair of one-out walks to Austin Filiere and Michael Cruz loaded the bases in the first inning. That led to a visit to the mound from pitching coach Jim Czajkowski.

“He was just kind of trying to give me a breather and really just get me to trust in my stuff. Not to think about the hitter. Just focus on my spots or the lanes I’m throwing. And then on top of that, give all the guys—they’re all around me—you can take a little quick glance at them and believe that they have my back as well. Just let it eat, throw to your spot and get a ground ball or, in the case I guess, strike out the next two guys and get out of the inning. Yeah, (the mound visit) was just to give me a little breather and to focus back up.”

The mound visit worked as Dillon struck out five batters in a row and seven out of eight to end his three-inning outing. He racked up 13 strikeouts over his six innings in the post-season. He pointed to one big reason he was able to pile up the K’s.

“It was just getting ahead. I mean, the biggest key is to get ahead because when you’re ahead, obviously the pitcher’s always in control of the dish and the hitters are looking for specific areas or specific pitches that they want. It’s like when you’re ahead, you start eliminating and they have to start expanding the zone.

It was getting ahead and then on top of that, not being afraid to go inside them and buzz them to get them off the plate or spot up inside because a lot of them are looking away, away, away. You get ahead and they’re looking for maybe a slider away and then you buzz them back inside and next thing they know, they’re walking off, they got frozen.

It was really that and the pitch sequencing. Starting off maybe a fastball away or flipping in a curveball and then get the hitter thinking and then work at a fast tempo.”

Dillon said he was ready to celebrate after seeing William Ouellette strike out the final batter to win the Northwest League championship.

“It was one of those things. We had confidence in Will when he went out there. We already grabbed some water cups and stuff like that. Zach Logue, myself, Colton Laws, we actually already had planned that we’re going to be dumping some water on Cy (Jim Czajkowski). Right when that last strike was called, we ran up there and just splashed him with some water and then went out and started jumping around with all the guys and celebrating.

(I had) complete confidence in Will. We felt like we had it in the bag but you never do know but it was one of those things that you have that much confidence and you believe in each other. You feel like you can’t go wrong.”

Dillon said he was happy to receive his Northwest League championship ring last month.

“The suspense kind of starts killing you because you know you’re still waiting until spring training. And even in spring training, all the guys on that team are sitting there going, ‘Okay, when are we going to get it?’ And then finally, to sit down, open the box, look at it, see your own name on it and then you get to start reflecting on that whole season and how much fun it was.

We had a great coaching staff, great players. It was just a blast all around. Great stadium, the fans were awesome. That ring is going to hold a lot of memories.”

Final Innings

Vancouver Canadians Justin Dillon

Justin Dillon recorded a WHIP of 0.91 with the C’s in 2017.


When asked to compare himself to a major leaguer, Dillon pointed to a recently retired San Francisco Giants great.

“I would have said Matt Cain. Just in (he’s) not overpowering with his velocity but I felt like I pitched a lot like Matt Cain. Higher arm slot but growing up, I was a Giants fan and so I always watched him. Just seeing how he kind of moved around his stuff. Our pitching coach at Sac State was Steve Holm and he actually was a catcher for the Giants and he caught Matt Cain. It was one of those things. There was a lot of communication about that so that’s why I started thinking that my pitching style was more like his.”

Dillon has begun his sophomore season in the pros with the Dunedin Blue Jays. His first appearance came on Opening Day in which he contributed 1-1/3 scoreless innings in Dunedin’s 5-4 victory on April 5. He was glad to see some action right away.

“It was good. Sitting there and the suspense of if I’m going in or if I wasn’t because I was in a reliever role. It got my heart racing a little bit, just kind of waiting because it’s like, of course I want to get in there. I wasn’t really nervous. However I did have to slow myself down because it was just I want to go, I want to attack, attack, attack. I almost felt like I was getting ahead of myself a little bit but once I got to breathe and just slow down a little bit, I felt good. It was great to get that first appearance out of the way and then move on and get ready for the next one.”

Dillon had a tough second outing by giving up three solo homers over four innings in Palm Beach in his first start April 9 but he rebounded with four innings of one-run ball on April 14 against St. Lucie.

My thanks to Justin Dillon for taking part in this episode of C’s Chat.  I would also like to thank Daniel Venn, Media Relations Coordinator of the Dunedin Blue Jays, for arranging the interview. He is on Twitter @Galapagos Dan.

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C’s Chat – Logan Warmoth

Vancouver Canadians Logan Warmoth

Logan Warmoth delivered two game-winning hits in the playoffs to help the Vancouver Canadians win the Northwest League championship in 2017.


2017 Vancouver Canadians shortstop Logan Warmoth is the latest player to take a couple of practice swings and step into the batter’s box in this episode of C’s Chat.

The Vancouver Canadians came up with the big hits when they needed them the most in 2017 and two of the biggest came from the right-handed bat of Warmoth, the Toronto Blue Jays first-round pick taken 22nd overall in last year’s draft.

When the former North Carolina Tar Heels product made his way to the plate with two outs in the bottom of the fifth inning in Game 4 of the Northwest League, there were two runners in scoring position.  Deiferson Barreto drew a one-out walk and Reggie Pruitt followed with a base hit. Both of them moved up 90 feet after a Chavez Young ground ball to second. Top Chicago Cubs prospect and then-18 year-old right-hander Jose Albertos was trying to nurse a 1-0 lead into the sixth. Warmoth had other ideas as he was able to punch a single through the right side of the infield to score Barreto and Pruitt.

Warmoth said a bit of levity from Young helped him deliver the base hit that gave Vancouver a 2-1 victory and its fourth Northwest League championship.

“I’m pretty sure I swung at the first pitch. I just remember after Chavez was hitting before me and he got out, he went back in front of me in front of home plate and said, ‘I moved them for ya! I moved them for ya!’  (It) just kind of lightened the mood a little bit for me. I put an okay swing on it and I hit it to right field and luckily Reggie was on second and he was able to score on it.”

“When Reggie got the hit, it kind of just gave us a little confidence. We were shoving and him just getting on base and him getting a hit kind of gave us some confidence and baseball is kind of like a momentum (game). Once he gave us a little more momentum right there, we were able to get it done.”

On seeing his single go through to right field.

“Having Reggie on second base with two outs especially is definitely trouble for a team. I didn’t hit it that hard so it gave him a little bit more time to (score). Just having him on second base really gave me some confidence and I kind of knew right when I hit it that he was going to come in to score.”

On his ability to succeed with runners in scoring position.

“I think I just learned over time. Especially late in the game my freshman year, going back to college and stuff like my freshman year, I don’t think I was very good at it.

It was kind of understanding that if I’m having a bad game (from) my first few at bats through six or seven innings, then knowing that no matter what I did before, my most important at-bat is most likely about to happen.

The games are close and just having that in the back of my mind, like, ‘If I’m going good, who cares?’ Like the most important at-bat’s is probably going to happen because most games in minor league baseball are fairly close. I’m just trying to have a clear head going and walking up (to the plate), I guess.”

Vancouver Canadians Logan Warmoth

Logan Warmoth is greeted by Chavez Young after Warmoth’s two-run single in Game 4 of the Northwest League final.


On how he celebrated after William Ouellette closed out the clinching Game 4 of the Northwest League title.

“Ouellette struck out the last guy and I kind of just threw my glove up, threw my hat up and kind of took it all in. I just looked at the crowd for a second. I’m not a big fan of being at the bottom of a dogpile so that was kind of a nice moment. Just to check out the scenery and check out the fans and just it let sink in for a second before I ran up and tried to get in the dogpile.”

On the aftermath of winning the championship.

“It was a grind for sure, the whole season. It was nice knowing that just everything you put in each day and each game and it kind of paid off at the end. What I remember was just celebrating with my team, just hugging them and everything.”

On the forest fire situation in Spokane that resulted in the all of the North Division final to be played at Nat Bailey Stadium.

“I think they just told us the day of the game, it was awful. There was a lot of smoke from all the forest fires. I mean, I was asking people, ‘Are we actually going to be play in this?’ Because the last time we played in Spokane, it was also smoky. I mean, they did it before so. Then we found out and it was a nice feeling knowing that you get to play two or three games in front of your home crowd and knowing that they’re going to have your back. It was kind of weird being the visiting team that first game but it was fun.”

On the unique situation of being the “visiting” team for Game 1 of the North Division final.

“It was strange. I did it once, actually last year in the (NCAA) Regional but other than that, that’s only one of the other times I’ve seen a set-up like that.”

The Canadians were the road team in Game 1 of the North Division final despite playing in the cozy confines of the Nat. The score was 0-0 when Spokane pitcher Joseph Kuzia walked Norberto Obeso with one out in the top of the eighth inning. With Brandon Polizzi entering the game as a pinch-runner, Kuzia tried a quick pick-off move to get Polizzi but was unsuccessful. He then turned his attention to Warmoth and he connected for a two-run home run to left field to give the C’s an eventual 2-1 victory.

Vancouver Canadians broadcaster Rob Fai asked Warmoth in a post-game interview about the pitch he saw after the game.

“It was a sinker, fastball in and when I hit it, I thought there was a good chance but I was just hoping it was staying fair.”

Warmoth thought he was going to face a different pitcher prior to his home run.

“Honestly, it’s kind of funny. I saw (Alex Eubanks) in the bullpen there warming up. He pitched at Clemson, they had him warming up. I think he struck me out two or three times in college that year and he went to Spokane and came out of the bullpen (August 18 in Spokane) and struck me out.

Before the first pitch (from Kuzia), he (tried to) pick off (Polizzi). So in the back of my head, I was like, ‘Okay, there’s no way (Kuzia) is going to throw to me, they have (Eubanks) warming up because he’s had some success against me.’ Next thing I knew, the pitch was coming in. It was a fastball and I just put a good swing on it.”

On finally being able to go deep at the Nat.

“Yeah, it was a good feeling. It was my birthday (turned 22 September 6) too. My mom was there. Kind of a cool moment right there.”

Vancouver Canadians Logan Warmoth

The scoreboard introduction of Logan Warmoth prior to Game of the Northwest League final at Nat Bailey Stadium.


On the challenges of hitting at the Nat.

“Obviously the ball doesn’t fly very well at Nat Bailey. It’s a big stadium, a big fence. I guess you just got to get into your line-drive mind setup and step up to the plate knowing that it’s not very possible that you’re going to hit a home run. So you just have a different mind set and just try to drive the ball through the middle of the field.”

On what was it like to play in front of sold-out crowds at Nat Bailey Stadium.

“It was crazy. I mean, they sold out every single home game so that was one thing a lot of us weren’t used to – playing in front of 6,000 something (people). (It’s) something not many people can do during their first year of minor league baseball, especially a short-season team. It was awesome playing in front of them, playing kind of for the whole city of Vancouver because I felt like just all of them were out there supporting us.”

On his brief stint playing in the Gulf Coast League before heading to Vancouver.

“It was good. I was two weeks late with all the signing stuff. I signed a bit later than everybody else (in his draft class). It was nice just getting some at-bats and getting some innings under my feet before kind of just jumping right into things. That was nice for sure.”

Vancouver Canadians Logan Warmoth

Logan Warmoth jogs back to the dugout after his two-run single in Game 4 of the Northwest League final.


On transitioning from college to the pros.

“The one big thing was just playing every day. I mean, the competition in (the Northwest) league has a lot of college guys so the competition’s very similar to some point. Just to learn how to manage your body, to learn how to manage your time, to get to the whole routine before games, the routine after games for recovery. That was the biggest difference I guess in pro baseball and college my first year.”

On winning the Brooks Wallace Award as college baseball’s top shortstop and dealing with the doubts from the scouting community about his ability to stick at short.

“I mean, it’s alright. I guess I can handle it there, what they think but I know that I feel like I’m good enough to play short all the way through. That’s people’s opinions, I can’t really focus too much on that because if I did, then I probably wouldn’t be in the situation I’m in. Not being really recruited out of high school and if I were just to listen to everything or everyone’s opinion, then I probably wouldn’t have had a very successful career in baseball.”

Vancouver Canadians Logan Warmoth

Logan Warmoth ended the 2017 season with no errors in his final 10 games.


On his defensive improvement late in the season.

“I guess it was just being more focused. Just getting used to Nat Bailey and getting used to the field. Just trying to make all the routine plays, I guess.”

On taking part in the fall instructional league.

“That was pretty cool. We were with like 60 or 70 other guys. It was tough for sure because we had not even a week off and then we’re playing baseball again for a full month but it was fun. I was just trying to work on little parts of the game and just working on defence and some of the hitting approaches and we had some good guest speakers come and talk to us so that was pretty cool.”

On who he connected with during instructs.

“I worked with Donnie Murphy a lot and he’s our hitting coach now (with the Dunedin Blue Jays) so I worked with him a lot in the (batting) cage. Luckily now this year’s he’s a coach and have a little connection with him so that’s nice.”

 On what he worked on in the batting cage with TNXL Baseball.

“I’m just trying to get in a better overall hitting position. We had some good guys that worked out with us this off-season so I was just trying to pick their brain and just try and see what they did before and their (batting) tee work and just learning as much as I can from other people as well.”

On what he focused on during the off-season.

“Just trying to get stronger. This is the first full year of 140 games. It’s going to be a long haul so I tried to put on some weight, just because I know it’s going to be tough to keep on the whole time especially being here in Florida and how hot it is. I made that emphasis for sure to just be as strong as I can and big as I can because this is a long (season).”

On being compared to major leaguers J.J. Hardy and Brian Dozier.

“I like those two a lot. J.J. Hardy’s been one of the better defensive shortstops and I feel like he made all the routine plays and didn’t do anything too flashy and then Brian Dozier is just an offensive-minded middle infielder who is someone I’d kind of like to emulate my game by too.”

On his father Greg and brother Justin as TV broadcasters in Orlando.

“It’s pretty cool. I grew up with my dad being on TV my whole life and then my brother (Justin) is doing the same thing. It’s pretty cool for them. He was the one that kind of got me into baseball. He’s been there, both of them. They both got me into baseball just watching them when I was younger doing everything I can with them. It was a pretty special moment because knowing for them, I feel like all the work they put in with me kind of paid off.”

On having his brother Tyler who recently pitched in the Los Angeles Angels system.

“He kind of just gave me a brief rundown of what pro baseball is like. I mean, he was the first one in the family to play. He kind of gave me some pointers and some tips and just how to take care of my body and how to be a pro.”

logan_warmoth_nate_pearson_pregame

2017 first-round picks Logan Warmoth and Nate Pearson get together before a game at Nat Bailey Stadium.


On whether he had met fellow Floridian and first rounder Nate Pearson before they were drafted.

“No we didn’t. After the draft though, before we signed already, we had the same agent so we kind of got together and played a round of golf for the first time and that’s when we met and we have been good friends since.”

On being Pearson’s teammate.

“It’s nice. He’s a competitor for sure and he just kind of shows me how he puts in so much work with all of his routines and stuff and it kind of paints a picture for me of what I need to do to be successful as well.”

On going after another championship ring in Dunedin with Pearson and his other Vancouver teammates Riley Adams, Justin Dillon, Jake Fishman and William Ouellette.

“It’s nice to have some familiar faces and it’s nice to walk into a clubhouse and know some of those former players. Everyone’s goal in here to win another ring for Dunedin again because they won last year so we can’t disappoint.”

On receiving his championship ring during spring training and whether he wears it often.

“It was pretty nice. I mean, those rings are huge. It was a pretty cool experience. I let my parents have it. They put it in my room back at home so they’re taking pretty good care of it.”

On his family being able to see more of his games in Dunedin.

“My mom came the first two games so it was nice to see her up in the stands. My dad’s coming today so it’ll be nice to see them.”

On his favourite player being Derek Jeter and whether it was a coincidence he is wearing number 2 with Dunedin this season.

“It was just kind of chance. I mean, it was the smallest fitting jersey they had so I was the first to pounce on that. Vancouver had an extra-large jersey and I wasn’t a fan of that so I just tried to find the smallest size and it happened to be number 2. It’s a good choice, that number. So many shortstops wear it in today’s game.”

On how he wound up with number 29 in Vancouver even though his college number of 7 was available at the time when catcher Matt Morgan switched to #30.

“I think that was the only number left, honestly. The number 7, they didn’t have one of the road jerseys or they didn’t have one of the right colour jerseys for it so I can’t use that one. I think it was like 29 or 23 or something, I’m not sure. There was only two numbers left so I picked 29.”

My thanks again to Logan Warmoth for fielding all my questions in this edition of C’s Chat. You can follow him on Twitter @loganwarmoth.

I would also like to thank Dunedin Blue Jays Media Relations Coordinator Daniel Venn for arranging this interview. You can check him out on Twitter @GalapagosDan.

 

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C’s Alumni Update – Osuna Reaches 100 Save Milestone

roberto_osuna_split_grip

Roberto Osuna pitched for the Vancouver Canadians as a 17 year-old in 2012.


cs_alumni_updateRoberto Osuna and the Toronto Blue Jays are off to a good start in 2018. The 2012 Vancouver Canadians righthander earned the 100th save of his major league career by preserving the Blue Jays 2-1 victory in Baltimore Tuesday night. The 23 year-old from Juan Jose Rios, Sinaloa, Mexico became the youngest closer to reach that milestone in major league history.

2012 C’s pitcher Marcus Stroman tweeted out his congratulations and raised the possibility of his fellow teammate establishing the all-time saves record.

Osuna has converted all five of his save opportunites and has not given up a run over 6-1/3 innings to start the season. Osuna preserved the victory for 2011 C’s righthander Aaron Sanchez as he went eight solid innings and had a no-hit bid until it was broken up by Tim Beckham‘s leadoff double in the eighth.

C-Notes

C's NotesOne other former Vancouver Canadians pitcher saw action in Baltimore Tuesday in 2014 righthander Miguel Castro was on the mound for the Orioles. He was charged with an unearned run in the eighth inning.

Castro’s 2014 teammate Tim Mayza was called up from Triple-A Buffalo after designated hitter Kendrys Morales was placed on the 10-day disabled list wtih a strained hamstring.

2011 C’s outfielder Kevin Pillar had a 2-for-4 night and is hitting .295 so far this season.

2017 C’s pitchers Brayden Bouchey and Dalton Rodriguez were added to the Lansing Lugnuts roster. Rodriguez earned the victory in relief and Bouchey struck out four over two perfect frames to help the Lugnuts beat Fort Wayne 6-5 Tuesday. 2016 first baseman Christian Williams connected for his first home run of the season.

C-Tweets

cs-tweetHere are some of the recent tweets of interest about the Vancouver Canadians. The tweets look at the organization’s continuing show of support of the Humboldt Broncos hockey club and the highlights of the first week of the minor league season. Note the tweet about 2017 C’s pitcher Donnie Sellers and his 12-strikeout performance Monday.

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C’s Chat – Jake Fishman

Vancouver Canadians Jake Fishman

Jake Fishman earned his first professional victory and save in a C’s uniform in 2017.


cs_chat_logoThe first word that comes to mind when describing the delivery of 2017 Vancouver Canadians lefthander Jake Fishman is funky. In fact, a Google search of ‘funky Fishman’ brings up a 1972 song called ‘Doin’ The Funky Do’ along with a song called ‘Fishman’ on the B-side of the 45 rpm record. The songs are by a band called ‘The Beginning of the End’ and it was definitely the beginning of the end for a majority of the Northwest League hitters who had to step in the batter’s box to face Fishman in 2017.

When I spoke to the 6-foot-3 lefty, I told him his delivery looked like he was bringing down the hammer when he released the ball and he agreed with my characterization.

“I like how you describe it (laughs), definitely slamming down the hammer. I think of it as I kind of like curl into or I kind of condense myself and explode out with a twist. It’s funky and it’s kind of the only thing that comes to my mind when I describe it. Very closed off.”

“I pretty much always thrown like that. I’ve worked with a pitching coach. His name was Tom Landry and he worked with this very well-known guy Tom House. They helped develop my motion into this but it’s based off of the same principles that apply to pretty much every other throwing athlete where you have to land before you can rotate your upper body. That’s really the biggest focus point that I try to stay on with my deliveries. It’s landing with my foot before my upper half rotates around.”

Fishman realizes he gives opposing hitters a very unusual look.

“I love talking to batters that I face just to get some feedback and they always tell me that it’s very hard for them to pick up the ball out of my hand, especially to differentiate between a fastball and slider.”

The Newton, Massachusetts native allowed just an unearned run in his first month with Vancouver after arriving from the Gulf Coast League Blue Jays in early July. Though the Hillsboro Hops laid waste to most of the C’s pitching staff during a five-game sweep at Nat Bailey Stadium in mid-July, Fishman was the lone exception as he spun a career-high four shutout innings of two-hit ball July 15, striking out five and walking nobody. He put up two more scoreless frames against the Hops July 19 to give him five scoreless outings to start his Northwest League career.

Fishman collected his first professional win by striking out five batters over two perfect innings against Salem-Keizer August 14. Only Ryan Kirby put the ball in play against Fishman but the best the eventual league MVP could do was hit a tapper back to the mound. The southpaw would achieve another first in what turned out to be his final appearance in a C’s uniform by getting his first save with three shutout frames on the strength of five groundball outs in Spokane August 19. He was promoted to the Lansing Lugnuts where he would put together a sterling 15-0 strikeout-walk ratio over four appearances to end the season.

Having turned 23 years old on February 8, Fishman and his fellow pitchers will have to adapt to the new pace of play regulations this season throughout minor league baseball. Fellow 2016 draft class teammate T.J. Zeuch made his feelings quite clear about the changes on Twitter but Fishman is taking a wait-and-see approach to it all.

“Yeah (laughs), I saw that (T.J. Zeuch’s tweet). You know, I’m not really sure how I feel about it. I try to look at it from both sides and it’s kind of hard to make assumptions until you actually go through it. The one thing that concerns me is as a reliever, we get that runner. He’s going to be mine to keep from scoring.

It’s hard to say. I think I’m going to reserve any judgements until I can see it in action and I’m actually in the middle of it. My initial thoughts are I’m kind of not in favour of it.

The pitch clock for me, I’m not too concerned about that because I work really quickly on the mound.”

On his off-season preparation.

“My big focus for the off-season was trying to tweak some mechanics and take some stress off my arm and right now everything feels really good. I’m hitting my spots right now, everything’s working so honestly I couldn’t ask for anything more at this point.”

On developing his sinker, slider and changeup.

“I feel really comfortable with my fastball, or my sinker, and slider. The changeup is my third-best pitch so I end up not using it a lot. I do feel comfortable with it but my best pitch is my slider. I’m always wanting to throw that rather than my changeup. I definitely throw some changeups in there when I need to.

The coaches do encourage me as a lefty, funky reliever to master the fastball-slider combination and then any changeups that I might have to throw is a positive but they really want me to focus on the fastball-slider.”

Vancouver Canadians Jake Fishman

Jake Fishman was drafted in the 30th round by the Toronto Blue Jays in 2016 after recording the lowest earned run average in all of college baseball at 0.41.


On being the first player drafted out of Division III Union College.

“It meant a lot. It was just all the work that I put in over the past years. It meant a lot, especially to show that somebody who comes out of high school who doesn’t throw very hard and doesn’t get any Division I offers from anywhere can put in a lot of work and then be able to make it to the next level. It really meant a lot in that sense.”

“It was very exciting, especially (being drafted by) the Blue Jays just because their fans are amazing and they’re everywhere. I couldn’t believe it. I was so excited, just overwhelming really.  It’s really incredible. Blue Jays fans are everywhere. Even down in Florida, they’re here watching the spring training games. In Vancouver, they sell out every game. They’re diehard fans.”

On where he was when he was drafted.

“I was actually in the Cape. I was playing (in) the Cape (Cod) League. I was driving home. We had a rain-out so I figured I’d drive home and spend the day with my family. On the way home is when I got the phone call from the Blue Jays scout (Jamie Lehman) who told me that they were about to pick me. About five seconds later, the whole world came crashing down on my cell phone (laughs). It was absolutely amazing and crazy. “

On getting to pitch at the Cape Cod League with the Wareham Gatemen.

“That was definitely a milestone. I was only there for a week and I really only pitched in one game but that one game went really well. That definitely had a big impact on me. It’s funny because after the Cape and I got to the Gulf Coast League and then I got smacked around, my view completely changed. It was like, ‘Wow!’ It’s so much higher a level than even the Cape Cod League and it’s crazy to think that it’s really the best players in the Cape Cod League – that they’re at the next level.”

On whether he had any idea the Blue Jays were going to draft him.

“I did have some interest from other teams. I did not know that the Blue Jays were so focused on me. They had sent me a couple of e-mails but other than that, there wasn’t much conversation between myself and them.”

On what he learned about himself at Union.

“I got a lot of things out of Union College. I think one of the most important things that I took away was having to do everything by myself. What I mean by that is as a Division III program, they don’t force you to do what you need to do to make it to the next level.

It was really up to me to go out and research and figure out what the best people in the country are doing and it has a different effect on you when you do it yourself rather than when you’re being told to do it. That’s carried over into professional baseball where I have a consistent routine and I know exactly what I have to do to continue to get better.”

Vancouver Canadians Jake Fishman

Jake Fishman overcame a tough start at the Gulf Coast League in 2016 by turning in scoreless appearances in four of his last five outings.


On getting his feet wet at the pro level with the Gulf Coast League Blue Jays.

“It was interesting. It was a lot different than what I was used to. The Gulf Coast League is incredibly hot. You’re facing kids that are really good. They’re young. I came in thinking, ‘Oh, this should be a breeze!’ Facing 17 year-old kids and then they smack you around and you come to the realization that everybody that’s there is there for a reason and if you give them anything, they will take advantage of you.”

On his off-season preparation heading into 2017.

“To be honest, I didn’t really change too much in my off-season preparation. I work out at a place called Cressy Sports Performance and they have a really good program there. They work with a ton of major leaguers and minor leaguers all across the country and I always stick to what they have and it’s been very successful for me so I stuck to that.

I just came into spring training last year a lot more mentally prepared. I knew exactly what to expect and that really helped me coming into spring training.”

Vancouver Canadians Jake Fishman

Jake Fishman limited lefthanded hitters to a .174 batting average with the C’s in 2017.


On being promoted to Vancouver from the Gulf Coast League.

“I thought it was pretty awesome. I had never been to Canada so I was excited. I had heard amazing things about Vancouver especially. I think it’s probably one of the best places to play baseball in the minor leagues for sure.”

On his fondest memories with the C’s.

“My favourite aspect was how the fans were. They sell out every single game even if it was a 1:00 pm on a Monday. They were just so into it. I loved it.

Aside from that, on the pitching side of things I just remember realizing that if I just hit my spots, most guys will get themselves out. If they get a hit off you, then that’s no big deal. You just go back and continue to hit your spots and that’s what you need to do to be successful.”

On being the only pitcher to enjoy any success during the Hillsboro Horror Show of 2017.

“I remember pretty much everybody else was getting pretty lit up. I just went out there and I remember earlier that day, there was something that I was feeling and I knew that I was going to go out there and pitch really well. I couldn’t tell you what it was. I just had that feeling and that’s what happened. I went out there and all my pitches were working really well and I just felt really good.”

On celebrating the C’s first-half North Division title.

“That was a lot of fun, really exciting. I was just super happy to be a part of the team at that point. Being able to clinch the first half takes so much stress off of the second half. You can just go out there and play ball and not have to worry about anything.”

Vancouver Canadians Jake Fishman

Jake Fishman left Vancouver with a 1.17 earned run average and compiled a 23-4 strikeout/walk total in 23 innings.


On being promoted to Lansing.

“We were all in the locker room after a game and our manager Millsy (Rich Miller) came in. We already knew one guy was going up to Lansing. It was Dalton Rodriguez and (Miller) said, ‘(Rodriguez) will probably need some bodyguards on the way up there so Jake Fishman and Chris Hall, you guys are going to go with him.’:

On striking out seven batters in two innings for the Lugnuts versus Fort Wayne August 26.

“Yeah, that was crazy. I just remember it seemed like every batter I was facing would get me to a 2-2 or 3-2 count and I kept hitting the same spot that was up and in to a righty and the umpire just kept giving it to me. They were strikes but it was a two-seam that kept tailing away from a righty and it would catch the corner. That probably happened about four or five times and that’s kind of where all the strikeouts came from.”

Vancouver Canadians Jake Fishman

Jake Fishman had a ground ball rate of over 54 percent with the C’s in 2017 according to FanGraphs.


On keeping tabs on his Vancouver teammates late in the season.

“I was following them every game of the way. When you have such close friends on the team, you’re always interested on how they’re doing, whether they win a championship or not.

Bittersweet is a good way to describe it. It would be amazing to go and win a championship with that team but at the same time, a promotion is always good so I can’t really complain about it.”

On starting versus relieving.

“I love starting. I was a starter in college but I would like to do whatever the Blue Jays have in store for me. I like relieving. Eventually my goal is to become a starter but if they want to keep me in the pen as a multi-inning guy or even just a set-up guy, that’s totally fine with me as long as I’m out there being able to pitch.”

On being named to the roster for Israel at the 2017 World Baseball Classic.

“That was super cool. I was put on the roster. I didn’t get to go to the semi-final or wherever they went to Japan but it was cool. I got the opportunity just to even be on the roster. The manager (Jerry Weinstein – his manager at Wareham) gave me a call a couple of days before they started games in Japan and he told me that I might need to fly out to Japan and join the team. At that point, I was ecstatic that he would even consider having me go there even though I was just on the extra reserves. Overall, a really cool experience.”

On his goals for 2018.

“I try not to think about where I’m going to end up. I just want to go out there and pitch as well as I can. Most likely I’ll start in Lansing and if that happens, then it would be great to finish in Dunedin. If not, I really want to have a consistent year. My goal is not let up a single run but that’s hard to do and you can’t always do that but that’s what I shoot for every year so we’ll see if we can do it this year.”

Fishman is off to a good start in that regard as he made his 2018 debut on Saturday with one inning of one-hit ball and a strikeout in Dunedin’s 6-1 victory over Clearwater.

My thanks again to Jake Fishman for riding to the rescue out of the bullpen cart in this edition of C’s Chat. You can follow him on Twitter @swedishfishman1.

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