C’s Chat – Cullen Large

Vancouver Canadians Cullen Large

Cullen Large walked nearly 12 percent of the time with Vancouver to help him post a .356 on-base percentage in 2017.


cs_chat_logoThe Toronto Blue Jays’ fifth-round pick of the 2017 draft is the latest player to stop by in this edition of C’s Chat. Second baseman Cullen Large was taken by Toronto after playing at the College of William & Mary in Williamsburg, Virginia where he hit .323 over his three-year career in his home state. The Chesterfield, Virginia product showed some pop in his bat by slugging over .500 over his last two years and showed a good eye at the plate with on-base marks over .400 during his sophomore and junior campaigns. He was named to the All-CAA First Team and ECAC Second Team in 2017.

Before heading to William & Mary, the 6-foot-0 switch-hitter played at James River High School in Midlothian where he earned first-team All-District and second-team All-Region in his senior year after winning first-team and honourable mention plaudits in his junior year respectively. He showed his all-around game by leading his school in sacrifice bunts.

The 6-foot-0 switch-hitter made his professional debut against the Spokane Indians at Nat Bailey Stadium June 23 and recorded his first single in his second at-bat, scored a run and drew a walk to help the C’s pick up an 8-5 victory.

Large began his C’s tenure with a five-game hitting that included a pair of two-hit games. Among his biggest hits were a game-tying single in the ninth to help Vancouver pull out a 15-13 win in Everett June 27. He recorded another two-hit game with a pair of doubles against Eugene July 1 and scored the winning run the next day after getting aboard on a hustle double.

Large did have a seven-game hitting streak near the end of July but his batting average had dipped from a high of .291 in early July to .236 in early August. It appeared things were turning for Large in Hillsboro August 6 when he contributed a pair of hits, including a game-winning RBI single to help the C’s even up their five-game series against the Hops. Vancouver would eventually get the series victory at Ron Tonkin Field and gain a measure of revenge after the Hops swept the C’s in five straight back at Nat Bailey Stadium in July.

The euphoria of Large’s game-winning hit did not last long as he suffered a season-ending injury trying to break up a double play at second.

“I actually dove into second base and I kind of jammed my pinkie. It kind of got caught right on the bag and I fractured my hand. It was just bad luck I guess.

Originally, when I slid into second base, I kind of popped up. I jammed my pinkie. It was my first game in left field too so I went back out to left field. I went to warm up and I couldn’t grip the ball real well and actually threw one of my warm up throws over the outfield fence.

At first, we didn’t think it was broken but we got an x-ray (in Hillsboro) anyway so it kind of surprised us that it was broken so it was that night that I went and got an x-ray and found out I wasn’t going to be able to finish out the season…but they let me stay up there and hang around the team, which was awesome.””

On having to sit out the rest of the year due to injury.

“It wasn’t easy. I wasn’t allowed to run or anything. Fortunately, I didn’t have to have surgery so I couldn’t do anything that was going to jeopardize my getting hurt or running into something or making it worse or having a setback so I kind of just had to sit there.

It helped in a way and hurt in a way. It was tough because I’m not the kind of guy who likes to just sit still for any extended amount of time but I knew I had to. During that, I knew I could be a good teammate and be around and kind of lighten the mood if I needed to and that kind of thing.”

Eventually, my teammates started calling me ‘Coach Cullen’. Eventually, Mattingly Romanin came back and wanted a single-digit jersey number so Johnny (Johnny Stewart) came up to me, our clubbie, and said ‘Hey, do you mind if Mattingly takes your jersey?’ I said, ‘No. Absolutely. Go for it.’ I actually got one of the coach’s pullovers so I would wear it during games so I would walk around BP with a fungo just to kind of play the character a little bit. That was kind of fun. It was a fun way for me to be involved, I guess. I was kind of lightening the mood and being around my teammates and having a good time.”

On his final at-bat of 2017, a game-winning hit.

“I remember I hadn’t been feeling very good at the plate for the past week and-a-half to two weeks maybe and that day, I was figuring some stuff out. I got a base hit in my first at-bat and I hit the ball hard in my second at-bat. In my last at-bat, I knew I had been seeing the ball well and I was kind of sitting off-speed. I knew that they weren’t going to give me any fastballs to hit in that at-bat, in a big situation like that. It was a slider down that I just got the (bat) head on it and had a nice line drive. It was nice to kind of get that off my shoulders. That was actually the game I unfortunately got hurt was when I started feeling good.”

On the C’s bouncing back the next day in Hillsboro after blowing a 7-0 lead in the second game and gaining revenge by winning three of five against the Hops at Ron Tonkin Field after being swept in five games in Vancouver.

“I think that sparked us too. Having them come back. We knew we didn’t play well obviously in that first series. We knew it was going to be a little bit different. We just kind of went into it knowing they were a good team and try to play as well as we could. I think after the first game, we kind of realized that we got, it was going to be more of a better match-up and that we knew we could handle them.”

Vancouver Canadians Cullen Large

Cullen Large was successful on all three of his stolen base attempts with Vancouver.


On the Canada Day weekend series vs. the Eugene Emeralds.

“That was one of the first series where kind of our draft class was playing at the same time. Our coaches had told us, ‘Hey, Eugene’s good, like they’re on a roll, they’re one of the best teams in the league.’ We kind of went in with that mindset like, ‘Alright, they’re playing well, we’re playing pretty well so we’re going to try to play as great as we possibly can.”

On scoring the winning run in a come-from-behind victory against Eugene July 2.

At that point, I remember feeling pretty good at the plate, which was awesome. Things were just kind of rolling and that (second-to) last game in particular when I scored the winning run, I remember it was kind like a jam shot over the first baseman’s head and I was running down the first base line, nobody got to (the ball) when I was touching first base and I saw the second baseman got to it and he was kind of falling away from second base.

I knew it was going to be a tough throw and I knew that since I was a pretty important run, being aggressive and going to second wasn’t a bad thing. If I was going to be aggressive on a good ball read if I stayed at first or if I was going to be aggressive and try to turn it into a double so I just decided to go for it, (make it) tough for the second baseman and it was exactly that. The throw was kind of wild. I think I would have beaten it anyway but I kind of slid in safe and it worked out pretty well from there.”

On the play-off type atmosphere that surrounded that July 2 game.

“We were all pretty pumped up. Learning to win close games is something that doesn’t just happen in the playoffs, you kind of work for that during the regular season. Just like you work on taking ground balls and seeing pitches and stuff like that, a team works on winning, whether it’s a close game or whether it’s a game you should win, it takes practice.

That was kind of nice that we got the win in the game and from then on, we kind of knew that we could then do it and we obviously worked on it before going in the playoffs which was awesome.”

Vancouver Canadians Cullen Large

Cullen Large stayed with the club for the remainder of the season despite a finger injury that sidelined him in early August.


On the pennant chase that resulted in a first-half North Division title.

“I don’t know if we were focused on the pennant on that point, we were just kind of trying to play well. I guess you could say we were probably pressing a little bit because we wanted to win the first half and that kind of stuff and we were scoreboard watching for a little while and it wasn’t really helping us very much.

When we started to kind of turn things around, it was just like, ‘Alright, we’re just going to take this one inning at a time. We’re not going to focus on what Tri-City was doing, we’re just trying to kind of go at it.’ And that’s when things were kind of started going well for us again which I think really helped.

It was really fun obviously when we clinched. It was a lot of pressure off our shoulders so we could kind of just focus on playing well again, which was awesome. It helped us out a lot.”

On having to be extra careful during the championship celebration.

“Yeah. I looked at Dan (trainer Dan Leja) who, any time my hand was outside of the dugout so if I was up on a step, he would say ‘Come on, put your hand back in!’ if I was sitting on the little bench outside the dugout, he’d be like, ‘Cullen, get back in the dugout!’ When we were about to win, I looked at him and said, ‘Hey, I’m going to hang around the dugout and I’ll be one of the last ones out, I’ll be on the outskirts of it in case anything, like, happens so that’s exactly what happened. I kind of hung around the dugout and hugged a couple of guys before I ran out there and I ran out there and I was on the outskirts of the dogpile out there.”

On the realization he was part of a championship club.

“It was awesome. It was so much fun to watch. We played a really clean series, the last series. Obviously, it was really low-scoring games. Maybe the offence wasn’t as good as it could have been but in a championship atmosphere, that happens a lot. We never buckled. We never gave up. We had a lot of guys step up obviously. Logan (Logan Warmoth) had a really good series and Kacy (Kacy Clemens) obviously did what he did for the whole year. It was fun to watch. It was fun to be a part of it and I’m lucky to say that I was a part of it. It was just an all-around blast.”

Vancouver Canadians Cullen Large

Cullen Large was selected with the 159th pick of the 2017 draft by Toronto.


On his draft-day experience.

“I had no idea where I was going to go but I knew it was going to be in the second day of the draft. I went to play golf actually with my dad and my brother, which was nice so it got me out of the house so I was kind of moving around. I actually went to lunch with my high school coach and I wasn’t going to follow the draft. I was kind of just going to go about it as a normal day but of course, my high school coach wanted to follow it pick by pick so they had it open at the dinner table but I was just kind of sitting there hanging out.

I was with my parents and my high school coach at the time just sitting at a restaurant in Richmond and I got a call just saying, ‘Hey, the Blue Jays asked if you wanted to go.’ I said, ‘Yes’. But obviously, yon never know if that’s the case. Luckily, I got one call once the draft started and it was the Blue Jays and they took me so it was actually pretty smooth sailing, which was awesome.

Once that happened, there was more celebration and a load off your shoulders. You’re a little nervous the last week before but after it happens, it’s one of the coolest feelings after. That night, a bunch of my friends from high school that I played with were around and we celebrated that night and it was good to see everybody.”

On gaining recognition from Baseball America by being rated among the top 200 prospects for the 2017 draft.

“Yeah, that was a big surprise honestly. I had no idea that people thought so highly of me. I like to think that I just kind of kept my head down and just kind of played as well as I could. I never really put any pressure on myself to be ranked or rated or anything like that so that was a big surprise but I was blessed to be able to be in the top 200. It was honestly a great surprise.”

On whether he received interest from other teams besides the Blue Jays.

“It was honestly a complete toss-up. I remember meeting with the Blue Jays and I remember the scout, Doug Witt. We were still in contact a little bit. He was actually one of the first scouts I met with when he came down to William & Mary. I remember meeting with him and we had a good talk but honestly, I had no idea it was going to the Blue Jays.”

On playing for William & Mary for three seasons.

“It was awesome. I was actually a little nervous coming out of high school but once I got there and settled in a little bit, it was awesome and a perfect fit for me. I got along with the coaches really well. I got to play for my freshman year on, which was awesome. It was one of the important things and one of the important goals I wanted to achieve. From the get-go, it was just kind of the perfect fit.

Once I got there, I actually hit lead-off in my freshman year so I wasn’t quite polished because I started switch-hitting going into my junior year in high school so I was still trying to figure out my left-handed swing because I hit right-handed for my whole life up until going into my junior year in high school.

Obviously facing better pitching in college, it was a little bit of a challenge but I started to figure it out. My sophomore year was when I started to get a little bit more production from my left-handed swing. The ball started carrying a little bit better for me and things started rolling from there. I guess that’s when I kind of started to realize that professional baseball was going to be a potential realization was that sophomore year when I started to figure things out.”

Vancouver Canadians Cullen Large

Cullen Large made 27 starts at second base and one in left field for the C’s in 2017.


On being assigned to Vancouver to begin his pro career rather than being close to home with Bluefield.

“They had a meeting us and told us in individual meetings and told me I was going to Vancouver. When I found that out, I was really excited. Obviously being in Bluefield would have been a lot of fun too. Some friends and family could have come to see me play but I was excited to go outside of the country that I’ve never been to before.

I’ve heard Vancouver has an awesome set-up. Lots of fans, so I was really excited to start my professional career there, I was thrilled, that would be the best way to describe it and it was exactly that. It completely exceeded my expectations and I had high expectations going in so it was absolutely awesome.”

ryan_hissey_at_bat

Cullen Large was teammates with 2015 C’s catcher Ryan Hissey at William & Mary.


On rejoining his former William & Mary teammate and 2015 C’s catcher Ryan Hissey in the Blue Jays organization.

“Yeah, we talked on the phone for a while a day or two after I got drafted. He kind of told me everything that was going to happen and how everything works so I had a pretty good understanding of what was going on when I got down there. Obviously, we talked about Vancouver too when I found out I was going there and he absolutely had a great time up there too. He told me everything I needed to know so I wasn’t completely lost when I got up there.

Ryan’s a close friend of mine too so I’m lucky to have him as a friend. I get to him for a lot of stuff so it’s been awesome to kind of follow in his footsteps and he showed the ropes at William & Mary and he showed me the ropes with the Blue Jays so I’m lucky to have him.”

Vancouver Canadians Cullen Large

Cullen Large hit .313 in 32 at-bats when he was second in the batting order for the C’s.

On when he decided to try switch-hitting.

Chipper Jones was my favourite player growing up so I would go in the backyard and play wiffle ball with my brother and I tried to be like Chipper Jones and hit from both sides of the plate. I kind of toyed around with it when I was younger and did it off and on but it was never like a serious thing.

After my sophomore year in high school, I was on a summer showcase team (Virginia Cardinals) and I was kind of messing around, hitting left-handed before one of our showcase tournaments. My coach, Rich Graham, and was like, ‘Wow! Cullen, that’s pretty good! You should do that this weekend!’ I was like, ‘Alright, I’ll try it out and see what happens.’

I ended up hitting pretty well and Rich kind of came over and was like, ‘Hey! I think this can do. I think this will help your career. If you say you want to do this, I don’t’ care if you’re oh-for-50, I’m not letting you go back and just hit right-handed. If you’re going to do it, you’re going to do it for the rest of your career.’ I said, ‘Alright! I’m in! I’ll see how it goes.’

So I got to work and I guess I had been doing it for about a month and hit a home run left-handed so I was like, ‘Alright. I guess this probably is the best thing for my career.’

I was just questioning whether or not I’d be able to do it at the college level but I kind of figured it out when I got to college so it was kind of one of those things that I almost surprised myself but I obviously worked really hard at it. I was probably hitting twice as much left-handed as I was hitting right-handed out in workouts and at practice so I kind of caught up once I got to college and I’m really glad it worked out that way.”

On fine-tuning his swing from both sides of the plate.

“Honestly, I think the biggest thing is trying not to do exactly what you do on the other side. Since you have two different swings, keep them two different swings. Don’t try to be something you’re not from both sides of the plate.

Obviously, you can be aggressive and go after balls but essentially for me, I try not to match my right-handed swing to my left-handed swing or vice-versa. I just try to do what I do well from either side because when I start trying to match it, that’s when things get a little bit out of control. Obviously, I’m the same hitter.

Honestly, I guess it’s approach. Having a strong mindset when you get in the box each at-bat, whether it’s right-handed or left-handed is the most important thing and the biggest challenge.”

I try to go equal swings each day from both sides. Maybe if I’m not feeling as well, I get a bit of extra work on the one side that day or if we’re facing a lefty or we haven’t seen a lefty, I might work a little bit extra righty but I try to keep it as balanced as I possibly can so that one side doesn’t get overmatched or undermatched for me getting work that way

It’s worked out pretty well. Each day, I don’t have to think about, ‘Oh , I guess I’ll hit left-handed today or I’ll hit right-handed today.’ I go in and say, I can hit left-handed and right-handed today,’ and get my work in that way.”

On who he would compare himself to in the major leagues.

“An easy answer would be Ben Zobrist, being a guy who’s a switch-hitter, being a guy who can kind of move around and play a bunch of different positions, be a good teammate.

I try to do as many things as I can do to help our team win. If our manager came up to me and said, ‘Hey, we need you to play left field today if you think you can do it.’ I say, ‘Yes sir, absolutely. I’ll take it head on.’ Anything to help us win. I like to think that I play hard, no matter the game. Obviously, that game against Eugene, I would expect it, trying to turn that single into a double.

Ben Zobrist, I think, is a good example of that because he’s kind of in the lineup a bunch of different ways. He can hit in the middle, hit at the top or hit at the bottom, a little bit of spark down there. A switch-hitter, some good match-ups from either side and he plays a bunch of positions. With the Rays, he played at shortstop—which I don’t think they ever really expected him to—but second base, third base or corner outfield, whatever, he’ll move around which I really admire from him and maybe I can do that one day, hopefully.”

On other positions he has played in his career.

“I played shortstop in high school and then they switched me to second base my freshman year in college and then we had some injuries so I ended up finishing the year playing shortstop for the last six games or so in my freshman year but after that went back to second base.

I like to think that I can move around if a team needs me to. I primarily played second base in college and professional but I can move around a bit if they need me to.”

On playing summer college ball with the La Crosse Loggers in the Northwoods League.

“Northwoods was awesome. I had a blast. I didn’t play summer ball my first year after my freshman year so I went to La Crosse after my sophomore year so I could get a bunch of at-bats. To play like 70 games or so, it’s pretty much just like a short season schedule.

Traveling around to a part of the country I’d never been to before. La Crosse was awesome, the fan base was awesome. I met a lot of cool people and it was fun to play in front of a few thousand every night. They get good fans out there too just like in the Northwest League. It’s definitely the closest thing to professional baseball you can get. I was really fortunate and I liked it so much and here I am.”

Vancouver Canadians Cullen Large

Cullen Large had a line drive rate of 19.6 percent with the C’s according to FanGraphs.


On whether being an umpire during his younger years has helped him with his strike zone discipline.

“I never really thought it did but I guess you could say it could help. A lot of the umpiring I was doing was with younger kids so it’s a little tough to compare that because obviously, younger kids aren’t throwing as hard and that kind of thing and don’t have as much command as pitches don’t move as much.

Umpiring, I had a lot of fun with it and it was something to do on a weekend when I was playing in high school. I actually went up to Cooperstown and I got to umpire in a tournament down there, which was awesome, right before I went to college. It’s a fun thing for me to do to stay around the game of baseball and work on it at the same time.”

On what it takes to be an umpire.

“A thick skin for sure. I understand if an umpire makes a bad call. I’ll kind of look up and be like, ‘You know, I don’t necessarily agree with that but you know, I get it. It’s alright, like, no worries.’ I kind of feel their pain obviously like when I’m playing now because I feel I was the same way. I’ve had coaches and parents yell at me before for stuff and you kind of just have to stick with your call and stick with your gut. Umpires at our level do the exact same thing. I’ve definitely been there before.”

On getting over his finger injury.

“I feel great. The finger is a non-issue at all. I don’t even remember breaking it honestly, which is great. I’ve overcome that mental hurdle. I feel really good physically. I put on a little bit of weight, which is good, and I feel strong. I’ve been hitting a lot. My arm feels great. I’m just excited to get down to Florida and get going. The weather’s a little fluctuating right now. It’s really cold some days, then it gets really warm. It’ll be really nice to get down to Florida for some nice weather pretty consistently for a while.”

On his goals for 2018.

“I just want to try and be consistent. I felt last summer, I was a little up and down. Obviously, I only played half the year so it was a smaller sample size but I just want to try and be consistent whether it’s my physical play and mental play.

I’d like to think I’m a pretty good teammate and I try to be as good a teammate as I can be but I want to be that every day. That’s something that I can control and I just want to be kind of a happy guy and not get too down or get too high when I’m doing well. Not get too down when I’m not doing well, that kind of thing. I think that will help me be consistent on the field as well. Those are kind of the things I want to work on this year.”

A big-time thank you again to Cullen Large for stepping up to the plate in this edition of C’s Chat. You can find him on Twitter @cullenlarge.

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C’s Chat – Chavez Young

chavez_young_high_five

Chavez Young made his Nat Bailey Stadium debut during the 2017 playoffs.


cs_chat_logoVancouver Canadians outfielder Chavez Young is the latest player to take his turn at-bat in the latest instalment of C’s Chat.

Drafted by the Toronto Blue Jays in the 39th round of the 2016 draft out of Faith Baptist Christian Academy in Ludowici, Georgia, the 6-foot-2 Young decided to turn pro after the Jays gave him a $200,000 signing bonus. He overcame a tough start in the Gulf Coast League by hitting .274/.346/.438 in 21 games in which he had eight doubles, two triples and six stolen bases in seven attempts.

The 20 year-old switch-hitter from Freeport, Bahamas continued to make strides in his second professional season which saw him start and end the year in Vancouver. In between, he was the leadoff hitter for the Appalachian League-leading Bluefield Blue Jays in which he batted .282/.332/.440, scored 52 runs and led the league with seven triples. He batted .444 with a home run in the playoffs and threw out a runner at home from center field but it wasn’t enough as Pulaski edged out Bluefield two games to one in the league semi-final.

Young’s season wasn’t over yet as he was flown out west just in time to join the C’s for their playoff run. He contributed with a number of diving catches in right field and belted a home run in Game 1 of the Northwest League final against the Eugene Emeralds. He played a key role in starting a two-run rally in Game 3 and survived an encounter with the right field wall in foul territory to record the penultimate out of Game 4. His ultimate reward was getting to join the on-field celebration as a key contributor to the C’s fourth Northwest League championship.

I caught up with Chavez (pronounced ‘shah-VEZ’) on the phone in Tampa, Florida recently to see how his off-season was going.

“This is my second off-season so I’m kind of experienced and I know what I should be working on going into my second full season. My first off-season, it was just like a test drive to see how to prepare next year. Last year was my first off-season. This year, I was prepared like knowing when to throw, when to get back on the field and know when to start hitting, to give my body more rest and when to start hitting the gym again.

I started hitting the gym again in November when I reported for (Baseball) Strength Camp and that’s when I started getting in the gym but it was like off the field, not hitting, not fielding or throwing.

The main thing I really wanted to work on this year was my core, to have a strong core, for my abdomen to be strong. That was the one thing I was really trying to attack this off-season.”

In December, that’s when I started hitting. Everyday when I had a chance when Mother Nature gave the chance on the field, I would hit.

I’ve been hitting with Bo Bichette, his father (Dante Bichette) and Dante Bichette Jr. in St. Pete (St. Petersburg) so it was great working with one of the greatest hitters in baseball. Just getting mentally locked in, coming in with a routine every day. That’s what he would teach you, what is your plan when you’re going to hit not just in the cage but what you want to work on, what you want to get better on, what you visualize yourself doing in the game. That was the main thing he was teaching me. Not just going in the cage just to hit but going in with a purpose and a routine.”

That was the plus-plus thing that ever happened to me in the off-season like that. That was a great experience hitting alongside with Bo and his dad.”

 

On taking part in the first-ever Don’t Blink – Home Run Derby In Paradise in the Bahamas.

“It was a mind-blowing thing. It was like going back to the World Series, playing as a kid and having fun. It was just like fun baseball again, playing with your younger friends and all those who were drafted because we normally can’t see each other like how we used to because we’re all playing professionally.

To have that experience, to play in front of your home crowd, hitting balls in front of your own crowd. When you hit a home run, the crowd goes crazy. The vibe there was so amazing. I was really happy to participate in that and I really can’t wait for (next) January 5th. Just to start off the year, that was really great.

We had Bo Bichette down from the Blue Jays, we had Nick Gordon down from the Minnesota Twins. Just to bring a little home flavour back to the Bahamas. When we were playing on our own, we always had Nationals (Baseball National Tournament in the Bahamas) in June but since now since we play throughout the summer, we can’t participate in that event so that’s why we bring back the home run derby so all of us can come home and entertain. It’s entertainment for our people back home so that was a great experience.”

On representing Great Britain—the homeland of his parents—at the 2017 World Baseball Classic qualifier.

“Oh my goodness, that experience right there. When I say it was like playing in the World Series, it was the same feeling. We had an MLB-type of season, how they treat us, stay in great hotels, coming to the field and signing autographs. Everything that you think a kid could dream of, that was like me basically.

Some of the guys from the team that I was watching from the Bahamas-who were older than me-but when I was growing up watching them play, they were always like my role models. Albert Cartwright, Champ Stuart and Antoan Richardson, I always used to watch them play. I was never the same age so I could never play with them but when I was in Great Britain, I was practicing in center field with Champ Stuart. Just to be with him on the field, teaching me how to go about his routine in the outfield and stuff like that.

Not just from the tournament standpoint but from an experience standpoint, I learned a lot from those guys. It was a great experience playing for Great Britain at the World Baseball Classic.”

On his baseball beginnings.

“We had like what we called a ’13-15’ big field where the older guys play on. The field was so big because we didn’t have (many) fields in the Bahamas. We had to play t-ball games in the right field corner. My coach, Miss Higgs, she used to coach me in primary school. I would play everything, I used to run track but she brought me out and I just started playing. I used to play shortstop. You couldn’t say it was my position, I was just in the middle of the field. Every time a ball was hit to me, I would tag a base and try to run the next base. (Laughs) I started like that. Just playing ball, having fun and every time I hit the ball, I would try to get a home run. I started in t-ball when I was five or six years old.”

On playing high school ball in Georgia.

“I went in bowl full of fish, a lot of gold fishes just like me. There were other good players like me too so that pushed me to get a starting position on the varsity team. Just the environment around me, it pushed me. Everybody wanted to work hard, everybody wanted to get a college offer. The school pushed me on my work ethic and there were good coaches who had pushed me.to never settle and achieve a career. Faith Baptist Christian Academy was a great time for me going there.”

On who influenced him at Faith Baptist Christian Academy.

“When I first got there, there was a kid named Edgar Rivera. I always used to watch him go about his business and his work ethic.. He also used to drive me to the gym to push me.

I remember one time when he was on the field, he was walking down and he was telling me, ‘Bro, this is my last year here. You have two more years here, bro. For you to get to where you want to be, you got to block out friends, you got to block out family because sometimes they’re a distraction. You got to stay locked in. When I go, you got to keep up your routine, your working out and stuff like that. ‘

Edgar Rivera was always one of the biggest role models of my life. My senior year at Georgia Faith Baptist, he passed away in his freshman year.in junior college in Chicago. Everything I do, I always play for him. It was his dream. We go by calling him ‘Flindo’. He was always my big brother on the team, my big brother on the team. Everything I do on the field, he will always be there with me, even the batter’s box and center field. I’ll always remember him no matter what.”

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Chavez Young batted .308 in five regular season contests with Vancouver.


On being drafted by the Blue Jays.

“It was an emotional roller-coaster, a really emotional roller-coaster going from day one to day three. Even though I got picked in the 39th (round), I was so grateful. I felt like I got picked in the first round. From the first time I moved to America, I always had that humbleness in me, like ‘Hey, you got to grateful for everything you do.’ Out of everybody in the world, they drafted you. I was grateful for that.

And when it came, when I was drafted, it was such a shocking thing even though I got drafted late. It was shocking, it was mind-blowing, I was happy that they picked me that the Blue Jays are giving me the opportunity to showcase my talent and it was just a great feeling.”

On other teams showing interest in him.

“To be honest, the Blue Jays were my first questionnaire from Mike Tidick, the area scout. He was on me from the fall of my senior year. The Padres were on me too but you never know, all the scouts say they liked me.

Mike Tidick, he was one me, even though I got picked 39th, he told me like, ‘Hey bro, I’m not going to go to sleep until we sign you so I’m just letting you know that now, bro. We’re going to sign you.’

That showed me right there that he sure was wiling to fight for me from day one. He was the first questionnaire, he was the first guy, the first scout I had even met.”

On how he found out about being drafted.

“I was at my coach’s game. The coach that started me in Ludowici, Georgia, I was watching his son play. I was charging my phone at the park. People had started calling me, ‘Hey man, your phone is blowing up. A lot of people are calling you and you got a lot of message and stuff.’ I was like, ‘Yep, that was for me!’ Even though the draft was going on, I didn’t want to pay attention to it.”

Vancouver Canadians Norberto Obeso

Norberto Obeso is credited for helping Chavez Young break out of his first professional slump in 2016.


On his first season in the Gulf Coast League.

“My first 20 at-bats was rough. I was like oh-for-20. I felt like, ‘Did I make the right decision?’ I had one of my teammates (Norberto Obeso), he talked to me. He was like, ‘You got a good swing, you got a nice swing! I feel like you’re in and out of the hitting zone too fast. I think you just got to stay through the hitting zone longer.’

After he told me that, it just like clicked. My first hit came and it was a double. Then after that, I went on a long hitting streak and I just finished out the season strong.”

Vancouver Canadians Chavez Young

Chavez Young made his Northwest League debut as a pinch-runner in Eugene June 15.


On opening the season with Vancouver.

“Coming from the GCL and coming from extended, you don’t have much fans. When I was going to Eugene, it was like ‘Wow! That’s a lot of fans!’ I hadn’t been to Vancouver yet. It feels so good playing in front of a lot of fans. I was so hyped about playing in front of fans like that. It was a lot of excitement. Kids want you to sign balls before the game, it was just mind-blowing.

And then when I went to Vancouver, it was like ‘Oh my goodness! I don’t want to leave!’ (Laughs) The fan base there and the vibe in Canada is crazy, it’s beautiful. It’s just beautiful there. The vibe there, the people are so generous.

I remember I went to Starbucks in Vancouver and I pull out American money and the people were like, ‘Why do you have American money?’ I was like, ‘I don’t know! You don’t use American money here?’ They say, “Where are you from?’ I say, ‘Bahamas’. They say, ‘Why are you here?’ I say, ‘I play for the Vancouver Canadians.’ And the people at Starbucks started to go crazy, like ‘Hey, can I have your autograph?’ I was so overwhelmed.”

On his early-season contributions to the C’s Opening Series victory in Eugene which included a three-run triple and a two-run double.

“It feels good to help out your teammates, your team. When you’re struggling and then you come through for the team. That feeling of you making your teammates happy, I love that. You’re making a diving play in the outfield, saving a run for my pitcher, that’s the best feeling ever. Bring in the tying or winning run or RBI, whatever. Just being there for my teammates, I thrive for those moments.”

On being sent down to Bluefield.

“To be honest, I was depressed a little bit. I was mad a little bit for a couple of days. Even though they told me that there was a chance I might be going down to Bluefield, they told me that but I was still a little mad because I felt I was doing good but I didn’t show it.

I was mad, I can tell you, I was mad but I had that instinct, that feeling in me like, ‘Hey bro, are you going to let that get to you or are you going to finish the season strong?’

What helped me there in Bluefield was I had great teammates. My teammates are really fun to play with. The manager and the whole (coaching staff) made me really comfortable, I could always talk to them whenever. They always looked out for me and let me play my game. I was so comfortable there, I even forgot that I even got sent down. We ended up in first place for the whole year, ended up playing in the playoffs but ended up losing in the first round.

It was fun playing with those guys. It helped me in finding out who I really am. I got a lot of playing time there and I kind of figured out myself, figured out what is my weakness and what is my strength. Even though we didn’t have much fans, it was a really great time playing there.”

On leading the Appalachian League in triples.

“I feel like if I see an outfielder’s jersey turn around-when they turn around their jersey, they should always be treating me, ‘Oh, I’m going to run for an inside-the-parker every time.’ Every time I see I hit a ball in the gap, I see the defender’s jersey turn around, I’m trying to think three every time. I’m only thinking about two when I get a base hit, to get that extra base. Every time I see the defender’s jersey, I’m trying to think three every time out of the box.”

On the playoff series against the Pulaski Yankees.

“I felt like Pulaski was one of our biggest rivals, they’ve always beaten us. They had a really good team. I feel like they always were A-1 against us. Every time they played us, they were their best against us. I feel like going in the playoffs, we had to attack them first.

Me leading off the playoffs with that home run, I was really fired up because we beat them (in Game 1). Leading off with that homer was a great, great feeling. My teammates really wanted the game, really wanted to win. That was a great, great feeling.”

chavez_young_holding_ball

Chavez Young homered four times with Bluefield and added two more in the playoffs, including one for Vancouver.


On whether he thought he was going back to Vancouver.

“No chance. I was lost. I was already packing to go home so I could get ready for instructs. Right before we were supposed to go on the bus at 4 o’clock in the morning to head down to Charlotte Airport, they told me that they were changing my flight ticket to Vancouver and I was shocked, it was mind-blowing. I was really happy because I was minding my own business and I was staying in my own lane and the opportunity came right back for me again. I was really happy to get the opportunity to showcase myself in Vancouver.

I flied right in to Spokane so I didn’t drive down to Spokane with the team. When I came in, my teammates – it was like, “Chavy!’ They were happy to see me again. It was like coming back home. They greeted me like I was coming back home from a long visit. Everybody was happy to see me. I was already comfortable. They were already family to me. It was a great feeling being back with my own boys.”

On playing his first games in Vancouver during the North Division final against the Spokane Indians.

“I remember the great diving catches in right field, that’s what I remember the most. Every time I made a catch, even a fly ball when I make a catch, the crowd goes crazy. Every out, the crowd would just went crazy. Especially when I made those diving catches right on the side of the wall, flipping over the wall or stuff like that, the crowd was going insane and that was so fun.”

chavez_young_leg_lift

Chavez Young contributed three hits, three walks and three runs during the post-season.


On returning to Eugene and hitting a home run in Game 1 of the Northwest League final against the Emeralds.

“When I was going into that at-bat, I was thinking ‘Attack the fastball.’ When I saw that pitch, (I was just) staying back, staying back and trying to drive it. I wasn’t trying to do too much. I was just trying to drive the ball and get on base. Once I get on base, I know for sure my teammates are going to bring me in and it was just for happened for me to go over the fence. I was just trying to drive the ball and hit the ball hard every time I get to the plate.”

On the events leading to scoring the tying run as part of a two-run rally in the fourth inning to win Game 3 of the Northwest League final.

“I remember, (manager) Rich Miller, we had a meeting right before that game. He was saying, ‘Just go hard! Doesn’t matter, should I go? Passed ball? Just run hard. Your teammates need you.’ That’s what I felt like. My teammates needed me. It doesn’t matter, you just need to get on base and just go hard for how long, like five minutes, 10 minutes.

Me hitting that ground ball, I was pissed off, I hit a ground ball to shortstop (Jhonny Betencourt) but I just thinking ‘we run it out, we run it out, we run it out.’ Especially when I’ve got kids who’ve been watching me at the dugout, see how I play and go about my business. I want to be a good example. I run it out and luckily I was safe by an error.

Logan (Warmoth) had a great hit, he hit it really like a missile. I couldn’t react that quick, I shuffled and then turned around and dived back into the base and luckily, (third baseman Austin Filiere) threw it over the first baseman’s head and I got to third base. I remember I was just trying to go hard every time.

And then I see (Kacy) Clemens hit a little dribbler to first base but I was (running) on contact, no matter what. We always practiced it in extended (spring training) on contact, you got to be (going) on first movement, the secondary (movement) and the shuffle. Everything happens for a reason, which you practice and it pays off, and that’s how it went down.”

chavez_young_scoreboard

Chavez Young is introduced on the scoreboard prior to Game 3 of the Northwest League final.


On his tumbling catch over the right field wall in foul territory for the second out of the ninth inning of Game 4.

“I was like, ‘We only need three more outs. Three more outs!’ That was it, three more outs.

It’s funny. I was like ‘If I get injured, the season’s already over so after three more outs, three more outs. I mean, man, I’m going to be wearing a ring!’ That was all I thinking about in my head, “Just three outs.’

I was hoping the ball was going to be hit to me. I was going to jump through a wall just to get the out. The only thing in my head was like, ‘I need a ring in March. I’ve already giving my ring size.’

On how he felt physically after that catch.

“To be honest, I didn’t feel it. My energy was flowing really fast. I was hyped. My teammates were there for me. They hyped me up. The crowd was hyping me out so I couldn’t feel nothng. I could feel no pain. I was probably sore (the next day) but it didn’t matter. We won a ring.”

On being part of the championship celebration.

“I felt like if there was a time to do a 60-yard dash, that was going to be the moment right there. I was just flying to the pitcher’s mound just to celebrate. I felt like I got to the pitcher’s mound in like 0.3 seconds from right field. It was kist amazing, it was mind-blowing. I was like, ‘Wow! It felt like the World Series, a mini-World Series.’

With a great crowd and we had great support behind us. We played hard. Everybody did their job on the field. It was just fun, I was just happy, just mind-blowing. I was happy. I couldn’t talk, I was happy, I was lost for words.

I run to the middle, I throw my glove up. I just remember in the (celebration), Lundy, (Brock) Lundquist, he was under everybody and I was trying to help him up so he won’t get smashed. I was trying to get him up. That’s how happy we were. Everybody was there for each other.”

On being a switch-hitter.

“Because I’m a natural right-handed hitter, I feel like I needed to work more on my left side. What I learned this season, even when I hit good on the right side, even when I had more swings and more at-bats from the left side, I can’t abandon my natural side.

I had been a little shaky this year. I would swing a lot from the left side because I feel like I was facing a lot of righties this year but I worked so much on my right side.

What I did so good this year is that I balanced both sides off. One day left-handed and one day right-handed so it was like equally 100-100. Both sides get both reps so both sides feel really great right now and I need to keep the routine like this going through the season.”

On when he started switch-hitting.

“I started switch-hitting when I moved to the States when I was 15 or 16 years old. It was something I decided to do on my own. I remember when I played with Lucius Fox from the Rays. Before he even got drafted, we played together in Boca Raton and West Palm Beach. I was in the (batting) cage and he was hitting left-handed and right-handed. One day, he showed me like, ‘Hey, just try it out,’ and I started and practiced it a little bit but that’s when I was 13 or 14 years old. I didn’t really take it serious but when I went back home to the Bahamas, I was thinking about it and then when I moved to the States for boarding school, that’s when I started switch-hitting when I was 16. Lucius Fox helped me out to think about it like ‘Hey, this is what you should start doing, you know, for your speed.’ And it was kind of my own thing. That’s when I started working-out left-handed and getting the swing right.”

On who he would compare himself to.

Kevin Kiermaier defensively. Offensively, I’m kind of like a Jose Reyes because he’s a switch-hitter, a spark plug and a hype player.”

On what he is focusing on in 2018.

“I like to improve on my consistency. Offensively, I need to work on getting on base, getting my on-base percentage higher and improve my batting average. Any league I go in, I want to be top-five in stolen bases and get to a Futures All-Star game.”

A big thank you again to Chavez Young for being more than generous with his time in this edition of C’s Chat.

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C’s Chat – Zach Logue

Vancouver Canadians Zach Logue

Zach Logue won three of four decisions with a 1.75 earned run average for the C’s in 2017.


cs_chat_logo

The winning pitcher of the Northwest League championship clincher is the guest of honour in the latest chapter of C’s Chat. Lefthander Zach Logue was drafted in the ninth round of the 2017 draft by the Toronto Blue Jays after a three-year college career with the Kentucky Wildcats. The 21 year-old from Cincinnati helped the Wildcats win their NCAA regional as the host team for the first time in school history to advance to the super regional, just one step away from reaching the College World Series.

Logue shared his recollections on a memorable 2017 in Lexington.

“As a team, we had amazing success. That was the first time in school history that Kentucky had actually won a regional. Being able to host was probably one of the cooler experiences that I had as a baseball player. Kentucky fans are crazy, I don’t know if you have heard, especially for basketball but to see the fan support we had for baseball during the regional was awesome.

Personally, I had a decent amount of success. My first half of the season was really good. I had some struggles in the second half of the season but as a team, I was just really happy we were able to kind of do something that’s never been done before at UK.”

On being tabbed the number two/Saturday starter for the Wildcats in 2017.

“That was definitely my goal going into last season was to be on the weekend rotation. It was awesome because we had Sean Hjelle who is a huge guy. He’s 6-11 , going on Fridays and then me being a lefty was a good (pairing), mixing it up a little bit I thought.

It was really fun being a weekend guy. You got to go out there every Saturday against all the SEC teams. You got to start in the all the cool stadiums that we played in so that was a lot of fun.”

On seeing seven of his Wildcat teammates being taken in the 2017 draft.

“I was looking forward to playing Evan (Evan White – Seattle’s first round pick in 2017) but he got injured before we were able to play (Everett). It’s really nice to see all the guys, you’re around them every single day. You see all the hard work that these guys put in and obviously being drafted and being able to play pro baseball is a dream for pretty much everybody that plays in college. Being able to see everybody kind of achieve that dream and have success at the next level is awesome.”

On his brother Seth, a righthanded pitcher, committing to Kentucky and the future of the Wildcats program.

“I think the Kentucky baseball program is in a great position right now. They got a new stadium coming. I love the new coaching staff. At first, I wasn’t sure at first if (Seth) was going to give Kentucky a look because of me being his older brother, I thought he really wouldn’t want to go there but I think once he went to campus, met the coaches and kind of saw what the baseball program was all about, he eventually decided that that was the place for him and I couldn’t be more happy for him.”

On when he first became a pitcher.

“I really kind of pitched my entire life but I didn’t start taking it seriously and kind of really start focusing on it until I was probably a junior in high school. I never really threw very hard when I was younger but I started weight lifting and doing some weighted ball stuff as a junior so I started throwing a little harder and that’s when I kind of realized that I might have a future as a pitcher and just kind of ran with it from there.”

On playing in summer college ball with the Amsterdam Mohawks and winning the Perfect Game Collegiate League’s Pitcher of the Year in 2015.

“It was awesome. I had a great time up in Amsterdam, we were in the Perfect Game League. I was actually up there with my teammate Riley Mahan. It was fun to be up there with him. The summer college baseball experience was awesome because you get to hang out with a bunch of guys from different schools and even some guys you might have played against during the school season.

That award meant a lot to me. It was nice to have some of my success recognized and from there, I kind realized that I might have a future and that kind of motivated me to really try to get better and show the guys at school that that award was legitimate.”

On who has helped him develop as a pitcher.

“I have a pitching coach back here (in Mason, Ohio). His name is Mike Mondrell. He’s the one that kind of helped me get stronger and use the weighted ball program and he really worked on my mechanics in high school.

Our head coach in my freshman and sophomore year at Kentucky, Gary Henderson, also helped me a lot. He was a big help for me in my mental game. He helped me really learn how to focus and really learn how to develop a plan.

In my junior year, we got a new coaching staff. The pitching coach’s name is Jim Belanger. I love Coach Belanger, he’s probably one of my favourite coaches I’ve ever had. He helped me develop a slider that I took that year and took it to pro ball. He just helped me a lot as well.”

On his pitching arsenal.

“I throw a fastball, a two-seam and a four-seam; a changeup and a slider. Right now, my main focus is to work on my changeup because I feel pretty good with my four-seam, two-seam and my slider but my changeup has been a little inconsistent this past year so that’s the main thing I’ve working on right now. In the future, I’d like to throw a cutter in there too. I think having something hard that can go in towards a righty would really help me out.”

“I used to throw a curveball in high school. I just never got a good feel for it and even in college, I was never really consistent with it so this past year, my coach Jim Belanger taught me the slider and it has made a lot of difference for me.”

On his pitching style.

“I think I would compare myself a little bit to a Jon Lester. He’s a big strike thrower. You can tell that he really, really competes out there on the mound. I think he throws a cutter, which I don’t, but I think other than that, our pitch repertoire is fairly similar.

I like to pride myself on being a strike thrower, a guy that’s going to force contact, someone that doesn’t walk guys very much and someone that will really compete every time I go out there on the mound.“

Vancouver Canadians Zach Logue

Zach Logue struck out 28 batters over 25-2/3 innings with a WHIP of 0.97.


On his draft day experience.

“It was kind of a long day because you hear where you might go. I’m sure other people can attest, that it doesn’t always go exactly how you think it’s going to. I was hearing like middle-to-late second day (of the draft), which is rounds three through 10, so I was hearing middle-to-late.

Looking at the draft board, I hadn’t gone in the fourth, fifth, sixth or seventh rounds and finally, in the ninth round, my agent texted me and said, ‘Hey, there’s a good chance you going to go with the Blue Jays here in like two picks.’ So we turned on the TV real quick and saw my name pop up and my family let out a big cheer and stuff like that. It was awesome.

I didn’t really have an idea that it was going to be the Blue Jays (who would take me). I had met with Nate Murray, who’s my area scout with the Blue Jays a couple of times in the fall but I really didn’t have an idea it was going to be with the Blue Jays.”

On the lead-up to the start of his pro career.

“It was a quick turnaround to be honest. I got drafted on a Tuesday and we had to report down in Dunedin for a little mini-camp on the Friday. We had a little get-together with my family and friends the day after I got drafted and then left and went to Florida. We had the two- or three-day mini camp and then from there, I went up to Bluefield and it was really fun to start the season up there.”

 On beginning his pro career in Bluefield under long-time manager Dennis Holmberg.

“It was awesome. Dennis is an extremely knowledgeable baseball guy. I think it was a great stop for me in my pro career. I was kind of able to get my feet wet and find a bit of a routine that worked for me and kind of just get used to what pro ball is like.”

On receiving his first promotion as a pro.

“I was actually in the locker room. I think it was after BP, right before a game and I had no idea that it was going to happen. (The coaches) called a team meeting and I was sitting there with the rest of the team when they told everybody that I was going to move up to Vancouver. That was an awesome feeling to be promoted so quickly and I’m really glad I did because I had a great time in Vancouver.”

On making his C’s debut at Nat Bailey Stadium vs. Spokane July 14 when he struck out five in two innings.

“I definitely remember being a little bit nervous. It was a day game against Spokane and, you know, you walk out and to be honest, the difference in the atmosphere from Bluefield to Vancouver is pretty drastic. The crowds in Vancouver are huge and the crowd was buzzing after getting into the game. I was definitely a little nervous but once I got the first couple of outs, I was able to settle in and have a little bit of success.

I remember coming out of the game and sitting on the bench outside of the dugout and seeing us come back and win (in 12 innings) , that was really exciting. It was definitely a good first experience in Vancouver.”

Being a part of the C’s first-half division championship.

“I remember when I got up there, I think we were about halfway through the first half of the season and we’re already in first place. I really didn’t have to help them with that at all. I think it was really important for us to win the first half and secure that playoff spot because you never know what’s really going to happen in the second half. It was awesome to get to celebrate with the guys in Salem-Keizer when we actually clinched. It was awesome to win the first half and then go on to win the championship.”

On being a tandem starter with Justin Dillon.

“I started at Kentucky but my first two years and even in summer ball after my sophomore year up in the Cape, I did a little bit of relieving. I had done that before but it is a little bit different when you’re used to starting because you come in in the first inning and the game is all yours, it’s zero-zero and you can kind of take control from there.

But I remember one particular start when I came in and we were up by 10 already and at that point, it’s a little bit more difficult to keep your focus because you’re not in the flow of the game quite yet. You got the 10-run lead so you kind of got to focus in immediately.

I think that’s probably the biggest difference in starting and relieving is when you relieve, you got to be good right away. You don’t have any time to kind of get in the flow of things.”

Vancouver Canadians Zach Logue

Zach Logue had an ERA of 0.64 when he pitched in relief for the C’s in 2017.


On starting versus relieving.

“I definitely prefer starting. I like to know when I’m going to pitch. I like to have control of the game.”

On being the winning pitcher and wearing Montreal Expos-style uniforms on Tim Raines Night at Nat Bailey Stadium August 22.

“That was really cool. I thought those uniforms looked awesome. We had Tim Raines in and out of the clubhouse a couple of times throughout the season and to just be around a player of his caliber, a Hall of Famer, was really something special. I think you could really feel that on the night we honoured him.

I was glad to be able to pitch that night and get to pitch in those cool jerseys and to be able to honour him with the win, that was a great experience.”

On pitching four shutout innings in Game 2 of the North Division final against Spokane.

“I remember when we were actually in Spokane before the first game was supposed to be played. When you went outside, you could barely see or even breathe. I’m glad we actually ended up actually playing in Vancouver for that reason as well for the home field advantage.

I remember coming in that game and it’s a night game and the playoff buzz was definitely going on. We had won Game 1 so me and Justin (Dillon) knew that we had the shot to put us in the championship so we were really just trying to win it to get to the next round of games that we could play. “

On giving up a homer to Michael Cruz, the first batter he faced against Eugene in Game 4 of the league final.

“I just tried to kind of put that behind me as quickly as possible. I think I threw a 3-1 fastball right down the middle and he definitely beat me and to hit it out at that place (over the big wall in right field), you got to really get it so it was a legit home run. I tried to hit it behind me as quick as possible.

I knew that our offence, we were clicking really well. We were getting an incredible amount of timely hits so I knew if I could limit them to just one run, then I would give our offence a chance to win the game and obviously they did.”

On Noberto Obeso throwing out the Emeralds’ Jose Gonzalez at the plate from left field in the fifth inning.

“That was incredible. Whenever you see a guy running towards the plate, it kind of disappoints you a little bit because you feel like you’re going to give up a run but when your outfielders help you with an out on the bases or at the plate or whatever, it really kind of motivates you to help them out right back. You want to retire the next guy and get those guys back in the dugout so they can carry the momentum at the plate.”

On getting to pitch with a lead in the sixth inning.

“(We) scored the two runs in the one inning to take the lead and one of our big things that we really tried to do was achieve the shutout inning, the shutdown inning so after we scored, you have to go out and put up a zero. I felt like if I was able to do that, then we would have a lot of momentum and really be able to close it out so I’m glad I was able to put up that zero.”

Vancouver Canadians Zach Logue

Zach Logue allowed just one run and struck out eight over seven playoff innings.


On being the winning pitcher in the clincher and celebrating the Northwest League title.

“It was great to get the win. A lot of that was kind of luck just because I gave up the one run and our offence kind of picked me up a little bit. I came in after Justin and I kind of felt bad. We always talked about we kind of felt bad for the person that started because they kind of traditionally get the win but the guy that comes in after him is the one that ends up with the actual stat but yeah, it was awesome to get the win.

I just remember I felt like we were going to win when Will (William Ouellette) came in that game and we just a had feeling that he was going to get that last out and when he did, it was a great feeling. We hadn’t been there since spring training but we had been together for a while and worked really hard for this. To see all that hard work come to fruition was awesome.”

On taking part in instructional league.

“Instructional league was great. There’s a lot of different guys in the organization that are there that I hadn’t met before so it was nice to meet a bunch of the different guys and also meet a bunch of the different coaches. It’s good to have them get their eyes on you and it’s also good for me to ask them questions, ask them if they see anything that can help me. Obviously a lot of the guys that are down there had some big major league careers, had some really great accomplishments in the big leagues so anytime you can ask those guys questions and get any tips is really good.”

On sharing the same hometown (Mason, Ohio) as 2016 C’s pitcher and Blue Jays first round pick T.J. Zeuch.

“We actually played against each other quite a bit when we were younger. There were a couple of teams from Mason, this was probably when we were in third or fourth grade and he’s a year above me but we played against each other a decent amount when we were little.”

On playing at historic Archbishop Moeller High School in Cincinnati.

Ken Griffey Jr. played there, Barry Larkin played there, Buddy Bell played there so there’s a really big baseball history at Moeller High School. Even in my class, we had several guys go on to college. Riley Mahan, I went to Kentucky with him and he also got drafted this past year so it was really cool to kind of see the history that goes along with Moeller High School and be a part of that a little bit.”

On his off-season activities.

“I’ve really just been working on getting stronger, working on my hip and shoulder mobility and just recently, we started throwing. My priority has been to work on my changeup because I think that’s something I could really propel me to the next level so I think that those are probably the main priorities I’ve been focusing on.”

On his expectations for 2018.

“I’m expecting to be on a full-season team but obviously, it’s not my decision to make so I’m just kind of going to take whatever comes to me and roll with it and just try to have some success and get better along the way.”

My thanks again to Zach Logue for taking the ball in this edition of C’s Chat.

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C’s Recap – C’s Extend PDC With Blue Jays Until 2022

Vancouver Canadians Nate Pearson

Vancouver Canadians fans won’t get to see Nate Pearson again but they will get five more seasons of watching Toronto Blue Jays prospects at Nat Bailey Stadium.


C's RecapCanada’s professional baseball teams will be together for four more years. C’s co-owner Jake Kerr announced at the team’s annual luncheon Friday that the Blue Jays will remain affiliated with Vancouver until the end of the 2022 season.

This marks the first four-year agreement between the two sides since the conclusion of the 2016 campaign. Under the Mark Shapiro regime, the Blue Jays and Canadians only signed a two-year deal in 2016 that was to conclude at the end of 2018. Player Development Contracts (PDC’s) are usually signed in two- or four-year increments with four years meaning that both sides are really happy with each other. Two years usually means one or both sides are biding their time for a better opportunity to arise. A prime example of this would be the Blue Jays leaving the Triple-A Las Vegas 51’s after a pair of two-year deals to join the Buffalo Bisons in 2013. That marked a return to the International League for the Jays after the Syracuse Chiefs dumped them as an affiliate after the 2008 campaign.

With only a two-year pact in place, there were some concerns that the C’s-Jays partnership would end after 2018. There was unfounded speculation that the Jays may have preferred to have all of its affiliates in the Eastern Time zone once again after having been with Vancouver since 2011. The big concern however was the deteriorating infield conditions at Nat Bailey Stadium that led to talk of possibly installing artificial turf on the diamond.

Thankfully, the field got a much-needed makeover in 2017 that earned the club’s groundskeepers a highly-coveted award. With the field issues resolved, the Canadians authored their own worst-to-first story in 2017 by winning its fourth Northwest League championship.

The PDC extension was the big news that came out of Friday’s luncheon in support of the Vancouver Canadians Baseball Foundation. The headliners at the event were Blue Jays general manager Ross Atkins, president-emeritus Paul Beeston and director of minor league operations Charlie Wilson along with Jays legend Lloyd Moseby.

Here is a recap of the day’s events courtesy of Twitter.

 

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C’s Chat – Reggie Pruitt

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Reggie Pruitt posted a .357 on-base percentage over 103 at-bats when he led off an inning for the Vancouver Canadians in 2017.


cs_chat_logoThe man who scored the winning run in the clinching game of the Northwest League final stops by in this instalment of C’s Chat. I had the chance to speak with Vancouver Canadians center fielder Reggie Pruitt before the season started at the team’s Media Day and the 20 year-old from Kennesaw, Georgia graciously donated his time to chat with me once again to look back on 2017.

We began by talking about Game 4 of the Northwest League final against the Eugene Emeralds at Nat Bailey Stadium and things were not looking good for the home side early on. Emeralds starter Jose Albertos had shut the C’s down over the first four innings with an overpowering fastball that reached 98 miles per hour. The 18 year-old righty—the Chicago Cubs’ #3 prospect according to Baseball America had issued four walks but did not give up a hit. With a 1-0 lead, the 18 year-old Albertos was trying to get through the fifth inning and retired the first hitter he faced. However, a four-pitch walk to number-nine hitter Deiferson Barreto helped open the door for a comeback.

That brought the right-handed hitting Pruitt to the plate and he talked about his game plan for that at-bat.

“I knew when (Eugene) had scored that run early and we were down, I guess it wasn’t too late in the game but I knew we had to pick something up, we had to manufacture a run. When Barreto got that walk, I was like ‘Alright! This is the time! One out, we can do this! We can do this right here!’

So I got up there and I was talking to Dave Pano, our hitting coach and (Albertos) was running it up there pretty hard. There’s not much you can do but try and get his fastball and sit on his fastball and hit his fastball because his breaking stuff, I don’t want to say it wasn’t good but it was a chase breaking ball to where like if you’re swinging at it, it was most likely a ball.

So I had to kind of sit on his fastball. I got a pitch good enough to hit and I got a hit up the middle. On deck, I was just thinking I got to find a way to get Barreto to second, I got to find a way to help the team get this run in. Fortunately enough, I got a good enough pitch to hit up the middle and we went from there.”

On why he decided to jump on Albertos’ first pitch after seeing Barreto walk on four pitches but also drawing a walk in his previous at-bat.

“We talk about being aggressive. There’s a good way to be aggressive and there’s a bad way to be aggressive. I feel like I’m an aggressive hitter. I want to put pressure on that pitcher. I was aggressive in that at-bat, got a good fastball to hit. Fortunately, it was up the middle and it got Barreto to second.

I didn’t want to go up there and put too much pressure on myself but I knew that at some point that it had to open up. When it rains, it pours. We had to open up that game somehow and fortunately, I was the guy to do it. I was the guy to help pick my team up because all those guys are great and that’s how we won a lot of games. We’d always pick each other up and we’d always find a way to get the job done.”

On scoring the go-ahead run after moving up 90 feet on a Chavez Young groundout and a single by Logan Warmoth.

“Starting with Chavez, he’s the same way, we’re all the same way. We’re all trying to figure how to help the team out and I knew he was looking for a ball to pull so that he could move everybody up 90 feet. I remember I finally had a pretty big lead because I knew like if this ball gets hit to a middle infielder or the second baseman or something, I want to try and beat it out. I want to get to second because obviously getting one run was the goal but more than one is definitely better. I remember he pulled that ball and it was a little bit to the left of the second baseman and once I saw the ball behind me, I’m in there.

On second, I was getting my lead and I knew that Rich Miller, he’s a very aggressive manager. He likes to play the game aggressively. As soon as I saw Logan hit that ball to the right side, I just took off and I knew that as soon as I put my head up that Rich would be sending me. I saw the ball through, saw it through the outfield, turned around, saw Rich waving me in so I was like, ‘Alright, here we go! It’s time to go!’ “

On crossing the plate with the eventual winning run.

“It was great. I mean, I’m a very emotional player and sometimes I let my emotions get the best of me but definitely, when I’m happy, you can definitely see it. I’m been trying to get better at that but I’m an emotional player and I love to express myself in the game.

It wasn’t so much of me being happy scoring that run, it was just being happy for the team and happy that Logan came up in that huge spot and really kind of put the team on his back right there and I was just a small, little piece of it.”

Logan’s a big-time player. That kid’s one heck of a player. I knew there wasn’t a better guy for the spot right there and he was definitely going to take advantage of the moment.”

On winning the Northwest League championship.

“That was just awesome. Just to be able to grind through everything we went through from spring training to extended (spring training) and then to cap off that season with a championship was really the icing on the cake.

I know our bullpen had been very strong all year. Those guys are really shutdown (relievers). I knew that whenever those guys were in the game. Ouellette, Bouchey, Pascual, Graham Spraker, all those guys. I knew they’re super-shutdown so I knew all we had to do was play defence behind them in order to give us a chance.

I remember when they called strike three, I threw my hands up in the air. I was running in so hard I think Logan tried to give me a high-five and I’m pretty sure I missed his whole hand but I just kept running in and threw my glove and jumped on the dogpile with the rest of the guys. That was an awesome feeling to really cap off that season with a championship and bring that city back to the winning ways.”

On why the C’s were champions.

“We were just like a big family, man. Everybody was comfortable being themselves, everybody really liked everybody. You have teams where guys are into themselves. On that team, we really didn’t have a lot of guys that were that way. Everybody was trying to figure out how to help the team win. It was a very team-oriented team. Even the draft guys that came up, they fit right in to the mindset that we had of just going out there and playing our butts off everyday to win a championship.”

Vancouver Canadians Reggie Pruitt

Reggie Pruitt finished second in the Northwest League with 28 stolen bases.


On turning his season around after a slow start.

“I really believe it was just the manager Rich Miller having faith in me. I remember in the middle of that rough spell, we had a chat one day in his office and he told me that I was going to hit ninth that day and I wasn’t really distraught about it. I was kind of just happy to still be in the lineup.

Going along with that, he told me I was going to hit ninth and he told me I wasn’t going to be there forever. But he also told me that he had faith in me and that I was going to go out there and play center field for him everyday and that he wanted me out there in center field. Just hearing him say that gave me a lot of confidence to kind of take the pressure off myself and just go out there and play and be myself and be the type of player that I know I am, to go out there and play my best and play my hardest.

I remember the day he hit me ninth, I got two hits that game and after that game, I kind of reflected and realized that I don’t have to put a bunch of pressure on myself to go out there and blow the roof off. I just got to go out there and be myself and be the player I know I am, be the player that got me to the point of my life of where I’m at today.”

Vancouver Canadians Rich Miller Reggie Pruitt

Reggie Pruitt credits manager Rich Miller for helping him develop in 2017.


On having the confidence of his manager Rich Miller.

“Even back when he was playing, I guess me and him were the same type of player a little bit. He was a true player’s coach, he really knew the struggles that us as players go through and he could really relate to that. That confidence boost that he gave me really did wonders for me.”

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Reggie Pruitt made 68 starts in center field and recorded 155 putouts for the C’s in 2017.


On his mentor Tim Raines joining the Chicago White Sox organization.

“We just clicked from the start. We’re still good friends to this day. It’s unfortunate that he left us and I’m sad to see that but I know he’s got huge things ahead of him with the White Sox. It was a great honour to meet such a great player like that and he’s a Hall of Famer. He’s where I want to be in 20-plus year or whenever my career is over, I want to end my career like he did.

He was a big help to me because he played a long time in the big leagues and he knew those little things whether it was on baserunning, on defence or hitting—little things that me as a player now I wouldn’t have even thought of. When he told me, it really did put my game to a whole other level because he knew how to get the job done. He would tell me all these little tidbits and things that I could turn into my game. It really just helped me strive in my game.”

On getting to wear Montreal Expos-style jerseys to honour Raines’ induction into the Hall of Fame.

“That was very special and I mean, those jerseys were sick. I wish we could wear more jerseys like that but that was super special and a super special moment. We ended up going out and winning that game, that definitely made him proud. That was a super special moment to honor such a great player like that, for all the accomplishments that he had in his career.”

It definitely does. Those jerseys were sick. A lot of people like to say, ‘You look good you play good.’ I believe that we definitely looked good that day. It gave us a little boost and a little swagger. We strapped them on that day and everybody looked real clean. We were going out there to get the job done.”

On his favourite moment of the regular season.

“When we on the first half of the season, that was pretty special because there was a lot of talk about how the Canadians haven’t won the first half ever. That was just special, to be able to bring that back to the city and celebrate with those guys when we clinched in Salem-Keizer. That was just real special to be able to share that a moment like that with the guys.”

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Reggie Pruitt hit his first two professional home runs with Vancouver in 2017.


On his favourite of the two home runs he hit with the C’s.

“I have to say with me just being a speed guy, definitely the inside-the-park home run (at Hillsboro August 4) because I remember in the at-bat like it was yesterday. I believe it was a 2-0 count and I just looked over the pitcher’s shoulder and their center fielder was kind of shallow and I didn’t really think anything about it. And then when I hit it and dI saw his numbers running back to the wall, I was like, ‘Alright, I got to get on my horse! That at least it was going to be three.’ I remember about five steps away from third base, I saw Rich (Miller) just waving me in. I was like, ‘Alright, this is the last leg so let’s do it! Let’s see what happens!’

On what he has been working on during the off-season.

“A lot of people read stuff about me and if you’ve read anything about me, it’s really everybody says I can be a great player. I just got to get my swing more consistent, my swing more fluid. That’s really what I’ve been doing a lot of work on. I’m not saying I’ve only done that because I know defence and baserunning is still a huge part of the game but I’ve been really putting the emphasis on being stronger. I’m in the weight room everyday and really getting my swing more consistent and more in tune with my body and what kind of the player I am and not trying to do too much but trying to get the most out of myself and my swing.”

On what he hopes to accomplish in the upcoming season.

“Going into 2018, the way I turned around my season (in 2017). Just going out there and playing every day and believing in myself and knowing that I’m supposed to be there, knowing why I’m there and knowing that I’m not always going to succeed but I’m playing against the best players in the world. I’m not always going to succeed but not put a whole bunch of pressure on myself to feel like I always got to be to be the best, or I always got to go out there and get three hits a day. I just want to go out there and be a real team player this year and really just kind of go out there and play my game and be who I know I am.”

On his favourite college football team, the Alabama Crimson Tide, winning the national championship.

“That was crazy. That was definitely awesome. That was probably top five best football games I’ve ever seen in my life. I mean, I was sitting on pins and needles for a little bit. I thought Georgia had us going for a little bit but I know, watching Alabama over the years, that they’re a real second-half team so they went into the locker room at half-time and made some adjustments. I guess Nick Saban spoke some good words to them and they came out hot in the second half and just to see them overcome that was really awesome.”

My thanks again to Reggie Pruitt for talking the time to talk to me again in this episode of C’s Chat.

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C’s Chat – Brody Rodning

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Brody Rodning won 21 games in three seasons with the Minnesota State University-Mankato Mavericks.


“The measure of a man is the way he bears up under misfortune.”
―Peter Nivio Zarlenga

cs_chat_logoBrody Rodning did more than just bear up under misfortune in 2017. The Gaylord, Minnesota native had dealt with quite a bit of adversity by the time he arrived in Vancouver last summer. Dealing with the passing of his mother Tiffany due to colon cancer the day before, the 6-foot-1 lefthander from Minnesota State University-Mankato pitched the game of his life by spinning a complete-game, two-hit shutout against rival Minnesota-Duluth at U.S. Bank Stadium on March 24.

Rodning said being on the mound was the best way to honour his mother.

“You know, it was actually just kind of knowing that it was what she wanted for me. She obviously wanted the best when she was alive and I know when she passed, she still wanted the best for me. I just know that she wanted me to go out and compete and play the game I love but I got through it.

My teammates really helped me out, I had a really great supporting family away from home with my teammates. They made me feel, you know, a lot of comfort and they were there for me.

We really meshed together as a team a lot this year because just a month before my mother passed, one of my really good friends and teammates (Adam Ellingson) passed away unexpectedly from a sickness too so you know, our team was going through a lot and we were there for each other and you know, just getting through that tough time with my family and then my family away from home, my teammates. They were just there for me and they made it a lot easier.”

 On being able to focus during the game.

“Truthfully, you know, when I was on the mound, the competitor inside me just came out. I didn’t really think about it too much believe it or not. In between innings obviously, you know, it kind of hit me, you know, I’d think about it here and there. I’d lose some focus out on the mound but I’d just step off and I’d talk to her and then I’d just get back on the mound and do my thing.

I just think that the game itself, you know, kept me focused. I knew I had to go out and do my best, give it my all and I know that it’s what she wanted and it kind of helped me stay focused. The game just kind of flew by, truthfully. It just went so fast. I got on the mound and the next thing I know, the game was over, it was great.”

On defeating Minnesota-Duluth.

“Our biggest rival is St. Cloud State. They’re probably our biggest rival but Duluth is definitely one of our other tough competitors. I think the year before that, they won the conference so they had a target on their back. They’re a good team coming back so, you know, getting that win, especially (under the circumstances), it was great.”

Rodning—who just turned 22 on January 14—also reflected on the experience of he and his family being the special guests of honour at a Minnesota Wild game last spring.

“That was awesome. That was incredible. You go to a Wild game, the Minnesota Wild. That’s really big here in Minnesota. Minnesota people, they love their hockey. Every Wild game is basically sold out and when you go, that’s like a big thing. You see all the famous people and all these big names and the important people coming up and doing, ‘Let’s play hockey!’ Being able to do that was really important and that was really special to me under the circumstances of (his mother’s passing) so that was very special to me.”

On why he wound up at Minnesota State University-Mankato.

 “I graduated high school at about 5-10, a buck-fifty (150 pounds) so I didn’t really get too many looks at any really big schools so you know coming out of high school, being really small.

The head coach at Mankato State (Matt Magers) actually was from my hometown and knew my family very well. He’s been watching me grow up and play sports so he gave me a shot to play there. I got some looks around the conference of the NFIC which is Mankata’s conference and I ended up playing there and gosh, I loved every minute of it. We were competitive all the way until the end, almost made it to the World Series every year, one game away.

I was fortunate enough to play in the Northwoods League for three years and I feel like that the competition that I played there and Mankato was just as good. I feel like we competed hard and there was some tough competition. There’s a little difference between Division I and Division II but you have that SEC and ACC and that‘s a whole different league but at Division II, I really enjoyed it and I really couldn’t tell the difference.”

Rodning and the Mavericks would go on to win the NSIC (Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference) in May and the NCAA Division II Central Regional title to advance to the Division II World Series in 2017.

He also looked back on his experience of playing summer collegiate in the Northwoods League.

“The Northwoods League was great. Honestly, the Northwoods League was kind of like playing in Vancouver. It was every day games, night games usually, and you would play the same team about two or three times in a series. You travel on a bus for a long time and you stay with a host family.

The Northwoods League kind of conditioned me and got me ready for minor league baseball. I had a lot of fun out there, I met new guys from different places, played with Division I guys, played with junior college guys, D3, NAIA and it was a great time just coming together with a bunch of guys from different places and playing.”

On meeting his former Northwoods League teammate Daulton Varsho in professional baseball.

“I played with Daulton Varsho actually all three years out in Eau Claire. He went to UW-Milwaukee, he was the catcher for me. I’m pretty sure he caught me almost every game out in Eau Claire. Between that and playing in Eau Claire, we became really good friends.

We were fortunate enough to play against each other with him playing for Hillsboro and I was playing for Vancouver so it was really nice to get to match up against him and see him again.”

Vancouver Canadians Brody Rodning

Brody Rodning was drafted in the 13th round by the Toronto Blue Jays in 2017.


On getting drafted by the Blue Jays.

“I was told by scouts to expect the unexpected. I had an idea when I was going to go but obviously, I’ve never done this before so I was kind of clueless. It came to the second day. The first day I wasn’t taken obviously, those were the first two rounds. Second day I wasn’t taken, I was like ‘Oh, whatever!’

The third day came around and I was actually doing laundry. My phone rang and it was Wes Penick, my area scout and he called and he was like, ‘Hey, we want to take you this round, what are you thinking?’ and I said, ‘Of course, I’d love to get drafted!’ Sure enough, my name came on the draft board and I was drafted. I was very, very fortunate and I was extremely appreciative of the Blue Jays for taking me.

I had family and friends come over the next day. At the moment, I think I might have went out fishing that day. Other than that, the next day I had a lot of family and some college buddies came down and celebrated and we had a good time. They were very supportive of me and I’m very thankful for that.”

On getting to pitch for a Canadian team.

“Honestly, I love Canada – being lucky to have the affiliate in Vancouver. My first year was in Canada, that was awesome! Knowing that the Blue Jays, for all of Canada, that’s the only professional baseball that they have unlike hockey, there’s (seven teams). I know that the Blue Jays have great fan support and knowing that I was getting picked by them, I knew that I would have a lot of support behind my back.

I really didn’t care who I got picked by but knowing that I got picked by the Blue Jays and they’re in the American League so whenever they come to Minnesota, that’s awesome. I was very happy to be taken by the Blue Jays.”

On his introduction to pro baseball.

“I didn’t know what to expect but on the day I got drafted, my area scout told me that there was a mini-camp or whatever. We went up to Canada fishing with my family so we did a family fishing trip, spread my Mom’s ashes there and then I went down to Florida in the Gulf Coast League.”

I didn’t know what to expect or how long I was going to be there. Luckily enough, I got called up to Vancouver after about a week in the Gulf Coast League. I got to pitch once down in Florida and I went up to Vancouver. Actually, the first day I got there was on Canada Day. It was kind of a crazy day to get there and it was really cool. The place was just packed, it was sold out. They had fireworks after so it was really cool.”

On his first professional appearance in the Gulf Coast League.

“I definitely remember being a little bit nervous even though there may have been like eight people there at the Gulf Coast game but I was definitely nervous getting on the mound for my first professional start. It was really cool getting my feet wet there. It kind of got me ready for Vancouver. I don’t think it’s any different than pitching in a regular game at Mankato but it’s just a different atmosphere and everything. I mean the pitching aspect wasn’t much different but the area and the atmosphere was just a little different.”

On the difference of pitching in Florida versus Minnesota.

“Believe it or not, the summers in Minnesota are pretty similar to the ones in Florida—very hot, very humid—but there’s nothing comparable to the Florida sun. Gosh, it was just so hot and you don’t have a problem staying loose down there, that’s for sure. I mean, you get started at 10 o’clock, 9 o’clock, whenever the games were and you’re sweating more right as soon as you step out. You got to make sure you stay hydrated. That was a little different but other than that, everything was pretty much the same.”

On pitching in front of the large crowds in Vancouver.

“That’s the first time I have ever done that and that was incredible. You dream about that when you’re a kid, pitching in front of a bunch of people with the crowds going crazy.

I think my favourite part honestly, when I got to start in Vancouver, is the national anthem. The whole crowd sings the Canadian national anthem and after they get done, the whole place just erupts and it gives you goose bumps. That part, honestly, was probably my favourite.

Every play, it could have been a deep pop fly when we’re hitting and they just go crazy. It was awesome.”

Vancouver Canadians Brody Rodning

Brody Rodning heads to the mound after getting a ride from the bullpen cart at Nat Bailey Stadium.


On adjusting from starting to being a tandem starter, sometimes with Nate Pearson.

“When you start the game out, it’s 0-0 but I guess, in a way, it was kind of similar because when Nate pitched, he never gave up any runs so I’d come in with a lead or it would still be 0-0.

Other than that aspect, it was relief. I didn’t really relieve much at Mankato so that was a little different but other than that it’s still pitching. You get out there, you throw your best stuff. I just think staying focused and staying mentally locked in, that was a little challenging but I’m trying to work on that.”

On developing a routine.

“I think one of the biggest things to a lot of people’s success and to mine is I stick to a routine that’s worked for me. Everyone is different but I like to stick to a routine. I do the same thing, I take my time warming up. I guess that aspect of it was a little tougher to get used to from coming out of the bullpen because depending on how many pitches the starter is throwing, you could come in the second inning, you could come in the third or the fourth so you got to be ready at any time. That was a little different but I like to stick to a routine, to stick to what’s been working. Sometime you got to switch and that’s just how it is.”

“I like to get out early before the game, do my stretching. I like to stretch out my legs and my whole body before I get out and do any other stuff. I do some arm care and I usually don’t throw a whole lot of long (toss). Once I get down throwing there, I get in the bullpen and I usually throw like 25 pitches. I don’t like to go too much more than that because I don’t want to waste anything but that’s just kind of how I’ve done it.”

On working with pitching coach Jim Czajkowski.

“Cy was awesome. He was very open to the way I throw. Particularly I land across my body quite a bit. He didn’t try to change me at all. He’d just throw in suggestions. He was like, ‘You got here for a reason. I’m not going to try and change you but why don’t you try this? This might help out a little bit.’

I’m very appreciative of that because I know his knowledge of the game, he’s very knowledgeable and being able to have him as a pitching coach for my first year in professional baseball, I was very lucky.”

On his pitching repertoire.

“When I throw strikes, I think my best pitches are my fastball and changeup combination. My changeup has really developed over the past couple of years, especially playing in the Northwoods League and coming to the minor leagues. Any guy can hit anything if you throw it over the plate and miss a spot. They can hit any speed so I think the biggest thing for me is working on my off-speed and changing speeds and eye levels for people.

Basically, I think my fastball-changeup combination has helped me out a lot and then mixing in a slider. My two-seam, I just started. It’s coming along. I’m having some trouble with command with that but that’ll come along. As soon as I got to the minor leagues, I started throwing it because I wanted something with a lot more movement. I just started throwing that and I’m working on it.”

On trying to regain his curveball.

“When I got recruited out of high school, that was my best pitch. I didn’t have a slider. After I started throwing my slider and my changeup, my curveball kind of got a little worse. I’m also trying to work on that and keep that consistent with my slider because I know that would give hitters a different look on breaking balls and I’m trying to get that down too.”

On recording a win in four straight appearances with the C’s.

“I guess I just got lucky being in the right position at the right time. I was very fortunate for getting those wins. Definitely the highlight was winning the championship and having that in Vancouver. That was definitely the highlight. For the guys here and the people in Vancouver, that meant a lot to them and that was awesome.”

Vancouver Canadians Brody Rodning

Brody Rodning posted a record of 4-1 with a 4.60 earned run average for the C’s in 2017.


On his regular-season finale in Tri-City September 1 in which he threw a season-high five shutout innings.

“I knew we were going into the playoffs, I think that I focused up more and I could command my fastball really well that day and when I can do that, I feel like I can pitch okay at any level. Sometimes, it’s just focus and I think I focused up. My catcher (Riley Adams) was doing a great job. The defense was killing it behind me so they made it really easy to go out and pitch and just throw strikes and know the defence has got it behind you, the hitting is going to pick it up and they’re going to get hits and they’re going to get runs for you. Knowing that, it makes it a lot easier out on the mound.”

On the North Divison final series against Spokane that saw all the games played in Vancouver due to a forest fire.

“We got down to Spokane and it was so darn smoky that you could barely see in front of you. Luckily enough, we got to play them all in Vancouver and I guess there’s nothing you can really do about the weather. That was kind of a quick series too. They were close games, just coming out on top and having them at home, that was really special for us.”

On getting to pitch in Game 1 of the Northwest League final in Eugene.

“It was cool getting to get in to the playoffs. Having (manager) Rich (Miller) callng me out and having confidence in me to go out there…I let him down so that kind of hurt but getting out there was really cool. Eugene was a cool place to play.”

On when he felt the C’s had the series in hand.

“I kind of had that feeling the whole series. We played really well our first playoff game, our first series. The whole team, we did well, we pitched well, we hit well and just after those two games, I had a really good feeling. We were playing good ball, we’re meshing together and everyone wants this so when we got into the last series against Eugene, I had a really good feeling about our team.”

On getting to celebrate a championship.

“It’s always a goal to get to the dogpile. When Will was out there throwing, I was waiting. A couple of the other guys were waiting on the edge of the dugout because we knew we were close. After he struck that guy out, it was just awesome. There’s no feeling like it. I mean, you get goose bumps.

It’s almost like you black out for a moment because it’s so exciting and being able to be in the dogpile with your buddies. It’s what you worked for. You work in the off-season, you work your butt off during the season and that’s what it’s for so it was great.”

On why the C’s were so successful.

“I think (it was) our depth and we really worked well together. This was the first time playing with each other and I feel like we all got along very well. I think that honestly helped us during a long stretch. We wanted to win and we all got along so well and we became good friends and I feel like that helped us on the field.”

Vancouver Canadians Brody RodningBrody Rodning earned his first professional win in Salem-Keizer July 23.


On being teammates with high-profile players such as Nate Pearson and Logan Warmoth.

“Being able to play with those guys, it was really awesome. Watching their skills and everything, you can learn from those guys and it was awesome playing with them. You hear a lot of big names. It was really cool. I was fortunate enough to play with them. It was an awesome experience and a lot of learning.”

On taking part in instructional league.

“Instructional league was really great because you had a lot of the big coaches. They were there for you. We were in instructional league and we were the only guys there. I feel like I got to work on a lot of things that maybe I didn’t get to work at particularly hard enough in Vancouver. I feel like it was a more of a focused practice in everything down there. We got a lot of work done for the month we were down there. We did a lot of stuff during the whole time. I feel like we also bonded as a group too so that was really important.”

On getting ready for 2018.

“It was certainly nice to get back and see the family and be with friends and stuff but I’m also excited to get back to work. I’ve been working out here conditioning. I got some buddies who also were drafted so that’s also really nice to work out with other people who are trying to accomplish the same goal.

I’ve also been an assistant basketball coach for my high school so I’ve been keeping busy with that and the kids love it and I love it and I’m just having a good time.”

On trying to make the jump to full-season ball with the Lansing Lugnuts.

“That’s the goal but whatever gets thrown my way, I’m going to just take it and whatever they tell me, I’ll do. I’m just working at it and wherever I end up, I’ll just do my best.”

My thanks again to Brody Rodning for being my first guest on C’s Chat in 2018.

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C’s Recap – McPherson To Manage C’s In 2018, Czajkowski Returns As Pitching Coach

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The lone returnee to the Vancouver Canadians coaching staff in 2018 is pitching coach Jim Czajkowski.


C's RecapThere will be a new man of the helm of the Vancouver Canadians in 2018. Former Anaheim Angels, Florida Marlins and Chicago White Sox corner infielder Dallas McPherson was named the C’s new manager Wednesday. The 37 year-old McPherson takes over for Rich Miller, who was relieved of his duties by the Toronto Blue Jays despite being named Northwest League manager of the year for leading the Canadians to its fourth Northwest League championship in 2017.

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Dave Pano is moving on to Lansing after seven years as the C’s hitting coach.


One other new face joins the C’s coaching staff as former Jays minor league outfielder Aaron Matthews takes over for Dave Pano as hitting coach. Pano is heading up the minor league ladder to Lansing where he will be the Lugnuts position player coach. Pano has served as the C’s hitting coach since Vancouver began its Blue Jays affiliation in 2011.

The C’s pitching staff will remain the domain of Jim Czajkowski as he continues his third tour of duty in Vancouver. His first stint covered the C’s championship seasons from 2011-2013 before returning again for a one-year stint in 2015.

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John Schneider gets a promotion to New Hampshire after leading Dunedin to a Florida State League co-championship in 2017.


John Schneider—who managed in YVR for the 2011, 2014 and 2015 seasons—makes the jump from Dunedin to New Hampshire after leading the D-Jays to a share of the Florida State League championship.

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Andy Fermin posted a .350 on-base percentage with Vancouver in 2013.


Andy Fermin—an infielder with the C’s in 2013—will be a position player coach with the Fisher Cats. 2011 catcher Chris Schaeffer will handle position player responsibilities for Bluefield.

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John Tamargo Jr. will manage in the Dominican again in 2018.


2016 manager John Tamargo Jr. will be in charge of the Dominican Summer League Blue Jays for a second straight year. 2014 pitching coach Jeff Ware returns for a second season as the minor league pitching coordinator.

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Jeff Ware will oversee all the pitchers in the Blue Jays minor league system for a second straight year.


You can find a summary of all the Blue Jays coaching hires right here.

C’s Notes

C's Notes2017 C’s pitcher Jared Carkuff was dealt to the San Diego Padres recently to help the Toronto Blue Jays land utilityman Yangervis Solarte. Carkuff pitched three scoreless innings for the C’s last year. His only appearance at Nat Bailey Stadium came June 21 when he threw a scoreless frame against the Everett AquaSox.

In this latest episode of C’s On The Twitter-verse, you’ll get reaction about the aforementioned trade, some wedding news, football opinions, bobbleheads and TV shows among other things.

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