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A 12 months in the past at the moment, Jackie Urbaez arrived in Ottawa hoping for the perfect from his first-ever go to to Canada as a participant with the freshly minted Frontier League Titans.
In the end, the expertise turned out to be the whole lot. And extra.
“The primary month and I half, I used to be clueless about the place something was,” says Urbaez, a 25-year-old infielder from Miami who’s again for a second season with the Titans, starting with Friday’s season opener in opposition to the Empire State Greys at Ottawa Stadium.
“I had no thought what I used to be anticipating, but it surely turned out higher than something I may have anticipated. The primary 12 months was good. I met a whole lot of guys, we actually performed properly on the sector. I made a whole lot of connections. We had nice chemistry and it translated properly on the sector and we had a profitable season.”
Personally, Urbaez had a formidable marketing campaign, hitting .287 with 10 house runs and 48 RBI, numbers that left him simply shy of constructing an all-star look.
As a group, the Titans exceeded expectations as a first-year franchise, giving their followers a style of tight late regular-season drama earlier than qualifying for the playoffs with a 56-39 report.
After knocking off the New York Boulders within the first spherical of the post-season, they got here inside one recreation of knocking off the Quebec Capitales within the East last. The Capitales then went on to win the league title.
Naturally, Urbaez would like to take it one step additional in 2023.
“Yearly you are available with a successful mentality,” he mentioned. “The top objective is to win the championship. It doesn’t matter if it’s the very same guys or new guys. It’s all the time the frequent objective.”
The Titans will start the 12 months with a dozen returning gamers from 2022, half the roster. The bonus is that supervisor Bobby Brown is again. As is the case with Urbaez, he’s now acquainted with the environment, whereas aiming to construct one other contending group.
“We’ve acquired some gamers coming again and also you construct with that,” mentioned Brown, the San Louis Obispo, Ca., native, with an extended observe report in unbiased baseball. “From my perspective, you construct from having a fantastic relationship with the overall supervisor (Martin Boyce), figuring out the radio man and the individuals across the stadium. You’re not wanting round and making an attempt to watch a lot. You form of already know what you’re doing, which is fantastic.”
Change is fixed within the Frontier League, stuffed with gamers not affiliated with major-league baseball associations.
Probably the most notable offensive absence for the Titans is outfielder Jake Sanford, a former New York Yankees prospect who hit .311 with 22 house runs and 73 RBI and had a shot at league most-valuable-player honours. Sanford was traded to the Sioux Metropolis Explorers of the American Affiliation, a transfer that would permit him to get one other shot in direction of the massive leagues. Workhorse beginning pitchers Evan Grills and Tyler Jandron have additionally moved on.
Brown is banking on returning third baseman A.J. Wright (.277, with 12 house runs and 54 RBI in 2022), catcher Tyrus Greene (.305) and outfielder Jason Dichochea (.308) to as soon as once more ship. Gabe Snyder, a 2018 Minnesota Twins draft choose, is an enormous bat who may assist substitute Sanford. A primary baseman/outfielder, he hit .259 with 18 house runs and 54 RBI with Sioux Metropolis final season.
Trevor Clifton and Damon Casetta-Stubbs be a part of the rotation. Clifton was the Chicago Cubs minor league pitcher of the 12 months in 2016 and superior as excessive as Triple-A. Casetta-Stubbs is a former Seattle Mariners draft choose. They’ll be a part of a gaggle that features Zac Westcott and Chris Burica. Westcott had an 11-3 report and Burica went 9-6 with the Titans in 2022.
“I believe we’ve acquired some good beginning pitching, some actual thrilling arms out of the main league (organizations),” Brown mentioned.
Brown can be pumped concerning the prospect of transformed shortstop Gleyvin Pineda, who’s now making an attempt his hand at pitching full time.
“He throws about 100 miles per hour and he’s in his second or third 12 months pitching,” mentioned Brown. “He’s nonetheless changing to it, however wow, what an electrical arm he has.”
After managing and training greater than 20 years in minor professional baseball, together with stints with the Las Cruces Vaqueros, Abilene Prairie Canines, Lincoln Saltdogs, Gateway Grizzlies and Missoula PaddleHeads — who doesn’t like baseball group nicknames? — Brown is aware of higher than to get forward of himself in making early predictions.
“I want to win all of it, however I don’t actually take a look at in these phrases,” he mentioned. “The extra I handle, the extra I notice that regardless that you’re bringing again 12 guys from final 12 months, you’re not going to have the identical chemistry. The opposite 12 guys are completely different. So that you’ve set to work actually exhausting to construct that group and respect that course of and don’t suppose that it’s robotically going to occur.
“We’ve acquired 12 guys again and that’s a very good basis, however the interactions are going to be completely different.”
First pitch Friday is at 6:30. The Titans and Greys will play once more on Saturday evening and Sunday afternoon.
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