Tag: offseason

Ontario Nationals ready for fourth CPBL season

Ahead of the fourth season of the Canadian Premier Baseball League, the Ontario Nationals are excited about what they have been able to accomplish in the circuit so far and are looking forward to striving for more.

After coming close to bringing home a trophy last year, the organization is hoping to build off of its successes and rack up the accolades over the course of this season.

“Last season was a step in the right direction,” Nationals director of baseball operations Jeremy Jayaweera said. “We had two teams play into the last day of the CPBL championships, with one of those teams being just one pitch away from clinching a championship. Our 18U team has a lot of returning players in their last year before heading to school, so being in their second year and knowing what to expect, I know this team will turn some heads.

“For our 15U and 16U squads, they are coming off strong seasons and are looking to take the next step. At our youngest level, 14U, we basically brought in a new crop of players – total athletes we know will be ready to compete day in and day out. The competition in this league is second to none and we will be ready come May.”

For the Nats, last year was highlighted by the improvements experienced at multiple levels, and the organization hopes that is a trend that will continue.

“Some notable moments from last year include out 15U and 16U teams playing on Sundays at huge events in the USA,” Jayaweera said. “Our 16U team fell short in two championship games against top teams in extras. Our 15U team really showed pride, and the development from year to year was amazing.

“When our 15U group was at the 14U level, they won three games; last year, they won over 20. They have something to prove this year and you can already see it in their off-season mentality. Watching our players grow from year to year is a feeling you cannot describe. The most impressive part is that from 14U to 18U, none of our players are satisfied – there is always more to give.”

With the winter well underway, the Nationals have made some off-season additions and changes to their regular programming and are looking forward to seeing the results when they are able to get out on the field.

“Our off-season started with weight training in October,” Jayaweera said. “We put them through vigorous training, which still continues. We have always been a great hitting organization from top to bottom – nothing changes there.

“The fielding and throwing programs are our main two focuses this off-season. With that, we have incorporated a Driveline program for our players to follow. It is still early but with consistent effort and training we believe we will take the next step this spring. We have also brought in a strength and pitching instructor Kurtis Robinson to help with our teams.”

Heading into the season and gearing up for CPBL play, the Nationals are excited to look forward to a new pre-season event and mix up their typical spring training routine for the year.

“We have also entered our 15U to 18U teams in the [Prep Baseball Report] Canada spring training showcase in Florida,” the program’s director of baseball operations said. “Having gone to play at Dodgertown for the previous three years, when we were invited to this event, we could not say no. With the exposure, practices, games, and a scout day, these players will have every opportunity to better themselves.

“After Florida, we will come back for a few weeks and gear up for the season. With some of the athletes we recruited and different programs we put in place this off-season, we can feel a different spark within the organization, which we hope continues into CPBL play.”

Beyond the season and with an eye on the future, the Nationals have right-hander Andrew Hazell heading to Mars Hill University, along with several alumni members of the organization making moves and changes for the fall.

Tri-City Giants looking to compete among the CPBL’s best at 15U and 16U levels

As the Tri-City Giants head into the fourth Canadian Premier Baseball League season, they are looking to build on a strong off-season and add some accolades to their resume throughout the upcoming year.

Competing at the 15U and 16U levels of the circuit this season, after matching up against the competition in the younger age groups in the past, the Giants are hoping to focus their efforts in the CPBL and make an impression in their divisions.

“Unless you walk away with that trophy at the end of the year, there is always a sense of disappointment,” Tri-City pitching coordinator and 15U manager Travis Kayler said. “But taking away the positives, we improved as the summer went on, stayed healthy, and we were able to set a benchmark for where we need to be heading into 2019.

“The entire CPBL is such a close group. Each year we see more and more parity, which continues to drive the competitive engine of our players. It’s a special experience for the guys in each division to share the field with so many passionate baseball people. There’s a real sense of growth for the game and commitment to the players in CPBL action that you just can’t find anywhere else.”

Even though last year’s experience in the league didn’t end with a championship trophy for the Giants, the organization racked up plenty of other accolades and was helped by the circuit to some of those accomplishments.

“CPBL play was able to prepare us to play in tournaments south of the border, where we saw great success,” Kayler said. “Each Giants team represented the organization extremely well in these tournaments, with our 14U team bringing back two gold medals. Despite a mid-season CPBL slump, we were able to dig ourselves out and rally to play some of our best baseball by the end of the summer, and it left our players hungrier for even more heading into the winter and 2019 season.

“The Giants were represented extremely well by Calvin Ziegler, who made the first Giants appearance at Tournament 12 and on the Canadian Junior National Team circuit, and that is just the beginning, as we continue to see true growth in the program.”

Throughout the off-season this year, the Giants have made some significant additions to their staff and changes to their program in the hopes of seeing improvements on the field during the upcoming year.

“This winter we have made huge changes to our off-season development program,” Kayler said. “We have worked for months with our staff to build out plans not only to prepare us for 2019 but for well beyond that as well. Our coaching staff has expanded this off-season to help build our knowledge and resource base for effective development.

“Our new strength coach Scott Bisonette has been working tirelessly with all Giants to improve mobility, strength and awareness of the body as they continue to add size and ability to their growing frames. Players do sessions with him three times a week in addition to his player-specific programming for those taking it beyond the facility to school, home, or their local gyms.

“Zach Kaal and I have launched a new throwing program using Driveline Baseball resources with athletes to improve arm health and strength as we focus on the pitchers. Zach’s experience in the game and willingness to train alongside the players has been a huge motivator for players who are really pushing themselves to take the next step. We have a completely revamped hitting program as well. Mike Battochio has combined his years of experience playing for high-level coaches and programs with his months of endless training and research to be able to adapt to the ever-improving landscape of player development.”

With the additions and upgrades, Kayler and Tri-City are looking forward to seeing what their teams and players can do when they are finally able to get outside and put their hard work to the test.

“We have so many great players and coaches in the CPBL, I cannot wait to see the on-field product,” he said. “We all hide indoors at ball facilities throughout the winter so it’s always great seeing the results of all that training. Knowing in a few months we’ll be smelling freshly-cut grass, feeling the clay under our spikes and being able to compete is something we are all excited about.”