Ottawa Champions Courier: May Update
The Ottawa Champions are one of two new teams in the Can-Am League this season. Manager Hal Lanier has been busy working to piece this team together, and in April he made several moves that should make this club a real competitor in the league this season. This is going to be a tough pitching staff to face, and there is plenty of talent in their lineup as well. With Lanier at the helm, fans can be sure that the Champions will play great fundamental baseball.
On April Fool’s Day, LHP Andrew Werner and RHP Drew Granier were signed by Ottawa. Werner pitched for the San Diego Padres in 2012, and will be entering his seventh season of professional baseball in 2015. Last season he pitched at AA-Midland, an affiliate of the Oakland Athletics. He appeared in 14 games, eight of them starts, going 2-4 with a 6.32 ERA.
Granier was also with the Oakland Athletics organization last season. He was at AA-Midland as well as appearing briefly with AAA-Sacramento. At Midland he made 24 starts, posting a 7-7 record with a 4.56 ERA. The right-hander has been wild at times, but he has good stuff, and should be a good addition to the club’s rotation.
April 7 began a stretch of four busy days for Ottawa. The Champions began by acquiring 1B Jon Talley from New Jersey. Talley had a fine year for the Jackals last season, hitting .245 with 13 home runs and 50 RBI in 91 games. He should be a quality power bat in the middle of the Ottawa batting order.
On April 8, RHP Joe Riley was signed. The right-hander pitched for Quebec last season, appearing in three games. He was 1-0 in a start and two relief appearances, allowing five hits and two walks in six innings pitched.
One day later RHP Wilmer Font inked a deal with Ottawa. Font appeared with the Texas Rangers in both 2012 and 2013, making five total appearances. Last season he was with the Rangers AA-Frisco affiliate, where he was 2-1 in 29 appearances with a 3.48 ERA and three saves. His 31 strikeouts in 31 appearances prove that he has electric stuff, and the righty will likely get a shot at the club’s closer’s role.
On April 10, infielder Ryan Lashley was traded to Lincoln. Lashley was one of the first players Ottawa signed as an organization. He appeared in 53 games last season for Fort Worth of the United League, hitting .369 with 6 homers and 45 RBI.
Four days later 1B John Duffy was dealt to Fargo-Moorhead of the American Association. Duffy was returned to the club he played for last season. He hit .242 with 15 homers in 99 games for the RedHawks last year.
Tax Day saw the Champions add RHP Drew Cisco as a new asset. The righty has three professional seasons under his belt, all with the Cincinnati Reds organization. Last season he pitched for High-A Bakersfield, where he was 5-6 with a 6.78 ERA in 27 starts. He has great command of his pitches, walking just 24 in 143.1 innings pitched, but he gives up far too many hits, and is going to have to work on location to become a big-time starter for the club. Fortunately, the right-hander is very coachable, and has the kind of stuff that can make him an effective starter.
Five days later the club signed another right-hander, this time it was Dan Tobik. Tobik was drafted by the Los Angeles Angels organization in 2013, and has pitched for their Inland Empire club the last two seasons. Last year he was 4-8 in 18 starts and three relief appearances. He could pitch out of the club’s bullpen, but it would not be a surprise to see the right-hander in the Champions’ rotation this season.
On April 29, LHP Josh Blanco was signed to a contract by the Ottawa Champions. He has been out of baseball the last three years, recovering from injury. His last appearance was with El Paso in 2011, when they had an American Association club there. In his four minor league seasons he has an 8-9 record, and a 4.07 ERA in 42 appearances.
By Robert Pannier