Trois-Rivieres Aigles Address: May Update
In just their third season in the Can-Am League, the Trois-Rivieres Aigles have been hard at work putting together a roster that will make the team a threat to go all the way this season. The Aigles have added some outstanding talent to their roster, and improved the core of their team so that they have a solid rotation and a lineup that can compete with any in the league. With just 80 wins in their first two seasons, some may not take the club seriously, but failure to do so this year will be done at an opponent’s own peril.
From March 17-19 the Trois-Rivieres Aigles signed four players to deals. The first of these was to re-sign 11-year professional baseball veteran Steve Brown. The outfielder has played the last two seasons in Trois-Rivieres after being a long-time Houston Astros prospect. Last season he played in 86 games for the Aigles, batting .252 with 11 home runs and 44 RBI. He also stole 15 bases and scored 54 runs.
Joining Brown is outfielder Craig Hertler. Hertler can play the outfield and second base. He has spent all three of his professional seasons in independent ball, most recently with Lake Erie of the Frontier League. Hertler has a solid bat, which should fit in perfectly in the club’s lineup. Last season he hit .302 in 84 games, with 2 home runs and 40 RBI. He is also an outstanding base runner, scoring 59 runs last season, while stealing 15 bases.
On the same day that Hertler was signed, Mike Bradstreet was also inked to a deal. This will be his second season in professional baseball, after splitting time last year between Douglas of the Pecos League and Trois-Rivieres. Combined he went 8-6 with a 4.22 ERA, but he was especially effective for the Aigles, posting a 4-1 record in eight starts with a 3.42 ERA. Command of his pitches is what makes the righty so good. He walked just 24 batters in 132.1 innings pitched.
Catcher Kyle Lafrenz was also re-signed by the team. He was a Philadelphia Phillies prospect for four seasons, before moving to independent ball two years ago. In 88 games last season for the Aigles, he hit a solid .267 with 5 home runs and 29 RBI.
On March 26, the club signed four players to new deals. Infielder Jose Cuevas had been acquired from New Jersey on September 18. He batted .265 in 88 games last season, with 13 home runs and 48 RBI. He had started last season with Trois-Rivieres before being acquired by the Jackals. With the Aigles he hit .295 with 10 homers in 57 games.
RHP Matt Rusch was given a new contract after making 20 starts for the club in 2014. He was 9-7 with an impressive 2.72 ERA. In 125.2 innings pitched he struck out 110.
Infielder Eric Grabe played in 92 games last year for the Aigles. He hit .264 with 5 home runs and 33 RBI. He also posted a very impressive .373 on-base percentage. Grabe’s first two seasons in professional baseball were with the Chicago White Sox organization.
LHP Philippe Valiquette was signed to a contract along with the other three. He will be entering his eighth season of professional baseball, with the first seven being with the Cincinnati Reds organization. Last season the lefty played for the Milwaukee Brewers organization, making stops in High-A Brevard County and AA-Huntsville. He combined to make 16 appearances, and posted a 6.53 ERA.
On April 13, 1B Jonathan Jones and C Simon Gravel were signed by Trois-Revieres. Jones is entering his fifth season of professional baseball. Last year he was with Salem-Keizer, the San Francisco Giants High-A club. He appeared in 32 games there, hitting .196 with a homer and 12 RBI. Jones is an outstanding defensive first baseman, who has made just five errors of his last 71 appearances.
Gravel was drafted by the Boston Red Sox last season, and played for their rookie league team. He showed he has a quality bat in the limited action he saw, hitting .267 in six games with three RBI.
Tax day saw the signing of LHP Jeff Lorick. The lefty was an Atlanta Braves draft pick in 2009, who was traded to the Cubs organization a year later. He has six years of professional baseball under his belt, most recently with AA-Tennessee. Last season he made 46 relief appearances there, going 2-3 with a save and 4.52 ERA. The lefty has an outstanding fastball, striking out 58 batters in 63.1 innings pitched.
Five days later came the signing of another left-hander, this time it was Ryan Bollinger. Bollinger had been acquired from Winnipeg of the American Association in October. He had split time between the Goldeyes and the St. Paul Saints, appearing in 11 games, four of which were starts. He was 4-0 combined.
On April 29, OF Jon Smith was re-signed by Trois-Revieres. This will be his third year with the club. Last season he saw limited action due to an injury, appearing in just three games. In 2013 he appeared in 96 games, hitting .249 while clubbing 16 homers. If he can regain his swing he will be a big key to the club’s resurgence.
OF Sasha LaGarde was also re-signed on April 29. He hit .230 with 13 runs scored and seven RBI last season with the club. This will be his second professional season.
By Robert Pannier