Time to look at a few of the new righties the Vipers have added in the off season.
Zachery “Zak” Blakney has pitched at the college level for the past few years, but it sounds like he has the right stuff for pro ball. In the past he’s pitched for a Fauquier Gators team that was so poor that his 5-1 record in 2007 accounted for 36% of his teams wins (in his only loss, his team was shut out). Pitchers that can win no matter what kind of team is backing them up have always impressed me. The Vipers have announced he has starting potential in the GBL.
Sidewinder Cody Cillo is back, baby! Cillo pitched for the Vipers in the Northern League in 2005, and obviously he missed the banana-chocolate milkshakes at Peter’s. With Calgary in 2005, Cillo pitched 62.1 innings over 42 games, going 4-2 with a 4.04 ERA, 1.28 WHIP, and struck out 64 batters while issuing only 28 walks. Cillo has pitched in Italy lately, and even applied his famous palmball during the 2009 World Baseball Classic for Italy (yes, the same Italian team that eliminated Team Canada). While warming up for the WBC, Cillo even got to test himself against major league hitters. That palmball sounds like a beauty pitch, and is one I’m particularly looking forward to seeing live.
Erik Dessau had a solid career in the Frontier League from 2005 to 2008, going 14-2 with a 3.13 ERA in 20 starts in 2007. Over his Frontier League career, Dessau averaged going 9-6 every 20 starts, his WHIP was always in the 1.3 range, and he struck out 2 to 3 batters for every one he walked. It looks like he had a bit of a rough time adjusting to the Atlantic League in 2008 (0-3, 7.03 ERA), but even when he struggled he struck out more than twice as many as he walked. Here’s hoping Calgary is more welcoming to him than Lancaster appeared to be. I guess one thing to be nervous about would be that Dessau is second all-time in homeruns allowed in Frontier League history, and the thinish mountainish air of Foothills Stadium can carry a ball or two if it’s hit high enough. I don’t think that’ll be an issue, though, if he keeps striking batters out.
DIRECTOR’S CUT: Pitchers, in general, tend to be my favourite players – and yet I find it a lot harder to write about them. I have no idea why this is (aside from the obvious that I know nothing about what it takes to be a professional ballplayer – but let’s ignore that, okay?).