Borealis Look to 2025 Draft to Address Power Shortage

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Updated: May 8, 2017

All The News Fit For The Front Range

Borealis Look to 2025 Draft to Address Power Shortage
by Francis Ferry, NLN baseball beat writer

June 5, 2024: Asheville, North Carolina – The power brokers of professional baseball convened once again in Asheville, at the PEBA HQ to sift through the young faces that are vying for the title of ‘Future Face of the PEBA”. For the Borealis, GM Will Topham said he had one key thought in mind – if at all possible, draft for power.

‘Fudd’ has been on fire and looks on the cusp of his ML Debut

For a team that is 9th thus far in the SL in HRs, the pattern over the past three drafts has brought power bats into the organization at the top of the draft – C Manny Castro in 2022, the 10th overall, has power potential; LF ‘Fudd’ Martinez, 2023 16th overall, has 14 already this year at Gatineau – with a possible AAA promotion in his future (at press time, this action has indeed happened); and 1B José Torres, 27th overall last year, has been graded out to have tremendous power, but has yet to get it to click yet at the plate.

This year, Aurora had the 28th and 29th selections in the first round – the extra pick coming by way of West Virginia in the Gunner MacGruder trade, and with those picks Aurora selected left-handed SP Brandon Waters and LF Ricardo Zamora.

Waters looks towards matching ‘Massacre’s record, not those of other Aurora pitching top picks

For Waters, out of Northwestern, he becomes the first pitcher drafted with their first pick in the opening round since ‘Massacre’ in 2015. He is the first pitcher taken in a draft since Billy Taylor, a second-round selection in 2021. Lando Lagerveld was a Supplemental pick in 2022 and Carlos Pérez (now of Canton) was a late first-round selection in 2017.

Waters is a stocky guy, who exhibits great strength on the mound – if not an over-powering fastball. He features a fastball, curve and slider – all of which are considered of equal quality. Pitching as the Purple Haze’s #1 starter, Brandon posted a deceptive 2-4 record, posting a 2.63 ERA for the top Wild Card in the Perfect 10. The Haze swept USC in their first series before losing in the College semi-finals to eventual champs Tulane, 4-3. During the post-season Waters was 3-0, with a 2.48 ERA over 5 GS.

The scouts love Waters dedication to the game as the 3.0 student at Northwestern has been called ‘the hardest worker on the team’ and his teammates have been apt to follow his cue. “Brandon has room to grow,” said Head Scout Joe Horn, and we are eager to see him step up to the next level.”

Ricardo Zamora may be the heir to River Pope’s spot in left

Perhaps already set to ‘step-up’ is Ricardo Zamora, the son of Cuban refugees who settled in, of all places, Tokyo and attended Aoyama Gakuin where he hit .348 his senior season with 17 HR and 46 RBI – numbers that were #2 and #4 in International Colligiate play. He was tops in OBP, second in SLG, 4th in AVE and he had the best WAR (3.6). As a result of his fine play, Zamora was awarded the Outstanding Colligiate hitter in Conference 2. The tall, lanky – yet powerful, switch hitter averaged .304 over his four years with a .618 SLG that has Aurora coaches excited.

Aside from power, Zamora also shows great speed. He’s not considered the best defensive player in the world, but his skills are ‘sufficient’. Ricardo is a LF, primarily, with little experience in the other fields – “That’s about to change,” said Will Topham when it was suggested he’d be positionally blocked by the also-primarily-LF ‘Fudd’, “He’ll head to Hawaii – or maybe SLRC, and plug right into RF with the hope that his knack for working hard will make a difference.”

Scouts feel he could be on the ‘Pedro Ferringo’ fast-train, bringing up the Aurora DH and referencing his extremely rapid ascent through the minors – going from Oregon State to Aurora within a year. We could see him and ‘Fudd’ in the outfield really soon.

If Bonsall gets more selective with his approach at the plate, he might just be a sleeper of the draft

Aurora wasn’t done drafting powerful hitters. With their selection in the second round, 61st overall, Aurora selected 2B Arthur Bonsall who looks to be a near mirror-image of Zamora – tall, whip-like, with thunder in the bat and speed to burn.

A 4-year starter at Southern Miss, Bonsall hit .307 with 51 HR and 132 RBI during his career, complemented by 31 SB in 39 attempts. There are some in the organization that compare Arthur to a second baseman drafted many moons ago by the Borealis – one ‘Gypsy’ John Foster.

Bonsall isn’t known for being the hardest worker, “He’s more likely to be shooting the breeze with his teammates, but his intelligence and deep competitiveness on the field draws the team closer” said his college coach Takanobu Rin. Primarily a 2B, Topham has already intimated that, like Zamora, he will see plenty of time at another position – 3B in this instance, with the hope to make him a more versatile piece – something the Borealis have long cherished and felt was deeply lacking in this years draft.

Walker grew up a Borealis fan and is excited to find himself in Aurora’s system.

Aurora stayed in the college ranks in the third round – as well as continuing to focus on guys with more power, by drafting CF Joey Walker out of USC. A slender speed burner who, if you ignore his average arm, is an excellent CF, does project to be somewhat of a project. “We like his skill set very much,” began Topham as he discussed Walker, “and we think he’ll progress well, but we do have a few questions about the decline in his average over his four seasons in SoCal.”

Walker, a four-year starter saw his freshmen average of .328, slightly tumble his sophomore year, ending up at .263 upon graduation. “He’s a bright guy,” Joe Horn said “and we hope that his habit of ‘not putting his best effort forward’, as his coach at ‘SC said, will change in Mokule’ia.”

Walker is from Woodmoor, a small town situated south of Aurora, mid-way to Colorado Springs, and he’s known for having a good eye at the plate – walking far more than striking out, and with decent gap power and speed, he should fit in with Aurora’s ‘hit for doubles and average’ method of high OPS.

Aurora’s next pick was in the 5th, where they drafted a second starting pitcher, left-handed Craig White – an English-born Aussie from the International College champion Outback State Crocs. During the Crocs championship run Craig was 1-2, with a 2.28 ERA in 5 starts.

For his career, the lanky White was 13-11, 3.60, striking out 174, walking 52 in 205 IP. He features a 6-pitch repertoire, the best of which is his 96-MPH fastball, which he mixes with a curve, slider, change, splitter and forkball.

Academically, Craig seemed more in school for the baseball than the education, majoring in poetry – and rapping on the side. His teammates love the guy and claim his mixture of word play and ‘baseball antics’ has kept the team loose even in the toughest of times.

White will begin the year at Mokule’ia – if he signs, as he hooked on with an agent pretty much after the last out of the IC Series, and seems like he’s not that into coming to the Front Range. Perhaps the all-expense paid trip to Hawaii will change his mind.

In the 6th round Aurora went starting pitcher yet again, drafting University of Arizona pitcher Rocky Martin. Physically, Martin is similar to White – save he is right-handed and doesn’t have the extensive collection of pitches available to him.

Rocky comes out after his junior year in which he was 4-4 with a 2.70 ERA – along with a WHIP of 0.99 and only 3 HR allowed – a biggie considering how the Big League staff is fairing these days. Featuring a fastball at 94-MPH, a curve and change, he held hitters to a .193 average.

Coaches at UofA loved working with Rocky – a bright student, majoring in Global Economics, they tell he listens intently to their instruction and immediately applies it to his workouts. Some have expressed concern over his laissez-faire attitude after a loss, questioning his drive to win. Some would call that even-keeled.

Rocky will begin the Hawaii League season on the DL as he recovers from a hamstring strain suffered April 17 against UCLA – a game in which he had a 2-hitter going in the 7th, earning him Player of the Game honors. He’s expected to return mid-to-late July.

The bullpen became the next concern in the draft as with the 7th and 8th picks the Borealis took MR R.J. Jefferson, out of Marshall, then another SP in Alan Nelson, a high schooler with just one year of varsity ball under his belt at Horizon HS.

With Jefferson, Aurora has another athletic looking right-hander who won’t be mistaken for a power pitcher, but who’s 91-MPH fastball is complemented by a curve, slider and change. If you dismiss his freshmen year, his career numbers are solid – 2.78, 83 K, 4 HRA in 71.2 IP. His 32 BB hides from no one – including RJ himself, that his control still needs corralling. Jefferson has shown to be a tireless arm on the mound and could be reconsidered as a starter should there be a need. Coaches say he’s also a tireless worker, so they’re holding out hope for his progress.

Nelson projects to be more of a project-type, with the one year of ball under his belt, but that one year shows tremendous promise – 2.34 ERA, 70 K, 21 BB, only a single HRA in 57.2 IP. He’ll begin the season in the rotation as the Oceanic await White and Martin, but Aurora scouts expect Nelson’s future potentially being in the ‘pen.

The remainder of the draft class included three more arms – MR Frank Miller (#11), SP Enrique López (#12) and SP Volmer van de Loo (#13); an outfielder – LF Michizane Shini (#14), who reminds coaches of Pedro Ferringo; a pair of infielders – SS William ‘Machine’ Quinn (#9) and 1B Jimmy ‘Dr. Evil’ Peterson (#15); and a catcher, Alberto Gutiérrez (#10). All will be assigned to Mokule’ia to begin their professional careers.