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PostPosted: Sat Aug 26, 2017 10:10 pm 
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Aurora Tabs Kata to Lead Borealis
Ray D. Enzé, NLN baseball blogger

December 7, 2025: Aurora, Colorado - It was assumed that the Borealis were going to hire from within when Octavio Rios chimed 'Adios' to the club, displeased with the club's contract offer, and GM Will Topham announced today that that was, indeed, the case, as Kata Hayagawa was named the 8th manager in teams history.

Kata joined the organization in 2010, when he was named the manager of their AAA club in Thornton. The FasTrax would make the playoffs all 6 seasons and would win championships in 2010 and 2014. After the 2015 season he was promoted to the Big League club, where he's been the hitting coach for the past 10 seasons. During those 10 years the Borealis averaged a .275 team average.

The soon-to-be 50-year old native of Ageo, Japan is said to favor a power game over a running game that the Borealis have used of late - making the recent acquisition of Tomás Flores helpful on at least the power side. Kata may also be helpful in the development of up-and-coming power hitters LF 'Fudd' Martínez and 1B José Torres. As one observer, I certainly hope he realizes the value of speed at Northern Lights - never a very positive spot for homers.

Hayagawa, not surprisingly, is more of an offensive manager than a defensive one, and has suggested that the Borealis defense will employ more infield shifts than any of his predecessors. For a club that has regularly one of the top defenses in the PEBA, one would be right to question the value of change.

The big question as Kata was introduced as manager was, who will take over as hitting coach - something that is still to be determined.

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PostPosted: Mon Aug 28, 2017 10:16 pm 
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Surprising Move Sees Further Rotation Evolution
Ray D. Enzé, NLN baseball blogger

December 8, 2025: Aurora, Colorado - Christmas may yet be 17-days away, and the later-than-normal Winter Meetings won't happen until the calendar turns to '26, but the Borealis have been busy Lil' Bees and this time they present their fan base with a pre-Christmas shocker.

GM Will Topham announced today that the Borealis and Amsterdam have reached an agreement of a trade that will bring SP Clark Snow to the Front Range, in exchange for SP Eduardo Romano and minor league 3B Bill Jones. As part of the deal Aurora will acquire the Lions' 3rd round draft pick and they will ship both their and their freshly acquired Duluth 4th rounders and $8M (to assist in paying Romano's $16M contract).

On the immediate heels of the deal that sent SP Eric Perkins to Duluth for CF Tomás Flores, Aurora has suddenly, in a couple of days, replaced 40% of their 2025 starting rotation. Snow is expected to be the #4 starter with 'Terror' Diaz moving into the major league rotation after a full season at AAA to work 'on things'.

Snow was an ugly 9-19 last season - the most loses in all the PEBA, and on the surface, that would seem like an odd choice of a pitcher for the Borealis to target. But if you take a closer look, the 19 L's may be more a dynamic of the Lions' fortunes. Snow made 35 starts and threw 210 innings. His 169 K were tops on the club - mostly due to the injury to former-Borealis 'Massacre'. In a bit of Fortunately/Unfortunately, Clark had just 29 BB, but a career high 31 HR - Something the Borealis do need any more of; that is certainly a concern.

Where Snow becomes a benefit is in age (soon to be 30, v. Romano at 35) and cost - Romano's salary was $16M in 2026 and '27 (though it's a team option). Clark is due to make $6.75M this coming season and is still arbitration eligible for 2027. He is a hard throwing righty, who brings his fastball in at 100 MPH and, despite that gaudy HR number, tends to keep the ball down.

Bill Jones, Aurora's 2nd round selection in 2022, was being groomed to move into 3B open Britt's departure or eventual moving to 1B, and hit .283 this season at AAA. "Our deal initiated with talks of Clark for Jones, but soon we found ourselves discussing Romano and draft picks." Topham said with a 'WHo Me?' look. "With our budget looking hefty - not that sending $8M across the pond helps, but this will help us with the extensions we need to sign for 2027. Romano was, unfortunately, an expensive contract that we really couldn't afford - maybe it was a poor decision on our part."

I think we'll see the Twitter-verse explode with similar thoughts on this deal, too.

Romano was 13-10 this season, with a 4.04 ERA. Over 180 IP he struck out 124 and walked 42, giving up 26 HR. One could certainly call the deal a statistical wash of pitching moved. One can only hope that Snow pitches on the Front Range far better than his former-Lion, current-Borealis teammate Carlos Rivera, who struggled mightily at times, with moments of brilliance sprinkled between.

Even if the deal is a wash, one thing is for sure - if Snow is at his peak, we should expect more of the same. Romano, on the other hand, at 35, may begin the hard downfall of talent. Only 2027 will answer that thought.

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PostPosted: Wed Aug 30, 2017 7:36 pm 
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Negrete Declines Qualifier, Opts for FA
Ray D. Enzé, NLN baseball blogger

December 8, 2025: Aurora, Colorado - The 2025 offseason will not go down as one of the quietest in Aurora history, and the hits keep on rolling, this time in the expected departure of C Jesus Negrete. Playing on his last arbitration contract worth $15.9M, Jesus decided to go the free agency route to see what riches can be had for a catcher of his ability, and told Aurora he'd pass on their $15.1M Qualifying Offer.

Negrete, who was a Supplemental pick by the then-Omaha Cyclones in the 2014 draft, came to Aurora early in the 2022 season - after bouncing from Omaha to Charleston and finally to Reno (in 2018), in a deal that sent 1B John Lawson and Aurora's #1 pick to the Biggest Little City. Lawson made his Reno debut this past season, hitting .239 in 109 games, while Negrete chalked up the cash and injury time while with the Borealis.

Jesus's start to his Aurora career was a rough one - he hit .208 with 12 HR and 53 RBI in 116 games - numbers that fell well short of expectations - particularly after his .284/7/21 totals in just 24 games with the Zephyrs. Redemption was on the horizon as he hit .274 with 4 HR in 17 post-season games as Aurora won their 3rd title in 4 years. He finished the season by being awarded the SL All-Leather Award - something he would win again in 2024.

After refusing to sign a contract extension on Aurora's terms, Negrete was awarded a $4.25M salary through arbitration for 2023, and he played as if he was intent on earning that salary - for 67 games he hit .293 with 12 HR - but sandwiched into that season was a broken wrist in late May and upon his return, a tear to the shoulder muscles would end his season - a season Aurora would win a third straight title, despite his absence - and despite Rusty Butler's sub-.200 post-season. Despite the injuries, the Grand Arbiter awarded him a $6.875M salary for 2024.

The past two seasons have been if anything, consistent. He hit .258 and .253, with 14 & 19 homers and 56 & 79 RBI - injuries, again, playing a part in his reduced game load. After his mediocre 2024, he was awarded the $15.9M deal - to date, the richest arbitration award in Aurora history.

With Negrete off to presumably greener pastures, and Butler allowed to leave via free agency by not being tendered an arbitration offer, Aurora is looking at beginning the coming season with a pair of rookie catchers - a risky proposition, for sure, but one the Borealis feels confident will work out - or at least provide no worse offense than they've seen over the past few seasons.

Dubbed the 'Two-Headed Catcher v2.0', an homage to the days of Bob Keller and Scott Vinson, Manny Castro and Domingo Gutierrez will man the back-stop position, as well as back-up Pedro Ferringo at DH, as a pair of near mirror-imaged catchers. Castro was the 10th overall selection in the 2022 draft and makes frequent contact - when he swings at a strike, has moderate power and great base running instincts, for a guy with average speed. By virtue of his status in the organization, he'll go into spring training as the number one catcher. Domingo, likewise, is a high contact guy, who does a bit better when it comes to putting the ball in play (read fewer K's). He's a bit more lumbering than Manny, but he, too, runs the bases well. Both are excellent receivers, smart, hard working and should command respect from their veteran pitching staff.

Castro had an excellent season, hitting .298 for Thornton, with 14 HR and 71 RBI as he split time at C and DH with Domingo. He threw out 45.8% of would be base stealers. In a brief stay with Aurora at season's end, Castro was 9-17, with a pair of 2B and a 3B. Gutierrez, in the same role as Castro, struggled the bulk of the season, hitting just .238 with 9 HR and 53 RBI. He threw out just 27% of base stealers.

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PostPosted: Fri Sep 01, 2017 2:07 pm 
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Tugboat With an Arm of Gold
Ray D. Enzé, NLN baseball blogger

December 15, 2025: Aurora, Colorado - Award season has yet to begun, but word has leaked out that, to nobodies surprise, Randy Smith was the run-away winner of this years Golden Arm Award for the top pitcher in the SL - and really, the entire PEBA.

What was a surprise is one voter opted to vote for Miguel Cantu (13-10, 2.83 ERA) #1 and leave 'Tugboat' off their ballot all together! Mysterious.

Mysterious you say? Let's look at 'Tugboat's season: He was 21-6 -those 21- wins a career best, topping the 20 he had in 2021 (20-5), the year he came over from San Antonio in a mid-season deal. His 21-wins were the best by two (Nishiyama of K-Zoo and Romero of Canton had 19). His 2.16 ERA was also a PEBA best, squeaking past IL Golden Arm Manuel Pacheco, of Arlington, and half a run better than Nishiyama for the SL best. His K/9 was 4th best in the SL, his BB/K 3rd best, and his K/BB was second best to teammate - and 4-time Golden Arm winner Mike Provost. He had the 7th best OAVG and third best WHIP, while, for you MetricHeads, he had the best FIP and WAR in the entire PEBA.

He had a career high 225 IP and for the third time, surpassed 200 K, with a career best 223. And for a staff that was plagued with homers, he lead the SL in HR/9 with a 0.4.

Smith's 2.16 ERA for the season is the 7th best in Aurora history, topped only by Provost (twice - whose 1.52 in his breakout 2019, Golden Arm season, is Aurora's best), 'Pep' Roach (thrice) and 'King' George Thompson, who is #6, a scant .01 better than 'Tugboat'. Fans may find it shocking that on the Aurora career list, Randy Smith's 2.41 ERA is a team best - though he's thrown nearly 900 innings fewer than Provost - who has thrown more than any other pitcher in an Aurora uniform.

'Tugboat', who will turn 33 during Spring Training, has five years left on his contract - three of which are guaranteed - with the last two with vesting criteria (28 GS). He is scheduled to make $23M this coming season.

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PostPosted: Sat Sep 09, 2017 4:33 pm 
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Extensions for Key Players Inked, Minor Winter Deal at Meetings
Ray D. Enzé, NLN baseball blogger

January 16, 2026: Aurora, Colorado - The Borealis continue to slowly move in the direction of being 1-year ahead of the contract curve (as they so often try to do) by announcing a pair of 1-year extensions for a pair of key offensive players.

First off, it was RF Paul Carlisle who signed a 1-year deal for the 2027 season, keeping pace with what has been his style - 1-year at a time. The 30-year old left-handed batter will make $11M this upcoming season, with the $14M extension for 2027. This is the third consecutive year, after his arbitration years (where he, too, refused long-term talk), that he has settled for a 1-year contract. "My Daddy worked in the coal mines in West Virginia, before he moved to Youngstown, and he always taught me the value of hard work, loyalty and getting paid for what you've done today - not for what you may do tomorrow. That's why I'm happy to just go year-by-year" Carlisle said in a phone interview. With the obscene dollars being thrown around these days, here's to an old fashioned way of thinking. Carlisle has been a model of consistency for Aurora, with 24 HR each of the past 3 seasons. He hit .284 this past year, with a PEBA leading 99 BB for a .399 OBP (which was second in the SL to teammate River Pope's .410) and a tidy .876 OPS. The former #2 pick in the 2017 draft looks to hopefully remain a fixture in RF for Aurora.

DH Pedro Ferringo, who finished 2nd in the SL Batting chase at .325 - and led the Borealis (.002 ahead of River Pope), was next to agree to an extension to his 2026 salary - a team friendly and efficient $3.6M. He has agreed on a deal that will nearly double his salary to $7M for the 2027 season. Pedro, a Supplemental pick in the 2019 draft was quick to get to Aurora, making his debut in 2020 - playing in 73 games and hitting .310. His .350 in 2022 narrowly missed winning the batting title, falling short a number of AB. His career average is .313, with 158 SB in 200 attempts. There has been a lot of discussion around the team and the fan base about Ferringo at DH - he doesn't fit Aurora's 'flexibility mould', with suggestions he'd be moved, but yet he is still here - and quite a key element to the teams success these past 5 seasons.

The 2025 Winter Meetings, in San Diego this year, held in 2026 (and there's a long story in that one...), were a quiet sounding place - and as the clock struck 11:59, it seemed it would be the second meetings since the Grand Contraction to see no trades made, but in that last minute a flurry of activity went down - postponing the closing bell, and amongst that activity was a minor deal struck by the Borealis and the Kentucky Thoroughbreds.

The Borealis sent to the Commonwealth their 7th round pick in exchange for 25-year old right-handed reliever Pedro Vega. Originally signed as a minor league free agent by San Antonio in 2018, he was unceremoniously released two-months later, only to sign with Kentucky three-months later. Since he was a GNL All-Star in 2024 while helping Bowling Green win the Maple Leaf Classic. This past season he posted a 1.90 ERA at Jefferson County, with 31 saves (6th best in the Appalachian League). He had three appearances as he made his Big League debut with the T-breds, throwing 5 innings, giving up 4 hits and 2 runs. Vega is a hard thrower with pretty pinpoint control, though hitters have a bad habit of getting his pitches into the air - something of a concern these days for Auroran pitching. Scouts have described him as not being the hardest worker, but he's a reasonably smart guy (he hails from the streets Mayagüez, Puerto Rico, with little academic background) and is described as a 'winner'. Vega carries with him a major league contract, but with two options available, he will begin his Aurora career at Thornton.

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PostPosted: Sun Oct 01, 2017 12:29 pm 
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Aurora Tabs Kata to Lead Borealis
Ray D. Enzé, NLN baseball blogger

December 7, 2025: Aurora, Colorado - It was assumed that the Borealis were going to hire from within when Octavio Rios chimed 'Adios' to the club, displeased with the club's contract offer, and GM Will Topham announced today that that was, indeed, the case, as Kata Hayagawa was named the 8th manager in teams history.

Kata joined the organization in 2010, when he was named the manager of their AAA club in Thornton. The FasTrax would make the playoffs all 6 seasons and would win championships in 2010 and 2014. After the 2015 season he was promoted to the Big League club, where he's been the hitting coach for the past 10 seasons. During those 10 years the Borealis averaged a .275 team average.

The soon-to-be 50-year old native of Ageo, Japan is said to favor a power game over a running game that the Borealis have used of late - making the recent acquisition of Tomás Flores helpful on at least the power side. Kata may also be helpful in the development of up-and-coming power hitters LF 'Fudd' Martínez and 1B José Torres. As one observer, I certainly hope he realizes the value of speed at Northern Lights - never a very positive spot for homers.

Hayagawa, not surprisingly, is more of an offensive manager than a defensive one, and has suggested that the Borealis defense will employ more infield shifts than any of his predecessors. For a club that has regularly one of the top defenses in the PEBA, one would be right to question the value of change.

The big question as Kata was introduced as manager was, who will take over as hitting coach - something that is still to be determined.

Ríos has since taken his talents to Edinburgh, where he certainly has his work cut out for him.

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PostPosted: Wed Oct 04, 2017 12:39 pm 
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Aurora Adds a 'Doberman' to the Kennel
Ray D. Enzé, NLN baseball blogger

February 15, 2026: Aurora, Colorado - Aurora took another step towards keeping late inning leads secure (and late inning deficits small) by reaching across divisional lines and signing a long-standing member of one of their staunchest rivals - Ramón 'Doberman' Contreras, the 9-year member of the Crystal Lake Sandgnats.

GM Will Topham made the announcement on the eve of the team's hotly anticipated fan fest on the Big Island of Hawaii. "We are excited to bring Ramón into the family after a long, illustrious career up on The Lake." Illustrious, indeed, as 'Doberman' posted 253 saves for the 'Gnats, and he sports a 2.83 career ERA - although the past two years have been closer to a 4.00 (3.78 & 3.91). "We like that he still has some zip behind that fastball, and stinginess regarding home runs will no doubt be a welcome addition to the bullpen."

That's a bullpen that allowed over 30 homers on the season. Contreras also adds to a 'pen a 'strikeout per inning' rate that made Aurora's bullpen amongst the leaders in the PEBA in this area. Ramón has also been mostly a stalwart in the post-season, especially the past two seasons as the 'Gnats made a run at back-to-back Rodriguez Cups. In 22 playoff games over that span he has an ERA of 1.50 with 7 saves - 6 of which were last season. He struck out 29 and walked just 5.

Contreras' contract is for one year guaranteed at $6M, with a second year that combines a player opt-out and a team option (with a $1.5M buy-out) - both sides are protected in this deal; Ramón can seek greener pastures if he has a break out year, while Aurora will have minimal commitment should his skills diminish rapidly. One would suspect a season like the past two would keep both parties happy.

What may be a stickler is 'Doberman's role on the club. One suspects he will battle with 2025 season opening closer 'Javelin' Peterson and 2025 season ending closer John Gray for the closer job out of spring training. "We made no promises, and were open with Ramón about his role on the club," the Boy Wonder GM stated "Our goal was to strengthen the 'pen as one means to get us back to the PEC. When we look at our particular needs this off-season - a CF, a starter, and improved relief work, we feel as if we have accomplished those goals."

Aside from Contreras, Topham would be referring to the deals that brought CF Tomás Flores from Duluth (to fill the hole left by Mike Hale fleeing for Havana) and SP Clark Snow from Amsterdam (to hopefully improve the rotation with the trades of Eduardo Romano and Eric Perkins).

Contreras was the 4th overall selection in the 2014 draft by K-Zoo (a draft that saw new teammate 'Tugboat' selected #1 by Yuma) and with barely a year of pro ball under his belt, the Badgers called him up to the Big League level - and he was there to stay. He was traded to the 'Gnats after the 2016 season - and promptly tore an elbow ligament by mid-season - the only severe injury he has sustained; and clearly not one that has effected his career. He has been a three-time All-Star, and led the league in saves with 43 in 2021.

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PostPosted: Wed Oct 04, 2017 5:35 pm 
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I wonder how Ramon will feel about it if you don't let him close. Whenever I tried to make him the set up man, he got very angry.

Best of luck to the Dawg Pack

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PostPosted: Fri Oct 06, 2017 12:31 pm 
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Pope Signs 5-Year Extension
Ray D. Enzé, NLN baseball blogger

February 22, 2026: Aurora, Colorado - Stating that he 'Proudly' signs with Aurora, outfielder River Pope signed a 5-year extension - three of which are guaranteed, as the Borealis were once again proactive in signing one of their own, inching closer to having next years roster set.

Stating that they 'understood that River was going to sign' the offer the team put forth two weeks ago, GM Will Topham was ecstatic about the signing of a deal that Pope called 'exactly what he had hoped to get if (he) played the market.'

Well, this writer kinda feels that may not be quite right, and that the team's and Pope's loyalty to one another paid off for Aurora.

After his $9.5M deal for this year expires, he will earn an average of $11.5M over the next three seasons, with a pair of team options for 2030 and 2031 for $13M and $14M, respectively.

Pope has been a model of consistency thus far in his career - he has a .323 average over his 8 seasons on the Front Range - the last 6 as the starting LF. He has won two batting titles - in 2022 with a .354 and in 2024 with a .347 - and three times he's lead the League in OBP - those two seasons and last year. He has posted a 5+ WAR over each of the last 5 seasons.

River was a 1st round selection, #25 overall, by Aurora in the 2016 draft - a draft that brought Aurora Matt Ferrell and Miguel Gálvez as well as Pope in that opening round. Of note, Theron Boswell was Palm Springs' top pick at #7. Since joining the Big League club Pope has been a 3-time All-Star, a Platinum Stick and All-Leather winner and a cornerstone of Aurora's 3-peat run of 2021-23 - particularly in 2022-23 where he hit a combined .348 during those title runs. He hit .381 last year as Aurora fell short of the PEC.

Pope's deal is the third contract extension Aurora has signed this offseason - They've inked both Paul Carlisle ($14M) and Pedro Ferringo ($7M) to a 1-year deals for 2027, as well as the recent free-agent signing of Ramón Contreras (max 2-years at $6M per).

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PostPosted: Fri Oct 27, 2017 1:44 pm 
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Borealis Quick Out of the Gate
Ray D. Enzé, NLN baseball blogger

April 16, 2026: Somewhere over the Pacific - It certainly has been one of the quicker starts in the history of the club - throwing in a 3-game series with the once-again floundering Yumans in the middle didn't hurt, but opening the season against the team that up-ended their 2025 title hopes - the 2-time Sovereign League Champion Sandgnats and walking away with a 3-1 series win couldn't be a finer way to start the campaign.

Mike Provost took the mound for the Opening Day assignment and was, as usual, dominant. In being limited to 6 innings (as early season pitch counts still are in effect), he would limit the 'gnats to an earned run and would strike out 7 while walking none. But Crystal Lake starter Dan McNeill would match him pitch for pitch in his own 6 inning stint. By the time their days were over, the 'Gnats were leading the taut pitching duel 2-1. The score would stay that way until the 9th as Pedro Vega and John Gray would guide Aurora through the late innings allowing just a single hit, striking out another 4 bugs. Newly acquired Jonathan Francis would pitch the bottom of the 9th for Crystal Lake and would be rudely greeted to the SL by Paul Carlisle who would rip a double to leadoff (his third hit of the day). When Orlando Barrón would mishandle rookie catcher Manny Castro's hot shot to first, 'Fido' would be safe at first and Carlisle would move over to third. Francis would steady, striking out Pedro Medrano on three pitches, but fellow infielder Gabe McIntyre would pick him up with an RBI single (his third hit) to tie the game, with Castro racing to third. Pedro Ferringo would loop a ball into center to drive in Castro and send the sell-out crowd of 64,664 home in hysterics.

Game 2 the fans were treated with 'Tugboat' being presented with his Golden Arm award, and then he would follow Provost's fine start as he often does - with one of his own. Though he didn't make it out of the 6th, he did strike out 8 and surrender 2-runs, leaving with a 5-2 lead - thanks to a 2-out RBI single from Britt and a Paul Carlisle 2-run homer in the first and another pair of 2-out RBI singles by River Pope in the 2nd and Medrano in the 3rd.

It was evident from the git-go of game 3 that 'Nitro' MacCowan was going to be on and his near complete game of 6-hit, 2-run ball was a dominant showing. Not so dominant was the effort from Carlos Rivera, who was yet again the victim of the long ball - this time it was Jarrod Ricks, who liked homering off Rivera so much he did it twice in the 'Gnats 6-2 win.

Game 4 saw 6 stellar innings by both new-Auroran Clark Snow and 'Gnats starter Tony Cuellar. Raúl Uribe would reach on a Theron Boswell error and score on a Jim Klein single for all the Sandgnat offense on the day. Aurora finally touched Cuellar in the 7th when Medrano singled and scored on a Tomás Flores RBI double to tie the game and Ferringo followed that with a big blast over the tall wall in right field to make it a three-run inning. Aurora would score another pair in the 8th as the Crystal Lake bullpen would load the bases with two outs, walk in a run and surrender Aurora's 5th run on a Flores single. The 'Doberman' would pitch the final two as newbies Clark and Contreras would earn their first win and save, respectively.

The trip to the Sonoran Desert was mostly uneventful. 'Terror' Díaz threw 6.1 4-hit, 8 K shut out innings as Aurora would win 5-0, and 'Tugboat' would go 7 shut out innings of his own, with 7 K in a 6-0 win in game 3 - a game marred by the injury to River Pope, as he pulled some rib muscles making a fine defensive play in the left field diving for a ball on the line of the third out in the 4th.

Game 2 of the series was the exciting part of the desert sojourn and Provost and Bartolo Esquivel both went 7 & 7 - 7 innings, 7 hits and each allowed a run - a Jeff Wolfe RBI single in the second giving the 'dozers the lead, and Aurora's other rookie catcher, Domingo Gutiérrez's sac fly scoring Flores, who reached on an error. Aurora's other rookie catcher would come through again in the 8th, this time with a 2-out, RBI single that would give 'Train Arollin'' his first win of the season, while John Gray got his second save.

Aurora returned home to take on K-Zoo, and if two home series is any indication of the year, don't miss those series openers as for the second straight series to open the year, Aurora treated the fans to a walk-off win in the opener - this time a 4-3 win. A McKee 2-out double in the first, a Scott Wiggins single plating 'Gypsy' John Foster (looking a tad heavy in those Badgers Gold & Greys) and a Kobayashi homer in the 5th, gave the Badgers a 3-0 lead over Carlos Rivera. Federico Olivas would single home 'Fido' in the bottom of the 5th and a wild pitch in the 6th would score Ferringo in the 6th, setting up a wild bottom off the 9th. Ángelo Morales would walk Carlisle with 1-out, who would race to third on a Castro single - with a Medrano single tying the game and sending 'Fido' to third. Fellow rookie 'Fudd' Martínez would get his first RBI with a sac fly and Aurora would have the win - their 5th straight and 6th in 7 games.

They would make it 7 of 8 as Clark Snow would be solid on his home debut, giving the fans a little 666 business - 6 innings, 6 hits, 6 K, while allowing just a run. Ron Latour would be nearly perfect over the final three (only a walk). Supporting Clark, and making it a full newcomers show, was Flores who was 3-4, scoring twice and 'Fudd', who had his first major league hit - a bases loaded, 2-RBI single as part of a 3 RBI day in Aurora's 6-1 win.

Díaz was once more a solid performer - as long as it wasn't Wiggins or 'Gypsy' at the plate. He would end up surrendering just a run in his 6+ innings, with 6 K. Flores would score on a Mike Britt DP ball in the 4th (we go 10 games before we mention 'Big Whiskey' and it's a DP ball??), and a Loetzsch leadoff double would be followed by a Ferringo RBI single to end the day's scoring. Felix Peña and Gray would both the final three allowing just a walk - 'Terror' getting his 2nd win and Gray his 3rd save.

With the back-to-back sweeps, Aurora boarded a plane to the Far East for their second big test of the season, taking on the Evil Evas, who are 6-4. Of concern for Aurora is the loss of Pope - out for another 2-3 weeks, with Martinez getting his first call-up in Pope's place - and expected to get the bulk of the starts as he had a stellar spring (he hit .303). Also of concern is the loss of Pedro Vega, who ruptured a tendon in his finger and will miss anywhere from 3-4 months - this after pitching an impressive 3.1 innings to start the year. Tomás Moya has been called up to fill that spot (He had his own impressive spring: 2.45 ERA over 14 innings with 14 K and 2 BB). Moya has 3 saves and a 1.80 ERA in 5 innings thus far at Thornton.

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PostPosted: Tue Nov 21, 2017 10:39 am 
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Strong April Bodes Borealis Well
Ray D. Enzé, NLN baseball blogger

April 30, 2026: Aurora, Colorado - On paper, at least, an 18-5 start looks good. Add to it a 9-game win streak and one has to smile at the season's prospects. But should you dissect that streak, sweeps of the Longshoremen (4-games) and Zephyrs lose some of their luster when you note that the streak was sandwiched by series losses to the Evil Evas and the 'to be reckoned with' Duluth Warriors. The season looks both shiny and like Fool's Gold.

The series in Japan versus Shin Seiki really shouldn’t be looked upon too harshly, and with the team’s aces lined up to start the series, one knew it would get tight. Neither Suitani (6 IP) nor Provost (5.2) made it into the late innings, with Suitani (5 H, 1 R and 11 K) getting the better of Provost, but it mattered not as Lando Lagerveld and rookie Tomas Moya combined to give up 3 homers and 6 runs to turn a 3-1 game into a 9-1 rout. Aurora’s highlights were Mike Britt’s 3-hit day and rookie catcher Manny Castro’s first ML RBI.

Game 2 of the series would feature ‘Tugboat’ and Victor Latham, and again, the Evas pitcher would get the better of his Aurora counterpart. Both would throw complete games, but Aurora’s penchant for giving up the longball once more bit the Borealis as a first inning homer by Andres Hernandez was all Latham needed on this day. His 4-hit, 7 K CG was masterful. Randy Smith would scatter 8-hits and only allow 2 ER, but for the second day in a row the strikeout totals seemed to take and about face – with the Borealis being the overwhelming victims of the K.

Aurora was able to avoid a sweep at their Far East Rivals, with Carlos Rivera being the surprising leader. His 6.2 innings of 5-hit, 2-run ball was enough – particularly when the offense finally shook off the jet-lag and tagged ‘Black Jack’ for 6 in the 6th. The Borealis pounded out 15 hits – at least one by every player not named Pablo Medrano, with Theron Boswell’s 2 H, 2 R, 3 RBI day taking home player of the game honors. Paticularly of note was Lagerveld’s 2.1 innings of relief in which he gave up 1 hit (a homer) and looked considerably better than his previous outing.

Aurora returned to The Front Range to take on Canton for four games and the first two went smoothly. Clark Snow continued his early mastry of his new uniform, with 6 innings of 5-hit, 1-run ball, striking out 9 (Felix Pena with the 3-inning save) and his co-Aurora newbie Tomas Flores supported the effort with a 4-5, 3 RBI day. ‘Terror Diaz was almost equally as tough, with 7.2 innings of 4-hit, shut out ball with rookie ‘Fudd’ Martinez leading the offense with 3-hits, as Aurora won the first two games by 6-1 and 7-0 scores.

Mike Provost’s bad luck this season continued in game 3 with the Longshoremen as not only did he give up another homer, but in the 4th, he tweaked his ankle as he tried to get off the mound quickly on a ball hit to the right-side. The injury didn’t seem serious, but warrented his removal from the game. But Lagerveld looked solid again, in relief, with 3.2 innings of 3-hit, 1-run work, with ‘Doberman’ and Gray each working an inning. Paul Carlisle was 2-2 and drove in 3 of Aurora’s 6-runs, will Teddy Loetzsch and Medrano each homered for the first time on the year.

Bill Carter hit a 2-run homer in the 6th off of ‘Tugboat’ in the series finale, and Paul Carlisle came right back, likewise as the teams carried a 2-2 game into extra innings. Smith and Alfonso Romero both pitched 6, similar innings – with both ‘pens holding down the fort until 1-out in the 11th when Paul Carlisle hit his second homer of the game – his third of the year and 11th RBI, giving the Borealis a 4-game sweep.

‘Big Whiskey’ had the big hit in game one of Aurora’s series at Reno. Ramon Leach’s 2-run blast off Carlos Rivera was all the Aurora pitcher ould allow in his 7 innings of work. Meanwhile, Britt’s 2-out, 2-run homer in the 6th turned Millard Norman’s possible win into a loss. The ‘Stork’ and John Gray pitched perfect 8th’s and 9th’s to ensure the win.

Game 2 saw Clark Snow only go 4.2 innings – striking out 8 and giving up 2 runs (1 earned), but Lagerveld (2.1), Contreras (1) and Holbrook (1) shut the Zephyrs out the rest of the way and setting the stage for another Borealis comeback. Roberto Martinez would single, end up stealing third and scoring on a Medrano single in the 8th to give Aurora the lead, and then in the 9th McIntyre would single, Flores walked and Boswell would single home Gabe with an insurance run that wasn’t needed.

Two former Borealis pitchers – Mike Ladner and Orlando Alarcon would allow 7 runs in 7 innings – with both Britt and Carlisle both homering in support of ‘Terror’s 6 innings of 3-hit ball/ Diaz upped his record to 4-0 and lowered his ERA to 0.68.

Aurora would return back to Northern Lights Park to host the Warriors and they would win their 9th straight game in high fashion, behind Provost’s 7 innings of 7-hit ball. Provost would give up another first inning homer, to Barry Wallace, but that would really do it as Domingo Gutierrez would hit a 2-run homer in the second to give Aurora the lead for good in a 9-1 blow out.

Aurora was sitting at 18-3 and then things shifted. ‘Hollywood’ Hernandez would shut the Borealis down – just enough, to allow Duluth to squeek out solo runs in the 2nd, 3rd and 4th innings and a 3-2 win. The Borealis would end April with a two-game losing streak as Carlos had nothing in his start against the Warriors, giving up 5-runs on 9-hits, while his counterpart ‘Chief’ Nieves scattered 8-hits and allowed just a single run in a complete game for his first win on the year.

For the month, Pedro Ferringo lead the team with a .390 average with 16 R and 7 SB in 7 attempts. Paul Carlisle has a .324 average with 4 homers ad 16 RBI. Newcomer, CF Tomas Flores sits at .307 with 10 RBI – the power Aurora had hoped would come with him has yet to arrive, but 18 K has. Rookie ‘Fudd’ Martinez is hitting .295 while River Pope sits on the DL, while ‘Fido’ Castro is hitting .265 as he’s received the lions share of the ABs behind the plate.

Clark Snow and ‘Terror’ Diaz are a combined 7-0 with 1.14 and 0.68 ERAs, respectively. John Gray is 2-0 with 6 saves in 10 appearances, and has yet to give up a run.

Upcoming for Aurora as we turn the page into May is a home series with the Codgers before heading to the mid-west and return matches with Canton and Duluth.

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PostPosted: Tue Nov 21, 2017 11:44 am 
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April Gives Way to Mind-Boggle May
Ray D. Enzé, NLN baseball blogger

May 31, 2026: Enroute to Bakersfield, California - May was not filled with the same level of kindness that April was. May delivered a 15-14 record to The Front Range, landing a stomach punch by way of 7, 1-run losses as the team traversed through all of the Great Lakes and 3 of 4 of their Japanese foes. During this Maddening May, the Borealis went from 2-games up on the Bears to falling a game back.

Disconcerting? Michel Provost finding his name in the loss column three times despite posting a 1.65 ERA in 6 starts – with 37 K and only 1 BB, and perhaps most importantly, just one homer. Unearned runs did him in during his start against Palm Springs to begin the month (a 3-2 loss), followed by a pair of 2-1 losses to Fargo and Okinawa.

Tugboat’ was an ‘equal opportunity pitcher’ with a pair of W’s, a pair of L’s, and a pair of ND’s (an Aurora win and loss). Save the two losses – in which he was flat-out bad (9 – you, count ‘em, 9 runs to Duluth, and 6 runs to Okinawa), Smith pitched well – allowing a total of 5 runs in his other 4 starts (ND’s to Canton – a win, and Crystal Lake – a loss; and wins v. Toyoma and Neo-Tokyo).

John Gray continued to excel in the closers role in ‘Javelin’s stead, with 12 appearances that equaled a win and 7 saves. Although he allowed 2 solo homers – the only runs thus far this year, he had 19 K in 15 IP, with one walk. Also throwing well out of the ‘pen is the oldest man on the roster – 36-year old Ryan Holbrook. The ‘Stork' threw 11.2 scoreless innings with 12 K and a walk – he has yet to give up a run out of the set-up role.

At the plate, River Pope returned from his stint on the DL and in 15 games for the month has hit .373 with 3, rehab-powered, homers. Pope continues to be a model of consistancy for reaching base as he added 7 BB.

A very impressive – and hopeful for the future, month was had by rookie catcher ‘Fido’ Castro. He hit .310 with 5 homers and 15 RBI – both leading the club for the month. Not so exciting – though (unfortunately) not leading the club, were his 24 K – something this iteration of the Borealis seem to be doing with more frequency than their predecessors. His defense could improve some and he can pick it up with nailing those base-stealers, but all-in-all, it’s been a solid start for the rookie – and certainly is having the better season compared to his predecessor who has fled to Puerto Rico.

Struggling at the plate is Aurora’s biggest bopper – Mike Britt. Yes, he hit 8 homers – a tidy number, especially for the power-starved Borealis, but his .211 average certainly has weighed heavily on the middle of the line-up and may partially explain the wobbly month. When he hits – as witnessed by the four games in which he had multiple hits, Aurora usually wins (they posted W’s in 3 of those 4 games). Perhaps ‘Big Whiskey’ just needed some time to warm up – he finished the month on a 7-game hit streak which saw his season’s average rise 17 points to .246 – but the team needs Bigger Stuff from ‘Big Whiskey’ if they are serious about their title asperations.

June brings an intriguing month for the Borealis. They will face their fierce inter-divisional rival Bakersfield for 11-games – with 8 of those at YUM!!! The names have change, the uniforms have changed, but the pesky, pitching forward nature of the Bears has not. Fargo, Palm Springs, Reno and Neo-Tokyo are interspersed between those Bakersfield match-ups, then they will end the month host the Evil Evas.

This will be a pivotal one – despite it’s early season placement, what with all the Bakersfield match-ups. A solid performance should solidify a division lead – and depending on how Shin Seiki’s month goes – they’ve their own lopsided schedule with Fargo, Aurora may find themselves with or near Top Seed placement or having fallen off the pace.

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PostPosted: Wed Nov 22, 2017 12:34 pm 
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Aurora Focus on Pitching in 2026 Draft
Ray D. Enzé, NLN baseball blogger

June 8, 2026: Aurora, Colorado - On a peculiar day for all parties involved, the PEBA held their annual amateur draft this weekend and despite all the talk of hacks and player eligibility, the draft, itself, seemed to proceed with nary a glitch. For the Borealis, they did something they hadn't done since 2021 - have a draft with a focus on pitching.

Maybe it has been by design, or maybe it is more a result of drafting at the back-end of the round every year, but no matter the reason, the fact is Aurora has drafted far more hitters - especially early on, than pitchers.

My colleague, Francis Ferry, has already covered the top portion of the draft for the print portion of Northern Lights News, so allow me the opportunity to familiarize you, the Aurora Fan base, with some of the other key selections.

Aurora had traded their 4th round pick to Amsterdam as part of the Clark Snow deal, so on Day 2 of the draft, Aurora’s first selection was in the 5th round, 143rd overall, and they took high schooler Matt Davis out of Sarasota High. After being named a Glove Wizard in 2024 (his sophomore year) and an All-Star in 2025, Davis played only 7 games his senior year, as he broke his ankle, ending his season. He was hitting .296 at the time, following up a .275 junior year. Davis’ hard working style impressed his high school coaches and scouts alike, so the Aurora brass believe he’ll come back strong from rehab. Davis is a speedy, strong-armed outfielder who is a bit raw – both at the plate and afield. He’s stated that he’s leaning towards college which, truthfully, would serve him well.

In the 6th round, Aurora took their fourth straight high schooler, SP John Grant, a string bean of a kid from Osaka Toin High. John has seen an abbreviated amount of work in his career, but the time he did get, he maximizzed. His career mark is 5-5, with a tidy 2.45 ERA. He struck out 124 batters in a 128 IP. He’s a hard working kid – illustradted by his above average potential to throw four pitches – fastball, slider, change and forkball. Mastering the change could be a key to his moving throught the system with any speed. A strained forearm cut his senior year short, but he was an All-Star his sophomore and junior years.

Aurora’s 7th round pick was traded to Kentucky for Pedro Vega, so with the 8th pick, 221st overall, Aurora picked an infielder that GM Will Topham stated was ‘a steal; definitely a diamond in the rough’. That would be Dutch 2B Neville de Deugd of Aoyama Gakuin – who won their conference, but lost in the ICOL Finals to Oxford; and Neville was MVP of the first round of those playoffs. He’s a solid defender on the diamond – particularly at second, with excellent skills. Still a little raw offensively – he hit .247 his last two seasons, but scouts like his potential, ‘He shows better instincts than the vast majority of players at that point of the draft’ is what Head Scout Joe Horn had to say. He was a 4-year starter in college and he’s already penciled in to be the same at Mokule’ia.

With the 9th and 10th picks Aurora took a pair of closers. Jose Suarez, also from Osaka, is a hoopster in baseball clothing. At 6’11”, he’s by far the tallest Borealis. He’s hard throwing and has a decent command of his fastball and curve, but he has a tendency to keep the ball up – a result of his height? And for now, his pitches tend to be a tad flat – as a result, hitters usually get under the ball – explaining his 2 HR/9 average. The coaching staff at Mokule’ia plan to throw this years crop right into the fire of the stressful innings.

Kade Hamilton, the other closer, from the University of Tokyo, is similar to Suarez – if not as tall. Kade has been a strikeout pitcher – 64 K and 8 walks in his three seasons in college. Ussed as a starter during high school and his freshmen year, Kade has thrived since mving to the closer role – saving all 9 games he was put into that situation.

Jesus Jaramillo was Aurora’s 11th pick, and outfielder from the University of Washington who hit .279 his senior year, after a unimpressive first three years. There’s not much in Jesus’ skill set that suggests he’ll last long – plodding, adequate in the field, though strong armed. He hasn’t been identified as a hard-worker, nor a scholar. Everything suggests a short pro career – we should know whether the strong number of detractors will be right in due time.

Aurora went sentimental in the 12th round by drafting a familiar name: John Foster, as a famiiar position: 2B. Yes, ‘Gator’ is related to ‘Gypsy’, as he is the older, former-Aurora #1 pick’s (2011), younger step-brother (father John ‘Gringo’ Foster moved from the Aurora area to Wisconsin after divorcing ‘Gypsy’s mother. Clearly he likes his own name. ‘Gator’ went to Central Florida and put up numbers that barely got him off the interstate and won’t confuse anyone for his older brother. He is fast and a good base runner, and his defensive skill set at 2B isn’t bad, but at the plate, he just doesn’t look like he’ll get far – maybe AA.

The Borealis finished out the draft by selecting three pitchers – two relievers and a starter. Henry O’Farrell out of Villanova is a tall, powerful-looking bodied soul who doesn’t translate onto the mound. SP Art Hudson looks to have a bit more talent, but will be cming off an arm injury. With Aurora’s top pick Rob Imhoff beginning the Hawaiian League on the DL, Hudson will get a chance to start multiple games and show what he has. “He’s a project,” said Joe Horn, “we aren’t expecting him to burst onto the scene, but we do see something there.” I guess that’s something. The last player taken, Will Topham saying ‘I just liked his name’ was reliever Przybyslaw Dembowski out of Outback State. The tall, slender right-hander is Polish and for those who can’t speak the language, he’s been just called ‘Price’. He was an All-Star in 2025, with a 1.27 ERA and 30 K in 28 IP. He has a tendency to keep the ball up, and doesn’t blow balls past the hitters, but he has only given up a single homer in 44 games (63 IP), so perhaps batters are making poor contact as they elevate that ball. With a fun name like that, lets hope he can improve over time.

There you have it, the remainder of the 2026 Draft Class. It shall be interesting to see if any of these players make the grade. Aside from the two previous drafts, every draft of Topham’s tenure has seen at least one player make it to the Aurora roster. Will this class be the streak-buster, or is it full of hidden gems?

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PostPosted: Mon Dec 04, 2017 12:38 am 
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Hot June Elevates Borealis Desert Hills Lead
Ray D. Enzé, NLN baseball blogger

June 22, 2026: Aurora, Colorado - Three weeks ago, as May came to a close the Borealis sat with a 33-19 record - certainly a perfectly respectable mark, until you notice that during the month of May Aurora were a pedestrian 15-14 and had fallen out of first - albeit by just a game. Fast-forward those three weeks and Aurora has cruised to a 15-4 mark thus far in June and blazed past Bakersfield, thanks to winning 6 of 7 games - and four more games between the two on this weeks agenda at YUM! Meanwhile the Bear are 3-16 in June and have fallen behind the Codgers - whose own 12-7 record has helped move Palm Springs back into the conversation.

With the midway point of the season just 10-days away, what has been working for the Borealis?

Offensively the team leads the SL in Batting Average (.283) and On-Base percentage (.340). Despite the fact that Aurora's .397 Slugging is just 7th best in the SL, their OPS is second best - that's what being a full 10-points better than the next best team in average will do. It may be frustrating for Aurora fans - the absolutely shear lack of power - only division rivals Palm Springs (51), Reno (50) and Yuma (47) have fewer homers than Aurora's 52. So much for the extra pop the club had hoped Theron Boswell and Tomas Flores would add (3 each thus far.

One area where things looked improved is at the catching position. 'Fido' Castro is hitting .282 with 9 HR and 28 RBI - Jesus Negrete hit .253 with 19 HR and 73 RBI last year (and .254 with 5 and 24 thus far in 2026). Castro may not have the runs driven in at this point, but the overall potential is looking better than what Negrete gave Aurora over the course of his time on The Front Range.

The probable offensive MVP thus far might be DH Pedro Ferringo. Once again he's posting a high average (.346) and is currently leading the League in doubles (22). His 19 SB in 21 attempts (he had 17 in a row before he was caught) are 4th highest total. Mike Britt slowly is raising his average - he's at .262 at the moment, but his 14 HR leads the team (ahead of Paul Carlisle's 10) and his 34 RBI are third to Carlisle's 37. Sandwiched between Aurora's two sluggers is Pablo Medrano whose 5 HRs are already near his career best of 6 (in twice the ABs) and his 35 RBI on pace to obliterate his personal best of 53 (last season).

The Borealis have made one move on the offensive side - with rumors of others floating about, and that's rookie 'Fudd' Martinez being sent back to AAA for more consistent ABs. 'Fudd' had started strong in place of Pope, but with River's return, Martinez' playing time slipped - and so did his average. 'Fudd' goes back to Thornton with a .242 and no homers - somewhat of a disappointment for Aurora, but he did manage to steal 15 bases (in 18 attempts). If nothing else, it seems that Martinez showed that it's just a matter of time before he's up to stay. In his stead Aurora recalled Lawrence Justice who has had a string of bad luck with injuries this season - from hand, to shoulder to ribs to legs, and he's finally managed 90 PA at Thornton. He's bounced back and forth between Thornton and Aurora over the past three years and has managed 409 AB and a .301 AVE.

All in all, Aurora continues to excel at what has done the trick over the last 7 years: high average hitting, few strikeouts-more walks, and speed making up for a lack of power. You older fans can be excused if your mind drifts to the old Cardinals of the 80's.

And if you think Aurora's offensive output thus far reminds you of their title squads, the work on the mound is equally reminiscent.

Lowest ERA - staff and starters, fewest hits, runs, walks, lowest average and third most K's. I needn't point out that it's pretty tough to do better than that. And while Mike Provost leads the staff - not surprisingly, with a 2.27 ERA, Edgardo Diaz (2.98) and Clark Snow (2.89) have been dynamite and Carlos Rivera has bounced back after his shaky 2025 (currently at 3.43).

Oh, and 'Tugboat' sits at 3.03 - a full half a run higher than his highest ERA since joining Aurora - but there's a lot of baseball to be played.

The bullpen has been led by closer John Gray who's 2 HRA allowed are the only blemishes on a record that includes 18 saves, 53 K in 33.1 IP and a 0.54 ERA. Opponents are hitting .126. The 'Stork' has also been lights out in the set-up role - with 18 K in 18 IP and he's yet to give up a run. Rounding out the rest of the bullpen's bulk of the body of work is Rin Latour (1.56 ERA) and the 'Doberman' (2.22). Aurora lost youngster Pedro Vega early on in the year, though he's due to start rehab in a couple of weeks, and more recently they've lost another youngster in Lando Lagerveld, who has shown signs of strength in the 'pen, though he was still searching for consistency. He will be lost into next season with Tommy John's.

13 of Aurora's 15 wins this month the pitching staff has allowed 2-or fewer runs - including 4 shutouts; they've 9 on the season. 37 of the clubs 48 wins they've held the opposition to 2-or fewer runs.

Down on the Farm
At Thornton, where the FasTrax have fallen 6 games back of West Valley, the hitter of note is CF Nick Heath who is hitting .286 with 7 HR and 27 RBI - sort of the Thornton Triple Crown... SP Toshinobu Nakayama, the 2019 5th rounder, continues to fly under the radar as he's followed his 14-5, 2.06 2025 season to post an 8-2 mark and a 2.05 ERA thus far in 2026...

At Gatineau, who trail Brampton by 8.5 games, 2B Mark Trehy's .260, 9 HR and 34 RBI (and 11 SB, without being caught), got him promoted to AAA... Jesus Negron is leading the staff with a 4-3 record and a 2.12 ERA. Of concern with Negron is his walk rate - 32 in 89 IP...

It's all relative when you say SLRC is improved as Aurora's A Ball club sits at 22-28, 16 games out of 1st. The last two seasons have defined poor. Of interest is Volmer van de Loo, the starter with a 2.66 ERA and a 3-2 record. Drafted in the 13th round, there wasn't a lot of expectation, but in his first full pro season, he's at least opened some eyes... Also opening eyes is Enrique Lopez - drafted a round ahead of van de Loo, he's 3-0 with a 1.54 ERA - but some of that luster is lost with the 19 BB and 13 K in 41 IP... Michizane Shini, the 14th rounder whom scouts referred to as a poor man's Ferringo, has been Pedro-like thus far: .316, but with more power - 7 homers and 22 RBI...

Lastly, out on the Islands, Mokule'ia has started hot - not too surprisingly, at 7-1... Another late round draftee, Jesus Jaramillo is hitting .375... The real impressive work has been on the mound - making the Borealis' focus on the mound this past draft look like it may pay off. Jesus Solis is 2-0 with a 0.59 ERA... Kelsey Buck is 2-0 with a 2.81 ERA... High Schooler Mike Gaselee, drafted in the 3rd round won hi alone start giving up a run... and 10th round closer Kade Hamilton has 5 saves in 5 games and has yet to yield a run...

What's on Tap
Aurora heads back to YUM! for another 4 games with the Bears, with 'Tugboat' heading to the mound for game 1, then home to face Reno for three before the month ends with the Evil Evas arriving on The Front Range for a mid-season showdown...

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Michael Topham, President Golden Entertainment & President-CEO of the Aurora Borealis
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