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PostPosted: Fri Jan 19, 2018 10:03 pm 
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Sweep to ‘Gnats Have Fans ‘Pumping the Brakes’
Ray D. Enzé, NLN baseball blogger

August 1, 2026: Aurora, Colorado – With the All-Star Game in the rear-view mirror – with Provost and Gray pitching perfect innings and Pedro Ferringo going 2-4 and a run scored in the SL’s 4-2, 10-inning win, the Borealis went back to work with a pair against the Bears, 4-games at ‘The Lake’ and 3-games at ‘The Springs’, and a 3-game end-July-open-August series again with the Bears.

The second half opened ominously with former-Evil Eva Benton Hawkins 11th inning homer off John Gray – the only run in the game, ruining Carlos Rivera’s 5-hit, 8 K, 9-inning performance. Declan Littleworth was equal to the task with his own 7.1 inning shut-out performance. The Bears looked towards a two-game sweep when they hit a pair of homers of Clark Snow the next day, in the third, but that would be all he would surrender in his 6 innings, and the ‘pen – Latour, Vega and ‘Doberman’ would allow just one more hit. Meanwhile Aurora would pound out 12 hits – four of them from the scorching Ferringo, along with 3 RBI and Tomas Flores’ 3-run homer, were big contributors to a big 8-4 comeback win.

Neo-Tokyo would head to The Front Range next and ‘Terror’ Diaz would out-duel Julio Diaz. A pair of late, 2-run innings – one thanks to Mike Britt’s 21st homer of former-Borealis Jimmy Younger, would start a three-game sweep of the Akira’s in fine 4-0 fashion. Neo-Tokyo would manage 2-runs in each of the next 2 games (off of Provost and ‘Tugboat’, but in each case the offense provided just enough for 4-2 and 3-2 wins.

And then there was the trip to Crystal Lake. Aurora opened the season with a 3-1 series win over the ‘Gnats at Northern Lights and then in May split four games in Illinois – 3-games were decided by a run and the fourth by two, so if nothing else, close games were the expectation. Aurora jumped to a quick lead as ‘Fudd’ led the game off with a double and scored and Pablo Medrano’s 2-out, 2-run double in the 3rd would make it 3-0, but the ‘Gnats would jump ahead – Rob Raines hitting a key 3-run homer. Aurora would eventually tie the game in the 8th only to have Julio Martinez cough up the L, a 7-5 loss. The killer part of the day was Carlos Rivera leaving the game after one out – and likely out for the remainder of the year. All you need to know about game 2 of the series was former-Dozer Jarrod Ricks hit three homers – albeit all solo. Aurora got behind and had difficulties stringing enough hits together – a typical losing pattern for a team that typically is out-powered. This time to the tune of a 6-5 loss.

Game three saw the ‘Gnats make the most of their 12-hits (scoring 9) while Aurora struggled to make much of their 10-hits (they scored 2), while Ricks continued to attack Aurora pitching, hitting another homer in the 9-2 ‘Gnat win, and then he would hit two more in the finale – including a 9th inning shot to tie the game – part of a back-to-back with Raines, allowing Crystal Lake to steal the game (6-5) and sweep the Borealis in a four game series for what memory suggests is the first time.

The team then headed to Reno where the highlights included River Pope going 4-4 in game 2 to support a bullpen game in Rivera’s stead. The team them moved from the Nevada desert to the California desert to take on the Codgers where Diaz was sharp in a winning, 8-inning performance. Provost would do Diaz a third of an inning better in game 2, allowing just a run. ‘Tugboat’ left game three ofter 7 innings with 7-2 lead, but rookie Sam Gordon coughed up 3 in the 8th to make the game interesting, but ultimately Aurora would finish off the 3-game sweep.

Young Billy Taylor would start the month’s last game – against Bakersfield, and pitched a satisfactory 5 innings, 7-hit, 1-run game. John Gray would blow the save in the 9th, but Pedro Ferringo would double home the winning run in the 11th for the win – at the trade deadline, and a 15-8 record for July.

The second half of July was an odd one. The Borealis were would homered 27-11 in those 16 games – and Britt and Flores hit 4 each, meaning there was literally no power coming from the rest of the line-up. For the starters, Teddy Loetzsch led the team at .390, while Pope hit .375. ‘Train Arollin’’ and ‘Tugboat’ posted identical 2-0, 2.14 marks. John Gray struggled – despite earning 5 saves, losing a game, giving up 4 homers and posting a 6.10 ERA.

What’s on Tap
August begins with the remainder of this Bears series and includes a peculiar home-and-home series with Okinawa and ends with the ‘Gnats for four and Codgers for 3 at Northern Lights. For the Borealis, as we look at a bit more than 2 months remaining, they need to avoid serious injury and a prolonged cold streak.

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PostPosted: Tue Feb 13, 2018 10:09 pm 
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Aurora Coast to the Finish Line, Await ‘Gnats, Codgers
Ray D. Enzé, NLN baseball blogger

September 4, 2026: Aurora, Colorado – At times things looked easy. At times they looked painfully difficult. But in the end, the Borealis finished their 2026 regular season with a 110-win season – tops in all of PEBA, and their highest win total since the 2015 club. It is the 6th year in a row they have won 100+ games and their 6th straight playoff appearance.

From August 1 onward Aurora posted a 39-20 mark that included a pair of 4-game sweeps of the Longshoremen. Looking at potential playoff opponents, Aurora swept Crystal Lake in three at Northern Lights – including rookie Hugh Jones major league debut (6.1 IP, 3 H, 0 R) and Mike Provost’s complete game 1-hitter. Overall, Aurora split 16 games with the two-time SL Champs. Aurora took 2 of 3 from Palm Springs in late August to finish their season at 7-5 v. the Codgers, and a three game sweep of the Evil Evas to finish the 2026 regular season left Aurora with a surprising 8-4 edge against their Japanese counter-parts.

The one team that gave Aurora fits was the Duluth Warriors, who took 7 of 12 games against Aurora, although the teams split their remaining 6 games – Duluth winning a series in Minnesota and the Borealis winning the series on The Front Range.

How the Borealis have managed to be as successful as they have continues to amaze. This team led the league in hitting with a .274 average – and scored the third most runs, despite having the fewest homers and fewest extra-base hits in the league – something that just feels like an oxymoron. As has been the case over the past number of seasons – and thus, really not a big surprise, Aurora has done it offensively by drawing walks – third in the SL, leading to the second best OBP, stealing bases (4th in the league) and putting the ball in play – their 839 K were the fewest in the SL. This is a team that needs that extra hit to score runs. A team with a lower batting average would lose far more games than the Borealis have.

Pedro Ferringo led the team this year with a .329 average – 2nd in the SL. He led the league with 196 H and 38-2B, while having a team high 39 SB. River Pope hit .316 and he and Paul Carlisle were in the top four for OBP. The little power that Aurora did express came from Mike Britt (35 HR – the 2nd highest total of his career, 100 RBI), Carlisle (who hit 24 HRs for the 4th straight year), and rookie Manny Castro who’s .274, 16 HR and 58 RBI will certainly garner some Wunderkind votes. ‘Fido’ also accomplished something pretty amazing – he stole 23 bases without being caught – pretty incredible for a catcher! Castro wasn’t the only rookie to join the SB parade – ‘Fudd’ Martinez in mixed time between Aurora and Thornton, stole 25, being caught just 3 times.

Long-time SS Nick Giles got off to a horrendous start and soon gave way to Teddy Loetzsch, who made the most of his chance, hitting .288 with 22-2B. It’s fair to say that Teddy was the offensive surprise of the year, while Giles – despite a strong finish, was the dud (.225). Giles’s has a team option for the coming season, and it’s a pretty fair bet he will not be returning to Aurora in 2027.

Also following the script from the past few seasons has been the pitching staff. The team and the rotation lead the SL in ERA (2.89, 2.81, respectively), while a bullpen that started out strongly limped to the finish line at 3.08, 6th in the SL. Aurora pitching allowed the fewest hits, fewest walks, the lowest BABIP, the 4th most K’s and had the most efficient defense – again, not to beat a dead horse, but with the offensive style this team has come to rely on, the pitching better be good.

Good was Michel Provost. Aurora’s Ace had a bounce-back season (only if you consider 3.01 a bad number) with a PEBA high 19 wins and a 1.70 ERA. Once again ‘Train Arollin’’ had the best WHIP, fewest BB/9 and most K/BB (13.38) and looks to be the odds on in the Golden Arm voting. Good was ‘Tugboat’. He was not quite the dominant arm he was in his own Golden Arm campaign of last year, but his 2.61 ERA was 4th best in the SL and he and Provost continue to be the dominant pair in baseball.

One guy not to be overlooked is Clark Snow. The former Amsterdam starter who led PEBA with 19 losses in 2025 and had a 4.24 ERA, tied ‘Tugboat’ with 16 wins (16-5) with a respectable 3.52 ERA. Clark struck out 173 – coupled with Provost, Smith and ‘Terror’ Diaz, the core-four starters for Aurora each struck-out 170+ batters and on average, walked 34 (Provost and Diaz balanced each other out). Clark was by far the big surprise – even if what he really did was meet expectations, although the 30 HR allowed were not what was expected from this hard throwing, groundball pitcher.

John Gray saw plenty of action in this, the first post-Burris season – Gray made 81 appearances and saved a league high 47 games, and his ERA (1.66) didn’t top 1.00 until a July 23rd blow-up against Crystal Lake.

So once more the Borealis head to the post-season and they will await the wild-card winner – be it Crystal Lake or Palm Springs, while Duluth and Shin Seiki duke it out in the other series. Aurora has a little pay back for the ‘Gnats – after blowing a 3-2 Championship Series lead to Crystal Lake. One could say the same for Duluth after their drubbing by Aurora in the opening round last year.

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PostPosted: Tue Feb 13, 2018 10:45 pm 
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Borealis Open Playoffs with Pair of Home Wins
Ray D. Enzé, NLN baseball blogger

October 16, 2026: Crystal Lake, Illinois – Crystal Lake rolled onto The Front Range in the wee hours after beating the Codgers in a game 5 wild card game, and if the bleary-eyed ‘Gnats thought they’d trash Provost the way they beat-up Codger rookie Edgardo Guerra, well… then… they had another thing coming.

Provost would nearly go the distance in Game 1, allowing 7 hits - a solo homer to Uribe being the lone blemish, in 8.1 innings, while he would be supported by Manny Castro hitting two homers in his first playoff game. Mike Britt would have a bases-loaded, 2-out double to drive home three and clinch a 7-1 win for ‘Train Arollin’’ and the Borealis. Pope, Ferringo, Castro, Medrano and Justice all had a pair of hits in support of the win.

‘Tugboat’ was looking to follow in his partner’s shadow, and he nearly did – doubles by Rincon and Ricks in the second being the only run he allowed – and that Crystal Lake would score – and perhaps that would have been enough if Tony Cuellar had had a little better control. Cuellar would allow 6 hits over 6 shut-out innings, but his 5 BBs killed his pitch count against the typically patient Borealis. The ‘Gnat’s ‘pen looked sharp – until the 9th when former-Bear, Josh Hall would give up a pinch-hit single to Domingo Gutierrez to lead off the inning. River Pope followed that with a single that sent Gutierrez to third, placing the tying run 90 feet away with no outs. Pedro Ferringo would follow Pope with a single, bringing home the tying run and saddling Hall with a blown save. Aurora would load the bases, thanks to a walk to Medrano, but Hall would strikeout Carlisle and Giles, and Boswell’s long drive would only display warning track power.

Both teams would get a man to third in the 10th, but fail to score. Gray would take care of the ‘Gnats in order in the 11th, giving Aurora the chance they needed. Ferringo would draw a walk from Hall and Medrano would bunt him over to second, bringing up Carlisle. Hall and the ‘Gnats wanted nothing to do with Aurora’s second most productive hitter and instead chose to pitch to Nick Giles – who was in the game only after Aurora manager Kata Hayagawa made the highly unusual decision to pinch run for Britt in the 8th. With the count 1-1, Ferringo broke for third and easily beat the throw, with Carlisle taking second behind him. Giles would be promptly walked to set up the force and it looked like the move might pay dividends when Boswell popped one up foul down the left-field line. Uribe gave chase over the bullpen mounds – only to drop the ball. Uribe charged with an error, Boswell was given a second life and with a full count, he made the error sting by lining an opposite field single and give the Borealis the win – and a 2-0 lead in the series.

The series now moves on to The Lake and Edgardo Diaz will open game 3 against Dean McNeil – who had two starts against Palm Springs and won both – allowing 8 H and a run in 15 IP. McNeil had three starts against Aurora, with no decisions, allowing 7 runs in 17.2 innings. Diaz was even worse, losing all three games he faced the ‘Gnats, allowing 4 homers and 12 runs in 16 IP. Clark Snow will face Tatsui Kouno in game 4. For Snow, he faced Crystal Lake twice, going only 11 innings and allowing 4 runs on 3 homers.

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PostPosted: Wed Feb 14, 2018 9:44 pm 
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Revenge-Minded Borealis Dispatch ‘Gnats
Ray D. Enzé, NLN baseball blogger

October 20, 2026: Aurora, Colorado – Nearly a full year ago the Crystal Lake Sandgnats stormed into Northern Lights Park, down 3-2, needing two wins to return to the PEC as SL Champs – and they accomplished that feat, preventing the Borealis from trying for their 5th title in 7 seasons and a 4th match-up with the F-heads of Florida.

This year, Aurora’s pitching was up to the task of shutting the ‘Gnats down.

The teams embarked onto game 3 with ‘Terror’ Diaz attempting to extend Aurora’s 2-0 lead in the series, while Dean McNeil was looking to offer his ‘mates a chance to get back into the series. Ricks, Parker and Uribe got the ‘Gnats on the board in the second by stringing three singles – two of which were infield singles, together for a run. Diaz then built more trouble in the 4th with a lead-off walk, another infield single and a Mike Britt error, loading the bases – and then a wild pitch to score Crystal Lakes second run. ‘Terror’ would strike out two to appear to get out of the inning unscathed, but Jim Klein had other ideas as he singled home two, upping the lead to 4-0.

Aurora wasn’t quite ready to call it quits, though, and Paul Carlisle would lead-off the 7th with a homer – followed by a Castro single (and stolen base). Medrano’s infield single brought Lawrence Justice to the plate as the tying run – and he’d do his part with a run scoring single to make it 4-2, and Teddy Loetzsch followed with his own 2-out RBI to inch Aurora within a run.

But that would be all the Borealis would muster in the inning and the game. River Pope would single – appearing to drive home Justice with the tying run, but a solid throw from Rincon nailed Justice for the third out at the plate.

The ‘Gnat ‘pen of Lopez, Francis and Josh Hall would shut the door on Aurora, and for ‘Gnat fans, hopefully turn the tide.

Clark Snow, though, had different ideas – and his 3-hit, 6 inning performance put the Borealis in a position to regain momentum. ‘Fido’ would start the second with a single and score on a Justice double, but the ‘Gnats got that run right back as a walk to Ricks, a Tony Parker double and a sac fly by Ed Brown would even the game. Kouno and Snow would scatter hits and keep the game tied at one into the 6th, when Ferringo would single and Britt would double him home for a 2-1 Borealis lead – then in the 7th Aurora would score three more – helped by a Jim Klein error extending the inning and giving Britt a chance for another RBI, helped by a run scoring WP – giving Aurora a 5-1 lead.

Former-Sandgnat ‘Doberman’ would pitch two innings in relief for the hold, and Ron Latour would finish the game with a 1-hit 9th – and with that, the Borealis moved on to game 5 with a chance to clinch the series before heading back to The Front Range.

One would have to assume that things were bleak for Crystal Lake with Mike Provost back on the mound and his 6-inning, 4-hit performance (along with a pair of uncharacteristic walks), coupled with Latour’s two-hitless innings kept Crystal Lake off the scoreboard going into the 9th. Meanwhile, MacCowan held Aurora to 2-hits, heading into the 5th when Aurora got all the offense they would need on this day. Medrano would lead the fifth off with a single and after MacCowan got the next two guys out, River Pope sent Medrano over to third with a single. Ferringo and Carlisle would follow Pope with singles to make it a 2-run inning. Ferringo (single) and Carlisle (1-out walk) set the table for Britt, whose double would make it a 3-0 game.

Jarrod Ricks, who homered three times in a game against Aurora earlier in the year, would touch closer John Gray for 4-bases, but that would be the best the ‘Gnats would do, as Aurora would close out the series (4-1) with a 3-1 victory – with all four Aurora victories seeing Crystal Lake managing but a single run.

Provost would be named the MVP – a 2-0 record and 1-run, 11 H over 14.1 innings, but Pope and Ferringo each had 9 hits and 2 RBI each. Britt was 6-17 with 6 RBI.

So the Borealis will jet back to Aurora, awaiting their opponent. The Evil Evas lead Duluth 3-2 as their series heads back to Minnesota with ‘Rainmaker’ looking to force a game 7 by bettering World League vet Juan Martinez, who signed an August contract with the Evas and in 10 starts was 9-0 with a 2.70 ERA – though he was the losing pitcher in game 2.

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PostPosted: Fri Feb 16, 2018 11:43 pm 
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Horn, Aurora Rift Ends in Break-Up
Ray D. Enzé, NLN baseball blogger

October 21, 2026: Aurora, Colorado – Marriages can seem to last for years, and we want them to be as strong in year 30 as they were in year 1. Inevitably, something happens. Sometimes we know what that something is, others we just fade away. In Aurora's case, something went down between their long-time scout - Joe Horn, and the Aurora Front Office, and no one is talking.

After 11 seasons as the head man of Aurora's scouting department, something happened, and it happened quickly - and it was so powerful that the Borealis have parted ways with the man who played a key role in building a team that is seeking it's 5th title in 8 seasons - before the season has even finished.

Perhaps it was a misunderstanding over money - Horn was finishing the last year of a 4-year deal that paid him $850K per season. As the season waned, Aurora approached Horn regarding his contract extension - expecting a short conversation leading to the signing of a new deal. But GM Will Topham confirmed that 'I have no intention of re-signing and returning to Aurora' was Horn's response. "And he provided no explanation. He got up from the desk and walked out of the office" Topham said.

Stunned by the revelation that some mysterious factor lead to their Head Scout planning on bailing, Aurora chose to be proactive and not wait. League records will show that Horn was fired, but in reality he was simply let go and Aurora began in earnest to look for a new Head Scout.

The search didn't take long. Within hours, Topham was back in front of the press introducing Castelwood, Colorado native Jonathan Donohue, 53, who's most recent experience was with St. John's University. Those in the know rate Donohue highly, with him particularly good at scouting the international pool of players - though his initial evaluation of the Aurora farm system varies minimally from the reports Horn left behind.

Donohue has signed a 5-year deal at $900K a season.

Horn's first draft in 2016 was a talent laden one. CF Matt Ferrell was his first selection, who would hit .298 during his time in Aurora, before being traded to West Virginia for a 1st and 3rd round pick. Also of note in that draft was C Miguel Galvez (traded in the 'Zoom' Barker deal), Junior Cook (trade bait for 'Tugboat'), River Pope and Eric Perkins (who was shipped out this past winter as part of the Flores deals).

Horn's 2017 draft brought Mike Hale and Paul Carlisle. 2019 it was Pedro Ferringo and 2020 was Pablo Medrano. 'Fido' Castro, one of this years Wunderkind candidates, was a 2022 selection. 13 of the 25-man roster this post-season were drafted under Horn's guidance, and his fingerprints can be found on the Contraction Draft selections of 'Terror' Diaz and Domingo Gutierrez, as well as the trades that brought Aurora 'Tugboat', Carlos Rivera, Clark Snow and free-agent signings of Theron Boswell and 'Doberman'.

The 'Boy Wonder' GM and Joe Horn worked closely for years, building a dynastic team out of an organization that was dynastic when they came on board. We may never find out what went down, but we do know that Jon Donohue has some mighty shoes to fill.

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PostPosted: Wed Feb 21, 2018 10:01 pm 
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'Big Whiskey' Signs 'Champagne Deal'
Ray D. Enzé, NLN baseball blogger

October 25, 2026: Duluth, Minnesota – He's been perhaps one of the most underpaid players in the Planetary Extreme Baseball Alliance - and some may argue he will continue to be so, particularly when you take Theron Boswell's $23M deal into consideration, but for a home grown player who signed out of his signed out of his private Tennessee high school that didn't even offer a baseball program - staying with the Borealis has been what he's wanted ever since.

Mike Britt, 'The Big Tennesseean', 'Big Whiskey' has once again put aside massive financial gain for the chance to perhaps finish his career on The Front Range.

GM Will Topham assembled the press earlier this morning - a quiet lull hung around team headquarters at the Duluth Sheraton after the teams 8-5 loss, in 10-innings, thanks to the untimely lost of control by closer John Gray, turning a likely 4-3 win for Michel Provost into an ugly loss and a 1-0 deficit in the Sovereign League Alliance Series. The news of Britt's new contract brought cheers from the assembled press - and word was that the assembled team in the visitors clubhouse at Doyle Buhl Stadium suddenly had an extra hop behind their steps.

Britt, a 4-time champion with the Borealis and the 2023 PEC MVP and Royal Raker winner, will make $16M in 2027 with $4M bumps over the next 3-years, with his potential 2030 salary topping out at $28M. I say potential because that year is a vesting year, with his needing to have 500 plate appearances to vest. Only once has he failed to have at least 500 PA, in 2024 when a late season concussion kept him sidelined until the following spring - an injury that may have spelled the end of Aurora's chase for a fourth straight title (which ended in a 4-3 loss to the Evil Evas in the Divisional Round).

"Mike was clear he wanted to stay, and his willingness to compromise on next years salary, in exchange for more money over the next two years - allowing us to keep our salary-base in line with our projected budget, was the key to getting a deal done." Topham said "The last thing We wanted to see - both the Club and player, was Mike ending up in Japan or Illinois or the Central Valley," and comically he winked at the crowded room, "and I think you all know what I mean!"

A 4-time All-Star, the 2015 Canadian Alliance MVP (AA) and Organization Minor League Hitter of the Year, turned 32 a month ago but is coming off one of his best seasons. He hit .252 for the second straight year, and his 35 home runs is the second highest of his career (37 in his Royal Raker season) and his 100 RBIs were the third most of his career (his 125 in 2023 is his best, and led the SL). Britt is Aurora's All-Time HR leader, with a career total of 287 (former 2-time Royal Raker Cory Pierce is second with 185) and he leads the club with 953 RBI (Pierce had 813). Britt is near the top of many career totals for Aurora - some which will be surpassed in the coming season - two-and-a-half weeks into 2027 he will surpass Jose Rivera's 1518 games played in Aurora Blue and by the time the end of May is on the horizon he will have the most AB's of any player to play for the Borealis. Likely to fall are Steve McDonald's hit total (363 more needed) and runs total (160 more). He also needs just 15 K to catch McDonald and Pierce's 775 strikeouts - a figure that if nothing else illustrated his longevity - he's played nearly 400 more games than Pierce did.

Britt's 287 homers is 21st All-Time in the PEBA - with another year like 2026 potentially moving him up to 15th.

No matter where he may end up, for now, fans on The Front Range are no doubt feeling electric and a team that saw a decline in season ticket sales this year should see a big bump next year - particularly with a strong finish this year. What it also does for Aurora is leave the team with only one player on the roster without a contract for next year - longest-tenured on the team, 'Stork' Holbrook, who the team believes will sign a new deal after the season - when they can take advantage of contract rules for players of his status. Either way, it's a slam dunk that a deal will be done for Holbrook. Adrian Peterson will be allowed to walk after his vesting contract obviously didn't vest after his season-ending injury during spring training.

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PostPosted: Sat Feb 24, 2018 12:03 am 
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Bullpen Woes Continue, Duluth Splits Opening Pair
Ray D. Enzé, NLN baseball blogger

October 26, 2026: Duluth, Minnesota – As the summer wore on, the Borealis bullpen seemed to falter with increasing frequency - leaving the team with the 6th best 'pen by season's end, after spending most of the first half of the season at or near the top of the SL.

But John Gray and his SL leading 47 saves, was mostly rock-solid. That was, until Game 1.

Mike Provost took the mound in Game 1 of the SL Alliance Series, giving Aurora hope against a team that clearly had the Borealis' number over the course of the season. 'Peppers' Emory came into Game 1 after a solid 15-4, 2.25 record over the season - including an excellent 7-inning, 2-hit performance in late September against Aurora.

Early on Duluth managed a few hits against Provost, but when Emery walked Castro and Boswell in the second, he seemed to come unhinged - throwing one to the backstop and then crossing up catcher Carlos Galvan, with 'Fido' scoring the first run of the game. Emery would right himself and match Provost over the next two innings, taking the game into the 5th.

Galvan would help his battery mate out, singling and stealing a base with one-out in the 5th, and then Ishikawa would double him home to tie the game. Provost would shut down any chance for a rally by getting Wallace and former-Auroran Joe Kenny. Despite having a lead, and then being tied, Aurora didn't have a hit going into the bottom of the 5th, but Lawrence Justice would see to that with a single - followed by a stolen base, mirroring the start of Duluth's 5th inning run. After moving to third on a fly ball, hobbled River Pope - achy ankle feeling 'a world better' would single him home with 2-out and give Aurora the lead right back.

After 'Train Arollin'' stranded Justavo after a lead-off double, the Aurora offense rolled for some more runs. Carlisle singled to lead things off, stole second and scored on an RBI single by 'Big Whiskey' to make it 3-1. Castro would be walked - looking to set-up the DP after Britt moved to second on the throw home - there was no real chance to get Carlisle. The move to walk Castro looked good as Boswell and Medrano couldn't get a run in, but Teddy Loetzsch - clutch all year, singled to make it a crooked number and give Aurora the 4-1 lead heading into the 7th.

Joe Kenny would open with a hustle double - off a pitch that Provost was clearly upset with - and the possibility of fatigue also looked to be settling in as Mike grooved a 1-1 pitch to Justavo - who hit it deep into the left-field bleachers - making it a 1-run game. Holbrook would come on and close out the inning, giving Aurora the narrow 4-3 lead for John Gray to protect.

But on this day, Gray's control looked like it had already headed off to the Florida beaches for the off-season. He walked Ishikawa. Then, after getting an 0-2 count on Barry Wallace, Wallace drove one high over the wall in right - out into Cherry Creek Lake and suddenly the Borealis found themselves down 5-4.

Aurora wasn't quite done, though. Jose Hernandez would get the first two outs of the 9th, but Teddy Loetzsch would keep things alive with a single. 'Fudd' Martinez would come in as a pinch runner and it would pay immediate dividends as Pope would single with 'Fudd' racing to 3rd. Hernandez would jam Pedro Ferringo on a 2-1, but Pedro got enough bat on it to roll it towards first, but Ferringo would beat Hernandez to the bag and allowing Martinez to score the tying run.

But things continued to look ugly for the Aurora 'pen - and signs of Duluth's bats - which pretty much beat Aurora up all season, getting warm. Bruce McGuire ripped a 1-out double off Gray, followed by a walk to Cisneros. A double steal put two runners in scoring position and got the bullpen rolling for Aurora. Gray would walk the next two - and walk in the go ahead (and winning) run. Ron Latour would relieve the beleaguered Gray and promptly cough-up a 2-run double to Wallace to make the final score 8-5.

This battle-tested club would probably not come to the ball park for Game 2 in a sour mood - with a significant body of this club wearing three PEC rings, being down 1-nil is really nothing, but the news of Mike Britt's contract extension had everyone walking with a little hop and taking the field with a renewed mood.

Of course, sending the defending Golden Arm and former PEC MVP, 'Tugboat', out to the mound, is certain to be a shot in the arm.

Here's the key info you need from this game: the bullpen pitched to one batter.

Randy Smith was his dominant self as he would allow only 5-hits and a single walk in his 8.2 shut-out innings. It wasn't until the 9th that Duluth managed more than one baserunner - they would load the bases with 2-outs, scaring the wits out of the rabid fans, but the 'Doberman' would come on and strike Paul Dilworth out to close out the game.

Aurora would score three solo runs for their 3-0 Game 2 win, with the big blow being a Manny Castro homer in the 4th.

So the series moves to Duluth, tied at 1-1, with 'Terror' Diaz facing 'Rainmaker', who had the second most wins in the league (18, second only to Provost) in Game 3. Thomas made three starts against Aurora, and despite his 0-1 record, posted a very nice 2.77 ERA in 13 innings, striking out 16 - but walking 6. Diaz had only a single start against the Warriors, giving u 6 hits in 6 IP, allowing 3 runs.

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PostPosted: Sat Feb 24, 2018 8:50 pm 
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Diaz 'Terrorizes' Warriors, Makes History
Ray D. Enzé, NLN baseball blogger

October 27, 2026: Duluth, Minnesota – Edgardo 'Terror' Diaz was the 5th overall selection in the 2020 draft by then-Desert Hills rival Tempe, but by Christmas '25, he found his team mates headed to Long Beach and himself off to The Front Range, thanks to the PEBA Contraction Draft. 'Terror' found himself traveling up & down I-70 between Aurora and Thornton as he searched for the promise that his high draft position and faith the Borealis placed in him. After spending most of 2025 at Thornton and being named the RML Pitcher of the Year, he settled into Aurora's rotation and was 14-8 with a 2.98 ERA this year. But no accomplishment up to today illustrated the promise Diaz has held.

Today, Edgardo Diaz pitched a no-hitter - in the playoffs!! And ironically, the first no-no by an Auroran pitcher since Martin Francisco's perfect game in September of 2023 was against the same team.

As the SL Alliance series shifted to Duluth, things looked to favor the Warriors as 'Rainmaker' took the mound, looking to get the Warriors the series lead. Thomas looked strong, starting off striking out the side in the first, as he pitched around a two-out walk and stolen base by Carlisle. Diaz would hit former-Borealis Harley Schneider, but that would be all the Warriors would get in their half.

The two pitchers would trade near perfect innings - only a Thomas walk would disrupt the flow, but in the top of the 4th Britt and Boswell would single, but Castro, Loetzsch and Justice would fail to drive home a run. Diaz' biggest challenge came in the bottom of the fifth as he would end up loading the bases on walks, with 2-out, but after working the count full, another former-Borealis - Joe Kenny, would swing through the 3-2 pitch with the bases a carousel, striking out and ending Duluth's lone threat on the day.

The 6th led off with 'Rainmaker' hitting Medrano and then they would be bailed out by Thomas as he threw a wild pitch, moving Medrano into scoring position. Paul Carlisle didn't hesitate as he singled on a 1-0 pitch, driving home Medrano and giving Aurora a 1-0 lead. From there on, each batter found himself heading back to the dugout after his at-bat.

So on to the 9th - the crowd buzzing in anticipation - in anticipation of a possible history making no-no, and in anticipation of a Duluth rally and walk-off win. Justavo looped a ball down the right field line that looked headed for the seats, but Carlisle raced in and made the excellent play on the ball for the first out in the 9th. Harley bounced one in the hole at short, but Britt made a nifty half-dive and a solid throw to first for the second out.

That left long-time headache Bruce McGuire separating 'Terror' from fame. He would work the count in his favor, 3-1, but he lifted a lazy fly to center, Pope snared it and 'Terror' Diaz had his no-hitter. He came close back on September 9th, when he one-hit Yuma in a complete game, but this one gives Aurora a 2-1 lead in the series.

Diaz was humble in his discussing the game afterwards - praising his catcher and defense, and especially Carlisle for the late inning catch and the lone RBI in the game. For the young man from Peoria, Arizona and the Aurora front office, they hope this is just the beginning of the big break through for 'Terror'.

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PostPosted: Wed Feb 28, 2018 8:13 pm 
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Duluth 'Flips the 2025 Script', Head to PEC
Ray D. Enzé, NLN baseball blogger

October 31, 2026: Aurora, Colorado – Last season, Aurora manhandled the Duluth Warriors in the Divisional round of the playoffs before a painful Game 7 loss in the Alliance Championship to Crystal Lake. This year the script has been flipped, and after coasting past the 'Gnats for a first round victory, not even 'Terror's no-no was enough to lead the Borealis as they would lose three excruciating games in a row - propelling the Warriors to their first PEC against another first-timer, the Kentucky Thoroughbreds.

Excruciating, as in having a 5-0 lead after four turns in Game 4, only to watch Clark Snow implode - his season stats v. Duluth were not exemplary, with Guillermo Justavo and former-Borealis Harley Schneider homering back-to-back to lead off the 6th and give the Warriors the runs they needed to win.

Excruciating, as in McGuire and Prat with RBI groundouts after three bases-loading singles to start the game, in a rough first inning for Provost - who allowed only 3 more hits in his 6.2 IP. Ruben Hernandez would spread 8 Aurora hits over 7 innings - a Justice RBI single being the only blemish on his line, as Duluth took a 3-2 lead in the series with a 2-1 win in Game 5.

Excruciating, as in Manager Kata Hayagawa's bewildering decision to remove 'Tugboat' after 8, 3-hit innings, with 7 K and only a run allowed - totally dominant. John Gray, totally not dominant, promptly allowing 3-runs in the 9th, turning a forcing-Game 7 2-1 win into a series winning 4-2 win for Duluth. The game would be the second U-G-L-Y, You Ugly blown save for the Aurora closer.

Those of us who followed Aurora closely over the season may have seen this coming - Duluth's offense devoured Aurora pitching all season, and as August and September rolled by, the bullpen numbers for the Borealis continued to look weaker and weaker and, frankly, disturbing. Yes, Aurora's 110 wins were the best in the league, but one may argue that Duluth truly is what they are now - the best the SL has.

To be fair to John Gray, he was not alone in his poor play costing the Borealis. Pedro Ferringo (.217), Paul Carlisle (.190) and 'Big Whiskey' (.174) - three of Aurora's biggest bats and run creators, also struggled mightily.

And so another season has come to an end, and it's back to the drawing board. There are certainly some changes and needs. As we look this team over, another starter and help in the 'pen seem obvious, but the offense has been outfield heavy, and despite Britt's contract extension, he really is the bulk of the infield's offensive contribution. We would expect to see movement soon, as Will Topham's M.O. over the years has been to address next season's payroll first.

As always, the offseason promises to be interesting.

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PostPosted: Wed Feb 28, 2018 8:53 pm 
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Aurora Lets Giles Walk
Ray D. Enzé, NLN baseball blogger

November 1, 2026: Aurora, Colorado – The writing was on the wall for most of the season - and as his average hovered at .141 in mid-June, Nick Giles days were no doubt numbered.

Twice a playoff MVP (2022-3), but never an All-Star, and Nick Giles was the starting shortstop for seven seasons, during which he hit .269 with 86 HR and 511 RBI. He has been a member of the recent four championship squads for who he hit .301 during those four post-seasons. Now he is a 34-year old free agent wondering where he may play next - if at all.

Giles was a Supplemental pick (38th overall) in the 2014 draft, out of Arizona, and quickly moved up the ranks - spending a season at each level before splitting 2017 between Thornton (AAA) and Aurora. But when then-3rd year player Mike Britt went down with a biceps injury in mid-June of 2018, Giles was brought up for good. By 2019 he was the starter for good, and in an-injury interrupted season he hit .325 with 16 HRs - numbers that would make that first full season his second best for his career. In 2021, the first of the Three-peat Championships, he hit .303, with 17 HRs and 115 RBI - which would lead the SL.

But over the last 4 years, injuries would plague him, limiting his play and reducing his effectiveness. This year he was replaced in the starting line-up by Teddy Loetzsch (who hit .288 with twice as many BB's as K's) and was limited to 38 games. He did come on late in the year and get his season average up to .225, but with the Club holding two team options on his contract for $7.5M and $8.5M, it was becoming clear as the summer passed that this was to be Giles last season on The Front Range.

Giles shrugged of the team's decision as 'baseball business' and would 'consider all possible options - including retirement' before making any commitments. "It's hunting season in northern New Mexico (his home state), and once I 'dot my i's and cross my t's' here, that's where I'm headed."

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PostPosted: Fri Mar 02, 2018 9:50 pm 
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First Wave of Contracts Hit Aurora
Ray D. Enzé, NLN baseball blogger

November 8, 2026: Aurora, Colorado – The fans may be on the verge of hysteria in Kentucky as their Thoroughbreds are on the verge of their first title, leading Duluth 3-1, while those here on The Front Range have settled into the offseason and wait - and observe what the Borealis front office have in store for them.

On the heels of the release of Nick Giles - and the pending parting with 'Javelin', Aurora has a fair amount of budget space for salaries this offseason, and they've begun the process by signing three existing players to 1-year deals which will avoid arbitration. All three have signed for what experts view as the lower end of their estimates.

First off is closer John Gray who, despite his devastating implosion against Duluth, signed for a 2027 salary of $2.9M - a $500K pay raise. In his first season as the full-time closer, Gray appeared in exactly half of Aurora's games this year (81) with 47 saves and a 1.66 ERA. He struck out 124 in 86.2 innings. Gray, a 4th rounder in 2015 has just finished his 5th full-season with Aurora, appearing in 374 games with a 2.17 ERA since his debut in 2021. In 406 innings he's amassed 561 K and 77 saves. Gray will be a free agent after this coming season.

Pablo Medrano, Aurora's starting 1B this year, and a 3rd-year starter, hit .245 with 12 HR and 64 RBI, earning him an $800K salary for 2027, thus by-passing his first arbitration year. Pablo was a 1st round pick in 2025, who's minor league numbers were promising, but since his rookie seasons - where he hit .279, the past three seasons have him just shy of the mediocre .250 line, those his 12 homers this year are twice what he hit each of the past two years. Pablo's position is one of flux, and his cost-value makes it see to keep, but the performance Aurora has got out of the soon to be 28-year old has been underwhelming. Most feel Aurora would love a new 3B and move Mike Britt over to 1B.

The third contract signed is Aurora's 1st round pick in 2018, infielder Gabe McIntyre, signing a $950K contract for next year - a $100K salary increase. Aurora has expected a lot from McIntyre, but somewhat like Medrano, he's not quite performed. That said, after hitting for a combined .227 in 2024-5, he did hit .287 in 72 games as he mostly split time at 1B and 2B, with some work at short. It's that versatility and excellent defense that has made him a valuable member of the team. Aurora has no qualms about holding onto Gabe for what h's been the past three years - that all too valuable utility player. He has one more arbitration year before earning free agency.

With the signing of Gray, Medrano and McIntyre, Aurora is left with Lando Lagerveld, Tomas Flores and Teddy Loetzsch facing arbitration - and the club has informed us that they've also all been offered contracts for next year in an attempt to avoid arbitration. That leaves Clark Snow and Edgardo Diaz as the only two arbitration-eligible players what Aurora has yet to reach a deal with - and thus facing arbitration hearings.

Lastly, 'Doberman' has a contract for next year, but both sides have options, so we shall see how that all pans out. Contreras would make $6M should he and the team agree to opt-in to the contract.

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PostPosted: Sat Mar 03, 2018 1:41 pm 
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Extensions Gone Wild
Ray D. Enzé, NLN baseball blogger

November 11, 2026: Aurora, Colorado – They may not be girls, and they may all have their clothes on - we aren't talking about those videos of college co-eds back in the day, when those conversations could safely be had. No, we're talking about the Borealis' continued move towards avoiding the Arbiter's hammer and solidifying the 2027 salary distribution before free agency hits.

Signed, utility infielder-turned starting shortstop, Teddy Loetzsch, who eschewed arbitration in his first year of eligibility, by agreeing to a $3.2M contract for the coming season. Signed as a minor league free agent at the start of the 2017 season, Teddy was the target of numerous clubs during trade talks - most notably San Antonio, and then the ill-fated Rio Grande club - both run by former-PEBA Commissioner Trader Matt Higgins. Rio Grande had gone as far as drafting Loetzsch in the 2021 Rule 5 draft - only to return him to Aurora weeks later when Rio Grade suddenly chose to go in a different direction, personal-wise. 2024 was Teddy's first 'full-season' with the club, where injuries to Giles to start the season and Britt to end the year, saw him get quality time - netting him 500 AB and a .266 average. 2026 started the same - a Giles injury, and when Nick's performance quickly went south, Loetzsch became the starting shortstop, hitting .288 in 103 games.

The second signing is a curious one. Lando Lagerveld, saw his season end in mid-June with Tommy John surgery. It also was the second severe elbow injury - a flexor tendon ended his 2023 season after 23 starts and a 3.41 ERA at Gatineau. Upon returning from the first injury in 2024, Lagerveld went straight to a 'minor league rehab assignment' in late August, as the arcane PEBA roster rules had him out of options. Three AAA starts for Thornton - and a 3.24 ERA over 16 IP gave Aurora hope - but 5 relief appearances that sported 15 ER in 7.2 innings, gave the squad concern - but people within the organization continued to have faith in their 2022 Supplemental pick. Over the past year-and-a-half, Lagerveld has made 48 appearances with a 4.21 ERA. With the club maintaining hope for the soon-to-be 26-year old Dutchman, his willingness to take a small pay raise in his first arbitration eligible offseason, to $800 K, has kept him on the club.

It's recognized that the club has three more arby eligible players - one whom they have acknowledge to have offers out to - Tomas Flores - who some estimates have him well north of $5M should he have a hearing. Reliever Ron Latour - who actually has a team option for 2027, has apparently been offered a new deal that guarantees 2027 and includes more years. We shall see.

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PostPosted: Thu Apr 05, 2018 8:33 pm 
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2027 Relief Corp Begins to Take Shape
Ray D. Enzé, NLN baseball blogger

November 12, 2026: Aurora, Colorado – Aurora struggled down the home stretch with their relief help - to the point that their bowing out of the race for the Rodriguez Cup hung on the bullpen's shoulders. Today Aurora took steps to rounding the 'pen into shape by bringing back one of the solid arms, seemingly inking two others to extensions, and trading for a guy they had targeted but whiffed on back in April.

For starters, Ron Latour had a team option on his contract worth $3.7M. The guaranteed that with an added guaranteed $3.9M for 2028, assuring the 28-year old Canadian will e celebrating his 30th on The Front Range. Latour appeared in 40 games while throwing 67.1 IP. His 2.00 ERA was impressive and reflected the consistent effort he put out all season. His BB/K ratio may not be quite what the team likes to see, but the fact that he surrendered a single homer on the season was a huge plus for a team whose staff has struggled with the long ball.

Also returning (in all likelihood) is long-time Aurora reliever 'Stork' Holbrook. Drafted in the 1st round of GM Will Topham's first draft in 2011, Holbrook has a full 12 seasons under his belt. His 2026 numbers were similar to Latour's - despite 'Stork's 37-years of age: 2.00 ERA, 2-HRA, and a team-pleasing 38 K, 9 BB in 45 IP. For his career he is 5th in ERA on the Borealis all-time list - and 5th in saves - despite never being the official closer at any point in his career. He is comfortably in 2nd in appearances by a pitcher - well behind Bryant Burris. He has been tendered a Veterans Execption contract - valued at $4.132M, for 2027, that is expected to be signed in the coming days.

Also expected to sign a new contract - after opting out of his contract after only a year, is the 'Doberman' - Ramon Contreras. The 34-year old vet who was signed as a free-agent from Crystal Lake during the previous offseason. Contreras made 40 appearances out of the 'pen and in 48.2 innings posted 1.29 ERA and struck out 42 with 10 BB. He surrendered 4 homers. His new contract offer - which was received positively by 'Doberman' and his agent, is rumored to be worth $7.8M for two years - with another opt-out after the 2027 season.

Lastly, Aurora completed a trade with the Sandgnats for a reliever that reminds them of Holbrook - whom they had attempted to acquire from San Juan last season - only to have the 'Gnats beat them to the punch. Field spent most of 2026 at AAA, where he saved 26 games with a 1.47 ERA for Evanston. In 55 IP he struck out 63, walked 17 and gave up a single homer. In 9 appearances with the 'Gnats his ERA was 2.09. The 27-year old leftie will make the league minimum and is yet to be arbitration eligible. He features a nasty sinker and curve and is known as a ground ball pitcher. Aurora sent 20-year old infielder Luan Carlos Gutierrez, who was an International find out of Chile as well as their 5th round and 15th round draft picks to Crystal Lake.

Not returning for next year will be the 'Javelin', Adrian Peterson, who spent the entire season on the DL with a tear in his shoulder, which prevented his 2027 contract from vesting - and as a consequence, saving the Borealis $13.5M in salary space. Peterson earned 57 saves with a 2.92 ERA in his two seasons for Aurora. They are not expected to offer him a contract - at least to begin the free agent period; they may reconsider if he is still available come the spring. Chances are, the Aurora period of his career has come to an end.

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PostPosted: Sun Apr 08, 2018 1:20 pm 
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2027 Contractual Updates
Ray D. Enzé, NLN baseball blogger

November 21, 2026: Aurora, Colorado – The Borealis announced today the 'dotting the i's and crossing the t's' on the contracts of a number of players:

- After opting-out of year two of his contract, Ramon Contreras has agreed to a two-year deal worth $7.8M per, with an opt-out after the 2027 season. The deal brings back the 34-year old right-hander back after being one of the teams most consistent bullpen arms in 2026.

- The club avoided arbitration with 26-year old, left-handed hitting CF Tomas Flores, signing him to a 1-year deal worth $5.1M - a potential savings for the club, as the rumor mill on the internet had he pegged for a higher arbitration gain - despite missing the last month of the season and the playoffs. Flores hit a somewhat disappointing .264 in his first season on The Front Range.

- 37-year old left-handed reliever Ryan Holbrook signed a 'veterans exemption' deal worth $4.132M, bringing back the longest tenured member of the team - drafted 24th overall in the 2011 draft. There is a lot of speculation that this was more a favor to 'Stork' who has spoken fondly about retiring as a career Borealis - despite his lowest ERA and WHIP of his career - and second lowest BABIP. Although many expect this to be his last year - or at minimum, his last at Aurora, it will be interesting to see what happens if he posts another ERA in the low 2's - as he has in the last three seasons.

Failing to negotiate contracts and destined for arbitration are starting pitchers Clark Snow and 'Terror' Diaz.

- Diaz, drafted by Aurora with their first pick in the Contraction Draft - out of Tempe, finally flourished in the starters role. The soon to be 28-year old creamed the competition at AAA in 2025, winning the Outstanding Pitcher Award in the Rocky Mountain League, and followed with a stellar 14-8, 2.98 ERA for Aurora in 2026. He's expected to be asking for a salary increase that at least doubles his 2026 figure.

-Snow - acquired from Amsterdam for Eduardo Romano and Bill Jones, started 2026 strongly, then just kind of meandered through the rest of the year, managing to finish with an ERA under 4 (3.52), mostly hurt be the 30 homers he gave up - tied for the fourth highest total; perplexing for a guy who is viewed by all scouts as a definite roundball pitcher. Still he had one of the best K/BB ratios and the 4th best WHIP - his 16 wins were tied with 'Tugboat' as the 5th best in the SL.

With those contracts all but done, only three players remain without deals: Adrian Peterson, who still sits on the DL and does not expect to begin rehabbing for another 3 weeks, whose contract did not vest and the team does not expect to offer a contract. Minor league C Luis Villanueva and OF Chandler Wright were the only minor leaguers who have declined minor league extensions and will be allowed to seek greener pastures through free agency.

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PostPosted: Tue May 08, 2018 10:43 pm 
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Minor Deal Allows Aurora an Eye on Future
Ray D. Enzé, NLN baseball blogger

February 8, 2027: Grand Junction, Colorado – The calendar turned a page as the official start of the 2027 PEBA preseason has a arrived. Although the offseason has been a slow one as free agents have taken their time selecting their new homes - it has been also a reasonably quiet one for Aurora - a trade for a relief pitcher (Dan Field), a free agent signee ('Chief' Nieves) and now, a second deal that adds to their early round draft position.

Aurora announced - as the team began assembling at the Back Range spring home in Grand Junction, that they struck a deal with West Virginia that involved draft picks and cash.

The Alleghenies have sent Aurora's way their 1st and 3rd round draft picks for this June's draft, in exchange for $6M in cash and the Borealis' 4th round pick. As fate would have it, Aurora now is in possession of West Virginia's first three selections - as they acquired the Alleghenies 2nd round pick in a deal with Duluth - who had acquired it from Toyama.

This deal gives Aurora two late round picks in each of the first three rounds. Aurora, as part of these deals, has traded the 4th, 5th and 15th round picks - keeping their total number of picks equal, but obviously increasing Aurora's chances of picking up some quality talent. Once again the Borealis and their Boy Wonder GM continue to follow the organizational blue print - build primarily through the draft.

The deal is not without it's detractors, as in picking up the three West Virginia picks, the club has moved $9M in cash - money the team could no doubt use as the team salary scale has hit a club - and PEBA, All-Time high of $218M - and very little wiggle room if they expect to end 2027 in the black. Faced with a division that has struggled to keep up, at least the Borealis stand a good chance of October baseball and more revenue - increasing the likelihood of black numbers at the bottom of the balance sheet.

So, with Spring Training on the horizon, one question I would have is this: Will those West Virginia picks remain on the Front Range come draft day?

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