The Kingston Cannons are defying expectations, and expert’s predictions, with an incredible start to Spring Training so far. The team is currently 11-1 after yesterday’s 8-4 win over the Boston Brawlers, and they appear to be giving no signs of letting up anytime soon.
Their offense is getting plenty of help up and down the batting order, including frequent hits from rookie Justin Guinn (RF). The lefty hitting bench player is batting .500 through 10 games, 12 plate appearances in total. He has homered and tripled, with 2 RBIs. Meanwhile, 2016 Gold Crown winner at 3B Xavier de Soto is batting .360, scoring 10 runs and batting in 3. De Soto seems destined for another trip to the All-Star Game should his high offense continue again this year.
Free agent acquisition Matt Keels (C) is hitting a solid .357, scoring 5 runs in the process. Keels spent 2016 with the New York Minutemen, though he was platooned behind the plate and amassed only 17 plate appearances over 7 games. He has already nearly doubled those appearances this spring and is on track to be named the starting catcher for this year.
The Cannons pitching has been effective, as well. Reliever Dave Goudie, who has only 19 games at the major level, is 1-1 with a 1.64 ERA after 3 appearances in relief, clocking a solid 0.91 WHIP and striking out 12 batters in 11 innings. He has let to allow a walk, suggesting he spent time in the off-season working on his pitch control.
Nate Noftle has yet to allow a hit or a run in 8.0 innings, covering two appearances. Noftle has secured a 2-0 record. The southpaw pitched in 12 starts with Kingston last season, and had a 3-5 record, but has steadily improved his pitch control through off-season workouts and should be considered in the top ten among Lake League Sandy Koufax Award contenders this year.
In the bullpen, left-handed closer Craig Brunori has been perfect, earning a save in each of his five appearances. He led the Lake League in saves in 2015, after arriving in an off-season trade with Arizona that spring, and could repeat the feat and claim a Woodchuck Trophy this season.
The team was busy after last season in bolstering their on field coaching team, signing rookie pitching coach Andrew Hakes, who is said to enjoy working with pitchers like Noftle and Brunori.
In addition to Hakes, team doctor Joe Bini joined the franchise. Bini has spent numerous years in the Bull League as a team trainer, with incredible skill at rehabilitating young pitching arms that helped the Jacksonville Ravens with 10 trips to the playoffs during his time with that team.
All teams have a day off to rest today from the spring schedule, though most are running their infielders and pitchers through intense practice sessions and inter-squad drills. Kingston is back in action tomorrow against the division rival Montreal Metros at 1:05 pm.