New Look NJ Jackals for 2014
The last time we saw the New Jersey Jackals, was in game seven of the Can-Am League Championship Series, where the Jackals fell to the Quebec Capitales 12-7 after coming back from coming back from 3-0 deficit to tie the series at 3-3. The Jackals team from that series to the Jackals team in 2014 is very different.
The 2014 New Jersey Jackals will have a whole new look from 2013. A crop of new players are ready to play for the Jackals, while some big name Jackals for the past few season have moved on to other ball clubs.
The Jackals new faces start with two former New York Mets prospects Alonzo Harris and Michael Antonini . Harris was second baseman in the Mets organization making it up to as high as Double-A with the Binghamton Mets. He will add the some speed at the top of the Jackals lineup as well as a good utility player in the field being able to play both the infield and outfield. Antonini will be a new starting pitcher for the Jackals in their rotation for 2014. During his time in the Mets organization, Antonini made it all the way up to the Triple-A level and was even invited to Mets spring training back before in 2010 before being traded to the Los Angeles Dodgers where he pitched at the Triple-A level and made the Dodgers 40 Man roster during 2012 season.
Besides Harris and Antonini, another new additions to the Jackals include former Toronto Blue Jays prospect Jon Talley, and former Miami Marlins prospect Tony Caldwell. Talley a talented first baseman, will help bring some pop to the Jackals lineup. Talley hit 20 home runs in a season up at Single A level and is an on base machine. If Talley can stay healthy, he will be a big upgrade at the first base position offensively and defensively. Caldwell was a catcher in the Marlins organization. Known for his ability to throw out runners and block the plate, Caldwell will be a nice addition to the Jackals at the catcher position. The biggest flaw on Caldwell is his performance at the plate. During his 3 years in the Marlins organization, Caldwell never had a batting average over .240 at the Single A level.
These new Jackals will be in charge of replacing some key players for the Jackals the past few seasons. Third baseman Nick Giarraputo and outfielder Bryan Sabatella are among players from the 2013 Jackals roster who will not be on the team for 2014 season .
Giarraputo played the past three seasons for the Jackals. During his time with the Jackals, Giarraputo was a huge part of the Jackals offense. He hit over .300 in his first two seasons with the Jackals, and in 2012 was the Jackals best player. Giarraputo had 22 home runs and 74 rbi for for the Jackals in the 2012 and was named Can-Am Player of the year. With a huge 2012 season, Giarraputo became the leader of the Jackals, but unfortunately did not have a All Star season in 2013. Giarraputo only hit .280 on the season and was a non factor in the Can-Am league championship series for the Jackals, coming up small in important situations, which led to the Jackals trading him to the Kansas City T-Bones in the offseason.
Another member of that trade was outfielder Bryan Sabatella. Sabatella was a fan favorite during his three seasons with the Jackals. A tremendous outfielder, Sabatella was a great all around player for the Jackals, making plays with his glove and getting key hit at the plate. In all three season Sabatella was either second or first in rbi for the Jackals and was a speed demon on the bases as well. In 2012 Sabatella stole 42 bases, which was a Jackals single season record at the time, until it was broken by teammate Chris Curran in 2013.
With both Giarraputo and Sabatella gone, the Jackals will need to count on some returning players to step up as leaders. That starts with returning shortstop Jeremy Barnes. Barnes was a Can-Am All-Star for the Jackals in 2013 and lead the team in batting with a .320 average. Also returning is starting pitcher Isaac Pavlik. Pavlik, who has been the Jackals ace since 2011, is back for the 2014 after tearing his ACL last July that cut short his 2013 season. Pavlik lead the Jackals in wins and ERA in both 2011 and 2012. Before he got hurt last season, Pavlik was 4-4 with a 3.38 ERA
A season with new face and all, the Jackals still have the same goal in mind and that is to win the Can-Am League Championship this season. The Jackals start their quest for their 5th Can-Am League title in 2014 when they visit the Three Rivers Eagles for a three game series starting Thursday May 22nd.
Update: The Jackals started there 2014 season with a bang. The Jackal swept the Three Rivers Eagles to start 3-0 on the season. The Jackals next game with b their home opener at Yogi Berra Stadium on Tuesday May 27th, when they take on the defending Can-Am league Champions the Quebec Capitales.
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