The Parksville Royals have trimmed their roster to 19 players for the start of the season.
The B.C. Premier Baseball League’s Royals were back in action at Inouye Wallace Field for a split squad game where coaches had a final look before finalizing the 2014 roster.
The large number of players attending winter ball and spring camp was a pleasant surprise for head coach Dave Wallace.
“We had a lot of guys out for winter ball, which was really encouraging to see,” Wallace said. “Our program has been improving and now we’re to the point where we get to be in a position to actually trim down our roster. It’s a luxury we didn’t have over the last couple of seasons, so it’s a nice change.”
Out of the 19 that made the roster, there are five from the Parksville area: Justin Dieleman, Andrew Evernden, Josh Anderson, Nic Annau and Liam Ballance. Four are returning to the Royals while Anderson spent last season with the Abbotsford Cardinals.
“We’ve got 10 returning players from last season, so we’ll have more experience this season,” said assistant coach Bruce Biro. “That will be nice for us because we’ve got eight players in Grade 11 and seven players in Grade 10. It’s a good mix of players so to watch it all come together is going to be great. They’re all eager so we’re ready to get out there and get the season started.”
The Royals now have four more exhibition games to play before heading to Kamloops for the Best in the West tournament April 3–6.
Then the Royals will open the season on the road against the Victoria Eagles on April 12. The home opener will be an April 26 double header against the North Shore Twins.
The Best in the West will see a number of Major League Baseball scouts on hand to see the talent ahead of the MLB amateur draft in June. Last year’s tournament drew scouts from 12 big league teams as well as lots of colleges and Canadian National Team head coach Greg Hamilton.
“It’s a good, competitive tournament. It’s always a good way to kick off the season, especially because we get to see some of the mainland teams before our season starts off too. So the extra scouting we can get in will only help us out,” Biro said.
The Royals will be looking to improve on their six wins from last season, which Wallace is optimistic about.
“We’re a more seasoned team heading into this year, so we will be much more competitive and hanging in with some of the tougher teams. We struggled with that a lot last season but we’ve put together the group that we feel will help us the best out there on the field.”