In this series, we pay attention to the transactions in the highest Belgian baseball league, Baseball Gold (BBG). We continue with the club that finished fourth in the regular season: Hoboken Pioneers.
After a stay of one season in the Belgian Eerste Klasse (second-tier league), Hoboken Pioneers returned to the BBG in 2018. The club finished with a 15-24 record in fourth place. In 2019, the team posted a 14-21 record.
According to T.J. Antonacci, the manager/head coach of the club, Pioneers had a strong offseason in which several acquisitions with which the team made improvements in every possible category. Offensively, defensively, the pitching staff and also in the field of coaching.
Pioneers saw four players leave. Steve De Saedeleer hung up his spikes, Gregg Mareels went to Borgerhout Squirrels and Mikka Uten and Roy D’Oliveria went to Antwerp Eagles that earned a promotion to the Eerste Klasse.
But of course, the club saw several players reinforce its ranks. Benjamin Goffaux will join the club after he turned his back on Phoenix Louvain la Neuve as the team was demoted to the Eerste Klasse. Long lost son Dennis de Quint returned after spending several years in the Dutch hoofdklasse with Oosterhout Twins. A talented young player, Toon Hendrickx comes from Sunville Tigers from Zonhoven. Pioneers’ foreign import will be LHP David Montilla from Venezuela. Montilla spent three seasons in the Dominican Summer League in the Oakland Athletics’ organization. In two of those three seasons, Montilla was used as a reliever. In 2016 he appeared in nine games, of which eight were starts. He posted a 1.84 ERA that year. In three years he sported a 4.47 ERA which was caused by a 14.46 ERA in 2015. It remains to be seen how the club will use him, but he has the ability to play as a starting pitcher.
According to Mr. Antonacci, the most important thing is that the core of the team has been kept together. Next to the player additions, two new faces can be seen in the coaching staff as well. Marc Janssen (former head coach from Borgerhout Squirrels), and Alberto Valerio (3rd base coach from reigning Belgium champions Deurne Spartans).
What will be Pioneers’ goals for the 2020 season? According to T.J. Antonacci, the club wants to be a major contender for both the Belgian championship and the Belgian cup.
A big thank you goes to T.J. Antonacci for providing the much-needed information to write this blog post.
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