Transactions in Belgian Baseball: the Merchtem Cats

Just like earlier this year, the Dutch Baseball Hangout would like to pay attention to the transactions in the Belgian Baseball Gold (BBG) League, next year called the Top League. The transaction period in Belgium ended at December 1, so time to start with the seventh blog post. This one is about the Merchtem Cats.

VBSL - Vlaamse Baseball en Softball Liga

To start with the players that left the club: Daniel Bustamante and Manuel Martinez left for greener pastures. It is not clear where they went to. Kieran Gibson left the Cats during last season. He is now playing high school ball in the USA.

According to Bart Saerens, who was kind enough to provide me with the needed information, the Cats are aiming on their youth. The club has a big baseball education system and several players from their “cadetten” team (age 13 -15) will get a chance with the flagship team. The cadetten team of the Merchtem Cats won cadetten Gold League (highest league in that age category) and thus became Belgian champion. Players like Tom Beeckmans, Leko Biesemans, Jill Robberechts, Tom Rombauts, Noah Van Agtmael, Borre Vandermeulen, and Robin Vizee played some innings with the flagship team last season but will be on the roster in a more frequent way in 2021.

According to Bart Saerens, the flagship team of the Merchtem Cats will be a young one. But the club is convinced that it will reap the benefits in the medium term and that it can become a contender in the Belgian Top League if they can continue like this. Next to two veterans, Bart himself and Clement Dupuis, the core of the team is 25 years or younger.

Of course the team will try to have the best finish as possible but there will be a big focus at the development of their young players. Another important issue is to have fun as a team.

Pending the developments of the corona virus, two players that were on the squad in 2019 will return next year: Rusty Huber and Zak Ollila. Rusy Huber is a pitcher who played for NCAA Division II Roger State University Hillcats. Zak Olilla, a utility man, is a former high school player for Mira Mesa Marauders, a high school team from the San Diego Unified School District.

A very important acquisition for the Cats is head coach Kris Beeckmans. At the end of last season, he took over the reign from Nico Sierens. Kris will be assisted by David Bogaerts.

I would like to thank Bart Saerens for the time he took to provide the much needed information to write this blog post. His help is much appreciated.

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