In today’s episode about “Transactions in Belgian Baseball For The 2022 Season,” we pay attention to perhaps the biggest surprise of the 2021 season, the Brussels Kangaroos.
As you may know, the Kangaroos earned a spot in Division 1 as the highest league of Belgian Baseball BB1 was merged with the second tier league BB2. As a result, the new league grew from 6 to 12 teams (before the Royal Greys withdrew). As a newbe, the Kangaroos were the major surprise as they managed to clinch a spot in the playoffs, the Gold Division. Eventually, the club ended in fourth place, behind the top three, Brasschaat Braves, Borgerhout Squirrels and the later champion, Hoboken Pioneers, but in front of a powerhouse in previous years, Deurne Spartans and Mont-Saint-Guibert Phoenix.
The Kangaroos realized they could make it this far since several clubs could not use their usual import players due to COVID-19. In order to keep competing at the level of 2021, things had to change. To underline the ambition a topsport committee around the D1 team was set up to have a more structured organization around the team.
The newly formed committee with Dutchman Jorgen van Mook as coordinator had to deal with some immediate challenges. Mr. Van Mook told the Dutch Baseball Hangout that the club wanted to do things in a more serious fashion. As a result there were some players that did not agree with this and who decided to leave or join a team in the lower ranks of the club. But this caused some voids to fill.
One of these changes was the resignation of head coach Carlos Urquiaga, who stepped down and joined the Braine Black Rickers to become their head coach. The Kangaroos found a new head coach in Marcial Fournier, a former Spanish team player and ex-player of the Kangaroos, the Mortsel Stars, and the Merchtem Cats. Marcial Fournier will be joined by a new coaching staff.
One of the new coaches will be Vincent King, who will be the new hitting coach. Hitting was the weak spot of the Kangaroos in 2021. King, a former college player, was one of the best hitters in the Belgian competition in his active playing days for the Kangaroos, the Namur Angels, and the Borgerhout Squirrels.
Next to his role as pitcher, Cedric DeSmedt acted as the pitching coach in 2021 already. For 2022, coaching will be his main activity (in guiding the young talented pitchers) but he will remain available as pitcher as well.
As for the transfers of players, the club will lose four players.
Leonel Reina Viant, the Kangaroos’ best hitter in 2021, informed the club that he is taking some time to consider what his next step will be and asked for his liberation. According to the previous blog post about the Deurne Spartans,he will likely return to that club.
In 2021 the Kangaroos had two young talented catchers of which one, Nathan Kaschl, went to Germany for his studies and he will play with Bonn Capitals in 2022, leaving a gap in the battery of the team.
Also, Oreste García is leaving. Oreste was injured most of last year and recently became father. He will join Carlos at the Black Rickers at a less competitive level to have more time for the family.
Luis Veras, the second baseman who batted in the middle of the lineup, is also leaving. At the end of last season Luis got injured and may be out for a longer time. In addition his job requires him to work Saturdays and therefore he is taking some time off.
The Kangaroos managed to fill the voids of the players that left. The following players were willing to join the club and its ambition.
Nestor Jaspe and Jhan Poll Henriquez, both outfielders that come over from the Mortsel Stars. Unfortunately, no stats were kept in the first half of last season and in the Silver Division, so there is not much to tell (stat-wise) about these two players.
Utility playerTom Gerard will come and strengthen the team as well. Tom is catcher, infielder and is currently catcher instructor at the LFBBS Baseball Academy of Namur and former college players having also played for the Namur Angels and other clubs in Belgium. Tom did not play recently, but is eager to play, not only to add value as player but also to guide the younger catchers in the team.
Tomasz Oberto da Silva, a 20-year old pitcher from the Belgian U23 team comes over from MSG Phoenix. Also from MSG Phoenix, we welcome Martin Nicolay, a middle infielder that can also help out as a catcher. Tomasz Oberto da Silva posted a 4.35 ERA in two starts, gave up five earned runs in 10.1 innings pitched, walked 15, and struck out 7. Despite these numbers, he limited his opponents to a batting average of .161. About Martin Nicolay, no stats can be found.
According to Mr. Van Mook, Kangaroos is confident that it has a very strong and full “T” (Belgian trained) pitching staff and whereas the key goal is to win games we do value youth development to remain competitive in the mid and long run.
I would like to thank Jorgen van Mook for the much needed information that enabled me to write this blog post which is brought to you by