Sox sign local players
The Yuba-Sutter Gold Sox will have a local feel - at least for a few weeks.
The collegiate wood bat league organization has added five community college players to the roster this week, although none is guaranteed a permanent spot.
“They're basically non-roster invitees,” Gold Sox manager Brad Peek said. “They'll get a chance to play while some of our other guys are still finishing up school or their seasons. It's a tryout for them, but one of two might make the team for good.”
One of those is Yuba College sophomore Wes Porter, the 49ers' staff workhorse the last two seasons. Porter was 2-7 with a 5.25 ERA but did lead the staff with 732/3 innings and logged 72 innings as a freshman.
Porter is still waiting for offers from four-year schools but would like more experience pitching in a wood bat environment. He said Fresno State, Nevada-Reno, Northridge and Cal Lutheran are all possibilities next fall.
Peek and assistant coach Jack Johnson watched Porter strike out eight in Yuba's regular-season finale with Solano and offered him a chance to play for the Gold Sox.
“I just want to go out there and do what I'm capable of doing,” Porter said. “I don't want to put too much pressure on myself.”
Another is a familiar name, A.J. Valentine, a sophomore first baseman at Shasta College. Valentine actually started Yuba-Sutter's 2003 season as a fill-in player but ended up starting 29 games and hitting .262 with 11 RBIs.
“I'm hoping to find a permanent spot for him,” Peek said. “We have a couple of guys in that position.”
Valentine hit .305 with 28 RBIs for the Knights this past year. He might be best remembered in Marysville for his slick glove, which contributed to the Gold Sox' 56 double plays last year.
The other three players are Sierra freshman catcher Ricky Bambino, American River left-handed Jason Maes and Taft right-handed pitcher Gary Simmons.
Bambino was an outstanding player at Foothill High in Redding and drafted by the Anaheim Angels in the 33rd round last year. He's hitting .310 with a homer and 27 RBIs for the Wolverines, who are still alive in the Northern California State Playoffs.
Maes redshirted with the Beavers this past year but is a former New York Yankees draft pick. The lefty actually pitched 12/3 innings for the Gold Sox as a fill-in player last year. Peek said if Maes could develop into a dominant pitcher if he improves his command.
Simmons was also a redshirt for Taft, which plays in the Central Valley Conference.
With the season opener nine days away, Peek is still on the lookout for a shortstop. The Gold Sox were unable to secure David Parker of Point Loma Nazarene University, but Parker is headed to the Northwoods League instead.
Peek said some players could start arriving as early as May 26. The first team meeting is May 27 and the team plans to hold a simulated scrimmage that night.
The opener is May 28 against the Cenco Sultans.
Appeal-Democrat assistant sports editor Matt O'Donnell can be reached at 743-0512. You may e-mail him at email@example.com.