By Jacob Kronberg on Wednesday, February 22nd, 2023
Palm Springs, CA – The 14th season of California Winter League Baseball is in the books. A winter that consisted of underdog stories, great pitching, and a whole lot of professional baseball contracts being offered.
On Monday, January 16th, over 200 players reported to Palm Springs, California to compete in this year’s California Winter League. Talent from Canada, Japan, Australia, the United States of America, and many more countries came out to play. There were players from nine different countries taking part in the 2023 CWL season. Along with the players, we had over a dozen coaches and scouts from various Independent Professional Baseball Leagues and Affiliated Organizations. These coaches from the Frontier League, the Atlantic League and the Pioneer League led the players through a season that saw 73 games over 25 days.
Throughout the regular season, the Alberta Grizzly were the team to beat. Anchored on the bump by Wyatt Beddow’s 2.76 earned run average over 25 innings as a starter, as well as Braden Bonner and Ubaldo Romo both going for sub-two ERA’s out of the pen, the Grizz’ went 9-4-1 on the year ending up with the number one overall seed. Beddow’s performance this winter earned him a contract offer from the Grand Junction Jackalopes of the Pioneer League. Bonner will be joining his CWL manager Jared Lemieux with the Lake Erie Crushers of the Frontier League this spring. Offensively, Alberta was led by Travious Ford, Vincent Byrd Jr, and Jake Hall who all batted over .300. Ford and Byrd are heading alongside Bonner and Lemieux to Lake Erie for spring training. Hall earned a contract offer with the Frontier League’s Sussex County Miners for 2023.
The British Columbia Bombers, Canada A’s, and Oregon Lumberjacks saw success on the field this winter as well, all finishing with plus-.500 records and seeing a plethora of guys earn professional contracts. Oregon is sending catcher Scott Combs to the Frontier League with the Gateway Grizzlies, and shortstop Luke Fennelly to Pioneer League’s Billings Mustangs. The A’s and watched Jakob Newton (Ottawa Titans), Evan Brandt (Tri-City ValleyCats), Michael Barker (Empire State Greys), Danny Carnazzo (Empire State Greys), and Jerry Davis (Florence Y’alls) all receive contract offers from Frontier League teams. As well as Angel Landazuri earning an offer with the Southern Maryland Blue Crabs of the Atlantic League.
The Bombers have three guys moving on to the Frontier League too, starting with Jordan Schulefand following BC manager Tom Vaeth to the Washington Wild Things. Jacob Tate is signed with the Evansville Otters and Tanner White is heading to the Empire State Greys.
Come playoff time, the tides shifted around the league, as a multitude of upsets came about. The fourth seeded Washington Blue Sox defeated the top two seeds in the American Division to get to the Championship game. Pitchers Javier Lopez (Grand Junction Jackalopes) and Trevor McGee (Grand Junction Jackalopes) set the tone this winter for the Sox, while Mitch Moralez (Billings Mustangs) led the way with seven runs batted in. All three are on their way to the Pioneer League for spring training.
In the Canadian Division, the #5 Manitoba North Stars won three games in three days to earn a trip to the title bout. The two aces of the North Stars earned contract offers. Trey Morrill, who went six innings in the championship game and finished the year with a two flat ERA, struck out 61 guys in 38.1 innings pitched. He is headed to the Grand Junction Jackalopes of the Pioneer League. Brett Taucher, who went undefeated this winter with a microscopic 1.20 ERA, earned a spot with the Frontier League’s Schaumburg Boomers for the upcoming season. Manitoba’s leadoff man, and CWL stolen base champion (18), Taylor Lomack, ran his way into an offer to play for the Billings Mustangs. He also hit .362 on his way to that contract offer.
Then comes the championship hero. With the bases loaded, and one out, in the bottom of the eighth inning, North Stars catcher Cole Brodnansky cranked a go-ahead grand-slam off of the left field foul pole. The Florence Y’all bound catcher left that as the deciding hit to win the 2023 CWL crown. The North Stars defeated the Blue Sox 6-5 to become the newest California Winter League Champions. Brodnansky was tied for second in the league with three home runs and led the entire California Winter League with 16 runs batted in.
The 2023 California Winter League session was 33 players receiver contract offers to play professional baseball this upcoming season. Over twenty teams, across three professional baseball leagues, invited CWL players to spring training this year.