2016 COBA Major League Johnson Division Preview

Niagara’s Rick Ferri returns to the Metros OF and hit in the middle of the order.


By: Dan Estey

Canadian Baseball Network

In 2015, The Johnson Division ended up being a pretty tight race with the Niagara Metros capturing the divisional crown again for the ninth time in club history. Finishing two games behind them in second place was the Oakville A’s who vastly improved from their 2014 campaign which saw them finish in last place.

The Burlington Brants missed out on second place by a tie and will look to improve upon that third place finish in 2016. Finally, the Milton Red Sox, who got off to a bit of a sluggish start, but really turned it on during the Senior Eliminations and won the COBA Major Playoff Title finished in fourth place.The following is an in-depth look at the four teams in the Johnson Division for 2016:

*Team Name: Niagara Metros

*2015 Overall Team Record: 29-20

*2015 COBA Major Record: 15-13 (1st Place – Johnson Division)

*2015 Tournament Record: 10-5
-Quarter-Finalist at Vaughan Vikings Tournament
-Finalist Hap Walters Tournament

*2015 COBA Major Playoff Record: 4-2 (Finished 2nd Overall)

*2016 Key Returning Players: OF/DH Dave Davidson, C/1B/3B Evan Baglieri, OF Ricky Ferri, RHP Rob Nixon, RHP Geoff Strong, RHP Justin Ayles

*Key Pitchers:
Justin Ayles: 7-2, 3 Sv, 2.49 ERA, 65 Inn, 57 H, 26 R, 18 ER, 21 BB, 58 K
Alex Tufts: 6-2, 1.94 ERA, 55 2/3 Inn, 51 H, 20 R, 12 ER, 11 BB, 46 K

*Key Players:
Phil Steer: .426 BA, .506 OB%, .493 SLG%, 150 AB, 45 R, 64 H, 6 2B, 2 3B, 17 RBI, 29 BB, 9 K
Dave Davidson: .321 BA, .365 OB%, .507 SLG%, 140 AB, 27 R, 45 H, 9 2B, 1 3B, 5 HR, 32 RBI, 12 BB, 29 K

*Award Winners:
-Pat Brooker Award – Johnson Division Champions
-3rd Place – Anson Buck Trophy
-COBA Major League Playoff Finalists
-Phil Steer: 1st Place – League Batting Average (.442)
-Alex Tufts: 2nd Place – Rookie of the Year Award
-Phil Steer: 2nd Place – COBA Major League MVP Award
-Andrew Sorochan: Hall of Fame Inductee

*League All-Stars:
-Phil Steer – SS
-Ricky Ferri – OF
-Dave Davidson – OF
-Justin Ayles – RP

Oakville A’s RHP Marc Walton, 2015 COBA Major Sportsman of the Year, will be busy both on the mound and at the hot corner again this season.

*Team Name: Oakville A’s

*2015 Overall Record: 20-23

*2015 COBA Major League Record: 13-15 (2nd Place – Johnson Division)

*2015 Tournament Record: 7-8

*2015 COBA Major Playoff Record: 1-2 (Eliminated 1st Weekend)

*2016 Key Returning Players: 1B/OF Jeff Jarockis, SS Zach Dickson, OF Alex Kupchak, 3B/RHP Marc Walton, RHP Gord Robertson, LHP Michael Vanderlaan

*Key Pitchers:
Gord Robertson: 5-2, 2.33 ERA, 77 1/3 Inn, 83 H, 31 R, 17 ER, 16 BB, 27 K
Michael Vanderlaan: 5-6, 3.33 ERA, 56 1/3 Inn, 48 H, 27 R, 20 ER, 33 BB, 44 K

*Key Players:
Alex Kupchak: .345 BA, .405 OBP, .486 SLG%, 105 AB, 22 R, 36 H, 6 2B, 3 HR, 17 RBI, 10 BB, 26 K
Jeff Jarockis: .344 BA, .430 OBP, .548 SLG%, 93 AB, 14 R, 32 H, 8 2B, 1 3B, 3 HR, 25 RBI, 14 BB, 21 K

*Award Winners:
-Thomas Biskup: 3rd Place – Comeback Player of the Year Award
-Alex Kupchak: Rookie of the Year Award Recipient
-Marc Walton: Sportsman of the Year Award Recipient
-Gord Robertson: 3rd Place – Pitcher of the Year Award
-Marc Walton: Hall of Fame Inductee
-Kevin Lee: Hall of Fame Inductee

*League All-Stars:
-Michael Modestino – 3B
-Alex Kupchak – DH
-Gord Robertson – RHP

Burlington Brants RHP Trevor Woodjetts, a former COBA Pitcher of the Year, will be relied upon heavily this season to lead the rotation.

*Team Name: Burlington Brants

*2015 Overall Record: 16-23-1

*2015 COBA Major League Record: 12-15-1 (3rd Place – Johnson Division)

*2015 Tournament Record: 4-6

*2015 COBA Major Playoff Record: 0-2 (Eliminated 1st Weekend)

*2016 Key Returning Players: RHP/OF Tim Sogan, 1B/DH Mike Grilli, 2B/OF Corrie Morrison, C/INF Brock Marshall, SS/3B Luke Posavad, RHP Trevor Woodjetts, RHP Jordan Rienzo

*Key Pitchers:
Tim Sogan:
Trevor Woodjetts:
Jordan Rienzo:

*Key Players:
Tim Sogan:
Brock Marshall:
Corrie Morrison:

*Award Winners:

*League All-Stars:
-Brock Marshall – C
-Corrie Morrison – OF

Milton RHP Ian Zettle, a COBA league veteran is expected to be the backbone of the rotation again this year.


Team Name: Milton Red Sox

*2015 Overall Record: 20-24-1

*2015 COBA Major League Record: 10-17-1 (4th Place – Johnson Division)

*2015 Tournament Record: 5-6

*2015 COBA Major Playoff Record: 5-1 (2015 COBA Major League Playoff Champs)

*2016 Key Returning Players: 2B Don Smith, SS Orion Katayama, OF/RHP James Bruce, SS Kevin Greer, OF Steve Lauzon, RHP Ian Zettle, RHP Justin Volpato

*Key Pitchers:
Ian Zettle: 5-5, 4.33 ERA, 79 Inn, 83 H 54 R, 38 ER, 22 BB, 24 K
Justin Volpato: 7-0, 5.02 ERA, 52 Inn, 65 H, 38 R, 29 ER,26 BB, 19 K

*Key Players:
Don Smith: .346 BA, .413 OBP, .397 SLG%, 130 AB, 27 R, 47 H, 7 2B, 16 RBI, 18 BB, 19 K
Orion Katayama: .328 BA, .412 OBP, .345 SLG%, 129 AB, 20 R, 39 H, 2 2B, 16 RBI, 16 BB, 28 K
James Bruce: .295 BA, .352 OBP, .400 SLG%, 105 AB, 17 R, 31 H, 6 2B, 1 3B, 1 HR, 15 RBI, 7 BB, 6 K

*Award Winners:
-COBA Major League Playoff Champions
-Matt Lahn: COBA Major Home Run Champion
-Matt Lahn: 2nd Place – Comeback Player of the Year
-Steve Lauzon: Co-Winner – COBA Major Playoff MVP
-James Bruce: Co-Winner – COBA Major Playoff MVP
-Jeremy MacDonald: 2nd Place – Pitcher of the Year

*League All-Stars:
-Matt Lahn – 1B
-Don Smith – 2B
-Jeremy MacDonald – LHP


Dan Estey

Dan Estey was born in Fredericton, N.B., began playing in the Fredericton Minor Baseball Association and has played for the past 26 years. He’s appeared on the national stage: as a member of Team New Brunswick at the Baseball Canada Cup in 2000 in Stonewall, Man., was with the Fredericton Royals at the 2001 nationals midgets in Stonewall, and was with Fredericton at the 2003 Junior Nationals in Windsor, Ont. Estey played five years at the University of New Brunswick (2001-2005) winning four Atlantic Conference championships and three medals at the Canadian Intercollegiate Association championships (silver in 2001 in Ottawa, bronze in 2002 in Fredericton and gold in 2003 in Montreal. Moving to Ontario in 2006 he now resides in Mississauga. After playing three years for the Niagara Metros (2008-2010) of the Central Ontario Major League, he is currently learning under skipper Greg Cranker with the Erindale Cardinals (2011-present) of the same loop. He enjoys golfing and reading in my down time and run the website for the Central Ontario Major League, follows senior ball around the province of Ontario. This year he wrote about senior related topics and plan on doing more of the same next year in a larger capacity.