This evening Herts Baseball Club confirmed the acquisition of pitcher and infielder, Robbie Unsell, from the Richmond Flames. This is arguably the biggest player transaction so far this winter in the National Baseball League (NBL).
The 25-year-old American who is now based in Potters Bar, Hertfordshire, confirmed his decision late last night. He said: “Herts’ home ballpark has been one of my favourite places to play at since joining the League three years ago. The Club has some of the best facilities in Great Britain and fantastic organisation, which makes it a very attractive club to play for.” He added: “I am also really impressed with the club’s marketing efforts and the promotion of baseball in the UK. That’s why the prospect of playing for Herts is exciting for me.”
Herts Falcons Manager, Lee Manning, is also excited to have Unsell in his team: “Robbie would be one of the first players in the starting lineup in any of the NBL teams, so for us this is a major boost. I am looking forward to working with him.’
Unsell makes the move to Hertfordshire as a free agent after spending the last three seasons with the Flames. During that period he has become one of the most valuable players in the NBL picking up a large collection of awards. He is considered one of the best short stops in the country and was given the NBL Short Stop Fielding Award in 2011. Last year he was also added to the Richmond pitching rotation and his performances on the mound were phenomenal. He had the lowest ERA (earned run average) of 0.90 and WHIP (walks and hits per inning pitched) 0.98. We have to go back to Troy Kantor of the 2008 London Mets (ERA 0.51) and Simon Pole in 2002 with the London Warriors (ERA 0.62) to see the kind of pitching stats which Robbie Unsell had last year. He deservedly received the 2011 NBL Most Valuable Pitcher Award*.
Unsell will also bring a lot to the Herts Falcons offensively. His speed around the bases has caused havoc for opponents over the years winning the Most Stolen Bases title in 2009 (21) and 2010 (23). Last year he led the league in On-Base Average (.589) and in Runs Scored (42) confirming him as one of the most dangerous lead-off men in the country. The arrival of Robbie Unsell in Hertfordshire will open up the opportunity to compare his speed with that of the 2011 MVP for the Herts Falcons, the lightning-fast Sri Lanka National team player, Mahendra Prasad.
Unsell’s time with the Flames proved to be one of the most successful periods in Richmond’s history. They won the NBL title in 2010, runner-up in 2009 and reached the postseason playoffs in 2011. Herts is one of the biggest sleeping giants in British baseball. Will Robbie Unsell’s arrival bring the same kind of success for Herts?
The Falcons have struggled in the last two years in the NBL, however Unsell sees this as an exciting challenge and an opportunity to turn the team around. ‘I honestly think that with a few additions, we can have a real positive impact on the Herts team this year’ he said.
Aspi Dimitrov, President of Herts Baseball Club, explained how significant Robbie Unsell’s arrival is for the club as a whole. He said: ‘Whether it is fans of MLB baseball clubs or Premier League football clubs, new players can bring a lot of excitement in the hope of success on the field of play. However, acquiring players like Robbie means a lot more to our club. It will add value in every department. It enables us to market our club and the game of baseball much better. Members and fans of the club can look forward to seeing the highest quality of baseball at Grovehill Ballpark. Adding such talented players will also inspire the players of the Herts youth teams to emulate them.’
Herts expect to make several other recruitment announcements shortly. Dimitrov added: ‘We are in advanced discussions with more players and we hope that Robbie will be the first of many more players to join Herts this year and for many years to come.’
WILL YOU BE WEARING THE HERTS JERSEY IN 2012?
The exciting news of adding one of the best players in the country to the Herts squad does not mean that the club will be changing its key objective of attracting new players to the game of baseball regardless of their baseball abilities. The club welcomes players from complete beginners to accomplished players. 6 to 16-year-olds play for the Herts youth teams while adults (over the age of 14) play for the club’s major and minor league teams. New players can join at any time of the year. For more details contact Herts Baseball Club.
*NBL statistical data courtesy of Project COBB