The Herts Falcons have strengthened their NBL roster further by adding Cristobal Hiche and Jake Michels, both arriving from America. Just days after announcing the arrival of Robbie Unsell, Herts have made another strong statement about their intentions for the upcoming baseball season which opens on 1 April.
Cristobal Hiche’s illustrious baseball career has seen him play at the high school, college and semi-professional league level in the USA as well as at international level representing Chile at Under-12, Under-16 and now at senior level with the National Team. In 2002 he joined the International Baseball Academy in Brazil where he played alongside the legendary Cuban player, Lazaro Vargas, who won the Olympic gold medal with the Cuba National Team twice, in 1992 and 1996. Hiche then went on to play for Glendale Community College in Arizona, followed by two seasons (2005-2007) with the Athletics in Liga Valle del Sol. Between 2008 and 2010 he played for the Sahuaripas in the Mesa Semi-Pro League alongside former or injured Minor League players trying to work their way back into the pros, as well as former MLB players such as pitcher Omar Daal, who played for the LA Dodgers, Philadelphia Phillies, Arizona Diamondbacks and ended his career with the Baltimore Olioles in 2003.
Last year Hiche returned to Liga Valle del Sol playing for the Tiburones and was voted the League’s Most Valuable Player. In his career he has been used primarily as a first baseman and in the outfield. He has not pitched since high school, but we understand that the Falcons may add him to the bullpen to give the team an additional left-handed pitcher option. Hiche was upbeat about the upcoming season despite the team having two difficult seasons in the NBL. “I am new to NBL but looking at our team and new players like Robbie, we should be fighting for the championship for sure.” He added: “The key in these leagues is being healthy and having a deep pitching rotation.”
24-year-old Jake Michels comes from New York and in the last four seasons has played for the Athletics in the Hudson Valley National Adult Baseball Association (HVNABA). During his time in the HVNABA his primary positions have been pitcher and third base. His career batting average with the Athletics is an impressive .391 with a slugging average of .500. He has two home runs and that stat is likely to be much higher this year in the friendly confines of Grovehill Ballpark. Crucially his batting stats have been rising steadily over the last 4 years and he had his best offensive season last year, so it seems that the Falcons are welcoming a player whose value is rising. Last season Michels was ranked amongst the top five in Hits (2nd), Doubles (2nd), RBIs (4th).
A statement by the Athletics on their official website confirmed the departure of Jake Michels and emphasised the pivotal role played by him adding that: “The loss of Jake Michels will be difficult to overcome.” Michels has already arrived in the United Kingdom and has started spring training with Herts in preparation for the new season. Despite spending the last four years in New York, Michels is no stranger to British baseball. He represented GB as a member of the GB U-19 National Team in 2006 and is currently being considered for the GB Under-23 squad which will be travelling to Boston later this year.
It is clear that Michels is looking forward to the new season and looking to compete. “I believe with the additions Herts has made the team will be, not only a playoff contender, but a contender to be there until the end. With the addition of myself, Cris, Robbie and several more players who I understand will be announced shortly, we will score a lot of runs and bring a depth of pitching to each game.” “From what I have seen so far, pitchers should not be looking forward to pitching against the top half of Herts batting lineup in 2012” said Michels.
Herts Falcons Manager, Lee Manning, is very pleased with these additions to the roster. “Both Cris and Jake have settled in already and it feels like they have been part of the team for a long time” said Manning. He added: “Both have played baseball at a very high level and their experience will help our team enormously”.
WILL YOU BE WEARING THE HERTS JERSEY IN 2012?
Herts’ recruitment efforts ahead of the new season continue and in fact new players can join at any point during the year. 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. For more details contact Herts Baseball Club.