The Kamloops NorthPaws have deepened their inaugural roster with the addition of three players at the beginning of their NCAA Division I seasons.
Catcher Marshal Luiz, shortstop Zane Skansi and outfielder Hunter Swapp have been signed for the 2021 West Coast League season.
Luiz is a Canadian sophomore catcher at Jackson State University who will bring another left-handed bat to the NorthPaws lineup.
He played in 46 games as a freshman with a .252 batting average and 18 RBIs. He played in nine games in 2020 before the season came to an early close.
“I don’t strike out a lot so I’m a really tough out. My freshman year I only struck out like 12 or 15 times in 40 to 50 games. That’s something I’m proud of that I’m not an easy guy to get out,” Luiz said. “I’ll do anything it takes to get on base. I’ll lay down a bunt every now and then and I definitely want to help the team win. So, if we need a sac bunt or a hit and run, I’m your guy.”
Luiz, who grew up in Surrey, jumped at the opportunity to play summer ball close to home and learn from head coach Cole Armstrong, who played 10 professional seasons behind home plate.
“It’s pretty cool to have a West Coast League team not too far from home and be able to play competitive baseball in such a highly touted summer collegiate league. Being a BC guy, it’s going to be really cool to experience that and be a part of it.”
Jackson State were swept in their three-game series against Mercer University to open the 2021 season. They were ranked to finish second in the Southwest Athletic Conference East Division in preseason rankings.
Skansi is a freshman middle infielder at the University of Utah.
He is from Gig Harbor, Wash. and was a multi-sport athlete in high school playing baseball and football before choosing the diamond over the gridiron for his collegiate career.
“I’m a power hitter. I like to hit doubles and home runs. I can go gap to gap. I take pride in my defense as well,” Skansi said. “I love making the great plays but making the routine plays consistently is something I pride myself in too.”
Skansi picked up his first collegiate at-bat on Sunday when he pinch hit in a loss to Cal State Fullerton during the season-opening series.
Utah was picked to finish fourth in the Mountain West Conference preseason coaches’ poll.
Swapp is a sophomore at Brigham Young University (BYU).
He is entering his first full collegiate season as he was limited to seven at-bats in the pandemic-shortened 2020 season.
Swapp, from Heber City, Utah, will bring speed to the NorthPaws outfield. His fastest posted time is a 6.30 60-yard dash, the same as Los Angeles Angels superstar Mike Trout. By comparison, the Major League average is 6.90.
“I’m a competitor. I pride myself in having competitive at bats. I can run, so I like to implement that in my game,” Swapp said. “I feel like I can get to anything in the outfield and leg out some extra bases and extra base hits. I can hit for a little bit of power. I think I have some variety in my game.”
BYU will wrap up a four-game, season-opening series against Texas State University on Tuesday. They were picked to finish fourth in the West Coast Conference preseason coaches’ poll.
NorthPaws fans can follow the progress of all the Kamloops-bound players, as all three of the signees continue their 2021 season with multiple games this week.
The Kamloops NorthPaws are an expansion West Coast League franchise bringing the highest calibre baseball Canada’s Tournament Capital has ever seen. The West Coast League, founded in 2005, has 15 teams across Oregon, Washington, British Columbia and Alberta featuring some of the top collegiate players during a 54-game summer season. Find the NorthPaws online at www.northpawsbaseball.ca, @northpawsbaseball on Instagram and Facebook, or @northpawsbb on Twitter.