After ensuring that his 2006 lineup has plenty of
power by signing slugger Juan Thomas last month,
Calgary Vipers Field Manager Mike Busch is now
concentrating on defense.
Today the Vipers announced the signing of RHP Josh
Daws a Frontier League All-Star in 2005 and the
closer on the league champion Kalamazoo Kings.
“Last year we never could decide on a true closer”,
said Busch from his off-season home in Iowa. “J.P.
Fauske did a good job early in the season, then Cody
Cillo eventually won the role, and finally Ben King
emerged as our go to guy. Daws will have that job
from day one of training camp”.
Daws posted a 7-2 record with a 2.82 ERA in 2005 for
the Kings. The 27 year old right hander appeared in
34 games and earned the save in 12 of those. He
didn’t give up a home run in his 38.1 innings of
work and struck out 41 batters. Daws was drafted by
the Minnesota Twins out of Jacksonville University.
The 6’0”, 200 lb Floridian also played in the
Cincinnati Reds organization.
And it won’t be a stranger giving him the signal to
warm up in the Vipers bullpen. Calgary’s new
pitching coach, Wes Crawford, was his mentor in
Kalamazoo last season. “Jason has a low 90’s
fastball”, said Crawford from his Baseball Academy
in Minneapolis. “And he’s got a nasty mid 80’s
slider that frustrates batters. He was a major key
to our championship run”.
Vipers fans will immediately know how fast all
pitchers are throwing in 2006. Last week engineers
from Daktronics installed a “Pitch Speed” LED screen
into the ViperVision scoreboard. “It’s the one
add-on that fans really wanted”, said Vipers
President Peter Young. Statistics show that the
average fan looks for the speed of the pitch about
160 times a game in the parks that have radar. So
this will make it great for our fans and the
sponsors on our scoreboard”.
The Vipers will have a busy off season. Busch,
Young and team owner Jeff Gidney will travel to the
Dominican Republic in mid-January to hold a baseball
clinic featuring team MVP Carlos Duncan. The entire
coaching staff will also meet in Florida in early
April for the Northern League Free Agent Camp. And
the Vipers and Edmonton Cracker-Cats will tour the
province in an eight game exhibition series in early
The Vipers open the 2006 season on Thursday, May 18
against the defending champion Gary Southshore
RailCats at Foothills Stadium. The 2006 schedule
features eight Saturday afternoon games as well as
seven Wireless Wednesdays with 12:35 pm starts and
the entire stadium hooked up to the internet through
a wireless signal so business men and women can
bring their laptops to the park and make it their
“office” for the afternoon.
Season tickets, Gift Certificates and “You Pick Em”
Flex Packs are available through the Vipers office
at 277-BALL (2255).