NightOwls shop local for latest signees
Three former HarbourCats and a Pirate join NightOwls for 2021
The Nanaimo NightOwls and Head Coach Greg Frady are looking to their own backyard for their next four player signings, inking Nanaimo natives Josh Laukkanen and Connor Caskenette, and convincing Duncan’s Gus Wilson and Victoria’s Zach Swanson to make the short trip up the Trans-Canada Highway to Nanaimo for the 2021 season.
Laukkanen, Wilson and Swanson bring valuable West Coast League (WCL) experience to the fold, with all three playing an integral part in the Victoria HarbourCats run to the WCL championship series in 2019, while Caskenette was a standout with the Mid Island Pirates of the BC Premier Baseball League (BCPBL) and played for the Canadian National Junior team in the spring of 2020.
Laukkanen, a 6′ 2″, 190lb. right-handed pitcher, is a sophomore at New Mexico State and was a key contributor to the HarbourCats 2019 North Division playoff series win over Wenatchee, pitching 3.2 scoreless innings to get the win in the deciding game. Laukkanen threw 12 innings in total for the HarbourCats, joining the team late in the season. Prior to New Mexico State, Laukkanen was at Cloud County Community College and before that, a member of the Parksville Royals in the BCPBL.
Caskenette, a 6′ 0″, 200lb. catcher was a standout with the Nanaimo-based Mid-Island Pirates of the BCPBL, leading his team to the championship final in 2019, hitting .343 with two home runs and 35 RBI in the regular season and hitting .583 over four playoff games that same year. Caskenette played for the Canadian National Junior Team in the spring of 2020 and was slated to attend Bossier Parish Community College in Louisiana in the fall of 2020, however those plans were scuttled because of the COVID-19 pandemic and he will re-commit to a new school for the fall of 2021.
Wilson, a 5′ 8″, 155lb. infielder, is a junior at Vancouver Island University, after playing at the D1 level at the University of Science and Arts Oklahoma. Wilson joined the HarbourCats for their stretch run in 2019 and hit a combined .282 in 14 regular season and playoff games, hitting one home run and driving in seven runs while being a real pest on the base paths. He also played at Galveston College and was a member of the Langley Blaze of the BCPBL in 2017.
Swanson, 6′ 2″, 180lb. is a right handed pitcher in his sophomore year at Park University in Gilbert, Arizona, playing for former MLB catcher Kelly Stinnett. Swanson has spent parts of the last few seasons with the HarbourCats, and in 2019, pitched in five games, including starting the first game of the WCL final against Corvallis. In the regular season, he was 1-0 with a 0.00 ERA, giving up four hits and striking out nine in seven innings. Prior to attending Park, Swanson was at San Diego Christian and before that, with the Victoria Eagles of the BCPBL.
“I am really excited to welcome these young men to the NightOwls,” said Greg Frady, NightOwls head coach. “Not only are they fine examples of the top-notch baseball talent that Vancouver Island can produce, but three of them have WCL experience and know what it takes to lead a team to the finals at this level and the other has represented his country on the international stage. They will be looked upon as leaders on this team and I know they will inspire others who play here to perform at their best.”