The Ryley Rebels have a lot to be Thankful for this weekend, and you can add one more thing to the plate. Rebels management have announced the signing of RHP Joel Graumann to a 1 year deal with a player option in year 2.
"Graumann played in a tournament with us last year and had expressed interest in playing more regularly in tournaments and in league play when he was available" said GM Corey Epp. Graumann, a Camrose resident, possibly fills 2 huge holes in the line up for the Rebels as they head into the new season. "Graumann has the ability to catch when needed as well as take to the bump in either a starting role or out of the pen" said OF Kris Kushnerick, an Axemen teammate of Graumann. With RHP Dylan Solberg, RHP Curt Stensrud and now Graumann, the Rebels sport a nice rotation that will be backed up by RHP Corey Epp, LHP Darcy Grandberg, RHP Kris Kushnerick and RHP Shane Metrunic coming out of the pen. "I think it is a good pitching staff to have in either tournaments or in league play" said Kushnerick.
Graumann got the start against the Bardo Athletics for the Camrose Axemen/Armena Royals split squad at the Tofield-Canada Day Tournament as was nothing short of over powering, lifting the Axemen to a 7-2 victory over the A's in the final.
With the addition of Graumann, the Rebels roster now has four Camrose Axemen on it (Kushnerick, C Bryan Toles and 1B Brett Harke being the others). Although it is unsure how many, if any, games Graumann and the other Axemen will play for the Rebels in 2010 (having only 18 roster spots to fill means that the Rebels have to be careful and fill them with players who will be there regularly) all four are expected to suit up through various tournaments with the Rebels.
It also creates a unique situation in the relationship with the PBL and the former PBL Armena Axemen, who now play out of Camrose in the NCABL. In 2008 when the Axemen left the PBL it left a bitter taste through most of the league, especially with a few particular players, and though many said the Axemen wouldn't last in the NCABL, having some Axemen play in the PBL no doubt will get feathers ruffled with certain people (both the Armena Royals and the Ryley Rebels have Axemen either on the current roster, or were on the roster in 2009). "I think it has actually done good things for baseball in the area, the Axemen are finding players who didn't even know that men's baseball existed in the area, and teams in both leagues are benefitting" said Kushnerick, one of the Axemen who plays in both leagues. "I have seen more teams coming from the PBL to NCABL tournaments, and NCABL teams going to PBL or other tournaments in the area last year then I have in any of the years previous. Having more teams playing each other is only leading to good things" continued Kushnerick "But I can understand where some feel that the PBL and its history of local ball played by local players is being threatened. But last time I checked not too many people were moving into the Holden, Ryley, Armena, and Bardo areas".
In the end the Rebels are able to add another ball player from the area that has a passion for baseball and wants to play as much as possible and fits in well with the Rebels players.