Thunder Bay

New Thunder Bay Border Cats manager already at work in northern Ontario city

The Thunder Bay Border Cats new field manager is hitting the ground running.

Baseball team announced Mike Steed on Sept. 18, recruiting of players underway

Mike Steed has been named the new field manager of the Thunder Bay Border Cats. (James Mirabelli Photography/Supplied)

The Thunder Bay Border Cats new field manager is hitting the ground running.

The Cats announced Wednesday that Mike Steed has been hired for the position. And while it's too early to say exactly what the Cats will look like under his leadership — the 2020 season is still several months away — Steed told CBC News he's already at work building next year's team.

"I've got a lot of friendships and contacts in the college baseball world, and guys are placing their players earlier and earlier," Steed said. "The Northwoods League is a great league, and to me, it's such a stepping stone for higher-level baseball, next-level baseball."

"The kids that come up here, you want them to want to be there," he said.

Steed said as soon as his three-year deal with the Cats was finalized, he immediately began reaching out to his contacts.

Northwoods League experience

"I'm fortunate," he said. "I've worked as a college placement director for high school athletes with a couple of teams, and so my network ... is large."

"Just kind of reaching out to see who's looking for what, what their needs are for their players, and if they'll fit what our roster's going to look for."

Steed says he'll be looking for "guys that want to come to the ballpark every day with a great attitude, a smile on their face,  guys that are going to hustle and work, and are in it for both the Border Cats organization and themselves, to get better from May until August when the season ends."

Steed is no stranger to Northwoods League baseball. He previoulsy managed the Border Cats in 2010 and 2011, and was the team's pitching coach in 2009.

Since then, he's coached with the Ontario Blue Jays, and scouted for the Cincinnati Reds.

A 'great recruiting list'

Steed replaces Eric Vasquez in the Cats field manager position. Vasquez was unable to return for 2020 due to work commitments, said Cats vice-president Bryan Graham.

"[Vasquez] took a full-time job in the education field, which was his background outside of baseball," Graham said of Vasquez. "One of the first names that came to my mind was Mike Steed, who had shown some interest in returning to the Northwoods League."

"Now, we have some continuity in that managerial position on the field, and hopefully that will lead to a winning ball club."

Graham was assistant general manager for the Cats while Steed was there from 2009 to 2011.

"Over the last nine years, the contacts that he's made, especially in the college game working with the Ontario Blue Jays program, it is really impressive," Graham said. "He's got a great recruiting list to work from."