The Templiers Tune Up Their Roster For 2023

Jake MacDonald (Photo credit: Thomas Shonenborn)

League champions in 2014, the Sénart Templiers have been trying to get back to the proverbial mountaintop ever since. And on several occasions, they’ve gotten quite close, most recently in 2021.

That year they lost a nail-biter to the perennial powerhouse Rouen Huskies in a best-of-five finals series that went down to the wire and featured a pitching performances for the ages by a certain Sam Belisle, who spent just one season in France.

Last year, however, Sénart’s run of relative success took a step in the opposite direction, as the team – despite posting a formidable 12-4 record in the regular season – fell just short of qualifying for the D1 playoffs. It was their first absence from post-season play in more than a decade.

The pressure is on, therefore, to turn things up a notch for the upcoming 2023 season, and a pair of recent recruiting announcements suggest that the Templiers are looking to do just that.

The first of the players in question is a familiar face in France’s top-level baseball league: infielder Yeixon Ruíz. The dynamic Dominican has been a mainstay in the D1 since 2018, and comes to Sénart with a reputation that precedes him.

A former New York Mets prospect who made it to the AA level in the U.S. minor leagues, Ruíz has been nothing if not consistent since coming to France, where he spent four seasons with the Savigny Lions.

The 31-year-old has a cumulative .340 batting average in the D1, and with 125 hits overall, trails only Bastien Dagneau (140), Ariel Soriano (135) and Jacques Boucheron (132) for the most hits collected since 2008.

Ruíz has been “Mr. Consistent” since coming to France in 2018

Savigny’s loss, in other words, will very much be Sénart’s gain, especially since the two clubs will be participating this season in the same regular-season pool, along with the Montpellier Barracudas, Metz Cometz and Nice Cavigal.

Speaking of gains… the club also announced recently that they’ll be bringing on a new catcher, Jake MacDonald of Vancouver, Canada.

The versatile Canuck will be making his debut in French baseball, but he’s no stranger to playing overseas, having already tested his talents in Germany, Australia and the Czech Republic.

MacDonald (center) is no stranger to European baseball (credit: BBJO)

Last year, for Eagles Praha in the Czech Extraliga, MacDonald batted .309, collecting 43 hits (including three home runs) in 139 at bats. And right now he’s playing for the Macarthur Orioles in Campbelltown, just outside of Sydney, in Australia.

The 25-year-old also played in the Western Canadian Baseball League (in 2019), and at Texas A&M University-Texarkana, in the United States. Starting in just a few weeks, though, MacDonald will be on the move again – en route to Templiers Stadium in Lieusaint, south of Paris.

Why all the moves?

“My career is going to be in baseball,” he told Le Baseblog this week.

“I don’t know where or how. I don’t know if it’s going to be as a coach, or in management, or as a scout, or doing marketing… But I know it’s going to be in baseball, so what I try to do is take every single opportunity I can when it comes to baseball, and then eventually there’s going to be that thing.”

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