As the Western Canadian Baseball League season winds along, we wanted to give you a chance to get to know some of the players who have been entertaining us with their play this summer. That continues this week with Dawgs Black infielder Alejandro Cazorla Granados and Edmonton Prospects outfielder Conor Bronson. The two have had very different paths that have now crossed. Cazorla Granados is originally from Venezuela but moved to Canada when he was younger, while Bronson is originally from St. Albert.
Many eyes were on the 2021 MLB Draft this week as young baseball players hoped to hear their names called over the 20 rounds. In the end, 17 Canadians were taken and while none were from Alberta, a handful played or trained here. We recap what all happened, plus we're joined by Milwaukee Brewers draft pick and Dawgs Academy grad Tristan Peters as well as San Diego Padres selection and Vauxhall Academy product Garrett Hawkins.
One of the big storylines heading into the Western Canadian Baseball League season was about how it would be an "All-Canadian" summer. It was viewed as an opportunity to show off the great talent we have in Canada, especially here in Alberta, as we slowly emerge from the COVID-19 pandemic. In this episode of the podcast, we chat with a couple of players who are suiting up for teams close to home. Elnora's Cleary Simpson entered the Sylvan Lake Gulls' record book by scoring the team's first-ever run and hit their first-ever home run, while High River's Tucker Zdunich is with Okotoks Dawgs Red after a five-year career with Dawgs Academy. Both are Colby Community College products who are excited about where their baseball journeys have taken them.
At 5'8" and 215 pounds, Carlin Dick isn't the most imposing player on the Lethbridge Bulls roster. But fans are definitely taking notice as he's opened up the WCBL season on fire. Through five games, the Vauxhall Academy product was hitting .333 with two doubles, five runs batted in and two stolen bases. The Abbottsford, BC native is also coming off an All-MAAC All-Rookie Team season with Canisius College, where he hit .348 with two home runs and 12 RBIs in 17 games. As the Bulls got ready for their Canada Day home games, the rightfielder took some time to talk about his year so far, which also included a mild case of COVID-19.
Cole Tucker figures to be a prominent piece of the Dawgs Red squad during the 2021 Western Canadian Baseball League season. The native of Mount Pearl, Newfoundland is a Dawgs Academy product who went on to play with Southeastern Community College before spending the last couple of years with the Niagara University Purple Eagles. He's coming off a spring where he hit .391 with three home runs and 19 runs batted in, while being named to the All-Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference (MAAC) Second Team. We chatted with the 6'1", 195-pound middle infielder before he made his debut in Okotoks on Tuesday. Big thanks to Angela B Photography for the photos we've used of Cole. Check out her work here on Instagram.
It will be a season like no other, that can absolutely be certain. First pitch on the 2021 Western Canadian Baseball League season is upon us. Five teams will be taking part: the Edmonton Prospects, Lethbridge Bulls, two squads from the Okotoks Dawgs and the expansion Sylvan Lake Gulls will be hitting the field this summer with dreams of winning the coveted Harry Hallis trophy. And for the first time, the league is going “All Canadian” to showcase the home-grown talent we have in Alberta and across Canada. We check in with ADS co-founder Ian Wilson to preview the upcoming season, as he wrote up a season preview story on our website here.
Ayden Makarus can now add "national champion" to his impressive baseball resume. The Dawgs Academy product was part of the LSU-Eunice squad that captured the NJCAA Division II title over the weekend in an exciting 5-4 extra innings win over Western Oklahoma. Makarus has been an immediate contributor to the Bengals offensively after a successful high school career, including a spot on Baseball Canada's Junior National Team. We talked about it all, plus a few other questions that we didn't get a chance to ask when we first met him on Episode #27 of the podcast.
It’s been a long time since we’ve been able to look forward to actual baseball on Alberta diamonds. But after the provincial government announced its roadmap to reopening, baseball organizers started formalizing their “return to play” plans. There’s an air of cautious optimism, especially knowing that plans can and likely will, change. So we thought we’d go right to the source this week and chat with a couple of people who have been helping drive those preparations forward. Ryan Bird of Baseball Alberta and Kevin Kvame of the Western Canadian Baseball League join us to talk about their planning and what's to come this summer.
Every young baseball player starting off his college career dreams of making an impact right out of the gates. But maybe not to the extent Logan Grant achieved with the Bismarck State College Mystics. The freshman catcher/infielder made life difficult for opposing National Junior College Athletic Association pitchers, hitting a fantastic .423 with eight home runs, 58 RBIs and six stolen bases in 37 games. And for being such a young athlete, he’s had an interesting journey to get to where he’s at, including playing at both Vauxhall Academy of Baseball and Dawgs Academy in Okotoks. Grant has had some downtime recently as he was in quarantine after returning home from North Dakota , so we had a chat about his season full of accolades, growing up on the family farm outside Chestermere, and much, much more.
It all changed in the blink of an eye for Cohen Achen. The up-and-coming pitcher was on the mound for Big Bend Community College in early-2020 when he was hit in the face by a comebacker. He considers himself lucky that it was in a spot near the eye that didn’t damage the orbital bone, jaw bone or hit his temple. But he definitely had a concussion and a nasty bump that took about three months to heal. It wasn’t just physical either, as he had to get back onto a mound again, even though playing catch sometimes left him a little uneasy. Once he got over it, he flourished.
The 19-year-old came back this spring with Lindsay Wilson College, going 5-0 with a 2.38 ERA in 13 appearances, including seven starts after starting the season in the bullpen. For his efforts, Achen was named an All Mid-South Conference Second-Team All Star and was named the MSC Freshman of the Year. He’s now in quarantine after arriving back home, and chatted with me earlier this week about his baseball journey, his all star campaign, and how his injury actually helped give him a new love for the game.