As pitchers and catchers report for spring training duty in Florida, Calgarian Mike Soroka finds himself on the cusp. On the cusp of what exactly remains unclear, but suffice to say, it’s a big season for the 21-year-old Atlanta Braves right-hander.
Last year at this time, Soroka was chasing the dream of his first start in Major League Baseball (MLB). He achieved that on May 1, 2018 during an impressive victory over Noah Syndergaard and the Mets at New York’s Citi Field.
The 2015 first-round pick of the Braves followed that up with four more starts – posting a 3.51 earned run average (ERA), a 2-1 record and 21 strikeouts over 25.2 innings pitched in the majors – before injuries sidelined him for the remainder of the season.
What will a healthy Soroka do for an encore? If 2018 proved anything to the PBF Redbirds alumni it’s that getting there is only half the battle – staying up with the big club is the other half.
Read More 2019 Projections for Mike Soroka
One of the longest tenured baseball schools in Alberta is in Lethbridge, where the Prairie Baseball Academy (PBA) teaches student athletes about the sport and about life.
The team name at PBA is the Dawgs, but you’ll also find some bulls in the pack. That’s because several members of the coaching staff at the academy have played and coached for the Lethbridge Bulls of the Western Canadian Baseball League (WCBL). And if you check the Bulls roster each summer, you’re sure to find some PBA players on the squad.
You can count Ryan MacDonald among those who have close ties to both the Bulls and the Dawgs. Now in his 10th year of coaching at PBA, the Nova Scotian played five years for the Bulls and coached the Lethbridge team to their first WCBL title in 2015.
MacDonald made some time for Alberta Dugout Stories so we could learn a bit more about PBA and the school’s approach to baseball tutelage.
Read More 1 Thru 9: Prairie Baseball Academy
St. Albert’s Jackson Wark has always dreamed about playing college baseball.
And while he may be one of the top-ranked draft-eligible players from Canada, right now he’s focused on bringing success to his Saint Louis University Billikens.
We chatted with him for a recent episode of Alberta Dugout Stories: The Podcast and here’s that exchange.
Read More Going To Wark
During a season in which Danny Jansen realized his dream of playing Major League Baseball (MLB), it was Giancarlo Stanton who provided the “pinch me” moments for the Toronto Blue Jays catcher.
In the bottom of the first inning on Aug. 18, 2018, the 6-foot-6 pinstriped baseball beast stepped into the batter’s box at Yankee Stadium and gave Jansen his first game-action look at the chiseled outfielder’s 245-pound frame.
Jansen and fellow rookie starting pitcher Sean Reid-Foley got the better of Stanton during that at bat, watching him strike out swinging.
But in the fourth inning, Stanton sent a fastball 412 feet away from home plate and over the centre-field wall. It was Reid-Foley’s second start for the Jays and Jansen’s fourth game with the big club. Welcome to the major leagues.
Read More Striving for More
We look at the 2019 Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame induction class.
It includes former Calgary Cannon pitcher Ryan Dempster, long-time Blue Jays GM Gord Ash, former Yankee bench coach Rob Thomson and Trail, B.C. product Jason Bay.
Read More Hall Pass
After a decade of operation, Prospects Baseball Academy in St. Albert has cultivated some incredible talent.
Those who have attended the academy include Major League Baseball (MLB) draft picks – like Toronto Blue Jays pitching prospect Andrew Case and Erik Sabrowski, a 2018 selection of the San Diego Padres – while others have represented the Prospects in Edmonton as members of the Western Canadian Baseball League (WCBL) team.
Other students – such as Jackson Wark, Kobe Hyland and Taran Oulton – have gone on to play high-end college baseball in the United States and across Canada.
Jordan Blundell, meanwhile, has become the face for the Prospects in both St. Albert and Edmonton. In St. Albert, Blundell works as a hitting instructor and recruiting coordinator at Prospects Baseball Academy, while in Edmonton he was recently named head coach and director of baseball operations by the Prospects.
We caught up with Blundell recently to learn more about the academy.
Read More 1 Thru 9: Prospects Baseball Academy