By IAN WILSON
We are excited to be adding a new weekly feature to our lineup.
Alberta Dugout Digest will run every Tuesday during the collegiate baseball season in the United States and it will shine a light on some of this province’s best hitters and pitchers.
Each week, we will explore the top five players in five pitching categories and five hitting categories. Information is gleaned from the cbplayers.com website, which provides statistical data about Canadian baseball players in the U.S.
Let’s get started with a look at Alberta’s most feared hitters.
The home run leaders are a pair of Okotoks Dawgs Academy graduates who have clubbed 10 dingers each. Matt Lloyd has been a monster at the dish for the Indiana Hoosiers lately and so has J.T. Patterson, who bashed three home runs and collected eight runs batted in (RBI) for Bellevue University during an 11-8 win over the weekend.
Dylan Borman, of Camrose, has gone yard seven times for the University of Arkansas at Monticello. The infielder is a product of the Prairie Baseball Academy (PBA) and he played for the Lethbridge Bulls of the Western Canadian Baseball League (WCBL) last summer.
Vauxhall Academy alumnus Blake Gallagher, originally from New Brunswick, has sent baseballs over outfield walls five times for the Colby Community College Trojans, as has his Wetaskiwin-born teammate Matt Coutney.
Four other players – Gavin Logan, Clayton Keyes, Tucker Zdunich and Matt Quartel – are tied with four home runs on the season.
Patterson’s productive presence at the plate over the weekend took him to the top of the RBI leader board. The Calgarian has driven in 41 runs in 2019.
Cooper Jones sits in second place with 37 RBI. Another former Vauxhall Jets slugger, Jones is now playing for Southeastern Community College in Iowa.
Lloyd is next on the list, with 32 RBI, while Coutney – who played for the Edmonton Prospects last summer – has driven in 31 runners for the Colby Trojans. Borman rounds out the top five with 27 RBI.
CROSSING THE PLATE
Patterson also finds himself atop the leader list when it comes to runs scored. The 22-year-old, who took the field for the Okotoks Dawgs in 2018, has 36 runs.
Gallagher and Austin Watamaniuk, who hails from Westlock, have crossed the plate 32 times this season. Watamaniuk plays for Benedictine College.
Chasing them are outfielder Ryan Humeniuk (another Okotoks Dawgs alum) with 30 runs, and Coutney, who has also touched home plate 30 times.
The hits just keep coming for Patterson. His 44 hits, including 11 doubles, make him Alberta’s most accomplished batter. The Bruins masher shares the hit lead with Jones and his 44 hits.
Coutney is not far behind with 42 hits.
Calgarian Tyler Scott, who trained at Vauxhall Academy, has 39 hits for Bryan College, while Garrett Kirkwood – also of Calgary, and a Dawgs Academy grad – has collected 37 hits for the Columbus State Cougars.
WALK THIS WAY
The most patient batter of the bunch is Nicholas Ankerman of Lethbridge. Sixty percent of the time, he walks every time. OK, maybe the math doesn’t work on that one, but the PBA product’s 23 walks in 94 at bats make him a discerning batsman.
Jones sits second in bases on balls, with 22 free passes to first base.
Catcher Reed Odland has also displayed outstanding plate discipline. The former Vauxhall Jet from Enchant has registered 20 walks during 97 plate appearances for Allan Hancock College. Gallagher has also drawn 20 walks and he sits slightly ahead of four other batters that have 19 walks, including Coutney, Patterson, Scott and Justin King.
Alberta’s hitters aren’t the only baseball players who are turning heads south of the border. Several pitchers are also making an impact. Here’s a look at some of the hurlers who are helping their respective ball clubs:
It’s hard to overstate the importance of pitchers who can log a lot of innings. Starters capable of going deep into games and relievers who make frequent appearances are a bullpen’s best friend.
Taran Oulton is at the top of that bullpen buddy list. During his 11 appearances, the Prospects Academy product has pitched 66.1 innings for William Woods University.
A pair of Vauxhall-trained pitchers have been frustrating batters, as well. Josh Burgmann has worked 51 frames while playing for the University of Washington Huskies, and Wesley Moore has pitched 49 innings for the Cal State Northridge Matadors.
St. Albert’s Jackson Wark, another Prospects Academy alum, has put in 30 innings of work, while Corey Jackson (Dawgs Academy) and Airdrie’s Kyran Weemaels have pitched 29.2 innings in 2019.
Not surprisingly, the strikeout leaders are also the same pitchers who have logged the most innings of work.
Burgmann is the leader in Ks, with 62, while Oulton struck out 58 batters. Moore is third on the list, with 43 strikeouts. Jackson has 37 Ks during his 17 relief appearances for UNC-Greensboro and Wark has wrung up 34 batters for the St. Louis University Billikens.
While Matt Lloyd has opened games up for the Hoosiers with his home run power, he’s also closed things out at Indiana University. The former WCBL Canadian Rookie of the Year from Okotoks has four saves so far this season.
Four other pitchers have collected three saves on the year, including another dual threat, Blake Gallagher, who can beat teams from the mound or the batter’s box.
Calgarian Liam Sabiston and Tanner Dalton – recently named the Western Athletic Conference (WAC) Pitcher of the Week – honed their pitching skills at PBA before nailing down three saves this season. Dallas Forno of Okotoks also has a trio of saves.
The earned run average leaders (with a minimum of 25 innings pitched) are pitchers who know how to limit the damage – or prevent it entirely – when opposing batters step into the batter’s box.
Weemaels, out of Prairie Baseball Academy and now with Cabrini University, has an ERA of just 1.82 and is the latest Atlantic East Conference Pitcher of the Week winner.
Rounding out the ERA leader board is Dalton (2.00), Wark (2.10), Burgmann (2.29), and Moore (2.76).
WHIP IT GOOD
WHIP stands for walks and hits per inning pitched. It’s a stat that reflects a pitcher’s ability to prevent hitters from getting on base.
Once again, we looked at pitchers who had at least 25 innings under their belt. And once again, we saw some familiar names.
Dalton recorded the lowest WHIP at 0.93, followed by Weemaels at 1.11, Oulton at 1.12, Burgmann at 1.14 and Moore at 1.16.
EDITORIAL NOTE: The statistical leaders include players who are from Alberta or who trained at one of the province’s academies. Some of the player lists may be incomplete, however, so if you think we are missing anyone, please let us know by commenting on our social media channels or by emailing us at AlbertaDugoutStories@gmail.com