By IAN WILSON
The dreams of a number of Alberta-trained players came true this week when they heard their names called during the 2021 Major League Baseball Draft.
Outfielder Tristan Peters – a superstar with the Okotoks Dawgs in 2019 – was selected 207th overall, in the seventh round, by the Milwaukee Brewers.
The 21-year-old was fantastic in helping the Dawgs win their fifth WCBL title a couple years ago, winning the regular season batting crown with a .396 batting average before being named the Canadian Rookie of the Year and the Most Valuable Player (MVP) in the playoffs.
“It was unreal – and so much fun,” Peters said of his time with the Dawgs in a recent interview with Alberta Dugout Stories: The Podcast.
“The guys on that team were incredible. They were great ball players but even better people and they were just so much fun to be around.”
Peters, originally from Winkler, Manitoba, also trained at Dawgs Academy in Okotoks.
“The Dawgs program means a tonne to me … they know how to develop character there. I just learned how to be a good ball player and a good man,” said Peters.
“I really want to play pro baseball – that’s my goal and I just have to take it a day at a time.”
HAWK TAKING FLIGHT
Righty pitcher Garrett Hawkins, who studied at Vauxhall Academy and took the bump for the Swift Current 57’s in 2018 and 2019, was chosen by the San Diego Padres with the 280th overall pick in the ninth round.
Hawkins – or, as his teammates call him, “G-Hawk” – was stellar in his two WCBL seasons. He pitched 71.1 innings over both summers in Swift Current and posted a 7-2 record with a 2.40 ERA and 76 Ks.
The 6-foot-5 moundsman, who hails from Biggar, Saskatchewan, looks back fondly at his time with the 57’s.
“My favourite memory from the WCBL would be pitching Canada Day in front of thousands of fans in Medicine Hat,” said Hawkins, who also played for the University of British Columbia (UBC).
He also called his time at Vauxhall crucial to his advancement in baseball and life.
“Vauxhall means so much to me. My biggest steps in my development as a baseball player, as well as a person, took place there,” said Hawkins.
“It was amazing being surrounded by such great people and teammates who want the very best for each other. I could not have gotten this far without Coach Mac (Les McTavish) and all those involved in the academy.”
DAM GOOD BALL PLAYER
The Toronto Blue Jays selected slugger Damiano Palmegiani for a second time. The Jays took the Vauxhall Academy grad in the 35th round of the 2018 MLB Draft, but he opted to continue on the college path at that time.
This time around, the former Lethbridge Bull went 422nd overall in the 14th round.
In 63 games at the College of Southern Nevada (CSN) this year, Palmegiani punished baseballs to the tune of a .389 batting average and 26 home runs. He was also named the Male Athlete of the Year at CSN.
“I just wanted to show what I could do when everything is figured out,” Palmegiani told Alberta Dugout Stories.
“I want to show everyone, and myself mostly, that player is there. I’m really just getting started now.”
After he was drafted, the Venezuelan-born Canadian posted the following message on Twitter: “Incredibly blessed, thank you to everyone that made my dream a reality.”
Palmegiani played 13 games for Lethbridge in the summer of 2018. He batted just .125 through 32 at bats but he scored seven runs and picked up three RBI, as well as a pair of doubles for the Bulls.
Selected in the 15th round of the MLB Draft – 434th overall – was Evan Elliott, a hard-throwing righty out of Prairie Baseball Academy (PBA).
Originally from Toronto, Elliott has worked tenaciously at building up his arm strength and his pitching velocity over the years, recently pushing the radar gun reading to 98 miles per hour (mph).
Flirting with the top-ten in the Canadian Baseball Network’s draft rankings, Elliott was a lot like Hawkins in that he wasn’t able to suit up with PBA over the past year because of COVID-19 restrictions.
A prominent political scientist in Alberta took to Twitter to boast about his nephew being selected in the MLB Draft.
Mount Royal University’s Duane Bratt, known more for his love of lacrosse, was proud seeing the name “Mitchell Bratt” on the draft board on day two, selected in the fifth round, 134th overall by the Texas Rangers.
Ranked as the seventh-best Canadian prospect heading into the draft by Canadian Baseball Network, the younger Bratt has seen plenty of playing time with several teams in Ontario, including the Toronto Mets, and was also a member of the Baseball Canada Junior National Team.
“It still hasn’t hit me, to be honest,” the 6-foot-1, 190-pound southpaw told Toronto.com. “One minute I’m going to school and in the next I’m getting a call about slot money.
With the West Virginia Black Bears of the MLB Draft League, Bratt struck out 44 batters in 28 innings while posting a slick 2.57 earned-run average.
The Newmarket, Ontario native says his curveball is his best pitch, while his uncle’s scouting report was a little more straight-forward.
“Kid just turned 18 two weeks ago,” Duane tweeted. “Huge upside.”