By RUDY HOWELL
The Edmonton Prospects are ready to take a swing at another championship.
The college baseball club will play their first regular-season game on the road against the Fort McMurray Giants on Friday, May 27th.
Last season, the Prospects made it to the Western Canadian Baseball League (WCBL) finals but lost in the championship round to the Lethbridge Bulls.
“We didn’t achieve our goal which is never fun but it was an impressive effort from a group of young men and overall a really positive year,” said Jordan Blundell, Prospects Head Coach and Assistant General Manager.
Roughly 10 players are expected to return to the roster this year including pitcher Jordan Moffatt and outfielder Stephen MacKenzie.
In total, the Prospects will have 30 players, which the team is currently in the process of announcing. As per usual, the roster is made up of a combination of underclassmen (freshman, sophomores) and upperclassmen (juniors, seniors). Blundell said this mixture of age and experience often leads to good team chemistry whereby everyone can learn from one another.
As head coach, Blundell’s approach to balancing development with competition stems from trying to make each of his players better every day regardless of age and experience. He said getting better does not always mean winning and being able to understand and evaluate this is part of his job as head coach.
“We’ve got a bunch of guys who want to get better and compete at the same time. I think common ground is the universal language of baseball. At times, you chose older players based on their experience but everybody is coming here to play and that’s what’s always exciting about the start of the year,” said Blundell.
The report date for the team is May 22nd, when the Prospects will begin their training. However, some players are currently positioned to make deep playoff runs with their colleges, which could mean they arrive late to the Prospects season. Blundell said he actually hopes this happens because it will mean these players get to make memories of playoffs with their ‘brothers.’
While he has yet to see this year’s Prospects in action, Blundell is predicting he is going to have fun watching this team play baseball. Based on the roster, he said he has some great athletes who understand the minutia of the game. He is expecting a tough offence made up of batters who want to hit the ball hard and an aggressive defence of pitchers who want to attack hitters and get big outs.
“This league is a dog fight every night. There are a lot of close games because everybody is good. It’s all about finding ways to win games and hopefully, we’re able to do that,” said Blundell.
Ultimately, the Prospects’ goal this season is to make the playoffs again and compete for another championship. In order to make this goal a reality, Blundell said the team has to figure out ways to consistently win games as the summer progresses. The chase for results is what Blundell said draws him to the sport of baseball and it is was he is looking forward to most this season.
This year, while construction of Spruce Grove’s Myshak Metro Ballpark gets underway, the Prospects will play 20 of 28 home games out of Centennial Park in Sherwood Park. The remaining eight will be divided between Kindersley, Saskatchewan and Lethbridge, Sylvan Lake, and Okotoks in Alberta. Playoffs will commence on Monday, Aug. 8th.
“We’re excited for this year and obviously what’s coming down the line as the organization grows,” said Blundell.