By IAN WILSON
The 2022 Major League Baseball (MLB) Draft has come and gone, with a total of 15 Canadians selected over the three-day event in Los Angeles.
Of the 616 prospects chosen by 30 MLB teams through 20 rounds, a few of them have connections to Alberta and the Western Canadian Baseball League (WCBL).
Those include a pair of key players from the 2019 WCBL champion Okotoks Dawgs squad, an Edmonton Prospects alum who had a spectacular college baseball season this year, and a former two-year Fort McMurray Giants hurler.
Here’s a closer look at some of the familiar faces that went in the 2022 MLB Draft:
JACOB MELTON, 2nd Round, 64th Overall, Houston Astros
Before he was named the Pac-12 Player of the Year and a Golden Spikes Award semifinalist for his efforts with the Oregon State University (OSU) Beavers, Jacob Melton patrolled the outfield at Seaman Stadium as a member of the Okotoks Dawgs.
The lefty hitter from Medford, Oregon played a total of 50 games for the Dawgs in 2019. In 42 regular season contests, Melton posted a batting average of .310, as well as 26 runs, 19 runs batted in (RBI), 12 stolen bases and three home runs. His play was even better in the postseason – through eight playoff games he batted .455 with six runs, five doubles, four RBI, a homer and a swiped bag.
Defensively, Melton showed plenty of hustle. During the WCBL championship-clinching game against the Regina Red Sox, he crashed hard into the outfield wall on one play in the late innings before making a crucial diving catch when the next batter sent a ball his way.
GAVIN LOGAN, 9th Round, 258th Overall, Arizona Diamondbacks
Catcher Gavin Logan was a teammate of Melton’s with both the Dawgs and the Beavers. The Oyen, Alberta native set up behind the dish for Okotoks in 2019, suiting up in 30 regular season games and another eight playoff matchups. During the season the Dawgs Academy grad batted .368 with 13 RBI, 19 runs and 10 stolen bases. In the postseason, the backstop contributed nine RBI, two runs and a pair of doubles.
MATT COUTNEY, 10th Round, 298th Overall, Los Angeles Angels
What a beast of a season it was for Wetaskiwin product Matt Coutney. The first baseman set a single-season school record for home runs at Old Dominion University (ODU) and piled up the awards and accolades.
Much of his success was attributed to the addition of contact lenses to his game-day gear. The adjustment helped make Coutney one of the hottest hitters in college baseball in 2022.
The former Colby Community College infielder and St. Francis Xavier Academy product played a total of 53 games in the WCBL with the Edmonton Prospects in 2017 and 2018. In that time, which included a dozen playoff games, he batted .256 in 195 at bats. Despite not hitting any long balls, Coutney produced 27 RBI and 26 runs for the Prospects.
IKE BUXTON, 15th Round, 442nd Overall, Miami Marlins
The product of Lipscomb University, Ike Buxton put up some solid numbers as a redshirt sophomore this spring. The 6-foot-3, 208-pound righthander from Idaho went 7-3 with a 3.86 ERA in 15 appearances. He also struck out 66 batters while walking 39 in 74 2/3 innings.
Buxton spent two summers in Alberta with the Fort McMurray Giants. In 2018, he went 2-1 with a 5.78 ERA in 23 relief outings. The following year, he became a starter and rewarded his Northern Alberta squad with a 3-1 record in 11 games with a 3.52 ERA, striking out 31 hitters in 46 innings.
Third baseman Cam Collier, the 18th overall pick of the Cincinnati Reds, is the son of Lou Collier, who played 315 MLB games for five different clubs. The infielder/outfielder also suited up for the Triple-A Calgary Cannons of the Pacific Coast League (PCL) in 1997. That season he appeared in 112 games as a shortstop for the Cannons and batted .330 with 65 runs, 31 doubles, 48 RBI and 12 stolen bases. The elder Collier is now a scout for the Kansas City Royals.
Fourth-round pick Silas Ardoin, who was selected 107th overall by the Baltimore Orioles, is also the son of a major leaguer. His father, Danny Ardoin, played 165 MLB games over five seasons, as well as 15 years of minor-league baseball. One of his stops was with the Edmonton Trappers in the PCL in 2001. That season the catcher – both Ardoins are backstops – played 88 games for the Trappers. In his 302 at bats, he collected 37 runs, 37 RBI, five homers, and a .255 batting average.
FREE AGENT CONTRACT
Meanwhile, former Lethbridge Bulls first baseman Ty Penner – a Vauxhall Academy product who won a WCBL title with the Bulls last season – has inked a deal with the Philadelphia Phillies.
The University of British Columbia (UBC) infielder played 54 games for the Bulls between 2019 and 2021. In his 50 regular season games and four postseason matchups, Penner batted .299 with 44 runs, 32 RBI, 18 doubles and three long balls.
The news about the Lethbridge native was made public by Hall of Fame baseball journalist Bob Elliott.
Major congratulations to these players who get to continue to chase their dreams of playing professional baseball! We wish them continued success in the years ahead.