By BOB ELLIOTT
Dale Tilleman’s first year scouting sandlots looking for diamonds in the rough was in 1993.
He was a part-time scout, working for New York Yankees legendary scout Dick Groch, who signed Hall of Famer Derek Jeter. The first time he had a chance to be an area scout, and make a final draft list, was in 1998 with the Tampa Bay Rays.
Tilleman, of Taber, worked four years with the Rays and then two with the Milwaukee Brewers. Tilleman has been active in Alberta ball for 42 years after he retired from playing, a career which included three tours playing outfield for the Canadian Senior Team.
He had nine of his players selected, and two, LHP Andrew Albers (North Battleford, Sask.) and C Chris Leroux (Mississauga, Ont.) made it to the majors. Tilleman said in both cases, “I was unable to get the finances they desired, so they were later selected and signed with other clubs.” Since then, he did help another club out as an associate.
Recently, he was in charge of the Alberta team for the 2017 and 2022 Canada Summer Games. In 2017, Alberta won bronze, and in 2022 it won the silver. He was also was the general manager for the Alberta entry at the Western Canada Games, in 2019 as Alberta took the gold.
Besides Groch, he worked with some outstanding scouts such as Dan Jennings, Mac Siebert, Dave Dangler and R.J. Harrsion. He played for, and coached with, Ed Cheff, who won 16 national championships at Lewis-Clark State at the NAIA level.
On the national scale the top teams used to be British Columbia, Ontario and Quebec. Now, Alberta and Saskatchewan are making a run at titles.
Some of the reasons for Alberta’s improvement is the coaching offered at academies like: Badlands Academy, located in Oyen; Lethbridge Longhorns Academy, Lethbridge; Neutral Hills Wranglers, Veteran/Consort; Northern Lights Academy, Grande Prairie; Okotoks Academy Dawgs, Okotoks; Prairie Baseball Academy, Lethbridge; St. Joseph Academy, Red Deer; Vauxhall Academy Jets, Vauxhall, AHP Academy, Edmonton; and Webber Academy Wildcats, Calgary.
And now after seeing former Yankees scout Marc Picard (Windsor, Ont.) pick his all-time First and Second All-Picard coached teams, Tilleman will pick Alberta’s all-time in his opinion …
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Sheldon McDonald (Spruce Grove)
Played at University of British Columbia and was in the Cubs organization for five years.
Chris Reitsma (Calgary) and Jeff Zimmerman (Carsland)
Reitsma was drafted out of high school in the first round (34th overall) by the Boston Red Sox. Pitched in 338 games over seven seasons for the Atlanta Braves, Cincinnati Reds and Seattle Mariners, registering 37 saves.
Born in Kelowna BC, Zimmerman’s family moved to Alberta when he was at a young age. He played for Team Alberta at the Canada Cup, attended Texas Christian University, Treasure Valley and Indian Hills. After pitching in the French Elite League for coach Greg Hamilton (Orleans, Ont.) he signed with the independent Winnipeg Goldeyes. He signed with the Texas Rangers in 1998 and the next year at Fenway Park pitched in the All-Star Game. He worked in 196 games and had 37 games.
Lars Davis (Grande Prairie)
Learned at the Prairie Baseball Academy and graduated to the University of Illinois. He played 520 games in eight seasons, peaking at triple-A Colorado Springs (Colorado Rockies) and Lehigh Valley (Phillies).
Matt Lloyd (Calgary)
Attended Iowa Western and then headed to Indiana where future Hall of Famer Scott Rolen was an everyday presence. In three seasons, he spent 106 games in the Cincinnati Reds organization after playing 20 games at double-A Chattanooga this season. He was a 15th rounder by the Reds. He also played with the Junior National Team after his days at Okotoks.
Dwayne Lalor (Red Deer)
Attended Washington State and had two stints with the Canadian National Team as a player.
Matt Coutney (Wetaskwin)
Played at Colby College and Old Dominion, earning Canadian Baseball Network college Player of the Year. He was a 10th round pick of the Los Angeles Angels in July.
Greg Roth (Pincher Creek)
Played at Cochise Community College and was drafted by the Yankees in the 10th round of the 1986 January draft. He played 394 games in four seasons with the White Sox and Orioles organizations, peaking at triple-A Rochester and Vancouver.
Tanner Kirwer (Sherwood Park), Greg Morrison (Medicine Hat) and Ryan Radmanovich (Calgary),
Kirwer attended Niagara and was drafted in the 20th round by the Toronto Blue Jays. In five seasons he has played 322 games, including 96 games at double-A Arkansas (Mariners).
Morrison was selected in the 71st round of 1994 draft by the Los Angeles Dodgers from the National Baseball Institute. He played five years in the Dodgers and Blue Jays systems — winning the triple crown at rookie-class Medicine Hat as hit .446 with 23 homers and 88 RBIs. He then played seven years of indy ball.
Radmanovich was selected from the Twins in the 14th round of the 1993 draft from Pepperdine. He played 25 games with the Seattle Mariners in 1998. He played for Canada in the 2004 Olympics.
Jesse Sawyer (Calgary)
Sawyer (Garson, Ont.) played for the Okotoks Dawgs, the Prairie Baseball Academy and South Dakota State, where he earned First Team All-Summit League honors twice.
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Shane Dawson (Drayton Valley) and Adam Macko (Stony Plain).
Dawson was drafted in the 17th round of the 2012 draft from the Prairie Baseball Academy by the Blue Jays and pitched 112 games in the system, peaking at double-A New Hampshire, plus one year at independent Winnipeg.
Macko was a seventh-round selection for the Vauxhall Academy Jets in the 2019 draft by the Seattle Mariners. He pitched in 26 games over three years and was acquired by the Blue Jays as part of the Teoscar Hernandez deal.
Jim Henderson (Calgary) and Mike Johnson (Sherwood Park).
Okotoks grad Henderson pitched for the Okotoks Dawgs and pitched at Midland and was selected 26th round of the 2003 draft from Tennessee Wesleyan. He pitched in 155 games over four seasons with the Brewers and the Mets, picking up 28 saves.
Johnson was drafted in the 17th round of the 1993 draft. He pitched 81 games in four years with the Expos and the Orioles. He was recently elected to the Alberta Sports Hall of Fame.
Gavin Logan (Oyen)
He played at Umpqua Community College before being drafted by the Arizona Diamondbacks in the ninth round in the 2022 draft from Oregon State University. He is a grads of the Okotoks program.
Jim Kotkas (Lethbridge)
Played at the College of Southern Idaho and Southern Utah University as well as being a five-time member of the Canadian National Team at no less than 12 competitions.
Mark Schlosser (Medicine Hat)
Played at the National Baseball Institute and was with the 1992 Junior National Team.
Jason Chatwood (Innisfail)
He played at Colby and Gonzaga University and was such a fixture he was inducted into the Hall of Fame at Colby in 2018. His wife, softball player Heather Ebert Chatwood (Canora Sask.) was in the same HOF class.
Ty Scott (Calgary)
Played at Bryan College and made the Canadian Baseball Network All-Canadian College First Team in 2020.
Tyler Hollick (Calgary), Scott Maxwell (Lethbridge) and Drew Miller (Medicine Hat).
Hollick played at Chandler-Gilbert and was selected in the 14th round of the 2012 draft by the San Francisco Giants, playing 153 games in three years in the system. Hollick runs the Okotoks program now.
Maxwell played at Cochise, powerhouse Lewis-Clark State and had stints with the Canadian National Team at the 1984 Olympics. He was drafted in the eighth round of the 1985 January draft-and played in the Blue Jays organization for a season.
Miller attended Oklahoma Baptist and played 12 seasons for Independent clubs with the Richmond Roosters (three seasons), Calgary Vipers (seven years) and Aigles de Trois-Rivières (two seasons). Twice he was Canadian Baseball Network independent offensive play of the year.
Emerson Frostad (Calgary)
Born in Vancouver, Frostad moved to Calgary at a young age. He played for the Lewis-Clark State powerhouse and was drafted in the 13th round of the draft by the Texas Rangers organization for five years. He played 722 games in eight seasons in the Houston Astros and the Rangers, peaking at triple-A Oklahoma City. After that he played three seasons on indy ball.
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RHP Dustin Northcott (Rocky Mountain House), LHP Harold Northcott (Rocky Mountain House), C Jordan Procyshen (Calgary), RHP Mark Randall (Edmonton) and 3B Nolan Rattai (Medicine Hat).
LHP Alex Regan (Calgary), OF-1B Garret Regan (Calgary), RHP Reggie Rivard (Bonnyville), LHP David Ross (St. Albert) and LHP Erik Sabrowski (Edmonton).
RHP Dave Shipanoff (Edmonton), 1B Graham Scheltzle (Consort), RHP Mike Soroka (Calgary) and RHP Joe Young (Fort McMurray).
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Doug Jones and Ron Van Keulen, Alberta Amateur Baseball Council
Keith Jorgensen, Prairie Baseball Academy
Jim Lawson, PBF Redbirds
Graham Schietzle, Sylvan Lake.
Dr. Neil Webber, Webber Baseball Academy.
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Best player lost to hockey after graduation from high school: Paul Manning (Red Deer).