With the 2023 Major League Baseball season underway, it was only a matter of time before each organization started setting up its affiliate rosters for the coming year.
Over the last few weeks, teams have slowly started announcing their respective rosters, and we’ve been frantically trying to keep up with all of the unveilings, hoping to catch a few familiar names.
As we did last year, we decided to scour the rosters and find all of the players we could who were born or trained here, as well as those who may have come through the province as part of teams in the Western Canadian Baseball League.
READ MORE: Alberta’s 2022 Pro Connections
Here is who we found:
Marco Gonzales – Seattle Mariners
There might have been some concern that Marco Gonzalez wasn’t going to be able to return to his 2019 form, where he led MLB in starts with 34, going 16-13 with a 3.99 ERA. He had his struggles the following two years, and while his win-loss record in 2022 left something to be desired (10-15), he was still a workhorse with 32 starts. The former Saskatoon Yellow Jacket will look to figure prominently on a roster that is hoping to build off the playoff performance from last season.
Andrew Kittredge – Tampa Bay Rays
Andrew Kittredge took the MLB world by storm in 2021 by posting a 9-3 record with eight saves and a 1.88 earned-run average in 57 appearances, even making the All-Star Game. The Spokane, Washington product and Okotoks Dawgs alum was then just limited to 20 innings in 2022 before being sidelined with elbow discomfort, which ultimately led to Tommy John Surgery. He remains on the 60-day DL as he continues his rehabilitation, with the hope that he returns sometime in the second half of the season.
Rob Zastryzny – Pittsburgh Pirates
Could this be the year that Rob Zastryzny finally doesn’t have to live out of a suitcase? The five-year MLB and 12-year pro, who was born in Edmonton and moved to the U.S. when he was still an infant, has made stops with the Chicago Cubs, Los Angeles Dodgers, Miami Marlins, Los Angeles Angels, and New York Mets organizations since 2013. After a solid spring with the Pirates and representing Canada at the World Baseball Classic, Zastryzny made his first Opening Day roster with the Pirates, and has been working out of their bullpen.
Greg Cullen – Norfolk Tides (Triple-A) – Baltimore Orioles
It might not be long before we hear Greg Cullen’s name in a Major League Baseball call-up. Drafted by the Atlanta Braves in the 15th-round of the 2018 draft, the Okotoks Dawgs product quickly rose up the ranks, including being named a South Atlantic League All-Star in 2019. The following year, he was traded to Baltimore, where he has bounced around a lot. With four different teams in 2022, he hit ..272 with seven home runs and 25 RBI in 74 games. Cullen then went to Australia, where he hit .321 with a homer and seven RBI in nine games for the Auckland Tuatara. He’s starting this season at Triple-A Norfolk.
Alejo Lopez – Louisville Bats (Triple-A) – Cincinnati Reds
It’s been tough for Alejo Lopez to keep his spot on the Reds’ roster over the last few years. Despite lighting up minor league pitching in 2021 with a .362 average at Double-A Chattanooga and .303 with Louisville, he hasn’t been able to replicate that success at the major league level. He has been able to muster a .262 average in 75 MLB games over the last two seasons and proven to be a versatile fielder, but after some roster moves in the offseason, the Dawgs Academy product was designated for assignment, cleared waivers, then outrighted to Louisville again to start the season.
Erik Sabrowski – Columbus Clippers (Triple-A) – Cleveland Guardians
A 14th-round pick of the San Diego Padres in 2018, Erik Sabrowski has been waiting much longer to really prove he can get to the big leagues than he’d prefer. Right out of the gates, he was forced to undergo Tommy John surgery, then had to deal with the COVID year. He returned in 2021 for eight games with the Fort Wayne TinCaps, going 2-0 with a blistering 1.86 ERA, striking out 41 batters in just 29 innings of work. But something didn’t feel right, and he underwent another Tommy John. The former Edmonton Prospects slugger was then picked up by the Guardians in the Rule 5 Draft, and has been recuperating. He’s hoping to get back on the field sometime this summer.
Mike Soroka – Gwinnett Stripers (Triple-A) – Atlanta Braves
A 2019 MLB All-Star and Rookie of the Year candidates, Calgary’s Mike Soroka is fighting tooth-and-nail to get back to that spot with the Atlanta Braves after a couple of years marred by injuries. He came back for one game in Spring Training, and was tagged for two runs (one unearned) on three hits with a walk and a strikeout in just over an inning of work. He wasn’t expecting to make the Opening Day lineup as he believes he needs to work on a few things, but we’re hopeful he will make a return to the Braves in the not-too-distant future.
Curtis Taylor – Iowa Cubs (Triple-A) – Chicago Cubs
An Edmonton Prospects and UBC Thunderbird grad, Curtis Taylor was a fourth-round pick of the Arizona Diamondbacks in 2016, and has moved around a lot in his short professional career. With stops in the Tampa Bay, Toronto and Washington organizations, the Port Coquitlam native joined the Chicago Cubs, where he pitched in two games, striking out two of the five batters he faced. After splitting last season between three minor league levels and then playing in the World Baseball Classic for Canada this spring, Taylor is hopeful this is the year he gets the call to “The Show.”
Josh Taylor – Omaha Storm Chasers (Triple-A) – Kansas City Royals
After spending the last few seasons with the Boston Red Sox, where he appeared in 121 contests registering a 4-3 record with a 3.40 ERA, Taylor was traded to the Kansas City Royals in January for shortstop Adalberto Mondesi. The Swift Current 57s grad was dealing with a back injury during the 2022 season, and the hope is he will be able to build up some arm strength again in Omaha before making it back to the big leagues.
Jacob Webb – Salt Lake Bees (Triple-A) – Los Angeles Angels
An 18th-round pick of the Atlanta Braves in 2014, Jacob Webb quietly moved up the team’s depth chart, finally make his big league debut in 2019. Over the last three seasons, he’s played in 78 MLB games, posting a 9-4 record with three save and a 2.47 ERA. However, the Medicine Hat Mavericks alum hasn’t been able to stick in one spot for too long over the last 12 months. He was claimed off waivers by Arizona in early-2022, then traded back to the Braves. Webb then signed a minor league deal with the Angels, and performed well in Spring Training, but was ultimately sent down to Salt Lake to start the season.
Kody Funderburk – Wichita Wind Surge (Double-A) – Minnesota Twins
A 15th-round pick of the Twins in 2018, Kody Funderburk has been making a steady climb up the organization’s depth chart. A former member of both the Edmonton Prospects and Okotoks Dawgs, he was a regular contributor to the Wind Surge in 2022, going 10-5 with a 2.94 ERA in 32 appearances, which included 17 starts. Funderburk also pitched in three games for the Twins during Spring Training, striking out four of the ten batters he faced.
Tanner Kirwer – Arkansas Travelers (Double-A) – Seattle Mariners
Heralded for his speed, Tanner Kirwer has always been a fascinating prospect after being drafted by the Toronto Blue Jays in the 20th-round of the 2017 MLB Draft. Stealing 43 bases between the Vancouver Canadians and New Hampshire Fisher Cats in 2021, he was picked up by the Mariners in the Rule 5 Draft that winter. With the Travelers in 2022, he posted a .240 batting average with five home runs, 29 RBI and 23 stolen bases in 96 games. The Sherwood Park native and Edmonton Prospects is hoping to take the next step this summer.
Travis Kuhn – Arkansas Travelers (Double-A) – Seattle Mariners
Travis Kuhn is another Mariners prospect hoping to finally make a move up. A 19th-round pick of the club in 2019, he went 3-3 with a 4.10 ERA in 50 relief appearances for Arkansas last season. He had a rough go of things in Spring Training, pitching in three games but allowing five earned runs and striking out two in just over an inning of work. Back in 2016, Kuhn went 2-0 with six saves and a 0.81 ERA in 19 games for the Moose Jaw Miller Express.
Ben Onyshko – Arkansas Travelers (Double-A) – Seattle Mariners
A late addition to the Canadian roster for the World Baseball Classic after Nick Pivetta had to bow out, Ben Onyshko is hoping to build off that experience to move up the depth chart with the Seattle Mariners this year. A 24th-round pick of the Mariners in 2018, the Vauxhall Academy of Baseball product went 3-2 with a 4.36 ERA in 43 relief appearances last season with the Travelers. He’s the third familiar face to baseball fans in Alberta who will be starting the year in Arkansas.
Damiano Palmegiani – New Hampshire Fisher Cats (Double-A) – Toronto Blue Jays
A product of the Vauxhall Academy of Baseball, Damiano Palmegiani was a heralded slugger when he was first drafted by the Toronto Blue Jays in 2018. However, he opted not to sign, and went back to school, where he put up some mammoth numbers at the College of Southern Nevada, getting drafted again by the Jays in 2021. He lit the minors on fire in 2022, hitting .247 with 26 home runs and 92 RBI in 119 games split between Dunedin and Vancouver. After representing Canada at the World Baseball Classic, the Lethbridge Bulls alum starts the year in New Hampshire ranked as one of the organization’s top prospects.
Tristan Peters – Montgomery Biscuits (Double-A) – Tampa Bay Rays
Few other players had wilder rides in the minors than Tristan Peters in 2022. Originally drafted by the Milwaukee Brewers in the seventh-round of the 2021 draft, the Dawgs Academy and Okotoks Dawgs star quickly made his way up the depth charts. At the August MLB trade deadline, Peters was traded to San Francisco for reliever Trevor Rosenthal, and he ended up with the Double-A Richmond Flying Squirrels. In November, he was traded again to the Tampa Bay Rays for infielder Brett Wisely. Peters was rewarded by being invited to the Rays’ main camp, and hit .211 with four RBI and a stolen base in 11 Spring Training games.
Edgar Barclay – Hudson Valley Renegades (High-A) – New York Yankees
Ranked amongst the top-50 prospects in the New York Yankees organization, Edgar Barclay is coming off a great 2022 where he went 7-4 with a 1.74 ERA in 28 appearances (including four starts) for the Renegades. Known more for his control than for his velocity, the Edmonton Prospects alum struck out 86 batters in just over 67 innings of work, and is becoming a prospect to watch in the Bronx.
Garrett Hawkins – Fort Wayne TinCaps (High-A) – San Diego Padres
The product of Biggar, Saskatchewan, Garrett Hawkins has intrigued many since he was drafted by the Padres in the ninth-round of the 2021 MLB Draft. The Vauxhall Academy of Baseball graduate split last season between Lake Elsinore and Fort Wayne, posting a 5-8 record with a 4.74 ERA in 21 starts, striking out 120 batters in 93 innings. In Spring Training with the Padres, he faced two batters in one outing, not allowing a hit while striking out one.
Logan Hofmann – Greensboro Grasshoppers (High-A) – Pittsburgh Pirates
The native of Muenster, Saskatchewan, Logan Hofmann is another intriguing prospect coming out of a recent MLB Draft. The Pirates took him in the fifth-round in 2020, and he has done everything asked of him, starting with Bradenton in 2021 before moving up to Greensboro in 2022, where he posted a 1-1 record and a 6.81 ERA in 26 relief appearances. He made his Spring Training debut this year, facing seven batters and allowing two runs on two hits and three walks in less than an inning of work. The Moose Jaw Miller Express alum will start the year back in Greensboro.
Gavin Logan – Hillsboro Hops (High-A) – Arizona Diamondbacks
After a great career at Oregon State, capped by a 2022 where he hit .281 with three home runs and 36 RBI in 45 games, Logan was the first of two Albertans taken in last summer’s MLB Draft, going in the ninth round to the Arizona Diamondbacks. After a whirlwind few days of flights and workouts, the Oyen native reported to their Arizona Complex League team, where he hit .286 with an RBI in eight games. The Dawgs Academy and Okotoks Dawgs catcher then went to Hillsboro, where he hit .235 with seven RBI in 11 games. That’s where he is set to start the 2023 season.
Adam Macko – Vancouver Canadians (High-A) – Toronto Blue Jays
Heading into the offseason, no one expected Adam Macko to be in the headlines as much as he was. Even the Vauxhall Academy of Baseball product admits he was surprised to get a phone call in November saying he had been traded from Seattle to Toronto in the Teoscar Hernandez deal. The Stony Plain hurler was a highly touted prospect with the Mariners and is amongst the top-ten prospects in the Blue Jays system now, as an intriguing pitcher with a lot of strikeouts and still working on his control. He won’t be rejoining his Jets roommate, Palmegiani, to start the year though, as Macko will get things going with Vancouver.
Jacob Melton – Asheville Tourists (High-A) – Houston Astros
A teammate of Logan’s at Oregon State as well as with the 2019 Okotoks Dawgs, Jacob Melton went into the 2022 MLB Draft as one of the top prospects after hitting .260 with 17 home runs, 83 RBI and 21 stolen bases for the Beavers. He was taken in the second round by the Astros, who had him play for both the Florida Complex League Astros as well as the Fayetteville Woodpeckers last summer. He hit a combined .261 with four homers, 13 RBI and five stolen bases in 23 games, earning himself a promotion to start the 2023 campaign.
Matt Merrill – Wilmington Blue Rocks (High-A) – Washington Nationals
A 37th-round pick of the Houston Astros in 2017, Matt Merrill ended up going back to school, which led to him making a brief stop with the Okotoks Dawgs in 2019, where he made two appearances. Merrill eventually caught on with the Washington Nationals organization, where he spent the 2021 season with the Single-A Fredericksburg Nationals before moving up to the Wilmington Blue Rocks in 2022. There, he posted a 1-2 record with a 6.86 ERA in 20 appearances, including seven starts.
Matt Coutney – Inland Empire 66ers (Single-A) – Los Angeles Angels
The second Albertan taken in the 2022 MLB Draft after an incredible season at Old Dominion University where he hit .376 with 27 homers and 70 runs batted in, Matt Coutney was selected in the 10th round by the Los Angeles Angels. The Wetaskiwin native and St. Francis Xavier product reported to the club’s Arizona Complex League team, where he hit .231 with a solo home run in nine games. He will get the chance to prove himself at a higher level with Inland Empire to start this season.
Wesley Moore – Clearwater Threshers (Single-A) – Philadelphia Phillies
He’s had a wild ride to get to professional baseball, and Wesley Moore is taking full advantage of the opportunity. The 23-year-old Surrey, BC native signed a free agent contract with the Phillies in the offseason, following a career that took him from the Vauxhall Academy of Baseball to the Lethbridge Bulls before stops at California State University and Kansas State University as well as the West Coast League’s Bellingham Bells. To top it off, Moore was one of the pitchers involved in a no-hitter during his debut with the Threshers.
Ty Penner – Clearwater Threshers (Single-A) – Philadelphia Phillies
Another free agent signing was Lethbridge’s Ty Penner, who inked a deal with the Phillies right after the 2022 MLB Draft. The Vauxhall Academy of Baseball product and UBC grad reported to Philadelphia’s Florida Complex League team, where he hit .129 with a homer and three RBI in 10 games. Nursing an injury, Penner has been assigned to Clearwater, with the hope of getting back on the field in the next few weeks..
Evan Elliott – ACL Rangers (Rookie League) – Texas Rangers
The Toronto native was set to join Prairie Baseball Academy in 2021 when he was drafted in the 15th round by the Texas Rangers. He immediately made an impact by striking out seven batters in three innings to pick up two wins for their Arizona Complex League team. He returned there in 2022, going 0-1 with a 4.82 ERA in nine relief appearances. It appears that is where he will start this season as well.
There are plenty of players with Alberta ties who are still looking to find a home to play ball this summer, as they have been either released or elected free agency since the end of last season. Here’s a look at that list:
Who doesn’t love a good comeback story? North Battleford’s Andrew Albers hasn’t pitched in professional baseball since 2021, but he was given the chance to play again as a member of Team Canada at the World Baseball Classic this spring. The former Saskatoon Yellow Jackets product was thrilled with the opportunity, but also recognized it might be the last time he pitches at a high level. It’d be quite the sendoff for the 13-year pro, who pitched in 31 MLB games.
Another short-term WCBL visitor, Chandler Casey made a major impact in an abbreviated stop with the Weyburn Beavers in 2018. He went 1-1 with a 1.42 ERA in four games for the team, and was drafted the following summer by the Houston Astros in the 26th round. The Lubbock Christian University alum spent 2021 with the Asheville Tourists, then joined the Double-A Corpus Christi Hooks in 2022, going 3-1 with a 5.82 ERA in 21 relief appearances. Casey was released in August, and hasn’t surfaced elsewhere.
On their way to a Western Major Baseball League (now WCBL) title in 2017, the Swift Current 57s leaned on a tall righthander named Sean Chandler out of the bullpen. He went 2-0 with a 1.06 ERA in 13 appearances that season, also making three appearances in the playoffs. A year later, he was drafted by the Texas Rangers in the sixth-round, spending two seasons with the Hickory Crawdads before joining Jordan Procyshen and the Frisco Roughriders in 2022. However, it didn’t go well as he went 0-1 with a 14.29 ERA in six appearances, and he now finds himself a free agent.
After playing for the Yorkton Cardinals in 2018, Riley Jepson became one of the best players in the Western Canadian Baseball League the following year, hitting .319 with seven home runs and 21 RBI in 39 games for the Lethbridge Bulls. The University of Fraser Valley product then went to the University of Texas as Tyler, where he grabbed the attention of scouts, playing for the Pioneer League’s Great Falls Voyageurs in 2021-2022. After hitting .407 with 12 homers and 55 RBI in the second season, he earned a contract to finish the year in the Chicago White Sox system, although he hit just .119 in 13 games with the Winston-Salem Dash. He was released after Spring Training.
Much like Warkentin, Tanner Jesson-Dalton is looking for another opportunity to keep his professional baseball dreams alive. The Prairie Baseball Academy and Lethbridge Bulls product was a 2019 draft pick of the Chicago Cubs after a solid couple of years at Sacramento State. He had a solid 2021 at South Bend, going 2-3 with a 7.61 ERA in 26 relief appearances. However, Jesson-Dalton was only able to get into seven games with the Single-A Myrtle Beach Pelicans in 2022 before his release in August.
A minor league veteran with the Chicago White Sox over the years, Kubat has come oh-so-close to getting a phone call to join the big club. He’s made 74 appearances at the Triple-A level over four seasons, garnering a 14-10 record with a 5.57 ERA. Kubat, an Okotoks Dawgs alum, split last season between the Double-A Birmingham Barons and Triple-A Charlotte Knights. However, he opted for free agency in the offseason, and is still looking for a new home.
It’s been a difficult few months for Matt Lloyd. A 15th-round pick of the Cincinnati Reds in 2019 after a stellar collegiate career with the Indiana Hoosiers, the Dawgs Academy and Okotoks Dawgs product embarked on his minor league journey, slowly making his way up the depth chart. However, a leg injury in 2022 cut his season short thanks to a surgery. While he was hopeful to get back on-track, the Reds decided to release him from minor league camp, making him a free agent.
A free agent signing of the Toronto Blue Jays in 2019, Alex Nolan was becoming a steady presence with their farm teams, particularly with the Vancouver Canadians, where he spent the majority of the last few seasons. Last year, he went 1-0 with a 6.17 ERA in 16 relief appearances. Unfortunately, those weren’t the results the team was hoping for, and the Fort McMurray Giants product was released in March.
It’s been a whirlwind few years for Hunter Owen. After not getting picked by the Pittsburgh Pirates to join the club during the COVID-shortened year, he embarked on what became a highly publicized journey from working at a golf course to making his MLB debut in 2021. A Swift Current 57s alum, Owen had an injury-plagued 2022 and elected free agency in the offseason, but hasn’t been picked up by anyone yet.
Canada’s bullpen catcher at the World Baseball Classic, Jordan Procyshen is coming off winning a league title with the Frisco Roughriders of the Double-A Texas League in 2022. Originally drafted by the Boston Red Sox in the 14th-round of the 2014 MLB Draft, the Calgary native and Okotoks Dawgs program grad has spent nine years in pro ball, including five seasons at Double-A. With Frisco last season, he hit .222 with four homers and 13 RBI in 35 games.
A utility infielder selected by the Los Angeles Angels in the 2016 Draft, Jose Rojas made his MLB debut in 2021, hitting .208 in 61 games for the Angels. He bounced between the big-league squad and Triple-A Salt Lake in 2022 before being claimed on waivers by the San Francisco Giants, where he rounded out the year with their Triple-A affiliate in Sacramento. In late-October, the Swift Current 57s alum signed a one-year, $1 million contract with the Doosan Bears of the KBO League in Korea.
Considered to be one of the best defensive shortstops in the game, Andrelton Simmons is still looking to find a new MLB home in 2023, at the age of 33. He spent last season with the Chicago Cubs, hitting just .173 with seven runs batted in and four stolen bases in 34 games before he was designated for assignment, ultimately electing for free agency. The Yorkton Cardinals alum represented Netherlands in the recent World Baseball Classic.
There were a lot of expectations around LaRon Smith after he was drafted by the Minnesota Twins in the 25th round of the 2018 MLB Draft. The young catching prospect just couldn’t seem to string together a healthy season, playing no more than 28 games in any given season. In 2022, the Dawgs Academy grad hit .197 with a home run and eight RBI in 25 games for the Single-A Fort Myers Mighty Mussels, but was released in mid-August.
The professional baseball journey hasn’t been an easy one for Ben Thompson. The Auckland, New Zealand product was a 28th-round pick of the Atlanta Braves in the 2019 draft, and pitched well in his first few games in the Gulf Coast League. Coming out of the pandemic, the Dawgs Academy product went 3-1 with a 7.11 ERA in 30 relief appearances for the Augusta GreenJackets in 2021, but then struggled in 2022, getting into just five games. He was released and, with his hometown Auckland Tuatara, went 1-1 with a 5.24 ERA in nine outings this past season.
An Ontario native, Matt Warkentin hit .175 with two homers and seven RBI in 13 games for the Lethbridge Bulls in 2016, adding two hits in one playoff game. He signed a minor league deal with the Chicago Cubs in 2021, and returned in 2022 to play in 25 games split between the Cubs’ Arizona Complex League team and the Single-A Myrtle Beach Pelicans. Unfortunately, he was released last August, but quickly signed with the Pioneer League’s Ogden Raptors. In January, he signed on with the Tri-City ValleyCats.
There are a couple of unknown situations as well.
Following an 11-year MLB and 14-year pro career, Simcoe, Ontario’s John Axford had to undergo a second Tommy John surgery, which wrote off his 2022 season. In December, he indicated he wanted to suit up again for Canada at the World Baseball Classic and got his wish. The former Melville Millionaires hurler even gave a shout-out to the former WMBL team in a post-game interview during the WBC. Will he get another shot to pitch at the pro level? We will see.
Former Fort McMurray Giant catcher Max Hewitt was a free agent signing by the Los Angeles Dodgers in 2021 after a solid collegiate career with Oklahoma State. Hewitt hit .125 with three RBI in 21 games for the Great Lakes Loons last summer. While his MiLB page says he is active with the Loons again, he’s not listed on their roster as of right now.
And finally, Dawgs Academy and Okotoks Dawgs product Justin King has had an interesting path in baseball, converting into a pitcher after his college career at the University of Louisiana-Monroe came to an end. After starting 2022 with the Frontier League’s Florence Y’Alls, King was signed by the Milwaukee Brewers in 2022, going 2-2 with a 5.40 in ten relief appearances for three teams. He also went 1-2 with a 5.79 ERA in 15 appearances for the Brisbane Bandits of the Australian Baseball League over the winter. King was “last assigned to the Milwaukee Brewers” in March, but it’s not known yet which team he will start the year with.
We are also aware of the many Alberta-born and trained players who are playing in independent pro leagues around North America, including Lethbridge’s Landen Bourassa with the Winnipeg Goldeyes and Sherwood Park’s Scott Gillespie with the Welland Jackfish. We’re aiming to complete a list of those in the coming weeks as teams are still unveiling their respective rosters.
If you think we missed anyone on this list, please don’t hesitate to email us at firstname.lastname@example.org, as we would love to add more names to our database.
We also know of many coaches and trainers like Jim Henderson and Brett Platts who are working for MLB teams, as are many connections to the Pioneer League and Pacific Coast League days here in our province. Stay tuned, as we may soon dive into the coaching ranks as well!