Thursday, June 6, 2013

2013 MLB Draft: Alberta Preview

The MLB draft is coming up the next three days. Here's a preview on some Albertans to keep an eye on.  Last year four players from our province were drafted and all of them signed and are now playing professional ball.  This year once again there are several local players on the Canadian Baseball Network's draft list including the top Canadian who was born in Edmonton.

Here is a rundown on some of the players expected to be drafted:

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Calgary teams have great experience in Florida

Redbirds playing at Al Lang Field in St. Petersburg
 (Photo courtesy of Bev Paulhus)
From March 8th to 12th, the Calgary PBF Redbirds Varsity(18U) and Junior Varsity (15U) teams had the opportunity to go to St. Petersburg. Not only did they get to play some good ball in the type of beautiful weather that is rarely never seen in Alberta winters, but there were several other activities that made this a memorable trip to Florida.  Each team had eight games scheduled into this extended long weekend, as well as the opportunity to meet with some former MLB players, and watch some Spring Training games.

On the first day, both teams played games at the Walter Fuller baseball complex, which is an excellent facility which has been used by the Tampa Bay Rays as their minor league spring training facility as well as Team Canada and has 5 MLB sized fields.

Post-game celebration
The day started with the Varsity team playing a morning game against the Ontario Terriers Gold team.. Behind the strong pitching of Nelson Lipszyc who threw a complete game against this potent lineup, Jake Derwent who scored twice, and a clutch 2 run pinch hit double in the 7th inning by Joel Campbell, the Redbirds were victorious in their first game, 4-2.
At the same time, the JV team was taking on the 16U Terriers Blue team.  The Calgary bats were  quiet, with Blake Enders driving in the only 2 runs in a 9-2 defeat.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

World Baseball Classic Alberta Connections

The World Baseball Classic is starting soon, and Team Canada is hoping to add to its accomplishments in the International stage.  In the inaugural WBC in 2006, they shocked the world by upsetting Team USA.  More recently they won bronze at the World Cup in 2009 and again in 2011 and beat the US to take Gold at the Pan-Am Games in 2011.  Last fall Canada's Junior Team won Silver at the IBAF 18U World Championships.

Now they are ready to compete in arguably the world's biggest international baseball stage in the 2013 World Baseball Classic.

First of all, Canada made the 2013 WBC thanks to the its efforts in the Qualifier Tournament last fall. Twelve nations had spots guaranteed in the WBC and Canada was one of 16 teams that had to battle in the Qualifier Tournament to get one of the final four spots. Because it was held in September, Joey Votto, Russell Martin, Brett Lawrie, Justin Morneau and the other Canadian MLB stars were unavailable. But Team Canada persevered and won the right to play in this year's World Baseball Classic.  That team had several Albertans including: Edmonton's Mike Johnson, current technical director of Baseball Alberta and a Blue Jays draftee who played for the Expos; Sheldon McDonald of Spruce Grove who is currently in the Chicago Cubs organization; and Bow Island's Skyler Stromsmoe who is knocking on the door of the World Series champions, having played for the Giants' AAA affiliate last season.

The full roster for the current team can be seen at  the Canadian Baseball Network.  But once again, there are several Alberta connections.  Milwaukee Brewer reliever Jim Henderson from Calgary is the only Alberta native on the team, but joining him are Jay Johnson who is a lefthanded pitcher in the Phillies organization and who played high school and college ball in the southern end of our province, with the Vauxhall Jets, Prairie Baseball Academy Dawgs and Lethbridge Bulls. As well, Dustin Molleken who is also a pitcher who played with the Prairie Baseball Academy will be on the team.

Canada is in Pool D which is playing its games in the Phoenix area starting on Thursday March 7th. They are starting with a couple of exhibition games on Tuesday and Wednesday against the Brewers and Reds.  The first Pool game for Canada is on Friday March 8th against Italy, and then they take on Mexico and the US on Saturday and Sunday.  If they advance they will then play in the 2nd round which will include the top two teams from Pool C (out of Venezuela, Spain, Puerto Rico and Dominican Republic) in Miami starting on March 12th.  And if they're one of the two top teams, they will advance to the medal round in San Francisco where the semi-finals will be held on Mardch 17th and 18th, and the championship game on Tuesday March 19th.

Stay tuned to the Canadian Baseball Network for the latest update on Team Canada.

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Friday, January 18, 2013

Former Professional Teams in Alberta

The other day I saw a Calgary Cannons card of Ryan Dempster, and that inspired me to write an article on my Red Sox blog about how many Red Sox players used to play in our Province.  In researching that I learned about a lot of teams that used to play here that I was unaware of.   I'm sure most people fondly remember the Cannons or Trappers, or even the Med Hat Blue Jays of the Pioneer League, but there have been many more Minor League and other semi-professional teams that have played in Alberta.  No less than 12 MLB franchises have had minor league affiliates here.  And there have been hundreds of stars who have played here including Alex Rodriguez (left - pictured batting for Calgary) and Hall of Famer Andre Dawson who started his professional career in Lethbridge.

Here are all the teams I found, listed with the name and level of their league and affiliation. If you are aware of other professional teams that have played in our Province, please let me know.

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Come see Goose Gossage or Brent Sutter and support local baseball

Once again, the Calgary Dinos will have a former MLB star who will be joining them at their baseball and fastball teams annual fundraising dinner.  Rich "Goose" Gossage has been announced as this year's keynote speaker.  As well, Brent Sutter will be the featured guest for Badland Baseball Academy's fundraiser.

Gossage is a Hall of Fame reliever, best remembered for his trademark Fu Manchu moustache and a blazing fastball. His resume includes helping the Yankees win a World Series in his first season in New York, and being only the second pitcher (after Rollie Fingers) to amass 300 career saves.  Aside from his time in New York, his storied career also took him through Chicago (both the North and South side), Pittsburgh, San Diego, San Francisco, Texas, Oakland and Seattle on the way to Cooperstown.  After retiring he also wrote his memoirs in his very humorous autobiography "The Goose is Loose" and is sure to be an entertaining speaker at this event.

Brent Sutter is very well known to hockey fans in the area.  A native Albertan (from Viking), he played 18 seasons in the NHL before switching gears and becoming a very well regarded coach. Twice he led Team Canada to the World Junior Hockey Championship, and also won the Memorial Cup with Red Deer, as well as coaching in the NHL with New Jersey and Calgary.
Jeff McIntosh / Associated Press
The Dinos fundraising dinner featuring Goose Gossage will be held on Thursday January 31st at the Red & White Club at McMahon Stadium. To purchase tickets ($175) please call U of C Kinesiology Client Services at (403) 220-7749 and for more information on the event you can contact Mike Boyles at or (403) 220-4413.

The Badgers Gala evening with Sutter will be on Wednesday January 30th. The reception starts at 5:30 followed by dinner and a silent and live auction.  Tickets are $75 and can be purchased by contacting the Academy Office at (403) 664-2200.

Both of these events promise to be very entertaining and are a great way to support local baseball.