Prospecting for Road Warriors
Edmonton, AB – It’s busy enough for any Western Canadian Baseball League team to recruit during the winter, especially in the midst of a global pandemic.
For the Edmonton Prospects, their offices haven’t really slowed down at all as they also prepare to relocate the organization to Spruce Grove for the 2022 season.
While one might think that is an extra challenge to attracting players for a 2021 that will be spent on the road, Prospects head coach and assistant general manager Jordan Blundell doesn’t see it that way.
“I think recruiting in general is a challenge,” Blundell said. “Our league is so competitive from top to bottom, from recruiting players to on-field performance.”
As he’s been connecting with players and getting to know them as people before they arrive in the Alberta capital, Blundell says they have been able to discuss the team’s mission and goals, and while the location of the home games might be different for a year, “the location of those games is less significant and the players we have signed are on board with that mindset.”
HOME AWAY FROM HOME
The Prospects are set to open the 2021 WCBL season on the road for a four-game set with the Fort McMurray Giants May 27-30.
From there, they will have their first “home” game on May 3 in Sherwood Park against the expansion Sylvan Lake Gulls. The Prospects will have also home games in Lethbridge, Sylvan Lake, Spruce Grove, Okotoks, and Wally Footz Field in Edmonton scattered throughout the season.
Happy New Year! The 2021 Schedule is out! This summer we are going to be a "Travelling Road-Show" with our home base jumping around the Edmonton area and throughout Alberta while our stadium is being built in Spruce Grove. Stay tuned for more details!https://t.co/z2FfG4bFcr pic.twitter.com/pwgmPt8RR4
— Edmonton Prospects (@EdmProspects) January 1, 2021
“I’m excited for the youth baseball players in the Edmonton area to have as much access to our players as we are planning on providing,” Blundell said. “The connection for a youth player to see the talent and then be able to meet the player is a catalyst to growing the game in the area.”
And then there’s the eventual home: Spruce Grove Metro Ballpark.
“For Spruce Grove, this is just the beginning,” Blundell continued. “The energy and excitement surrounding the project is a shining light right now in a difficult time. The relationship we are building in Spruce Grove is, simply put, amazing.”
TRAVELING ROAD SHOW
A quick scan of the 2021 Edmonton Prospects roster shows a healthy mix of old and new faces, as well as local, national and international flavour.
Among the returnees will be pitchers Scott Gillespie (Sherwood Park, AB), Jesse Poniewozik (Spruce Grove, AB) and Haden Dow (Saint John, NB) as well as infielder Brendan Luther (Mississauga, ON) and 2019 WCBL All Star outfielder Travis Hunt (Moreno Valley, CA).
Your 5 Edmonton Prospects 2021 Returnees https://t.co/WaBCGYh8Bl
— Len from Edmonton (@LenfromEdmonton) February 8, 2021
“Travis is a special person and an elite player,” Blundell said. “He’s a true five-tool player and a game-changer with the bat and the glove. Travis plays the game the way it was meant to be played.”
The skipper is also excited about what Jeremy Williams (S. El Monte, CA) and Derek Zavala (Mesa, AZ) will be bringing to the plate, while right-handers Shane Scott (Ponder, TX) and Kyle Cringan (Murrieta, CA) will bring some experience on the mound.
On the local front, the roster also includes Edmonton catcher Jean-Luc Bussieres and Calgary’s Trent Lawson. Internationally, the Prospects have always seemed to attract a player or two to head across the pond and 2021 will be no different with southpaw Daiki Asaumi (Yokohama, Japan).
🚨Player Signing 🚨
LHP-Daiki Asaumi, Yokohama, Japan-Tokai Univ.
Daiki has started with Tokai 13 games & posted a 3.22 ERA. “I’m really excited to be a part of the Prospects this summer. I’m hoping to contribute for the team & to contribute for winning.”@d.asa_21 @wcbleague pic.twitter.com/9nfXOfbkn0
— Edmonton Prospects (@EdmProspects) January 25, 2021
“For me, all our guys are players to watch and I’m extremely excited to watch this group grow together over the summer,” Blundell smiled. “It’s a group of hard-working, talented college baseball players that are versatile and athletic.”
PROSPECTS FOR THE FUTURE
Whether it’s at home or on the road, the Prospects’ dugout boss is looking forward to just getting back onto the field after the 2020 campaign was wiped out by the pandemic.
“Honestly, the excitement is about the players,” Blundell said. “The laughs, the competition, the struggles and overcoming adversity as a group. Finding ways to grow relationships, finding ways to win games together. Knowing that someone on that roster is going to do something special that will be a moment to be remembered forever.”
In more ways than one, the 2021 season is promising to be an unforgettable one for the Prospects and their fans.