WCBL Well Represented on All-Canadian Teams

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By IAN WILSON

The Canadian Baseball Network is done making their list and it’s been checked out way more than twice.

The results for the Western Canadian Baseball League (WCBL) are incredibly nice.

From top to bottom, the CBN All-Canadian First, Second and Third team college lists are populated by current and former WCBL players. More than a dozen made the cut, including the top athlete on the list.

The 2022 College Player of the Year is none other than first baseman Matt Coutney, who was drafted by the Los Angeles Angels in the 10th round of the MLB Draft this year. Coutney, who played for the Edmonton Prospects in 2017-18, set a record at Old Dominion University (ODU) by smacking 27 home runs. The Wetaskiwin product was named the Conference U.S.A. Player of the Year and received 41 first-place votes from the CBN’s 52 voters.

“The year was a blur but a real good blur,” Coutney told reporter Rod Black.

“One of the best days I had, was when I was close to breaking the home run record and my dad was in the stands. I got two that day. One to tie. One to break and I wasn’t even thinking about the record, but it was so great my dad was there. So special. My family has done so much for me.”

FIRST-TEAM SELECTIONS

Coutney was joined on the All-Canadian First Team by reliever Matt Wilkinson, third baseman Brandon Nicoll and outfielder Logan Grant.

Wilkinson, who closed out the 2022 WCBL Championship for the Okotoks Dawgs, racked up 85 Ks in 53 innings and posted a 1.87 earned run average (ERA) for the Central Arizona Vaqueros, who won the National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA) World Series title this year.

Nicoll, who hit .329 in 36 games for the Lethbridge Bulls this summer, was also a star infielder for Southern Arkansas University. The Langley, British Columbia slugger launched 14 homers and produced 84 RBI for the Muleriders in 60 contests.

Grant is a versatile player who can suit up behind the plate, pick balls out of the dirt between the bases and patrol the outfield. The Chestermere, Alberta native was a member of the Sylvan Lake Gulls in 2021, before joining the Swift Current 57’s this summer. The WCBL All-Star played south of the border for Bismarck State College, where he posted 10 homers, 73 RBI and a .462 batting average through 44 games. More recently, Grant signed on to play for Bellevue University in Nebraska.

SECOND-TEAM PICKS

The All-Canadian Second Team went to the Dawgs.

The Okotoks Dawgs took over the outfield by securing spots for Tucker Zdunich, Alejandro Cazorla and Cesar Valero.

Zdunich played for the Moose Jaw Miller-Express in 2019 before returning to Okotoks for the 2021-22 WCBL seasons. In 59 games with the Reinhardt University Eagles this year, the High River hitter went yard 17 times and posted a .512 on-base percentage.

Cazorla suited up in 91 games for the Dawgs over the last two summers, including eight playoff games. During that time, he hit .351 with 47 stolen bases and 12 triples. While playing for Bossier Parish Community College, Cazorla batted .392 with 45 RBI in 52 games.

Valero, meanwhile, appeared in 39 games for Sacramento State and clubbed 13 homers and 38 RBI in 2022.

Joining the outfielders from Okotoks is middle infielder Ricardo Sanchez, who won WCBL titles with the Dawgs in 2019 and 2022. With the Barton Cougars, Sanchez set single-season records for doubles (35) and RBI (90).

First baseman Nolan Machibroda didn’t play for the Dawgs, but he did impress the Okotoks crowd at Seaman Stadium when he won the Home Run Derby at the 2022 WCBL All-Star Game. The Saskatoon product, who handled first base duties for the Weyburn Beavers, was also a prolific homer hitter with Cumberland University, where he punched out 17 round trippers in 47 games.

THIRD-TEAM CHOICES

The Okotoks Dawgs also added a pair of players to the CBN’s third team.

Backstop Gavin Logan, a member of the 2019 WCBL championship squad and an Arizona Diamondbacks draft pick, had an excellent season with Oregon State University (OSU). The Oyen, Alberta native hit .281 with 36 RBI in 45 games for the Beavers.

First baseman Nash Crowell, a member of the 2021 Okotoks Red team, played with Grant at Bismarck State College this year. In 44 games with the Mystics, the Nova Scotian swatted seven long balls, generated 74 RBI and registered a robust .458 batting average.

The infield also includes second baseman Garrett Takamatsu, who suited up for the Fort McMurray Giants in 2017. He played 50 games for Central Oklahoma and belted 18 homers and 64 RBI.

In the outfield, Caleb Feuerstake was a .398 hitter through 52 games at McPherson College. The Waterdown, Ontario slugger appeared in 42 games for the Edmonton Prospects this summer, where he registered a .362 batting average and 19 stolen bases.

HONOURABLE MENTIONS

WCBL players also garnered a number of appearances in the honourable mentions, including pitcher Jonathan Henry (Regina Red Sox) and infielder Cleary Simpson (Sylvan Lake Gulls).

The CBN selections were made by 52 voters. Of those, 19 were coaches, 12 were writers, 11 were scouts, eight were baseball executives and one was a former player. The voters represent eight different Canadian provinces and nine U.S. states.