Home Opener Preview
By John Short

Baseball fans looking for Canadian content at the university level this summer need only a quick look at the Edmonton Prospects to make themselves feel better.

In this case, the encouraging note applies specifically to players produced in Alberta’s developmental system: Four players from this province – Joe Karall and Davis Pratt of St. Albert, Clay Loranger of Sherwood Park and Kyler Charchun  of Camrose were among the first recruits to arrive in time for the Western Canada Baseball League season openers coming up this Saturday night and Sunday afternoon against the Lethbridge Bulls at RE/MAX Field.

All four played this season for Cloud Community College, which has campuses in Concordia and Junction City, Kansas.

Obviously, Prospects manager Jordan Blundell was not prepared to list his starting lineup for either game – “We have a few days to get ready,” he said – but it’s worth noting that Pratt, a switch-hitting third-baseman, was prominent for the Thunderbirds in league playoffs that ended only a few days ago. He and Karall attended Bellerose and Loranger is an Archbishop Jordan grad.

As part of the challenge of bringing a team together when so many of the youngsters come from different areas, Blundell had some of them moving equipment and furniture, at least lightly, in preparation for the season’s opening weekend.

Karall, a hefty right-handed pitcher, may be forced to miss the season, Blundell said. “He has had some arm trouble.” Outfielder Loranger and the others have no physical problems as they prepare for a season that includes travel for clashes with Alberta and Saskatchewan opposition.

Blundell describes himself as “a baseball lifer.” He has coached, managed and played in the WCBL and its predecssor leagues while also honing his managerial and teaching skills at almost every age level in a couple of provinces.

“This is a good league,” he commented. “A very good league.

“The Alberta players just finished their freshmen seasons. Some of the lessons they learned will help a lot as they play for the Prospects.”

Also among the manager’s recruiting finds was Greyson Barrett, a young and versatile athlete from California’s Taft Community College, who brings a firm connection to Canada. “His dad, a Canadian, played junior hockey for the Swift Current Broncos a long time ago,” Blundell grinned.

“Greyson is not a dual citizen but he seems to know a lot about Canada. It also helped quite a bit that Taft College is in Bakersfield. He knew about the connection with the (American Hockey League) Condors and the Edmonton Oilers.

“It probably helped when we talked about him coming here to play.”

Barrett’s on-field baseball history suggests he’ll see a lot of action with the Prospects. He’s listed as a pitcher and an outfielder, “and he can probably play first base,” Blundell smiled.