By Robert Murray, Fort McMurray Today

Fort McMurray’s dream of a Western Major League Baseball team could become a reality as soon as Monday.

The Regional Recreation Corporation sent out a media advisory Friday afternoon, scheduling a media conference for Monday morning at the iSafety Clubhouse in the baseball stadium at Shell Place, where it is expected the team’s name, quite possibly the Fort McMurray Giants, will be announced, bringing a WMBL franchise to the region for the 2016 season.

Different leagues have been eyeing Shell Place’s new baseball stadium as a market for a new team since the stadium opened, though a WMBL franchise has attracted the most attention. The WMBL calls itself the “pre-eminent” summer collegiate baseball league and operates six teams in Saskatchewan and four in Alberta, consisting of players mainly from the National Collegiate Athletic Association.

By Robert Murray, Fort McMurray Today  Full Story at 

The closest market to Fort McMurray would be the Edmonton Prospects, while other Albertan franchises exist in Okotoks, Medicine Hat and Lethbridge. News of a potential WMBL team leaked early in October when a posted was circulated for a fundraising dinner Nov. 17 at the Sawridge Inn and Conference Centre featuring Toronto Blue Jays players Kevin Pillar and Chris Colabello. Sports broadcaster Jamie Campbell will also be joining them.

The man behind the project, Steve Avila of High Plains Baseball, indicated in late September to the Today, that he wanted to “fill in the hole in the summertime.”

Monday’s announcement will take place at 11 a.m.


Date: March 12th, 2014


Edmonton Prospects bring Franchuk onboard for 2014 season as special advisor and coach


Edmonton (AB) – Edmonton Prospects owner Pat Cassidy is adding fuel to the drive for a stronger operation and a league pennant in 2014. Baseball heavyweight and Edmonton Sports Hall of Famer, Orv Franchuk, is joining the organization as coach and special advisor, effective May 1st.


“Bringing Orv onboard will ensure we address the demands of the front office, increase our media, sponsor and community outreach, and add to Ray Brown’s already deep coaching staff,” Cassidy said. “Orv brings a broad base of experience in pro ball and he knows Edmonton and the local baseball community – it’s a win, win for fans, sponsors, and athletes in this region.”


Franchuk has nearly 40 years of professional baseball experience as a manager, coach, scout and hitting coordinator with the Cincinnati Reds, Anaheim Angels, Oakland Athletics, Boston Red Sox, Houston Astros, San Diego Padres and Los Angeles Dodgers organizations. He sports a World Series ring from his post with the Boston Red Sox in 2004 and seven minor league championships.


In high performance amateur competition, his baseball career includes coach of the Canadian National Team at the 2007 World Baseball Cup, the 1981 Intercontinental Cup, and the 1978 Amateur World Series. Franchuk was inducted into the Edmonton Sports Hall of Fame in 2008.


He earned his Masters Degree in Education from Long Beach State and taught in the Edmonton Public School system for 24 years before making the transition to a full-time baseball career.


“Getting back to Edmonton brings me full circle. I was one of the first kids from this region to get a chance to play baseball in the U.S. college system back in the 1960s and that was the first step to a 37-year career in the sport. Edmonton has become a hotbed of baseball talent since then and I’m looking forward to working with Pat, Ray and others in the operation to build the Edmonton Prospects franchise this coming season,” said Franchuk.


A summer collegiate baseball program, the Edmonton Prospects play a 46-game schedule in the [11-team] Western Major Baseball League. The Prospects open their 2014 season on May 30th with a four-game home stand, three against the Lethbridge Bulls and one against the Okotoks Dawgs. Games start at 7:05 p.m. at TELUS Field. For a full Edmonton Prospects season schedule, sponsorship and volunteer opportunities, go to For details of the Western Major Baseball League go to


For more information:

Media Contact: Orv Franchuk
email:  This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Team Contact: Lynda Holden

phone / email: 780.940.4854 This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.






  • 2013 LOS ANGELES DODGERS – Hitting Coach AA
  • 2011-2012 EDMONTON CAPITALS – Manager
  • 2009-2010 SAN DIEGO PADRES – Hitting Coach AAA/AA
  • 2008-2009 HOUSTON ASTROS – Hitting Coordinator
  • 2002-2006 BOSTON RED SOX – Hitting Coordinator
  • 1995-2002 OAKLAND ATHLETICS – Manager, Hitting Coordinator, Catching Coordinator, Hitting Coach
  • 1988-1994 ANAHEIM ANGELS – Hitting Coach, Scout
  • 1977-1984 CINCINNATI REDS – Scout




Master of Arts Degree in Education

California State University at Long Beach

Long Beach, California


Bachelor of Science Degree in Physical Education

Pepperdine University

Los Angeles, California




Orv and his wife Susan make their home in Meridian, Idaho. 


August 12, 2013

Edmonton Prospects Appoint Veteran Baseball Developer as Head Coach for 2014 Season

 Edmonton (AB) – Edmonton Prospects owner Pat Cassidy is not letting the grass grow under his feet after a disappointing 2013 season. He announced, today, the appointment of long-time baseball development specialist, Ray Brown, as head coach and player development manager of the Prospects program for 2014. The appointment is effective September 1st.


“Brownie is well-known in this region with excellent baseball credentials and extensive experience as a college and professional player, high performance and collegiate coach and 20 years of international baseball development in the Oceania Region. He brings a worldwide network of college and professional baseball contacts, and a strong local grassroots development track-record to the Prospects organization,” Mr. Cassidy said. “Ray is a ‘Mr Baseball’ to a lot of us who played for or against his teams over the years and I can promise we will have a much different and more competitive Prospects program in place next season.”


Ray signed with the Kansas City Royals, pitching two no-hitters in his four-year minor league career, including the first perfect game in the California A-league. His Billings, Montana record of the most consecutive scoreless innings pitched in the Pioneer League stands unbroken. Following his release from pro-ball, he returned as pitching coach with his alma mater, Long Beach State University, before moving to Edmonton in 1976. He played with and managed the Edmonton Tigers to the Canadian National Championship in 1978 and signed two players to professional contracts with the Montreal Expos in 1980. As head coach of the Alberta Baseball Association from 1984-87, he established the Team Alberta high performance program and then set up the Professional Baseball Institute in 1988 which produced a multitude of baseball talents many of whom continue to work in the sport today. In 1993, he was appointed by Baseball Australia as the baseball development officer for the Oceania Region and during this 20-year consulting assignment he has established and grown grassroots baseball organizations in the island countries of the North and South Pacific region.


“There’s no doubt I love the game of baseball and I’m excited to be coming back to Edmonton to grow and develop the Prospects program,” Coach Brown said. “It has great potential to be a pathway for baseball athletes, coaches and the local associations. The season starts next May but people who know me won’t be surprised to hear that we’re preparing for opening day, starting now and we’ll be keeping folks posted on developments.”  


Managing Partner, Pat Cassidy says, “I am extremely pleased and excited to be able to work with Ray Brown.  Our goal is to build a ‘WMBL Championship calibre’ baseball team and I know from firsthand experience that Ray Brown is the type of individual and coach that will expect nothing less from his players, the organization and himself in working towards that goal.  He has a track record of making everyone he associates with a better player and a better person and I couldn’t think of a better person to lead us into the 2014 season.  The Edmonton fan can expect a team that will be well prepared, will play their butts off and will be accountable both on and off the field.”


Ray Brown Baseball Bio:

Professional Scout

Associate Scout – Boston Red Sox – Chicago White Sox – Seattle Mariners – Montreal Expos

Part Time Scout – Los Angeles Dodgers – San Diego Padres – 2003 to present with Seattle Mariners

Baseball Development Officer Oceania Region – 1993 to present

Developed Baseball Coaching and umpiring manuals for the Oceania Region

Set up development programs from grassroots to elite development in Oceania Region

Sent players from Oceania region with potential to play at various U.S Colleges

Assisted in field construction / development to meet international standards

Tournament Director for Oceania Tournaments, developed standardized rules for conducting tournaments

Assistant Coach with Guam National Team in playoffs to the Australia 2000 Summer Olympics

Oceania Region technical representative to IBAF / ONOC Congress 19xx – 20xx

Okotoks Dawgs – 2007

Assistant coach with the College Dawgs and head coach for the AAA Midget Dawgs Team. College Dawgs were Western Major League Champions

Pitching Coach - Macerata, Italy – 1990

Invited by Dave Robb to come to Italy to develop pitching program for Macerata Baseball Club – worked with elite pitchers and youth pitchers

Head Coach of Professional Baseball Institute – 1988 to 1993

Established a high performance program for athletes who desired to reach a higher level of playing excellence – Many of the players and coaches who participated in the PBI are still contributing to baseball development not only in Alberta but world wide – Trevor Schumm, Australia – Greg Wolfe, New Zealand / Dawgs – Sheen Bromley, Federated States of Micronesia and Alberta - Mark Randall, Les McTavish, Alberta – Dave Robb, Italy, Arizona and Alberta – Chamare Jayasekera (CJ) Coaching Director for St. Albert Minor Baseball since 2010, he is originally from New Zealand and was developed during my time in New Zealand

Head Coach - Alberta Baseball Association – 1984 to 1987

Developed the first high performance year round training baseball development program

For Baseball Alberta

Player Coach - Edmonton Tigers Baseball Club – 1977 to 1984

Won Canadian National Championship in 1978 – Established fall and winter training programs - Played a minimum of 70 games per season every season – Voted Canadian National Coach of the year in 1978 – Voted Alberta Provincial Coach of year twice – provided U.S College opportunities for numerous players – Had two players signed with the Montreal Expos organization in 198x

Los Angeles Dodgers batting practice pitcher - 1976

Pitching Coach - Cal-State Long Beach - 1975 to 1976 Resigned position to move to Alberta

Minor League Player – 1971 to 1975

Signed with Kansas City Royals – pitched 2 no hitters, one of which was the first perfect game in the California League

College Player – 1967 to 1971

Attended Cal State University at Long Beach, 1969 – 1971 – won league championship in 1970 – Attended Long Beach City College, 1967 to 1969, won back to back state championships, compiled an 11-1 record with a 1.37 era in 1969

High School Player – 1964 to 1967

Played 3 years of high school baseball – in 1967 was part of the National Championship.


For Immediate Release:
Prospects Bring Baseball Back to Telus Field in 2013
By Zach Murray, Media Liaison

FEBRUARY 15, 2013, EDMONTON, AB - The Edmonton Prospects Baseball Club are very pleased to announce their 2013 season will be played at Telus Field.   After reaching a tenancy agreement in principle earlier this week with the Edmonton Capitals, the Prospects immediately began preparations for another season of baseball at Telus.  

The Prospects look to improve on their disappointing 6-38 record last year, boasting a much-improved roster, including 14 NCAA Division I players, for 2013. 

“We had to re-invent the recruitment process.  We’ve worked very diligently over the winter and feel this year is easily the most skilled team we’ve had,” said Tracy Neumann, the Edmonton Prospects General Manager.

Prospects’ Head Coach and Director of Baseball Operations for the University of Nevada, Cameron McMullen echoes the sentiment; “It's going to be a great summer and I'm very confident the people of Edmonton are going to be proud of the product they see on the field.”

The Prospects will continue to provide the City of Edmonton and surrounding region with exciting, high calibre baseball entertainment at an exceptional value.  Fans can expect a tremendous baseball experience at Telus Field along with promotional events and activities providing entertainment for all ages.

The Prospects continue to play in the Western Major Baseball League, Canada’s Premier Collegiate Summer League, showcasing top college and university athletes from primarily Canada and the U.S. in a 2-month “sprint” regular season through June and July with playoffs extending into mid-August.  Although re-branded as the “WMBL” in 2000, the league’s predecessors date back over half a century in Canada.


According to WMBL’s website, “The tradition of showcasing top college prospects from both sides of the border has continued with several former WMBL players being drafted by Major League Baseball every year.”   Current count has dozens of former WMBL players at various levels of affiliated baseball including the MLB: 

  • John Axford, RHP (Melville 2006), Milwaukee Brewers,
  • Jeremy Horst, LHP (Red Deer 2004, Saskatoon 2005-06), Philadelphia Phillies
  • Dan Runzler, LHP (Yorkton 2004), San Francisco Giants


The Edmonton Prospects will battle teams from Lethbridge, Okotoks, Medicine Hat, Swift Current, Moose Jaw, Regina, Saskatoon, Melville, Yorkton and Weyburn on their quest to win the Harry Hallis Memorial Trophy. 

The Prospects Home Opener is June 4 @ 7:05pm. For more details on the Edmonton Prospects Baseball Club, go to:

Ticket services provided by Ticketmaster.  Tickets will be available online at

Additional WMBL Information can be found at:




If you love baseball and want to help promote the sport, come be part of an exciting organization, and volunteer with us!

Opportunities available including Ticket Taking, Merchandise Store, Ushers and Customer Service.  Also, positions available for experienced Baseball Scorers with our Pointstreak System. 

Contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.



Clubhouse Assistant

If you are interested in volunteering for the above positions, please contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.  



*Background check may be required.