Edmonton Prospects’ Western Major Baseball League season looks bright with new head coach, NCAA Division 1 talent
Energetic Cameron McMullen aims to erase disappointment of 6-38 2012 record
By Evan Daum, Edmonton Journal May 18, 2013
EDMONTON - With the Edmonton Prospects less than three weeks away from opening their Western Major Baseball League season, optimism is reigning supreme with an organization looking to turn the page after a tumultuous 2012 campaign.
Highlighted by a 6-38 record and former head coach John Sutherland’s abrupt decision to walk out on the team with just a few games left on the schedule, last year was an unforgettable season for the Prospects for all the wrong reasons.
But with a new and energetic head coach in Cameron McMullen, a roster ripe with more NCAA Division I talent than ever before and a second crack at turning Telus Field into their home, the Prospects seem poised for a turnaround ahead of their June 1 season opener in Medicine Hat.
“I’d call it taking a 180 pretty much,” Prospects managing partner Tracy Neumann said of where the organization is at now compared to the end of last season.
“We’ve gone from one NCAA Div. I player to having 14 this year, so we’ve recruited far better than we’ve ever had in the past and we were also more careful in our selection of a coach. We interviewed quite a few people.”
That interview process led the Prospects to McMullen, who’s currently the director of baseball operations with the University of Nevada Wolf Pack.
The head coaching gig will be McMullen’s first, as the 25-year-old will bring a level of youthful exuberance to the table. He will guide a team that won’t be short themselves in that department, with the team predominantly made up of players coming off their freshmen seasons south of the border.
While McMullen may be excited for his first job as a head coach after serving as an assistant with the Anchorage Bucs in the Alaska Baseball League — also a collegiate summer league — last season, the new bench boss’ nerves won’t have much time to take root.
With the Wolf Pack getting set for the final series of the regular season starting this Thursday and the Mountain West Conference tournament next week, Edmonton’s season will come quickly for McMullen.
“The nice part of transitioning straight from this season is not having a lot of time to think about those emotions,” McMullen said when asked how his nerves would be heading into his first season as a head coach.
“It’s a really quick turnaround and with all the volume of stuff there is to do, there isn’t a whole lot of time to think about those things.”
There may not be much time for McMullen to acclimatize himself to his new surroundings before the start of the season, but that doesn’t mean the WMBL will be an entirely new experience for the former UMass shortstop.
McMullen spent the 2008 summer with the Regina Red Sox and decided the WMBL would be the place to try his luck last fall, with the hopes of landing a job.
“To be honest, it was just kind of send (my resume) and see who gets back,” McMullen explained. “I didn’t really have anywhere in particular that I wanted to be. I just knew that I wanted to be somewhere familiar.”
That led to Edmonton and a rebuild with the Prospects.
“For me, it was a huge challenge that I wanted to take. It was really interesting to me in the sense of having a position to really turn a team around. To really get a community (excited) about a team again — that was the real driving force behind it.”
Now with a roster that has the Prospects in a position to compete and a head coach that’s all too eager to make this year a success, the only thing left is the wait until opening day.
“We’re going to be a really young and a really athletic team,” McMullen pointed out. “We’re going to have guys that can play multiple positions. We’re going to have guys that can do a lot of different things, so it’s going to be really exciting to have a youthful energy.
“I’m not out here trying to promise a championship. I’m not here trying to promise anything that’s going to put some unfair pressure on myself, or the team, but I’m confident that the people of Edmonton are going to be proud of the product they see on the field.”