Edmonton Prospects Ink Four
By Spencer Love
Win Column Sports
EDMONTON, AB – The Edmonton Prospects made their first moves of the Jordan Blundell era this week, announcing the signings of Pierce Blohowiak (OF), Jake Gehri (C), Matthew Erickson (LHP), and Jackson Bandow (RHP) from the Yale Bulldogs of the NCAA Div. I program.
“We want to be a team that’s exciting to watch and add some elements to our game that’s exciting for the fans,” said Prospects head coach Jordan Blundell at the time of the signings. “All four guys fit that mould, and all four are going to contribute for us and be big parts of what we’re doing. We’re excited we were able to get them done so early and develop a relationship that we feel will be long-term (with Yale).”
Blohowiak, 18, comes to the Prospects after a stellar high school career. In his four years at Xavier High School, he earned three All-Conference Team selections (2016, 2017, 2018) and was a six-position player. In addition, Blohowiak was selected as a PG Underclass All-American in 2016 and 2017, as well as being named a Perfect Game All-American last season. A native of Neenah, WI, Blohowiak was a dual-sport athlete in his time at Xavier, participating in both track and baseball simultaneously. His success on the baseball field extended to his stint on the track, as he broke a 24-year-old record in the 100-metre dash at Xavier.
“There won’t be a faster player in the league,” commented Blundell of the signing. “I mean, I’m not going to put that on him, but his running is elite. It’s a huge feature to his game that excited us, and you can’t just find that every day. He’s a young guy; he’s at Yale, and he’ll go through a full year of training at that level. He won’t be splitting time with other sports (such as track), so his development really isn’t linear anymore. The extra time committed to improving his baseball rather than other things will bode well for his baseball development, and that excites us, too. With our ballpark as big as it is, and with the quick infield we have, we feel like he can help us on both sides of the ball and make some plays in the outfield.”
Gehri, also 18, was previously selected to participate in the MLB Prospect Development Program. The 6’1 catcher was selected as this year’s USA Today All-Washington 1st team catcher, adding to a number of accolades that include earning the 2018 SPSL League MVP award, as well as being selected as an All-State 1st team catcher.
“He’s as good as a freshman as you can get,” said Blundell. “He’s an all-state Washington player, and the video and reports we’ve gotten on him are solid. You never know with a young guy what his capabilities are, but there’s a ton of potential there. He comes highly recommended; he’s been successful his whole life, and I don’t expect that to change. He’s got all the tools to be a guy we can rely on, and he’s been with the pitching staff which is interesting for us.”
Erickson and Bandow are the two pitchers signed by the Prospects.
“(Matt and Jackson) are really interesting for us,” said Blundell of the recently-acquired pitchers. “We think we’re a good fit (for them), as we can provide them with the workload that they’re looking for.
Erickson, from Boulder, Colorado, led the state in strikeouts as a junior last season. The southpaw played in the Colorado All-Stars Futures game last season and earned an honourable mention for the Perfect Game All-Region team. Additionally, Erickson was ranked the #2 LHP in Colorado in 2017 according to perfectgame.org.
(Matt’s) a guy that’s improved since he’s been (at Yale). He’s shown improvement and all the signs that they look for in becoming an important part of their pitching staff, which really excites us.”
Bandow, from Sammamish, Washington, was awarded the Male Student-Athlete of the Year from Eastside Catholic High School in his 2017 senior year. The 6’2 RHP was a two-time selection to the All-League team during his time in high school, leading his team to back-to-back league championships. In addition, Bandow captained his team during his senior year.
“He’s got some decent stuff; he’s competitive, and we really like his upside. He needs some more opportunity to pitch, and he’s someone we expect will be healthy enough to throw a bunch of innings for us. He’s a good fit in the sense that he’ll have a lot of bullets left, and he’s got a ton of talent on top of that.”
Prospects fans can expect to catch their first glimpse of both newly-signed and returning players at the onset of the WCBL season. While the official league schedule hasn’t been released as of press time, the team expects to begin their season in late May.
- The most recent Prospects recruits may be the team’s biggest addition from Yale but isn’t the only player the organization has recruited from the Ivy League school. Drew Scott, a reliever for the organization last season, was also recruited from Yale midway through last season.
- The annual Edmonton Prospects Gala is confirmed to take place on Saturday, February 16th at Fort Edmonton Park. Buck Martinez, John Short and Kent Morrisson are all confirmed to attend this year’s event.
- For those looking to purchase season tickets for the Edmonton Prospects, the organization is currently in the midst of their season ticket drive. Information can be found on the Prospects official website.
Courtesy: Win Column Sports
By Spencer Love
The Edmonton Prospects announced Jordan Blundell as their new Head Coach and Director of Baseball Operations at a press conference at RE/MAX Field Monday morning, replacing former bench boss Ray Brown and DOBO Orv Franchuk after the two resigned earlier this off-season.
“I’m excited,” stated Blundell in his first interview as head coach. “For me, this represents part of a dream in my career to get the opportunity to coach at home, in a ballpark I spent time in as a teenager dreaming about playing professional baseball.”
Blundell takes over a Prospects franchise that has experience playoff success over the past number of years. Last season, the Prospects fell in five games to Medicine Hat, preventing the organization from reaching their third straight WMBL Finals. Under the direction of Brown and Franchuk, the Prospects have established themselves as one of the WCBL’s premier franchises. A large portion of Blundell’s job will be not only to develop the organization for future success but build on the strong foundation set by his predecessors.
“If you study what (Jordan’s) been able to accomplish wherever he’s coached, he’s been able to take average players in some cases and by the end of the season, they have a quality club. It tells me that he’s very good at focussing people and providing the leadership and what’s needed for this team to do what’s necessary to win games.”
A major reason for Blundell’s hiring is his exceptional track record both coaching and recruiting in the Edmonton area. In 2008, Blundell was named the WMBL Coach of the Year with the Sherwood Park Dukes. He’s additionally been the Head Coach of the 2010 CCBC Championship winning VIU Mariners and was named CCBC Coach of the Year.
His track record with recruiting also speaks for itself, as he recruited both the 2008 and 2009 WMBL – now WCBL – MVP’s.
“The (WCBL) is important to me, having played and coached in the league. It’s an important stepping stone for some (players) in their baseball career. It’s my job to find as many of those players as possible so they have a chance to experience Edmonton before getting an opportunity further down the line. It’s about helping them in their career path and development.”
Finalized Cassidy, “He’s got a great coaching resume when it comes to being able to lead men on the field and make decisions, but just as important he has a great recruitment strategy with the right connections”.
In addition to announcing Blundell’s hiring, the Prospects also provided information on an open house on October 19 in regard to neighbourhood planning for River Crossing, which will determine the future of RE/MAX Field. While the Prospects were unable to confirm future plans, owner Patrick Cassidy was able to confirm that developments have gone positively, stating “this ballpark’s got a future in this neighbourhood; I’d be surprised if there was a complete 180 on that and we’re hopefully excited to be part of this neighbourhood’s future.”
The team also confirmed their annual Prospects Gala will be held on February 16, 2019, with Buck Martinez, John Short and Kent Morrison confirmed as attendees for this year’s function.
End Of Ray Brown And Orv Franchuk Era
By Len Nunes
On Tuesday May 20, 2014 the Edmonton Prospects held a press conference to show off their highly touted acquisitions. No not baseball players, but the new managerial team of Ray Brown as Head Coach and Orv Franchuk as Director of Baseball Development. Yesterday, September 12, 2018 was the final day of their regime.
“The Edmonton Prospects of the Western Canadian Baseball League regretfully announce the resignation of coaches Ray Brown and Orv Franchuk effective immediately.
Ray Brown and Orv Franchuk have played instrumental roles in both the on-field and off-field success of the organization over the span of five years guiding the team to two Western Conference Championships and five playoff berths.
They will be missed by the organization, the fans but most importantly by the many players who have come to know and appreciate their commitment and dedication to excellence.
Good luck gentlemen in your future endeavours. “
In year one of the Brown and Franchuk regime, the Prospects posted an 11 win increase from the previous season. In year two, the Prospects made the playoffs for the first time. In year three (2016), the Prospects again improved their regular season to make the playoffs and quickly became the story of the playoffs as they made it the Championship Series. 2017 was the first time the Prospects finished the regular season at .500. Once again the team rallied in the playoffs to make it back to the Championship Series. Last season the Prospects finished the regular season at .500 for the second consecutive year but their quest for a third consecutive trip to the Finals was denied by the eventual Champions in the Division Finals.
The total regular season record under the tutelage of Brown and Franchuk was 107 wins – 127 losses. The team’s playoff record was 20 wins – 19 losses.
Final Game Of The Season!
By Arik Krause
The Prospects came into Friday night’s game after an exciting Game 4 in Edmonton that was won by the Prospects in a 10th inning walk-off wild pitch, ultimately forcing a “winner take all” Game 5 in Medicine Hat with the winner going to the WMBL Championship.
Rich Walker would get the ball in Game 5 and be tasked with pitching the Prospects to the Finals. Walker has been one of the better pitchers for the Prospects this year, including pitching a perfect game earlier in the season.
The Prospects would get on the board first after Tony Olson would get on base with a lead-off walk, just like he did in Game 4 and eventually be batted in by Michael Gahan putting the Prospects up 1-0 early in Game 5.
Rich Walker would pitch a scoreless first inning before the strong Medicine Hat bats would rough him up in the 2nd, scoring 7 runs and putting the Prospects in a hole very early. Rich Walker would ultimately finish with 1.1 IP, allowing 5 hits and 7 earned runs.
Medicine Hat would put up 3 more runs in the bottom of the fourth as they would get to first Chase Morris and then reliever Jordan Smith, surprisingly none of the runs being earned runs as the Prospects would shoot themselves in the foot with errors.
The Prospects would try to claw back in the late innings. Michael Gahan would score in the 7th off a Daylen Calicdan single, but the Prospects, unfortunately, would leave 3 players on base in the inning. They’d grab another run in the 8th inning via a Michael Gahan single to bring in Tony Olson, they’d leave 2 runners on base in that inning and in 9th inning Eric Crain would hit a home run to bring the Prospects within 7 but that’s as close as they’d get as they’d fall to Medicine Hat 11-4 in Game 5 and their season would end.
The Prospects left 14 runners stranded in Game 5 and put up 5 errors as the potential for them to be in this game was there.
Congratulations to the Medicine Hat Mavericks on a hard-fought series and may the best team win in the WMBL Championship!
All in all, it was a good season by the Prospects as they made it to the Western Division Finals and one game from the WMBL Championship. Thanks to the fans for support the team all year and we can’t wait until 2019 for another great season of Prospects baseball.
Player of the Game:
Michael Gahan will get our last Prospects Player of The Game for the season, Gahan went 2-4 in this one with 2 RBI’s and a run scored.