Tuesday, December 30, 2014

33 Vancouver Islanders playing U.S. college baseball

Griffin Andreychuk
A couple of years ago, I wrote a blog post after stumbling upon the fact that there were 24 athletes from Greater Victoria playing collegiate baseball in the United States. Since my exposure to college baseball was fairly limited at the time, I was taken aback by the number of local players at this level. However, after watching two seasons of West Coast League baseball, I’m no longer surprised by the success of ballplayers from our neck of the woods. For instance, both Ty Russell and Daryl Blaskovich, a pair of ex-HarbourCats from the Victoria area, recently received Honourable Mentions for the All-Canadian College Baseball Team from the Canadian Baseball Network.

Bob Elliott, the driving force behind the Canadian Baseball Network, compiles an annual list of the Canadians who play collegiate baseball in the United States (or in Canada if that school competes largely against American institutions). By combining Elliott’s tentative “master” list with the docket of players who have signed a Letter of Intent, we can get a pretty good idea of the Canucks who will be playing college baseball south of the border this season. As has been the case in recent years, it looks like the total number of such Canadians will be close to 700.

As of today, there are 21 players from Greater Victoria and 33 from Vancouver Island who will likely play collegiate baseball in the 2014-15 season. In addition, a whopping 140 British Columbians are expected to suit up. Using Elliott’s lists, I have compiled the following directory of collegiate baseball players who hail from Vancouver Island. Those with an asterisk (*) beside their name have previously appeared in at least one game for the Victoria HarbourCats (a double asterisk indicates that the player was signed to a 10-day contract by the 'Cats but did not see any game action). A plus sign (+) indicates that the player has been signed by the HarbourCats for the summer of 2015. It is worth noting that college seniors are not eligible to play in the West Coast League.
NCAA Division I 
Griffin Andreychuk*+, 2B/SS, Nanaimo BC, Sophomore, Seattle University (WA)
Kelly Norris-Jones*, C, Victoria BC, Senior, University of Illinois (IL)
Ty Russell*, 1B, Victoria BC, Junior, Alabama A&M University (AL)
NCAA Division II 
Cody Andreychuk, OF, Nanaimo BC, Sophomore, Tusculum College (TN)
Brendan McCarthy, OF-1B, Nanaimo BC, Junior, Lubbock Christian University (TX)
Zane Takhar, INF, Victoria BC, Freshman, Northeastern State University (OK)
Evan Willow**, C, Victoria BC, Freshman, McPherson College (KS)
NCAA Division III
Alex Hendra-Brown, INF, Victoria BC, Freshman, Linfield College (OR)
Ryan Adkins*, INF, Victoria BC, Senior, Jamestown College (ND)
Kevin Biro, SS, Deep Bay BC, Senior, University of British Columbia (BC)
Daryl Blaskovich*, 2B, Brentwood Bay BC, Junior, Lindsay Wilson College (KY)
Liam Goodall, OF, Nanaimo BC, Junior, Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University (FL)
Darren Kolk, OF, Duncan BC, Junior, Lewis-Clark State University (ID)
Vinny Martin, INF, Pender Island BC, Sophomore, University of British Columbia (BC)
Mackenzie Parlow, C, Parksville BC, Sophomore, University of British Columbia (BC)
Bryan Pawlina**, RHP, Courtenay BC, Junior, University of British Columbia (BC)
Junior / Community Colleges - Division I
Justin Clarkson, INF, Nanaimo BC, Sophomore, Midland College (TX)
Nick Dawson, RHP, Victoria BC, Freshman, Salt Lake City Community College (UT)
Riley Edmunds*, RHP, Victoria BC, Freshman, Otero Jr. College (CO)
Brandon Feldman*, 1B-RHP, Victoria BC, Sophomore, Otero Jr. College (CO)
Chris Fougner+, OF-RHP, Victoria BC, Freshman, Salt Lake Community College (UT)
Eric Hegadoren*, RHP, Victoria BC, Freshman, Yapavai College (AZ)
Brett Hull, RHP, North Saanich BC, Freshman, Otero Jr. College (CA)
Alex Rogers*+, RHP, Nanaimo BC, Sophomore, Trinidad State Junior College (CO)
Brady Rogers, INF, Nanaimo BC, Sophomore, Trinidad State Junior College (CO)
Brendan Somers, OF, Victoria BC, Sophomore, Southwestern Oregon Community College (OR)
Sam Stevenson, C, Victoria BC, Freshman, Linn-Benton Community College (OR)
Colton Wood, RHP, Victoria BC, Freshman, Cochise College (AZ)
Junior / Community Colleges - Division II
Cody Newberry, INF, Victoria BC, Sophomore, Dakota College at Bottineau (ND)
Jesse Turner, C-1B, Victoria BC, Sophomore, Dakota College at Bottineau (ND)
Junior / Community Colleges - Division III
Will Aesoph, OF-RHP, Victoria BC, Freshman, Rainy River College (MN)
Kris Barber, LHP, North Saanich BC, Sophomore, Rainy River College (MN)
Jake Schulte, OF-RHP, Victoria BC, Sophomore, Rainy River College (MN)
One aspect of this list that jumps out at me is that 20 of the 33 Vancouver Islanders are playing either NAIA or Division I baseball at a junior / community college. This is high caliber baseball -- not quite at the NCAA Division I level, but a very impressive brand of baseball nonetheless. Vancouver Islanders who play at an NAIA school or a Division I college can be very productive players in the West Coast League when given the chance, as was shown by both Alex Rogers and Darren Kolk. Rogers posted a 3.09 ERA and 1.18 WHIP for the HarbourCats last summer, while Kolk hit .327 in 171 at-bats for the Kelowna Falcons in 2013. Both players were named to the WCL All-Star team.

Another striking feature of this list is that 24 of the 33 players are either a freshman or a sophomore, a fact that bodes well for the future. With the pipeline of local baseball talent continuing to flow freely, the HarbourCats certainly won’t have any trouble finding Vancouver Island players to feature on their roster in the coming years.

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