The Canadian Baseball program has been getting stronger all the time in recent years, and academies like the one in Okotoks, Alberta should give Canadian baseball fans a lot to be excited about.
In the small community of Okotoks, Alberta is a hidden baseball gem in the Okotoks Dawgs Baseball Academy. Established in 2007, it’s quickly becoming a respected facility that mirrors a similar program nearby, the Calgary Dawgs baseball program. Since 1995, over 40 players have been drafted or signed by MLB organizations, and over 180 “Dawgs” have gone on to play at the collegiate level.
Of course, baseball in Canada has come a long way since the 90’s, and we’re seeing a greater infusion of Canadian talent at the MLB all the time. It’s not just Joey Votto and Russell Martin repping Canada in the MLB anymore. There are other big names like Justin Morneau, Brett Lawrie, Michael Saunders and more. On the pitching side, young stars like James Paxton and Jameson Taillon have scouts looking north of the border more than ever.
Each successful Canadian baseball story brings opportunity for the next generation, which is exactly what the Okotoks Dawgs are preparing these talented youngsters for. One look at their world class facilities, and you know they take their baseball seriously in the quaint Alberta community.
With facilities including Seaman Stadium, Ircandia Outdoor Training Centre, Duvernay Fieldhouse, Tourmaline Field and Conrad Field, the Dawgs are set up as one of the widely recognized, top amateur baseball facilities in the country. Combine that with a top notch education system, an “unmatched competitive schedule”, and a knowledgeable coaching staff, the Dawgs are a great destination for young prospects.
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The coaching staff is lead by Allen Cox, who has played and coached with the University of Kentucky, and is highly regarded for his skills as a hitting coach. They also host Jeff Duda, a former member of the Canadian National team, Lou Pote a former Anaheim Angel, and even occasionally employ former big leaguer, Jim Henderson, a former graduate of the program.
There are plenty of things to check out about the program, and you can learn most of what you’re looking for at www.jdawgsbaseball.ca, or follow them on social media.
The Dawgs also have a few players I wanted to highlight, as their careers could be worth monitoring for Canadian baseball fans.
Clayton Keyes- @Claytonkeyes02
17th Round Draft Pick by the Toronto Blue Jays in 2016.
Age: 18 Height: 6’0 Weight: 215 LBS
Top Exit Velocity– 104.1 MPH
71 AB, .310 BA, .500 OBP, 1.007 OPS, 5 Doubles, 3 HR, 20 RBI, 19 runs scored, 26 of 27 SB attempts.
*Courtesy of @CDNbaseball
Currently at Indian Hills Community College
Age: 18 Height: 6’3 Weight: 205 LBS
Top Exit Velocity– 103. 4
121 AB, .339 BA, .461 OBP, .965 OPS, 9 doubles, 3 HR, 28 RBI, 29 runs scored
Currently at Northeastern JC
Age: 18 Height: 6’2 Weight: 220 LBS
Top Velocity– 90 MPH
7-2, 61.1 IP, 57 H, 61 K, 19 BB, 2.58 ERA, 1.22 WHIP
*Courtesy of @akaEnzyme
Ben Thompson- @benthompson997
Currently at Chandler-Gilbert College
Age: 18 Height: 6’5 Weight: 210 LBS
Top Velocity as of Jan 2017– 90 MPH
6-2, 54.2 IP, 43 H, 54 K, 23 BB, 2.31 ERA, 1.19 WHIP
*Courtesy of @CGYoteBaseball
Currently at Okotoks Dawgs Academy
Age: 17 (today!) Height: 6’0 Weight: 215 LBS
Top exit velocity– 91 MPH
*No registered stats, but I’ve personally watched this kid hit, and he can do just that. The youngster has the coaching staff excited about his bat and development during the upcoming 2017 season. He is coming off appearances with the zone 5 All-Star team, and also playing with Team Alberta at the AAA Bantam level.
*Courtesy of @drummer1919
The future of baseball is brighter than it’s ever been in Canada, and we have academies like the Dawgs program to thank for that. Playing year round is simply not a reality for many Canadian baseball players, and having the opportunity to work in a world-class facility helps their development, and their potential prospect status.
Be sure to check out the Dawgs online, and follow the youngsters listed above, as well as their talented teammates. There is a lot to be excited about in Canadian baseball these days.