Dawgs' King commits to University of Alabama

Okotoks Dawgs' pitcher/outfielder Justin King has committed to the University of Alabama. Photo Credit: Okotoks Dawgs

Okotoks Dawgs' pitcher/outfielder Justin King has committed to the University of Alabama. Photo Credit: Okotoks Dawgs

Sunday October 15, 2017

By Dustin Saracini

Okotoks, AB. – The Okotoks Dawgs Baseball Academy continues to elevate the standards of premier baseball in Canada.

Here is a look at the most recent college commitments to come out of the Academy, as well as a few updates from the Canadian Junior National Team.

Graham Brunner (LHP): Fresh off a solid campaign with the Dawgs’ collegiate team and a strong showing at the T12 Tournament in Toronto, the 6’1”, 210-pound lefty has committed to NJCAA Division I Indian Hills Community College. A handful of Dawgs suit up for IHCC currently, including Ryan Humeniuk. The IHCC recruiting coordinator Steve Kletke was at the Rogers Centre to see Brunner pitch for Alberta Red, per the Canadian Baseball Network. In his lone start, Brunner punched out nine batters while yielding four runs over 5 1/3 innings. Oregon State University, Northern Kentucky, Central Arizona and Iowa Western were all reportedly interested in Brunner’s services.

“[He’s got] confidence,” Academy head coach Allen Cox said in Toronto. “He gets up there and he throws and he’s not worried about it. He’s a good kid, he’s chasing foul balls after he’s done, but he’s a bulldog, man. If he gets hit by a ball he gets up and throws it to first, a guy makes a great play and he’s the first guy to go run over to him and give him a little fist. He dominates.”

LaRon Smith (P/INF): Smith will be joining Brunner, also committing to Indian Hills Community College. During his tenure with Alberta Red, the 6’1”, 190-pounder capped off an incredible tournament with a .462 batting average -- the highest on the club -- three RBI and a pair of multi-hit games. Cox described Smith as a leader for the Academy this year. The utility player has most recently joined the Canadian Junior National Team in Florida for the Fall Instructional League.

Justin King (P/OF): King enjoyed a fantastic IHCC freshman season in 2017, ending the year with 5 HR and a .357 AVG. Overcoming a wrist injury, King was well enough to suit up with the collegiate Dawgs this summer, and has now committed to the University of Alabama in the SEC. In 2016, King played 14 games with the collegiate Dawgs, barrelling six doubles while posting a .377 average.

Jack Marlin (OF): Indian Hills continues to have their hand in the Academy, as Marlin committed to the college on Oct. 12, joining Brunner and Smith. The 6’1”, 195-pounder enjoyed a solid T12 Tournament both at the dish and on the mound. Marlin was instrumental in Team Alberta’s first win, barrelling a clutch, two-run double in the seventh to propel his club past Ontario Green. On the rubber, Marlin saw two batters, striking out both.

Cesar Valero (INF/OF): In May, Valero committed to the No. 1 ranked team in the NCAA, Division I and Pac-12 champion Oregon State University, and has most recently joined Smith in Florida, suiting up for the red and white. Playing at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex, team Canada has taken on prospects from the Atlanta Braves, Toronto Blue Jays and Pittsburgh Pirates. He and Smith are among team leaders in terms of hits.

SandlotsDustin Saracini