Dawgs worth watching: MacLaren, Patterson, Yates

June is a time for weddings and the Okotoks Dawgs to open play in the Western Major Baseball League. Photo: Amanda Fewer

June is a time for weddings and the Okotoks Dawgs to open play in the Western Major Baseball League. Photo: Amanda Fewer

Dawgs to watch for in 2018

By Dustin Saracini
Okotoks Dawgs

As the calendar flips to June, Seaman Stadium will once again be your summer getaway. The field will play home to the sights and sounds of Dawgs baseball and will, once again, be the place where relationships are forged. Whether it is your favourite player hitting the game-winning home run, or if you just want to enjoy a day out in the sun with your family, the Dawgs will leave a lasting imprint on the warm, summer days in Okotoks.

In our second edition of “Top Dawg,” we get a closer look at five collegiate Dawgs, new and old, who are making headlines at the NCAA, NJCAA, or NAIA level.

Cole MacLaren (C – Morell, PEI - University of Pittsburgh): A defensive phenom behind the plate, MacLaren was named to the 2018 Johnny Bench Award Watch List, as announced by the Greater Wichita Area Sports Commission earlier this year. The award is given annually to the nation’s top NCAA Division 1 catcher and features 97 backstops. MacLaren, a Dawgs Academy alumnus, is one of 10 ACC catchers to make the initial list. Before playing at the University of Pittsburgh, MacLaren was a two-year starter at Colby Community College, where he threw out 27 runners and boasted a .995 fielding percentage. With Pitt, MacLaren is third among starters in terms of on-base percentage (.378), and is hitting .200.

JT Patterson (1B/3B/C – Calgary, Alta. - Bellevue University): Patterson, a former collegiate Dawg returning to Seaman Stadium this summer, has played a pivotal role for the 29-19 Bruins out of the NAIA this season. A versatile defender who can play the corners as well as catch, Patterson possesses a power bat, launching nine home runs with the Bruins, good for second on the team. Overall, the Calgary product is slashing an impressive .290/.371/.536 line through 138 at-bats. His best game with Bellevue came against York March 14, where he managed three hits, a home run, and seven RBIs in a 17-6 rout. In his first stint with the Dawgs in 2016, Patterson hit .311 with two home runs and 11 doubles through 41 games.

Riley Baasch (1B/C – Bellevue University): Another Bruin under the watchful eye of head coach Mitch Schmidt, Baasch, a sophomore, will slot nicely into the Dawgs’ lineup this summer as another perennial power hitter. At 6-foot-3, 210-pounds, Baasch is hitting .329/.418/.652 this year, leading Bellevue with 13 home runs and 49 RBIs through 46 games. The 13 long balls are tied for seventh in the NAIA. Baasch has hit his stride this season, having his best game on April 24 against Peru State, barrelling three hits, scoring two runs, and launching a solo bomb. A year ago, as a freshman, the Grand Island, Neb. product earned honourable mention for the Omaha-World All-Nebraska team, hitting .367 in 158 at-bats. Baasch will be making his debut with the Dawgs.

Andrew Yates (P – Indiana University Southeast): One of the top closers in the NAIA will be making his way to Okotoks this summer. Yates is enjoying an incredible season in Indiana so far, racking up a 5-1 record with six saves and a sparkling 0.82 ERA in 14 appearances. Through 22 innings, the 6-foot-1 lefty has punched out 29 batters, while opponents are hitting just .189 against him. He will look to shore up the backend of a brilliant bullpen from last year after Tyler Burdett’s departure. Yates will also be making his Dawgs debut.

Carter Robinson (P – Mesa): Through 45 innings over the course of the campaign for Mesa, the redshirt freshman has done nothing but impress. Sporting a team-leading 2.98 ERA, the menacing 6-foot-8, 225-pounder has been in total control this year, punching out 54 batters while issuing just 14 free passes. Robinson began his year in the Mesa bullpen before the team unleashed the big right-hander into the rotation. Since then, he has amassed a 4-1 record with two complete games under his belt. His best outing of the season came against Paradise Valley Community College, striking out 10 over a complete game shutout. This summer will be Robinson’s first time in a Dawgs jersey.