By Bob Elliott
Canadian Baseball Network
And who better to lead this spring than the leader of last spring?
OF Christopher Acosta-Tapia (Laval, Que.) of the Oklahoma Wesleyan Eagles was the NAIA player of the year in 2017 as well as Canadian Baseball Network Player of the Year. Now, he’s one of three Canadians with the eighth-ranked Oklahoma Wesleyan Eagles coming off a 51-12 season.
Acosta-Tapia is one of 22 Canadian players and one coach on the rosters of the top-ranked 30 NAIA teams.
Besides Acosta-Tapia, INF John Lantigua (Quebec City, Que.) and RHP Claudio Ortiz (Montreal, Que.) are also with Oklahoma Wesleyan. Lantigua hit .330 at Western Oklahoma last spring with nine doubles, a triple, 14 homers, 46 RBIs and a 1.253 OPS. Ortiz was 5-3 with a 5.63 ERA at Northeastern Oklahoma A&M. He walked 20 and struck out 44 in 40 innings.
Among Canadian hitters, Acosta-Tapia led with 105 hits, two more than Connors State’s Max Hewitt; 27 doubles, one more than New Mexico 1B Ryan Rijo (Barrie, Ont.), 24 homers, three more than Frank Phillips’ Brett Esau (Meadow Lake, Sask.). Acosta-Tapia was third in RBIs, six back of Midland’s Eric Senior (Toronto, Ont.).
Acosta-Tapia, who played for the Bisons de Saint-Eustache and coach Luc Desgroseilliers this summer, earned Canadian Baseball Network all-Canadian team Second Team honours at DH in 2016. He also played for the Guerriers de Granby and coach Deibiz Gomez.
The final numbers of Acosta-Tapia were impressive: a .441 average, 27 doubles, two triples, 24 homers and 85 RBIs in 63 games.
LHP Dylan Thorp (North Vancouver, BC) is with the No. 3 ranked Bellevue Bruins. Thorp is 2-1 with one save and a 4.73 ERA in 16 games. He walked 17 and fanned 31 in 26 innings.
OF Tristan Clarke (Brampton, Ont.) transferred from the New Orleans Privateers where he was a Canadian Baseball Network 2017 Honourable Mention. Now, he is with the No. 5 ranked Tennessee Wesleyan Bulldogs. Clarke had 13 doubles, three triples, 10 homers, 43 RBIs, while hitting .293 with a .893 OPS.
2018 Perfect Game NAIA Preseason Top 25 Teams
Rk. 2017 School ST ‘17 Record
1. 1 Faulkner Eagles AL 54-12
3. 11 Bellevue Bruins NE 51-11
LHP Dylan Thorp (North Vancouver, BC)
5. 18 Tennessee Wesleyan Bulldogs TN 47-15
OF Tristan Clarke (Brampton, Ont.).
8. 8 Oklahoma Wesleyan Eagles OK 51-12
OF Chris Acosta-Tapia (Laval, Que.), INF John Lantigua (Quebec City, Que.) and RHP Claudio Ortiz (Montreal, Que.).
10. NR LSU Shreveport Pilots LA 40-21
C Owen Napieralski (Delta, BC), RHP Hunter Cunningham (Mission, BC), RHP Cole Masik (Vancouver, BC), IF Ryan Pouwells (Surrey, BC) and coach Brent Lavallee (North Delta, BC).
13. 10 Hope International Royals CA 35-18
OF-LHP Brendan Turcotte (Victoria, BC).
15. NR Concordia Cardinals MI 43-13
RHP Gregory Barbuto (Oakville, Ont.).
16. 13 Northwestern Ohio Racers OH 44-12
RHP Olivier Mailloux (Ville De Quebec, Que.), OF Myles Miller (Windsor, Ont.), C Kyle Bryan (Whitby, Ont), INF Hunter James (Stratford, Ont.), LHP Kareem Kobrosli (Windsor, Ont.), RHP James De Sousa (Pickering, Ont.) and INF Jorden Bonomo (Hamilton, Ont.).
17. 1 Lewis-Clark State Warriors ID 40-14
OF Mason Verge (Vancouver, BC).
21. 22 Webber International Warriors FL 39-17
1B Michel Dagenais (Longueuil, Que.)
22. 16 Indiana Tech Warriors IN 44-14
C-OF Taylor Nychyk (St. Andrews, Man.), RHP Brandon Hillier, Orangeville, Ont.) and OF Shoma Sasaki (Delta, BC).