Friday, May 26, 2017
By Steven Walters
EMERSON, Ga. - A chilly Friday morning opened the 18u WWBA Memorial Day Tournament at LakePoint, but it was warm weather to the Canadian based Prospects Academy, who revel at a chance to travel to the U.S. and experience warmer weather.
“We’ll chase the weather wherever we have to, we’ve got a big budget, and it helps us do what we need to do to get these guys prepared,” said head coach Cam Houston.
With the cold weather and long winters in Canada, the academy finds unique ways to expose their players to the highest level of competition all year long.
“We train all year, obviously, the weather isn’t like it is down here, so we have a big indoor and guys get after it all year long,” said Houston. “We usually come to Georgia once a year. We’ll go down and play some colleges in Kansas and Colorado and stuff like that. We’ll travel all over western Canada and try to play the top-level teams as many places as we can.”
The organization prides themselves on providing an opportunity to players from all over Canada a place to play at a high level. Their goal as an organization is to have all their players move on to play collegiately, especially in the U.S. This, though, can be a challenge because of their geographical location and the barrier that it presents for their players.
“I think just the unknown of what Canadian kids can bring to U.S. colleges. Being an international kid, they’re always a little worried about not being able to see them as much, and I think once they get down there, they represent the program and the country well when they get down to school.”
The team already has six players set to play at the college level in the U.S. with Gino Bourget and Rejean Bourget heading to Garden City CC, Tylor Jans and Liam Fox heading to Highland CC, Spencer Burton committed to Big Bend CC, and Cole Jackson set to play at Cloud County CC. Jackson praised the coaching staff in helping him with the college search.
“They just stay behind you and they put their time into everything for finding colleges for us,” said Jackson.
Not only does the organization look to build good baseball players, but they stress the importance of preparing these young men for life at the next level too.
“[We emphasize] taking care of not just the baseball field stuff, but the stuff in the classroom and getting prepared for what it takes to be a college athlete and a student-athlete,” said Houston, “but also down the road in life when being on time and things like that that prepare you for being in the workforce.”
Jackson stated the same when talking about his maturity growth in his time with the program.
“They build us into men. That’s the philosophy,” said Jackson.
The 5-foot-9 Jackson, a catcher and a 2017 graduate, showed a good arm behind the plate and went 0-for-1 with an RBI, a walk and a hit-by-pitch at the plate in the team’s first game against eXposure 17u Silver.
“Cole Jackson’s a grindy catcher who works his butt off,” said Houston. “He’s a little undersized, but definitely a kid that’s busted his butt and he’s strong and definitely a kid that’s going to do really well at the next level.”
Three-hole hitter Gino Bourget went 1-for-4 in Friday’s game, adding to the offense by stealing a base and scoring in the fourth inning.
“He’s a fast-twitched kid that, for as skinny as he is, his bat packs a punch,” said Houston about Gino Bourget. “He’s definitely a kid who has the tools to be successful at the next level.”
In September, both Jackson and Gino Bourget were selected to play with Alberta in the 2016 Tournament 12 in Toronto, which is a showcase for the top 160 Canadian born players. The event was hosted at the Rogers Centre, with many college and professional scouts in attendance.
“It was a crazy experience,” said Gino Bourget. “It was good experience facing some of the best arms in Canada.”
Houston pointed towards the opportunity the T12 Tournament posed for high level exposure for their program.
“A lot of Division I schools come up and definitely a lot of pro scouts, so it gives them a great opportunity to get seen and more showcased,” said Houston. “It showcases our players and shows them what we’ve done as an organization with our guys and usually they go out and represent the program well.”
The team will use the weekend at LakePoint as another chance for exposure for their players in warmer weather. They are off to a solid start after winning their first game of the tournament 3-0 behind a brilliant start by Tylor Jans who went seven innings, surrendering just two hits and one walk, while striking out four hitters.
Tylor Jans (St. Albert, Alta.) pitched a complete-game two-hitter, walking one as the Prospects beat eXposure 17U Silver 3-0 in the opener. Jans walked one and fanned four. 2B Micheal Brisson (St. Albert, Alta.) knocked in a pair of runs and C Cole Jackson (Thorsby, Alta.) knocked in a run. 3B Gino Bourget (Edmonton, Alta.) had the other hit.
Trailing 2-0 in the fourth the Prospects plated four runs in the fifth and six more in the seventh on the way to a 13-3 win over the Gwinnett Aces. Jackson went 4-for-4 with a pair of doubles and a homer knocking in eight runs for the Prospects, while RF Spencer Burton (Camrose, Alta.) was 2-for-2 and drove in a run. Liam Fox (Edmonton, Alta.) and Nicholas Warawa (Edmonton, Alta.) combined on the five-hitter. Fox allowied two runs -- one earned -- on four hits and four walks, while striking out four. Warawa pitched the seventh allowing a run on one hit. SS Zach Froment (Morinville, Alta.) and Brisson each doubled. CF Rejean Bourget (Edmonton, Alta.) and 3B Bourget singled in a run, DH Liam Froment (Morinville, Alta.) and Jans had hits and 1B Colton Girard (St. Albert, Alta.) knocked in a run.
A five-run sixth powered the Prospects to a 7-4 victory against Baseball`s Elite.
Cole Jackson. Rejean Bourget singled, sandwiched around walks to Jackson and Brisson loading the bases in the sixth. After a bases-loaded walk to Gino Bourget, Jans followed with a single, an out later Conor Bronson (St. Albert, Alta.) and Girard followed with singles. LF Bronson had three hits and knocked in a run, while CF Rejean Bourget and Girard each had a pair of hits. Girard knocked in three runs. Jans singled in a run. Froment pitched four innings allowing four runs -- three earned -- on three hhits and three walks as he struck out five. Joe Karall (St. Albert, Alta.) pitched three scoreless for the win, fanning five.
Pool K PCT W L T RA RS
Prospects Academy 1.000 3 0 0 7 23
eXposure 17U Silver .667 2 1 0 4 6
Atlanta Blue Jays 17U .667 2 1 0 9 12
Gwinnett Aces .333 1 2 0 21 7
Team 360 Hawks .333 1 2 0 5 9
Baseball’s Elite .000 0 3 0 17 6
The Prospects managed only four hits as they were blanked in the playoffs by the Georgia Giants 5-0. Gino Bourget, 2B Brisson, 1B Girard and C Jackson each had a hit. Ross Supruniuk (St. Albert, Alta.) pitched three innings giving up four runs on four hits and one walk, while fanning three. Michael Serna (Fort Saskatchewan, Alta.) worked two innings allowing a run as he fanned three and Colbey Klepper (Parkland County, Alta.) pitched two scoreless striking out four.