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Canadians in College Baseball

Pickering’s Denzel Clarke on Fire for Cal State Northridge

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Photo: Braden Villanueva, CSUN Athletics

It’s a long way from Pickering, Ontario to the campus of Cal State Northridge (CSUN), just northwest of Los Angeles, but the CSUN baseball team is glad that Pickering, Ontario’s Denzel Clarke made that journey in 2019.

Now in his Junior season, this past weekend Clarke had seven hits, including his fifth and sixth home runs of the season, to lead the 12-15 Matadors to a four-game sweep of CSU Bakersfield, clinching the team’s first series win of the season, their first double-header sweep of the season and their first four-game sweep of the season.

Clarke finished the weekend going 7-of-12 (.583) with six RBI, four walks, three runs, two home runs and two doubles. He also stole four bases and has now hit safely in 10-straight games.

The strong weekend series is just another stellar moment in Clarke’s season thus far, as on the season, he has 32 hits, (7 doubles, 6 Homers) for a .330 batting average, has knocked in 18 runs, scored 23 runs and has an awesome 1.046 OPS.

Clarke has been a standout with CSUN since his debut as a freshman in 2019, where he was the only player to appear in all 55 games on the season, hitting 243 with 35 hits, 25 runs, 21 walks, 19 RBI, seven doubles, five home runs and two triples. He was second on the team with 12 stolen bases (on 14 attempts) and finished fourth in the Big West in sacrifice hits (10) and tied for ninth in stolen bases. His season was also notable as he hit the Matadors’ first inside-the-park home run of the 21st century and homered twice for the first time in his career vs. UC Santa Barbara (5/3/19).

In his 2020 sophomore season, Clarke competed in all 15 games, making 12 starts in center field and leading the team in runs (12), home runs (3), batting average (.400), slugging percentage (.775), on-base percentage (.529) and stolen bases (5). He finished first in the Big West in on-base percentage and slugging percentage while he ranked second in stolen bases and home runs, third in batting average, fifth in total bases (31), seventh in runs and 10th in doubles (4). He was also named to Big West All-Academic Team.

Clarke graduated from the Everest Baseball Academy in Vaughan, Ontario and was a member of the Canadian U-18 Junior National Team that won bronze at the COPABE U-18 Pan Am Championships in Panama in 2018 and that finished fourth at the 2017 WBSC U-18 Baseball World Cup in Thunder Bay (photo below). He was drafted by the New York Mets in the 36th round of the 2018 MLB First-Year Player Draft, but chose to stay in school, a decision that CSUN was glad he made.

Denzel Clarke playing for Canada at the WBSC U18 World Cup of Baseball at Port Arthur Stadium in Thunder Bay, Ontario in 2017 (Photo: Christian J. Stewart).

Clarke comes by his athletic talents naturally. His Mother is Donna Clarke, who competed in the women’s heptathlon at the 1984 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles, finishing 17th at the age of 19. His uncle, Kevin Smellie played pro football in the CFL and was a running back on the 1991 Grey Cup champion Toronto Argonauts and his cousin Gavin Smellie participated in the 2012 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles in the 4x100m relay. His cousins Josh and Noah Naylor are also well known in baseball circles in Canada and are playing pro baseball, both in the Cleveland Indians organization.

Now in his junior year, Clarke is ranked 82nd on the top 100 draft prospects list and 12th on the top 100 outfielder list by D1 Baseball — a major jump from being taken in the 36th round just a few years ago.

With the season he is having to date, it is quite possible that Clarke could hear his name called very early in the MLB entry draft in July. Hopefully that will be the case and Clarke can join the ever-growing list of Canadians to make their way into the pro-ranks.

 

BC Premier Baseball League

Parksville Royals Deagle and Plant sign with Golden Tide

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It’s a nice way to start the season if you can swing it.

Two Parksville Royals will head into their last season in purple with their September college plans all sewn up. Campbell River’s Ryan Deagle and Courtenay’s Thomas Plant have both signed with the Victoria Golden Tide baseball team of the Canadian College Baseball Conference  (CCBC).

Head Coach Frank Kaluzniak was quick to praise his players as they enter their final season with the Royals. “Great accomplishment for these guys. They’ve been Royals since day one and have shown tremendous and consistent improvements throughout their tenure with the program. I wish both Thomas and Ryan all the best moving forward. They have been a pleasure to coach.”

Thomas Plant, 6’ 1” and 195 lbs, battled injuries early in 2021 and then showed off an all-around skill set during the season. Plant demonstrated a patient hitting approach with break-out power from the right-side as well as grit and execution on the mound. “I have been training with the Tide this fall/winter and signed to play with them next year,” said Plant. “I want to thank the Parksville Royals as they have helped me become not only the ball player but the person I am today. My goals with the Tide are to bring a championship to Victoria while also getting a good education.”

Signing with the Tide caps off a tremendous 2021 for Campbell River’s Ryan Deagle. Deagle, 6’ 2” and 215 lbs, absolutely mashed at the plate this past season hitting .333/.453/.547. Over the course of the COVID-shortened season and playoffs he drove in a team-leading 22 RBI and hit two home runs to go with 6 doubles and 2 triples. Following the season, the team awarded Ryan the Tyler Phillips Memorial award for outstanding performance. “I wouldn’t be the person or player I am now without the help of coaches Frank, Bruce, Kevin, and Russy. All of my coaches helped promote me to colleges all over North America and always answered my questions. When I left for four months to train with the Golden Tide this past fall, my coaches with the Royals were extremely supportive checking in with me multiple times. Playing with the Royals has been a great experience and I have countless memories of my teammates in so many games and on the road at tournaments,” said Deagle. “The recruiting process with the Tide was easy as I trained with them for 4 months and enjoyed their ways of training and practices. My goal at UVIC is to study sciences and play there for one year and move onto a Division I school on a scholarship.”

“We’re really excited to have Thomas and Ryan join us,” said UVIC head Coach Curtis Pelletier. “We have three coaches who are Royals alum including myself so we believe in what the Parksville program is doing. I’ve had the chance to coach the Biro brothers back in the day as well as Connor Russell. I know the focus on development is strong in Parksville and any chance we can get a Royal on board, we’re ready to jump at that opportunity. Royals alum Ethan Dean has had a great fall for us and we’ll be leaning on him come conference to be a front end guy. Thomas and Ryan spent the fall here in Victoria training alongside the Tide and they have shown extreme work ethic and are ready to compete at the next level.”

Royals Winterball kicks off Jan 9 for players Grade 8 to 12. For more information, go to http://parksvilleroyals.pointstreaksites.com/view/parksvilleroyals/news/news_538180

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Froehlich commits to play baseball at NCAA Division I level

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Nipawin native commits to play for Northwestern State University in Louisiana.

By Robin Wark – SASKTODAY

NIPAWIN — Although Kyle Froehlich is looking forward to the spring baseball season, the Nipawin product has already decided the next step in his post-secondary career.

The son of Cory and Jacalyn Froehlich has committed to play in 2022-23 for Northwestern State University in Louisiana. He will compete on scholarship for the Demons, who play at the NCAA Division I level, the best in U.S. university athletics. The Northwestern State baseball coaches are looking at him as a pitcher and designated hitter. Currently the 6-foot, 175-pound Froehlich is studying at Kansas’ Colby Community College.

“I am looking forward to a higher level of baseball,” Froehlich said. “It’s always been a goal of mine to one day play at a Division 1 school and to be able to say I have achieved that goal is a pretty exciting feeling.”

Northwestern State University has a total enrollment of about 10,735 and a few campuses. Froehlich will attend the Natchitoches campus.

“I went on a visit to Northwestern State and had a great time on my visit so that was a really big part of [my decision],” he said. “I really enjoyed meeting the coaches at Northwestern and I think it will be a great program to help me become a better player.””

Muenster product Logan Hofmann played at Northwestern State before being picked in the 5th round of the 2020 Major League Baseball Draft by the Pittsburgh Pirates. While they were not teammates, both Hofmann and Froehlich played in what is now called the East Central Red Sox U18 AAA program. The two have chatted about Hofmann’s experience in Louisiana.

“He had some great things to say about the program and his time being a Demon,” Froehlich said. “Knowing someone else had a positive experience at the school helped me decide it was the place I wanted to further my education and baseball career.”

A key to Froehlich’s success on the diamond has been his work ethic. This past summer he played for coach Jason Chatwood and the Sylvan Lake Gulls of the Western Major Baseball League.

“The feeling that I get from Kyle is he just tries to find a way to get better every day,” Chatwood said.

With the Gulls, Froehlich displayed a willingness to do whatever he could to help his team. He started the season playing the first base but, due to injuries to teammates, volunteered to play left and right field. As for Froehlich’s pitching, Chatwood said:

“He was electric on the mound for us. He was kind of our Swiss Army knife. He was our closer a lot of the year in a lot of big situations and then we had him have a couple big time starts when we needed him as well.”

Chatwood said the right-handed pitcher has a very good fastball. The coach praised Froehlich for working on the command of his off-speed pitches so that he could throw them in multiple counts.

“He competes around the zone a lot,” Chatwood said. “He locates the ball very, very well.”

In addition to his diamond prowess, Froehlich impressed as a person in Sylvan Lake.

“He’s just a really good kid … He doesn’t take anything for granted,” Chatwood said. “You can tell he comes from a really solid family and a great household. He really cares about his teammates.”

No matter where Froehlich has played, he has had the strong backing of his parents.

“They have been everything for me in my journey to get to where I am,” he said. “They have spent countless hours coaching me, traveling for my games, and teaching me important lessons that not only pertain to baseball but life as well. The raised me to value hard work, dedication and that it is about the process not the outcome and that is a large reason why I have been able to be successful.”

While Northwestern State is his future, Froehlich is currently enjoying his time at Colby Community College. Studying business management, he has succeeded in the classroom. Froehlich was named to the National Junior College Athletic Association All-Academic First Team with a 4.0 grade point average after his first season. He is looking forward to his college team’s spring season.

“My focus is to help my team win any way I can,” he said. “I feel we have a really strong squad this year and I think we have a chance to do something special.”

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Canadians in College Baseball

Sarnia ballplayer commits to Big Ten school

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By Colin Gowdy, Sarnia News Today

A Sarnia ballplayer has committed to play the sport and continue his education at a Big Ten school in the U.S.

Dylan O’Rae, a Grade 11 student at Northern high school, will play ball at the University of Illinois.

The 16-year-old shortstop from the Great Lakes Canadians, based out of London, said it’s been a goal of his to compete at the Power Five level.

“And to be able to do that with Illinois and the Big Ten is just a dream come true,” he said.  “I plan on getting my business degree from Illinois and working on getting drafted to play some pro-ball, hopefully.”

O’Rae said some of his strengths on the ball diamond include his speed and knowledge of the game, adding that he’s received a lot of help from one of his instructors in particular, former big-leaguer Adam Stern.

“He attended the University of Nebraska and played professionally as well. He’s really helped me develop and become the player I am right now.”

FROM THE UNIVERSITY OF ILLINOIS WEBSITE

Dylan O’Rae / INF
5-9 / 160 / L/R

Sarnia, Ontario, Can. / Northern Collegiate High School 

  • No. 9-ranked prospect in Ontario by Prep Baseball Report
  • No. 2-ranked SS in Ontario by Prep Baseball Report
  • Member of the Team Canada Junior National Team
  • Played summer ball for the Great Lake Canadians
  • Hit .550 with 55 hits, 4 HR, 38 RBI, and 20 SB with the Great Lake Canadians in 2021
  • CPBL League 2021 All-Star game MVP
  • Chose Illinois because “Illinois felt like a great fit for me as a baseball player and student. The culture of the Illinois baseball team was something I really wanted to be a part of.”
  • Has plans to become a financial advisor
  • Illinois baseball alum Chris Robinson was his summer team coach
  • Son of Charlie and Tammy O’Rae
  • Committed to Illinois December 2020

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