In the six-plus seasons since the establishment of the Okanagan Athletics, the B.C. Premier Baseball League program has moved 48 players on to play at the college level in either the United States or Canada.
This fall, five members of the 2016 A’s will be pursuing baseball careers and educations south of the border.
Athletics head coach and GM Evan Bailey, currently in his seventh season with the club, has been instrumental in helping his players reach the next level.
Here’s a look at this season’s graduating players who are headed to the U.S. in August.
• Matt Brodt—Odessa Junior College, Odessa, Tx.
Brodt, from Pentciton, is the A’s staff ace and also plays in the field, but will concentrate on pitching at Odessa. Brodt is 8-1 with a 1.32 ERA and 72 strikeouts. He’s also handy with the bat, hitting .310 with 18 RBIs.
“He’s the best pitcher we’ve ever had in the program and arguably one of the best three in the league, if not the best,” Bailey said of Brodt. “He has good velocity and control but has the ability to throw his curve and change up for strikes as well. He’s just a competitor. Every time he’s on the mound, you can sit back, relax and enjoy.”
• Sam Avila—Otero Junior College, La Junta, Colorado.
A second baseman and shortstop, Avila is a reliable commodity both with the glove and the bat. Avila leads the A’s this season in hitting (.400), runs (28), hits (46), stolen bases (16), and RBIs (24).
“Sam is an absolutely outstanding defender and all-around player,” said Bailey. “He’s hitting .400, and he’s turned the corner this year. He can flat out play, he has the instincts that makes it look easy.”
• David Tongue—Otero Junior College, La Junta, Colorado.
Tongue, from Kelowna, has emerged this season as a key member of the Athletics starting rotation, posting a 5-4 PBL record with a 2.37 ERA.
“This year has been his big turning point as a pitcher,” Bailey said of Tongue. “What will make him successful in college is his change up, it’s the best on the team. What I really like about him is his level of compete, every time has the ball. He never gives up, a smart pitcher.”
• McCoy Pearce—New Mexico Military Institute, Roswell, NM.
Primarily a third baseman, the 6-foot-2 Pearce has produced offensively for the A’s this season with a .308 average, 18 RBIs and 26 runs.
“A good all-around player, a versatile guy, and big strong, athletic kid,” Bailey said of Pearce. “Turned corner this year at the plate. He plays multiple positions and is a good defender.”
• Brendan Coulter—Southwestern Oregon Community College, Coos Bay, OR.
Coulter will head to Oregon as both a pitcher and position player.
At the plate, the 6-foot-5, 205-pound Coulter leads the A’s with three home runs this season and has added 14 RBIs.
“A big strong, kid a lot of pop in his bat,” Bailey said of Coulter. “He’ll have an upside at college level as both pitcher and position player. He just continues to get better.”