This spring will be an exciting season for a trio of baseball players from southeastern Saskatchewan. And depending on how it goes, the players could be in for a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity come summer.
Carter Beck, Callum Hollinger, and Kade Phillips are heading to Vero Beach, Fla. in April for a week-long spring training session. It's part of the selection process as they look to represent the province at this year's Canada Summer Games in the Niagara Falls, Ont. area.
The session is at the Jackie Robinson Training Complex, the former spring training site of the Los Angeles Dodgers.
Beck is a catcher and infielder. He hit .398, had a .487 on-base percentage, and slugged .643 through 30 games. He hit the club's lone regular-season home run.
Hollinger, an outfielder, had a slash line of .400/.486/.600 29 games.
Phillips, born in 2006 and from Estevan, thrived as a two-way player for the South East A's in 15U AAA. He struck out 83 of the 189 batters he faced, while walking 20, and giving up 18 earned runs. He was versatile as a pitcher, starting games and throwing out of the bullpen. He had a 4-2 record with two saves in two save opportunities.
He also plays outfield and some infield. At the dish, he hit .443/.589/.886 with nine doubles, a triple, and eight home runs in 79 at-bats.
Blair Beck, Carter's father, coached Phillips last year in 15U AAA, and coached Hollinger and Carter growing up. He also runs South East Baseball Training with Twins head coach Trent Dorrance out of Glen Ewen, where the players have been working out.
Metrics, such as velocity and exit velocity (how hard a ball is thrown and how hard a ball is hit) are becoming a larger part of the game, and improving players' measurements in areas is a focal point.
"We use numbers just as a way to push kids and see how fast they can move and get used to the idea that more's there. The harder you do anything, you look at the game today, it's based on your measurables. To get into college, to do any of that stuff, you got to have numbers that meet certain criteria."
Carter's average exit velocity was listed as 90 mph on Prep Baseball Report. Blair said he hit 98 this year. His throwing velocity from behind the dish was 74, and 82 from the infield. His 60-yard dash time was an even seven seconds.
Phillips had a max fastball speed of 79 mph, an average exit velocity of 77, and a 60-yard-dash time of 7.51.
There weren't statistics listed on PBR for Hollinger. Though Blair said Hollinger has topped 90 mph off the tee.
Carter said a fellow prospect from the southeast and teammate from the Twins last year went down to Florida.
"Mason Fichter went when they had it last. He said he really liked it. It was fun. Cool to be down there. The facilities are really nice too."
Carter added that he's looking forward to the trip, and playing against high-level competition.
There were 32 players invited to the camp. Blair said Baseball Sask is whittling that number down to around 18 for the Canada Summer Games, which are held from August 6 to 21.