This week should polish off the last of the snow, and that means diamonds are being dusted off as baseball season approaches. For a quintet of local ball players, the pre-season got underway a bit early thanks to the hospitality of the Jackie Robinson Baseball Complex in Vero Beach, Florida.

Five members of the East Central Red Sox 18U AAA squad headed south over the Easter Break to enjoy some sunshine and partake in the learning provided. Cam Marshak, Joel Bauml, Adam Korte, Merek Yeager and Dallen Rude took part in a weekend baseball experience like no other. 

The Complex in Vero Beach is a network of 11 diamonds designed for training or play, along with indoor instruction spaces. It was the home of the LA Dodgers Training Camp and it serves as a training centre for virtually all levels of ball. The five Red Sox participants were selected through their years of play on their stats and eyes-on performances. Baseball Sask’s High Performance Director Greg Brons had a hand in the selection. 

Discover Humboldt caught up with three of the players from Muenster, Korte, Yeager and Rude, who shared a bit about the experience. 

We work on a little bit of everything,” explains Adam Korte who anchors the team as catcher and cycles through the pitching roster. 

“Usually at this age, the fundamentals are expected to be known. We worked on a lot of tactics and a lot of game situation stuff just to get us ready for the ball season and ready for the Canada Games.” Those games will see the province’s best ball players born in ‘05-’06, and based on the spring camp and performance through the season, players will be selected to the team. 

Those attending this year’s Florida camp were selected based on player performance in 2021, says pitcher Merek Yeager. 

“The decision happened at the end of last year, and they sent out the information about four months prior to the trip, but they usually had the team selected before.”

The selection process came as a season-long process in which Baseball Sask officials, including Brons, spent time individually with the candidates. 

“It was like an ID camp,” says pitcher Dallen Rude, “Where Greg (Brons) would take players aside and do little tryouts on our own to see where we were at. We’d do sprints, and he watched games through all our tournaments that year.”

For Yeager, he gathered information and practiced pickoff moves along with working on consistent delivery for the upcoming season. For Korte, it was a lot about the hitting and catching, particularly around technique and swing patterns,  he says. The players were out on the field every morning for group sessions, but each would receive individual instruction and coaching along the way. 

In all, the boys got an early look at some of the competition in the AAA Sask Premier League for the upcoming season. They confess that the competition will be challenging given the calibre of the players from all teams who attended the camp and some preliminary play.

A number of players from last year’s squad have aged out of 18U ball, but last year’s Humboldt Dodgers 15U squad had a stellar year, and of those players will be joining the ranks of the Red Sox for the new campaign. 

“We lost four third years, and this year we’re gaining five first years,” says Korte. 

A new season brings renewed anticipation on the diamond now that the hockey skates and the curling brooms are in the closets. 

“I’m ready for a good season, and hopefully to pitch well and make it far into the provincials as a team,” says Dallen Rude.

“I’m looking forward to becoming a better player overall, and hopefully our team goes far,” says Merek Yeager. 

As for Adam Korte, suffice it to say he came up with a time honoured baseball metaphor that spoke his will to take every competition in sight. 

Of course, all the players agreed that one of the key benefits to the Florida trip was the infinitely warmer weather compared to home during the Easter Break. 

Their season begins with a pair of double headers in Estevan and Regina starting on Saturday, May 14. The home season opener is Thursday, May 26 against the Saskatoon Giants, and the first double header falls on Sunday, May 29 against the White Sox.