The Cranbrook Bandits baseball squad was well-represented at a university prospects camp last Sunday in the US, with a trio of players strutting their stuff in front of college-level coaches and scouts.
Devon Marra, Ryan Phillips and Brandon Ouillette made the trek to Ellensburg in Washington State to a camp hosted by Central Washington University, which featured roughly 80 other baseball players.
Though it was a six-hour drive, the chance to show off their skill in front of university scouts made it worth it, said Bandits head coach Paul Mrazek.
“Stuff I’ve been telling them, they heard from other coaches, and it’s made them more confident,” said Mrazek.
“There was a little bit of instruction and they’re hearing the same thing that we’re teaching here. When they hear it a different way, it might click a little better, and they’re also hearing new things from the college level, which is great.”
The day was split up with with pitching and defence in the morning, with batting and offence in the afternoon. Though the camp was hosted by CWU, there were coaches and scouts in attendance representing five other colleges and universities
Both Phillips and Marra got into the bullpen to pitch, while Ouilette, a catcher, was on the receiving end. Marra and Ouilette also worked on offence in the afternoon with hitting, as well as showcasing some infield skills.
“The kids have good mechanics, and they can play the game and they can throw.
Hitting wise, Brandon and Devon hit the ball well,” added Mrazek.
“When I was watching Devon—cause he’s graduating this year—a coach I was talking to from Big Ben in Moses Lake, was commenting on how the ball explodes off his bat.
“Well that’s why he’s led the team in doubles two years in a row, because the ball explodes off his bat and he hits doubles in the gap.”
Mrazek said he had quite a few conversations with scouts after Ryan Phillips threw a 20-pitch bullpen.
“I did get to talk to a few coaches afterwards and they were asking me why I wasn’t already playing college ball, so that’s a good sign, I guess,” said Phillips.
Ouilette, a catcher, spent his morning showing what he could do with pop times, and how fast he could throw to second base, along with catching some pitches.
In the afternoon, he worked on double-plays as a second baseman, showing off his footwork, and spent two hours on the bats.
“I was kind of nervous going in, I wasn’t sure what to expect,” said Ouilette. “I was going into a scouting thing with a bunch of Americans—baseball’s their sport, right? But I got there and felt really confident in my abilities and it was good to know that I fit in with colleges and in a couple years, I should be playing there.”
Marra ended up talking with a coach from Big Ben University in Montana, who was impressed with his skills.
“Mostly playing shortstop, infielding and hitting, and a little bit of pitching too, I guess,” Marra said. “I felt like I did a pretty good job.”