The Swift Current 57's will feature a lot of hometown talent on their squad this summer.
For the first time since 2015, the WCBL club will roster five southwestern Saskatchewan products, with all of them from Swift Current.
"I think that's probably the biggest thing I'm excited about," Swift Current 57's Head Coach Tim Brown said. "Two very important players on the club are from town. That's going to give people a reason to come out to the ballpark."
The two aforementioned players are Trinidad State College's Brody Alexandre and McCook Community College's Ethan Murdoch.
They'll be flanked by Prairie Baseball Academy's Dawson Schultz, soon-to-be Mayville State College's Connor Choo Foo, and soon-to-be Bismarck State College's Rydell Adair.
"I don't know that I'm the person to necessarily take all the credit for that because a couple of the guys are returning," he said.
Alexandre, Adair, and Schultz are all returnees for the 57's and if not for an injury last year, Murdoch would have played on the team too.
"Rydell and Connor are AP players," he explained. "Schultz, Alexandre, and Murdoch are regular roster players."
Brown believes Murdoch and Alexandre could make a significant impact for the 57's at the plate with both experiencing a ton of playing time.
Murdoch is in his second year at McCook where he just was named the school's Male Academic Athlete of the Year. The outfielder/catcher had a batting average of .405 with 17 home runs and 74 RBIs in 210 at-bats.
"I think Murdoch is an outstanding talent," he said. "Half of his hits are for extra bases, that's remarkable. It's very exciting to have a player on your team with that much offensive potential."
Brown says the plan is to keep Murdoch in the outfield and limit his time behind the dish to guard him against injuries and keep him fresh at the plate.
"We're going to try and maximize what he can bring to the team," he said.
Alexandre is in his first year with the Trinidad State Trojans. The first baseman is hitting .396 with six home runs and 22 RBIs in 93 at-bats.
"He had some eligibility issues early in the season, so he didn't get as many at-bats," he said. "He has some offensive potential as well.
"The one thing that I talked with him about earlier in the spring was strikeouts. Last summer his strikeout rate (43.7%) was way too high... When you look at what he did this spring in terms of strikeouts, his strikeouts are way down (28.5%)... He's already made a good adjustment."
The last full-time player is Schultz, who Brown expects could be a multi-inning reliever or perhaps a spot starter. The 6-foot-2 right-hander is 1-4 with a 2.88 ERA and 45 strikeouts in 43.2 innings pitched with the Prairie Baseball Academy.
"Dawson didn't have a good record, he was 1-4 but that may not have anything to do with his pitching, it may have to do with the team that's around him and how many runs they're able to generate," he said.
"Anytime your strikeouts are over twice what your walks are, that's pretty good. I was much more encouraged by how much he was going to pitch once I saw his numbers."
Brown was hoping to have four catchers on the roster for the 57's but due to a few backing out, Adair should benefit playing time-wise.
"I'm counting on him more than he probably thinks I am," he said. "Rydell may play a larger role for an AP than what's normally expected just because of the circumstances that surrounded this year's recruiting efforts."
And Choo Foo is expected to be a late arrival for the team but Brown already has his unique skillset pencilled into a role.
"He's not going to get here until the last week in June," he said. "He's a left-handed pitcher and he's 6-foot-2 so we have to give that a look... I know they play him in the outfield with the team he's playing on, I don't know that we're going to utilize him there... If he ends up helping us it will be as a pitcher."
The 57's will open their season at home on May 26 when they host the Regina Red Sox.