EDMONTON, AB - There’s a little extra pep in Jordan Blundell’s voice this morning as he prepares for his first home opener as head coach of the Edmonton Prospects.
“I love it. This is where I’m supposed to be, man,” says the Prospects bench boss. “Last year I worked beside Ray (Brown) and Orv (Franchuk), and that was a great experience for me with the experience they have in the game of baseball. I learned a lot, and I appreciate the year I was with those guys.”
“That being said, I’m really looking forward to this season,” continues Blundell. “Last season was the first year I haven’t coached since I started coaching.”
“It’s back to basics, and back to where I want to be.”
Tonight marks the first game of the Prospects 2019 WCBL season following an offseason that saw the departures of long-time coaches Ray Brown and Orv Franchuk, as well as a majority of their roster ageing out of eligibility. While it’s been an offseason of change, it’s allowed Blundell to truly put his stamp on the roster.
“It’s really different; it’s my first season at the helm, we don’t have a ton of returning players, and we don’t have a ton of history with this franchise,” he concedes. However, says Blundell, that’s part of the adventure.
“It’s exciting to get going like that, especially seeing what we were able to do this offseason to bring a great product to Edmonton,” Blundell states. That’s really where the excitement lies.”
“I’m looking forward to the experience with the players. It’s been fun so far; the workouts so far have been good.”
Two players that have stood out early to the Prospects brass are outfielder Travis Hunt (Moreno Valley, CA) and catcher Jake Gehri (Buckley, WA).
“We really love the way Travis has begun his tenure with the Prospects; how he goes about his business, how he prepares for practices and games, and the way he carries himself,” said Blundell.
“His work ethic is second to none. It’s really been a pleasure to watch him since Day One come into our program and do his thing. We’re excited about his opportunity this summer. You don’t want to say it’s been a surprise, but Travis and (Lawson) Burnett have both worked their butts off to improve and prepare for the home opener. Not that we didn’t expect guys to come here and try and get better, but those two have really come and set the tone for this ballclub.”
“Jake’s looking promising as well,” Blundell continues. “He’s a great kid, and I’m really excited to get an opportunity to manage him this summer. He’s got a ton of talent, and he’s a quality guy; as a coach, what more could you want? We feel like he’s the full package.”
“I’ve had lots of experience against teams from Lethbridge,” said Blundell of his inaugural opponent as a WCBL head coach. “They’re always well prepared, always a tough opponent and capable of beating you. They’ve had a lot of success in this league, and I have a lot of respect for the Bulls program. I’m familiar with some of the names on that roster, and they’ve got some good ones.”
“It’s like a couple of freight trains who’ve been on this collision course for so long; we don’t know what’s on each train, but I guess we’ll find out how we stack up today.”
Selecting the Prospects opening day roster was a process, admits Blundell, but with a number of multi-positional players joining the team this year, flexibility will be key to the club’s starting lineups moving forward.
“There are definitely some interchangeable parts with all the depth that we have,” said Blundell on his opening day lineup. “Health will be a big thing in determining our lineup (moving forward), and players will likely be splitting playing time early. We’ll still get a few players in tomorrow, so that will be important for us.”
“Obviously, we don’t want to get too far ahead of ourselves, but I think we’ve got some good players here. We’ve got a bunch of guys that are here for the right reasons. They’re ready to do some work and try and find some ways to win baseball games which at the end of the day is what we’re here to do.”
The Prospects home opener kicks off tonight at 7:05 pm following an exclusive pre-game party at 5:00. The pre-game festivities are open to the first 200 ticket holders for tonight’s game. No additional admission is required for the 18+ event. Tickets for tonight’s game are available online.
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