Sounds of summer: PA Minor Baseball players hit the turf for annual winter camp

Prince Albert Minor Baseball player Brandon Moose takes part in a drill at the Alfred Jenkins Field House on Wednesday, Feb. 21. -- Jason Kerr/Daily Herald

There may still be snow on the ground and ice on the river, but Prince Albert youth baseball players are already fielding grounders and catching fly balls in preparation for summer.

PA Minor Baseball began their three-day winter camp on Tuesday, coinciding with the start of MLB training camps in Arizona and Florida. Prince Albert Winter Camp volunteer organizer Corey Borthwick said the program is primarily a development camp aimed at getting players ready for try-outs in March.

“We really try to get the players focused on their fundamentals—just simple throwing and receiving drills, basic drills in terms of hitting and trying to simplify things,” Borthwick explained. “(It) gets them to create good habits that will help them during the year.”

Players from the 11U and 13U divisions took part in morning sessions on Wednesday, while players from the 15U and 18U divisions hit the Alfred Jenkins Field House turf for the afternoon.

Borthwick said baseball in Prince Albert dipped in popularity in previous decades, but has started to rebound in the past few years. Borthwick also sits on the PA Minor Baseball board. He said they’ve tried to upgrade Prince Albert’s baseball facilities and make the sport more popular in the community.

One of the big changes he’d like to see is the creation of a AAA program that would draw players from Prince Albert and the northeast. Borthwick said he’s not sure why the north central and northeast regions do not have a AAA team, but considering the talent available in all communities, he’s confident it could work.

A group of Prince Albert Minor Baseball players take part in an infield drill during the Prince Albert Minor Baseball winter camp on Wednesday. — Jason Kerr/Daily Herald

“That will be something that maybe we’ll try to develop in the next few years,” he said.

“Baseball in Saskatchewan, it’s still going strong. We’re still one of the top provinces in terms of baseball development and showings at national tournaments, so that’s also a great thing as well.”

Kole McGregor was one of many youth baseball players taking part in the winter camp on Wednesday. Like Borthwick, he’s excited to get the baseball season going, regardless of the weather.

“It feels good,” he said. “Baseball is probably my best sport, so I like being out here more than any other sport I play. It feels really nice to be out here to play with all my friends.”

McGregor will play in the 18U division this year. He’s hopeful the winter development camp will give him a boost when the season starts, and lead to plenty of wins in May, June, and July.

“I’m here to have fun, play hard … and hopefully win provincials this year,” he said.