Braiden Koran throws to first base after fielding a ground ball during Cranbrook Bandits tryouts at Confederation Park on Monday

Braiden Koran throws to first base after fielding a ground ball during Cranbrook Bandits tryouts at Confederation Park on Monday

Cranbrook Bandits set roster, begin preparations for season

With 11 returners & five rookies, Cranbrook Bandits look ahead to American Legion Baseball season

It took some serious deliberation, but Paul Mrazek has his men.

The head coach of the Cranbrook Bandits firmed up his roster Tuesday, setting the stage for the American Legion Baseball season, which is slated to begin Saturday, May 14 at the Wood Bat Classic in Libby, Mont.

“I feel good, it was great that we had a lot of interest,” Mrazek said Tuesday afternoon.

“We had a lot of young kids that are looking really good, they’re just a little bit young right now. They’re not ready, but they will be.

“It’s nice. I know there are some good athletes, some good baseball players coming my way. We’re doing a good job with developing the younger kids right now.”

With 11 returners, Mrazek added five newcomers to his full-time roster and another four to the practice squad.

In his 10 years with the program, Mrazek has never seen such great interest and turnout as 14 hopefuls auditioned in addition to the 11 returners.

“Baseball is growing in Cranbrook right now,” Mrazek said. “We’re going to have 20 kids at a Bandits practice. That’s huge. I’ve never seen that.

“There’s a lot of pretty exciting stuff going on.”

Returning to the group with Montana State ‘B’ championship experience under their belts are Brendan Bird, Jake Bromley, Kei Chlopan, Rylan D’Etcheverrey, Cedar Kemp, Cayden McCormack, Carson Meggison, Daniel Mercandelli, Robert Nickell, Noah Renette and Tyler Thorn.

Joining the crew as rookies are Hayden Mastel, Linden Meggison, Greg Rebagliati, Parker Thomson and Brandon Thorn.

The practice roster includes Brayden Farquhar, Braiden Koran, Tanner McLean and Cameron Reid.

Putting the pieces together wasn’t an easy process for Mrazek.

“The hardest thing was where are they going to play?” Mrazek said. “I’ve got guys that are interested that can play at this level, but I’ve got five excellent outfielders right now. These guys aren’t going to take a spot there. They’re going to grow into it, but they’re not going to take a spot away from five 18- or 19-year-olds when they’re only 15 years old.

“The infield has a couple holes to fill and we’ll maybe slide some guys around, but what is opening up is also maybe not an area where these guys are going to play. I want to get them involved so they’re a part of the team and the program, because their time will come.

“The toughest part was where am I going to use them. I need extra arms for pitching. It’s a big commitment and they have to be okay filling the role of a pitcher that might get some starts, might be a middle guy.”

With the hard work away from the diamond in the books, Mrazek’s focus now shifts to preparing his charges for opening weekend of the American Legion Baseball season.

Set to play 46 games over the course of approximately 11 weeks, the mantra early on is simple — mechanics, hard work and routine.

“We always start very strong so maybe I should continue to do more of what we do early in the year,” Mrazek said with a laugh. “The last two or three years we’ve started very strong by working on good fundamentals and mechanics.

“We’re going to go over our signals. We do want to cover first and third, bunt defense. As long as we can cover some of those basics. We know we’re not going to cover all the situations in the first week.

“They should be able to make the routine plays. They’ve been playing their high school season already. As it advances we’ll focus more on situational practices and situational BP [batting practice], which are at game speed.”

With the big numbers emerging from tryouts, Mrazek is getting to work on developing a Junior Bandits program, which he expects to target and develop for youngsters aged 13 to 16 years old. The goal is to have the program up and running in time for next season, in addition to the regular Bandits squad, which is aimed for kids 15 to 19.

Mrazek is also in the process of working alongside Cranbrook Minor Baseball with younger groups, aged nine to 12.

All in all, baseball is heating up in Cranbrook.

Should everything go to plan with the 2016 edition of Mrazek’s Bandits, that trend will continue as they seek a third consecutive appearance at the Montana State ‘B’ championship.

Pursuit of that goal begins Saturday, May 14, in Libby, Mont., when the Bandits travel south for the Wood Bat Classic.

Home-opening action at Cranbrook’s Confederation Park is scheduled for Saturday, May 21, when the Bandits host Trail for a doubleheader.


Just Posted

Vendors and customers at one of the Cranbrook markets in 2020. (Corey Bullock/Cranbrook Townsman file)
Cranbrook Farmers Market updates operating hours for the summer

Markets will continue to run from 10a.m. to 1p.m. until October 30th

City council deferred moving forward on a proposed development in Wildstone, requesting a meeting with the developer to get clarification on project details. Photo submitted.
Cranbrook city council debates proposed Wildstone development

Cranbrook city council held off on moving forward with a proposed apartment… Continue reading

Interior Health is reporting a COVID-19 exposure at Selkirk Secondary in Kimberley. Bulletin file.
COVID-19 case identified at Selkirk Secondary in Kimberley

Interior Health is conducting contact tracing

Cranbrook Arts will finally open the doors to their brand new gallery space on Friday, June 18th, 2021 at 4pm. To see what is behind these doors, be sure to check out the exhibit, Kootenay's Best, running until Labour Day weekend. (Cranbrook Arts file)
Cranbrook Arts’ inaugural exhibit, Kootenay’s Best, opens this Friday

The exhibit features over 50 Kootenay-based artists and will run until Labour Day Weekend

The Kootenay International Junior Hockey League met for their AGM and announced a number of new initiatives, new awards and changes in their executive committee, as well as the starting date for the 2021-22 season. Paul Rodgers file.
KIJHL announces start dates for 2021-22 season

Season set to begin Oct. 1 with league still following all health guidelines

People watch a car burn during a riot following game 7 of the NHL Stanley Cup final in downtown Vancouver, B.C., in this June 15, 2011 photo. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Geoff Howe
10 years ago: Where were you during the 2011 Vancouver Stanley Cup Riots?

Smashed-in storefronts, looting, garbage can fires and overturned cars some of the damage remembered today

(Black Press Media file)
Dirty money: Canadian currency the most germ-filled in the world, survey suggests

Canadian plastic currency was found to contain 209 bacterial cultures

(pixabay file shot)
B.C. ombudsperson labels youth confinement in jail ‘unsafe,’ calls for changes

Review states a maximum of 22 hours for youth, aged 12 from to 17, to be placed in solitary

Grace (left), a caribou that was born in a maternal pen north of Revelstoke, is alive and well said the province. It appears she even has a calf. Maternity pens aim to increase caribou calf survival by protecting them from predation until they are older and less vulnerable. (Contributed)
For the first time in years, caribou numbers increasing near Revelstoke

North herd growing but south herd still concerning

Eleonore Alamillo-Laberge, 6, reads a book in Ottawa on Monday, June 12, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Parents will need to fight ‘COVID learning slump’ over summer: B.C. literacy experts

Parents who play an active role in educating their children this summer can reverse the slump by nearly 80%, says Janet Mort

Kelowna General Hospital. (File photo)
COVID-19 outbreak at Kelowna General Hospital declared over

Three people tested positive for the virus — two patients and one staff — one of whom died

The border crossing on Highway 11 in Abbotsford heading south (file)
Western premiers call for clarity, timelines on international travel, reopening rules

Trudeau has called Thursday meeting, premiers say they expect to leave that meeting with a plan

The B.C. government’s vaccine booking website is busy processing second-dose appointments, with more than 76 per cent of adults having received a first dose. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
B.C.’s COVID-19 infections, hospitalizations stable for Tuesday

108 new confirmed cases, 139 in hospital, 39 in intensive care

Most Read