Training season begins for young Bandits

High performance camp for nine to 13-year-olds signals beginning of buildup towards 2017 Cranbrook baseball campaign.

Cranbrook Bandits logo.

Cranbrook Bandits logo.

They won’t be headed onto the field quite yet but Cranbrook baseball players are getting back into the swing of things this week.

Indoor high performance training camp for players under the age of 13 begins on Tuesday night and according to Cranbrook Bandits head coach Paul Mrazek, it’ll have the best turnout in his 10 years leading the program.

“We’ve had to add a third age category [because] we had so many kids sign up,” Mrazek said. “We thought of capping [the number of players] off [but instead] we’ll be at it for four hours a night.”

With 31 of 41 spots filling up less than 10 hours after enrollment opened, Mrazek is confident that the love of baseball in the city had never been higher.

He also believes that the skill level is as good as it’s ever been, which should allow the young players to hit the ground running.

“We’ll be going as hard as we can right away,” Mrazek said. “[We’ll be] indoors [but] working on their feet. It’s all in the feet.”

As for the Bandits ‘A’ team — the top club for players up to 19 years old — while they’ve been working out since October, once the weather clears up at the start of May, their enthusiasm will really heat up.

“Once we get on the field, the level of excitement will be increased,” Mrazek said. “We only have one week [to get out there] before our first games. We’ll hit the field on Tuesday [May 9] and our first game will be on Saturday, May 13.”

While tryouts don’t begin for the big club until May 1, Mrazek knows that some of the positions are virtual locks.

“Realistically, it’s open to these younger players if they can play but there are guys going into their third, fourth and fifth years,” he said. “It’s going to be pretty tough to take a position away from them. They’ve learned the program and have a solid foundation down.

“There are spots available [however], we lost [four players from last year’s team] so we do have spots to fill.”

The team will be selected by May 8 and this season there will also be a ‘B’ team for players 14-17 years old. The high performance youth camp, on the other hand, is running biweekly until May 4.

It may be more than a month away before game action, but baseball players of all ages in Cranbrook are ready to make this another Bandits season to remember.