Cochrane ball player Simon Baker has already had a memorable season, and it just keeps getting better.
The 6'3" centre fielder/pitcher was a member of Alberta's silver medal team in the Canada Summer Games and his calibre of play has lead to a few more important dates on his calendar this month.
Baker, 16, has been selected to play for Team Alberta this weekend in the Western Canada 16U Prospects Series against Team B.C. and Team Manitoba in St. Albert.
Later in the month, he will be appearing in the Toronto Blue Jays Canadian Futures Showcase in Ottawa. The event enables Canada’s rising amateur talent with draft and college eligibility to further their athletic and academic careers, by exposing them to hundreds of MLB scouts and college recruiters.
With an eye on playing at the post-secondary level, that's exactly the place Baker wants to be.
"My primary goal is to get a good college education through baseball, and to continue to play ball through post-secondary, and then we'll take it from there," says Baker.
Jeff Peach has been Baker's head coach for the past two seasons and came to know him when he was training in the U13 age group. Peach says for Baker to be invited to the futures showcase at such a young age says something.
"Their pool involves grade 11s and a few kids that may be going into grade 12 as well, so it doesn't happen very often," says Peach. "He'll be joining four other players from our program but they're all a year older than he is."
Peach says Baker is an exceptional well-rounded ball player.
"He plays defense, he runs fast, he hits with power and his arm is above average."
As the Wildcats' lead-off hitter, Baker leads the Alberta 18U AAA Tier 2 Elite League in a number of categories. That includes being the top batter with an impressive .512 average and .774 slugging percentage. He is second for runs batted in at 33.
Not only does he use his powerful arm at centre field, but on the mound he leads the league with an earned run average of 1.44 and his WHIP (walks and hits per inning) is .99.
He's passionate about the sport now but was a little reluctant to give it a try at a young age.
"My mom played softball and baseball growing up and she got me into it. I wasn't super excited to play.The first time I played it was raining and pouring, but I actually enjoyed it."
He played most of his ball in northwest Calgary before eventually joining the Jr. Dinos, which went on to merge with the Absolute Baseball Academy to create the Bucks. When most of the Bucks coaches joined the newly-created Webber Academy, Baker was among the players that followed.
"My coaches both at Webber Academy and Baseball Alberta have helped a lot along the way."
Baker says he enjoyed the experience of competing at the Canada Summer Games and having the opportunity to meet peers from across Canada.
"It was super fun. I had no clue going into it how good it would be. Quite nervous, but as soon as I got there, everyone was so into it, super energetic, and I felt right at home."
He attends Cochrane High and has just entered grade 11. He is a multi-sport athlete who also plays volleyball and basketball.