June 23rd, 2024

The boys of summer are back: Medicine Hat Mavericks open mini camp

By JAMES TUBB on May 24, 2024.

NEWS PHOTO JAMES TUBB Medicine Hat Mavericks owner and general manager Greg Morrison listens in as head coach Kevin Mitchell shares game plans and expectations for the season with his team during the first day of mini-camp Thursday at Athletic Park.

jtubb@medicinehatnews.com@ReporterTubb

The Medicine Hat Mavericks battled weather as they began preparations Thursday for a hopeful long WCBL season.

The first day of the Mavs’ mini-camp at Athletic Park got underway but was halted within the first hour as a light rain turned to thunder and downpour, followed by hail.

Despite the short, roughly 45 minutes of action, returning outfielder Brody Gardner was all smiles to be back in the Gas City.

“It’s great, seeing some of the guys that were here last year and then seeing some new guys, seeing the coaches, it’s just amazing,” said Gardner. “Then seeing fans that I’ve recognized at games, like around the town and stuff, it’s cool to see. I can’t wait to see them again.”

The Mavs’ season gets underway Saturday when they head to Moose Jaw to face the Miller Express in the first of a two-game series. Their own home opener is Wednesday, May 29 against the WCBL’s newest franchise, the Saskatoon Berries.

While Gardner has only been in town for the week and is still getting to know his new teammates, he has enjoyed getting to show them Medicine Hat, as opposed to learning his way around last year.

“It’s cool to see, I was telling some of the guys there would be around 2,000 people a night, and the smile on their face and it just lit up in their eyes,” Gardner said. “It’s so good to tell them about that stuff because we got to experience it, and are going to get to experience it again, and now they get too, also.”

Gardner is one of four returning Mavericks from a 2023 roster that made it all the way to Game 3 of the WCBL finals, falling to the back-to-back champion Okotoks Dawgs. He’s joined by infielders Brady Bean, Tyler Vanneste and Johnny Vulcano.

Head coach Kevin Mitchell says he’s excited about his returning group of players.

“To a man, they all really understand what we’re about and how we do things,” Mitchell said. “They play hard and they had success for us last year. So all of those returning guys are going to be huge to set the tone and to be proud of the successful culture that we have.”

The Mavs have 29 players on their roster to start the season, with some still playing college playoffs, delaying arrivals for the weekend. Looking at his new group of players, Mitchell tabbed catcher Michael Quick as a player to watch.

“He’s from McCook Community College and he’s a guy I’m really excited to see,” Mitchell said. “He’s played at a really, really high level these last two years at college and seems like a really mature young man who does all the little things. I think he’s going to have a ton of success for us.”

Quick is from Oshawa, Ont., just 45 minutes outside Toronto if traffic is flowing, and recently received second-team all-region IX postseason honours with McCook.

Quick was second on his college team offensively, hitting .393 with a .488 on-base average, 15 doubles, two triples, six home runs and 50 RBIs.

He’s enjoyed his short time in Medicine Hat so far and says it’s helped having McCook teammate Blake Dale on the Mavs. Quick says he’s heard nothing but good things about Medicine Hat and the WCBL and he was excited to join this season.

“I’ve had friends play in this league and they all said they love going to Medicine Hat to play games,” Quick said. “So I looked into it from there and it turned out great.”

There’s no MLB catcher he tries to model his game after but Quick describes his play as an offensive catcher who can throw runners out. Looking at his new peers in the red and white, there’s a lot of excitement from the Ontario product for the summer ahead.

“So far it looks like we have a good team,” Quick said. “The pitching is going to be really good, too, which is gonna be exciting, and I know a few guys who can swing it, so it looks good.”

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