North Battleford’s Andrew Albers is looking to use a strong season in independent ball to get another chance with an affiliated team.
His 2016 season started off on the right foot, as he pitched his first game for the Atlantic League’s Lancaster Barnstormers April 23, throwing seven scoreless innings while giving up one hit and striking out nine batters in a 3-0 win over the Southern Maryland Blue Crabs.
“It was probably one of my most dominant starts since high school,” Albers said with a laugh. “I felt really good and executed a lot of good pitches. When they did put the ball in play they managed to find gloves. Those days are fun, they don’t happen every day so it was certainly a good start and a good way to prove you belong here.”
Albers was playing winter ball in the Caribbean in late 2015, saying it gave him a little shorter of an off-season than he was used to. He added he was still able to do some teaching at his former high school, John Paul II Collegiate, when he was in North Battleford.
After playing in the Toronto Blue Jays system all of last season, mostly with the AAA Buffalo Bisons with a one-day call up to the Blue Jays, Albers said he’s hoping for a strong season in Lancaster.
“There are a lot of good players in this league who are in the same boat as me. I’m looking forward to competing again and proving I can still pitch,” he said. “Coming off a bit of a rough season that I had last year, I still have something to prove and hopefully I’ll get another shot at affiliated ball down the road.”
Albers recorded a 4-12 record with a 4.72 ERA with Buffalo last season. The Barnstormers play in the Atlantic League which is not affiliated with Major League Baseball. Albers has pitched in independent league baseball before, when he spent 2010 with the Les Capitales des Quebec, having a strong season with a 1.40 ERA in 57.2 innings.
Albers says the Atlantic League is a step up from the league Quebec played in.
While admitting he was hoping to receive a call from an affiliated team for this season, he said his preparation is always the same.
“I was trying to get ready for early to mid-February in case a call came around but unfortunately that didn’t happen,” he said. “I ended up being ready a little early and this season started a little later but it was fine, you still have to do the same things to get yourself ready to go and I felt good coming down.”
The Barnstormers play a 140-game regular season out of Clipper Magazine Stadium in Pennsylvania.
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