Blue Mountain taps into Mat-Su Valley player pipeline
Brad Baker came to Alaska for a coaching job, but he left with three baseball players from Colony High.
Baker was on the coaching staff for the Mat-Su Miners of the Alaska Baseball League when local kid Jacob Butcher walked into his office and pitched himself like an episode of ‘Shark Tank.’
After that the coach watched Butcher play in an American Legion game and liked what he saw. He also liked a couple of his Wasilla Post 35 teammates, Jonathon Boyer and Ben Ross.
Now all three Alaskans are playing for Baker at Blue Mountain Community College in Oregon.
“We recruit a wide variety of players, but one thing I always look for is passion in baseball,” Baker told me. “Playing baseball in college is a grind and not always fun. Players can experience more failure in college than in high school because is more talent. It is important to have passionate players who will persevere through the tough times.”
All three Alaskans played well during fall ball and Baker said they should continue to contribute in the spring when it counts most.
Butcher, a sophomore, can pitch and play outfield. He hit .317 during the fall and had one of his team’s best strikeout-to-walk ratios on the mound.
“Butcher is one of the hardest working kids I’ve ever coached. He is a great competitor and works hard at it,” Baker said. “He throws strikes and competes out there. In the outfield he covers a lot of ground and has a plus arm.
“Jacob had the potential to move on when he is done playing here. He continued to get better every day.”
Boyer, a sophomore, can play outfield and pitch. The tall, lean right-hander throws in the upper 80s with great command and is expected to compete for a starting job.
“He has a lot of talent and should help us a lot,” Baker said. “As a hitter he has great power and can hit to all fields. He is a good athlete with a plus arm in the outfield.”
Boyer hit .300 in the fall and posted one of the team’s top slugging and on-base percentages.
Ross, a freshman, is a versatile player who can pitch, play first base and the outfield. He is part slugger, part speedster.
“Ben has great power from the plate,” Baker said. “He has the fasted exit speed of anyone in the program.”
He showed off that plus power in the fall with a tape-measure bomb.
“The longest home run I’ve seen at BMCC’s field,” Baker said. “Ben has tremendous potential. He could develop into an all-conference type of player.”