Victoria Mariners players Chris Fougner

Victoria Mariners players Chris Fougner

College baseball awaits Victoria Mariners trio

M’s players look to make the most of final season in B.C. Premier League

Three Victoria Mariners players will be suiting up with some of the top developmental baseball colleges in the U.S. this fall.

Colton Wood, Chris Fougner and Evan Willow, all 18 and heading into their final season with the Mariners, are the latest M’s players to secure scholarships to play south of the border.

“(They) are all quality players from the (B.C. Premier Baseball League) who we believe will be successful in the classroom and on the field,” said Mariners head coach Mike Chewpoy. “These boys could make a real impact on the college scene and our coaching staff has no doubt that these colleges are getting some of B.C.’s finest.”

In the past 12 years, more than 80 Mariners have been recruited to play at college, university or on professional teams.

Wood, six feet and 190 pounds, is expected to be a force pitching for Cochise College in Arizona – currently ranked No. 3 in the National Junior College Athletic Association. A member of Canada’s Junior National Team, his fastball hits the low 90s.

“He’s probably the best right-handed pitcher in the country right now. He’s been our ace for the last three years and will definitely be missed in 2015,” Chewpoy said.

At six-foot-three, 185 pounds, Fougner is a five-tool player – he can run, hit for average and power, and throws and fields well – who plays right field and pitches for the Mariners. “He’ll be our number 2 (starter) this year,” Chewpoy said.

He signed with Salt Lake Community College in Utah, a team ranked as high as No. 1 in the NJCAA this past year. Fougner hit nine doubles, two triples and a home run and stole 24 bases in 2013. On the mound, he has velocity in the upper 80s and went 5-1 with a 1.71 ERA.

Chewpoy compares him to Victoria alumnus and current Seattle Mariner, Michael Saunders, who pitched before shifting his focus to outfield. “Chris has the same ability – he can win a game all by himself.”

The 6-2, 195-pound Willow excelled as the team’s catcher the past three years. Next fall, he’ll join former teammate Austin Russell at McPherson College in Kansas, part of the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics.

“Willow is a big, strong kid with excellent receiving skills and a strong arm,” Chewpoy said. “He throws the ball to second base in two seconds, which is a Major League average.”

Full roster for the Mariners’ Premier and Junior division teams will be posted Feb. 17 at victoriamariners.com.

reporter@saanichnews.com