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Blue Anchors baseball: Alex players gain exposure

The Blue Anchors' Georgie Salem (right) congratulated teammate Tim Cusick after Cusick's home run in the third inning on Monday. Both players have had productive summers for Alexandria this year. (Echo Press photo by Blaze Fugina)

The Alexandria Blue Anchors are not gearing up for postseason play this season, but experiences in the Northwoods League have given many of the players a major advantage.

Manager Al Newman's focus is for players to show improvement in their games when they return to college this fall. As a manager in one of the top developmental leagues in the country, part of Newman's job is to help prepare players for a career in baseball.

"That's the most important thing I talk about, having been in professional baseball as a manager in the minor leagues, it's more important to prepare these guys for their future," Newman said. "I keep talking about, when they go back to their colleges that their coaches recognize them as a better player."

Of course, the opportunity to play in front of professional baseball scouts is another benefit of the Northwoods League. This year scouts have scheduled group sessions with many of the Blue Anchors players to discuss their games and gauge their interest in playing professional baseball.

"There have been tons of scouts here," said Newman. "A lot of these guys on my team have been interviewed, or talked to by scouts."

As far as development, Newman and his coaching staff have used repetition for hitters and pitchers to teach muscle memory this season. They incorporate the same hitting drills that professional baseball players use to prepare them for a potential future in baseball.

"You teach them how they do it in the major leagues, (and) that teaches you how to hit 95 miles per hour," Newman said. "It looks like a guy should be able to do it easily, but we all know it's very difficult."

Blue Anchors coaches have also worked with pitchers in bullpen sessions to develop a consistent release point in their deliveries with muscle memory.

One player who has benefited from his time in the league with the Blue Anchors this year is Georgie Salem. He had the opportunity to participate in the Northwoods League All-Star Game in July and is having a productive year at the plate.

Salem is now hitting .341 with 35 runs scored, five home runs and 27 RBIs after he went 2-for-4 this past Monday in a 6-4 home loss to Waterloo.

Facing the top pitchers and hitters from around the country in the Northwoods League has given him the opportunity to judge his talent.

"I think it gives me a chance where if I can do good in this league, then hopefully it will get me some exposure for my future baseball career," Salem said.

His all-star experience was a big chance to gain exposure. He went 1-for-2 in the game, played left field and had the opportunity to display his talent in front of a large group of scouts from Major League teams across the country.

"It was definitely packed with scouts," Salem said. "I felt like I had a pretty good all-star game, so hopefully it will help me out in the long run."

With the season winding down, the Blue Anchors will soon return to school to begin their fall semesters. Salem said he is excited to show the improvements Newman helped teach him in his base running, hitting and baseball mentality during the upcoming college season.

The Blue Anchors wrap up their final homestand of the season this Friday with a 7:05 p.m. game against Wisconsin Rapids. The final two games of the regular season are this Friday and Saturday in Thunder Bay.


WATERLOO 100 002 001 2 - 6 11 0

ALEXANDRIA 002 002 000 0 - 4 10 2

ALEXANDRIA PITCHING - Tyler Beck - 7IP, 6H, 3R, 2ER, 0BB, 4SO; Brandon Johnson - 2IP, 3H, 1R, 0ER, 0BB, 4SO; Dominic Reed - 1IP, 2H, 2R, 2ER, 1BB, 1SO

ALEXANDRIA OFFENSE - Georgie Salem - 2-4, run, BB; Kris Goodman - 1-4, BB; Albert Baur - 1-5; Tim Cusick - 2-5, run, 2 RBIs; Ryan Blanchard - 1-4, run, BB; Shea Molitor - 1-3, run, 2 BBs; Keegan Dale - 0-4, BB; Michael Barash - 2-3, 2 RBIs, BB

Blaze Fugina

Blaze Fugina is the sports editor of the Woodbury and South Washington County Bulletin newspapers. Previously, Blaze worked as a sports editor for the Pierce County Herald and a sports reporter for the Alexandria Echo Press. He graduated from the University of Wisconsin-River Falls in May of 2011. You can follow Blaze on Twitter at @BlazeFugina.

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