The Vancouver Canadians are fighting tooth-and-nail with the Spokane Indians for the Northwest League’s North Division title, four games behind after Saturday’s home loss to Everett.
But if they don’t win the first half, it won’t be because of Roemon Fields.
Fields, a Seattle native, was a standout baseball player and sprinter at Bethany College in Kansas, but the 5-foot-11 outfielder didn’t get selected in the 2013 draft.
Marcus McKinny, who coached Fields at Yakima Valley College, invited him to play at the World Baseball Challenge in Prince George, British Columbia, last summer. There, Fields hit .379 with three steals in eight games against teams from Canada, Japan, Cuba and China.
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Fields was noticed by a scout with the Toronto Blue Jays, who signed him to a free-agent contract on the last day of the tournament.
He has taken that opportunity and made the most of it. Through his first 29 games batting mostly in the leadoff spot, Fields is hitting .302 and leads the league with 28 runs and 24 stolen bases. At his current pace, he’ll finish with 73 runs and 63 steals, close to NWL records in both categories.
Robert Beall scored 81 runs for Walla Walla in 1970, and Reginald Thomas swiped 72 bases for Portland in 1974, NWL standards that have stood for four decades.
“The first thing my coaches told me was, when you get on base, that’s when you start rolling,” the 23-year-old told MILB.com. “So that’s what I see as my job. I need to get on base first, and then use my feet to get over. I need to help these guys get their RBIs up, and right now, everything feels like it’s falling into place.”
Boise’s Jeffrey Baez extended his NWL-season-best hitting streak to 16 games Sunday, going 1-for-5 with a two-out single in the top of the sixth off Eugene reliever Wilson Santos.
Less than a third of the way into the season, the Tri-City Dust Devils are just one home run shy of matching their longball mark from 2013. Tri-City hit just 13 over 76 games last year. 1B Roberto Ramos and OF Marcos Derkes lead the way with two apiece. Departed OF David Bergin also had two before being promoted to Double-A Tulsa.
The Spokane Indians continue to lead the league in both batting average (.282) and ERA (3.11). The last time a NWL team led the league in those two categories was 2007, when Salem-Keizer batted .289 on the season and had a 3.40 staff ERA. The Volcanoes went on to beat Tri-City for the NWL championship.
w Jack Millikin; 582-1406; firstname.lastname@example.org