Kelowna Falcons

Worldwide Falcons

This past summer season the Falcons roster was filled with international flavour, more than any in previous years. A total of four different countries were represented on the club, all of which contributed to making the 2023 team very competitive.

First off, by the end of the season nine Canadians suited up for the Falcons this past summer, six of which were from Kelowna. The best Canadian this past summer was Griffin Palfrey in his second season with the club from North Vancouver. He played 41 games and hit .276, collecting 43 hits, six doubles, two homers and 23 RBIs. On the bases he was a perfect 5-5 in steals and had 22 runs scored.

For the first time in franchise history the Falcons had two players from the Netherlands on the team, as both attended Panola Junior College before arriving in the Okanagan. Righthander Koen van’t Klooster from Heemstede in the Netherlands had an outstanding season on the mound, leading the West Coast League with 60 strikeouts. He finished 3-2 with a 3.44 ERA over the course of 49.2 innings.

Amsterdam’s Raphael Smeenk batted .306 in 33 games this past summer where he recorded 33 hits, eight doubles, three homers and 19 RBIs. He was a joy to be around and made several lifelong friendships over the course of the season.

A total of three Japanese born players also suited up for our club this season; Manato Tateno (pictured), Ryoma Imani and Amane Kondo.

Tateno is from Tokyo, making seven appearances this summer, all out of the bullpen. He fanned eight over the course of 10.2 innings.

Lefthander Kondo is from Chiba, Japan which is an hour east of Tokyo and made four appearances in Falcons’ blue. He started a pair of games, finishing with six strikeouts over 8.2 innings of work.

Imani joined the ball club in July and saw limited action behind the plate. The sophomore from Kanagawa, Japan managed two hits while he was here and had an RBI.

Like most summers American born players made up the majority of the roster spots and all played an important part of the Falcons success this summer.

This kind of international flavour is expected to continue to fill the Falcons roster as the years move along. Student athletes from across the world are playing baseball in their countries all with the dream to one day play in the Major Leagues. For some players that path will ultimately run through the Kelowna Falcons.

Photo courtesy of Tami Quan Photography

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