Kelowna Falcons

A Fines Young Man

The Kelowna Falcons pride ourselves in developing baseball players and more importantly young individuals. Although players are only in the Okanagan for a couple of months, the experience they have in Kelowna is one we are proud of.

Generally, most players that join the Falcons are part of a college program with one or two seasons of collegiate baseball under their belt. However, every once and a while a recent graduate of a high school program is talented enough to play in the West Coast League (WCL). One example of this was Connor Joe who graduated from high school before joining the Falcons in the summer of 2011. He currently plays for the Pittsburgh Pirates and was drafted after his summer at Elks Stadium.

This past summer the Falcons invited Eddie Fines to play following his graduation at Elk Grove High School in California. Fines is no stranger to top notch talent after playing in some top showcases, however not much can prepare a young player for the grind of a WCL schedule and playing everyday. It can be hard on a player’s physical body and their mental stamina as well. Not to mention the fact that some of these young players are away from home for the first time.

All that said, Fines already had a fringe relationship with the Falcons before ever coming to Kelowna. His dad, Edwin, is good friends with head coach Doug Noce since playing college baseball together which helped smooth the road for Fines’ trip to Kelowna.

“Noce gave me the opportunity to come up north and get some experience at a higher level,” says Fines. “It was my first time in Canada and I soon found out the stereotype of Canadians being really friendly, is actually true.”

On the diamond it took the high school grad some time before feeling comfortable with the speed of the game. “The game moves a lot quicker at the next level and the competition is much higher. This summer experience was the best thing for me and has set me miles ahead from where I was at the beginning of the summer.”

Coach Noce was pleased with Fines’ development this summer, but admitted that he was noticeably young when he arrived, “There have been many young players in the WCL but at 17 Eddie was definitely younger than most,” said Noce.

“As the summer progressed, so did Eddie and we as a coaching staff could see that he held his own over the two-month schedule. We thought he quickly adjusted to the speed of the game as a recent high school grad. Sure, he’s been to top showcases, but seeing the caliber of players and pitching in the WCL day in and day out definitely was something that can be shocking early on. Eddie hopefully will keep getting better and stronger and should blossom at Sacramento City this year and then shine for us next summer.”

As a Falcon during the 2023 summer Fines collected 11 hits, one double and four RBIs while walking 14 times. He showed some very good base running, scoring 11 runs playing in 23 games.
“What helped me adjust quickly was learning and being able to take notes from the other guys on the team. I was surprised how fast our team built a good chemistry. We clicked almost immediately and when you’re not worried about what’s happening in the dugout, it helps you concentrate on your game.”

Hitting coach Angelo Loomis is use to working with younger players and spoke highly of Fines, “By the end of the year he had settled in and made the necessary adjustments defensively and offensively to compete in the WCL. He has a great hitter’s eye at the plate and uses it to his advantage. He is a very coachable young man with a great work ethic and his future is bright.”

As for his “Canadian” experience off the field and living with another family, Fines has fond memories of his host parents Kim and Jay Lupulack, “They were extremely welcoming and their main priority was to make us billets feel comfortable as if it was our own home. They introduced my roommate and I to five-pin bowling which I had never heard of and needless to say, we liked it enough to go back a second time.”

Fines is a freshman this season at Sacramento City College and is expected to return to the Falcons for the summer of 2024…if promised to play a few more frames of five-pin bowling.

Photo courtesy of Tami Quan Photography

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