By Jonathan Hodgson
The Okotoks Dawgs have hired former major league pitcher Lou Pote as a pitching coach for the Dawgs Academy.
Pote brings a wealth of experience to the Dawgs Academy coaching staff from his playing career and has become a very highly regarded young coach.
A 29th round draft pick of the San Francisco Giants, Pote enjoyed a long and successful career as a right-handed pitcher, pitching 16 seasons for major league organizations, reaching the majors with the Anaheim Angels in 1999. He made 129 appearances over five Major League seasons, the majority of those appearances with the Angels, earning a World Series ring in 2002, before closing out his career in 2004 with the Cleveland Indians.
A native of Evergreen Park, IL, Pote continued his pro career playing independent ball through 2011. He capped off his career being named the Most Valuable Pitcher for the Edmonton Capitals back-to-back in 2010 and 2011 in the Northern League, returning to the city where he pitched for the triple-A Edmonton Trappers in 1999-2000.
After a playing career spanning 20 years, Pote retired after the 2011 season. Pote remained in baseball though, embarking on his coaching career accepting a position as director of player development for the Fort McMurray Minor Baseball Association. He remained there until accepting the position of baseball director at Playmaker U, in Sherwood Park, AB in 2013.
“The Dawgs are very pleased to add a pitching coach with Lou Pote’s background,” said Dawgs managing director John Ircandia. “He was a big league pitcher with the Angels and he has been recognized as an outstanding youth coach since he finished his playing career.”
Ircandia points out that Pote adds to an already strong roster of pitching coaches in the Dawgs Academy.
“Honestly, it is extraordinary for a youth program to be able to offer its players a staff that includes pitching coaches like Jeff Duda, who is also with the coaching staff of Team Canada’s Junior National Team; Joe Sergent, a former pitcher in the Florida Marlins organization and a long-time coach, a major league veteran with a World Series ring in Lou Pote,” Ircandia said.
Duda enjoyed an outstanding playing career, winning three consecutive WMBL championships as the staff ace of the Dawgs summer collegiate team from 2007 to 2009, then won three straight titles professionally in the Can-Am League from 2011 to 2013 with the Quebec Capitales.
Duda is now the head pitching coach for the Dawgs Academy. He played professionally against Pote in 2010 with the Victoria Seals, when Pote pitched for the Edmonton Capitals.
“When John Ircandia first asked me what I thought about Lou and if we should hire him, I told him without hesitation, ‘YES!’” Duda says. “I played against him in 2010, and he is one of the most professional pitchers I have played against.
“Since his playing days, Lou has played a significant role in developing pitchers in northern Alberta. The knowledge he brings to the table is a huge asset to our program. The experience as a player and a coach, especially at the youth level, will really benefit not only the players, but our coaching staff as well, myself
Ircandia notes that the staff that has been assembled makes the Dawgs Academy a very appealing option for young pitching prospects.
“Consider also the guidance we get from former Blue Jays pitching coach, Bruce Walton who joined the Dawgs as pitching coordinator. I mean, if I am a youth pitching prospect from anywhere in the city, province or country, I want the opportunity to work with those guys,” said Ircandia. “So we are proud to add a quality guy like Lou to our Dawgs Academy staff.”
Walton coached in the Jays organization for 17 years, serving as the Blue Jays pitching coach for three seasons from 2010 to 2012. He joined the Dawgs as pitching coordinator in 2013, and also serves as the triple-A pitching coach for the Chicago Cubs at Iowa.
“Lou Pote will be a fine addition to the Dawgs family.” said Allen Cox, head coach of the Dawgs Academy. “He had a remarkable career as a player, including success at the highest level during five years in the majors, and reached the pinnacle of the sport, winning a World Series in 2002. He brings deep knowledge of pitching and all aspects of the game to Okotoks, and our program will absolutely be better for it.”