From Team Canada to the Seattle
As far as athletics go, Victoria BC native, Michael Saunders in the real deal. Born in 1986, Michael was a child that showed interest and natural ability in sports at a very young age, excelling in anything that he put his hand to including basketball, soccer, hockey, lacrosse and baseball.
In fact he had scouts from both hockey and baseball pursuing him in high school and he played at high levels of many sports in his hometown including the Victoria Racquet Club Kings in the BCMHA where he was a well-established and successful center.
However it was baseball that captured his heart after his role in the 1999 Canadian Little League World Series. So in spite of his inborn Canadian love for Hockey, he decided to focus his sports career with a bat instead of a stick.
His father, Derek, was an avid baseball player and provided many hours of personal coaching for his son. It would prove to pay off as Michael would continue to excel in the sport.
In his mid-teens Michael played for the British Columbia teams in the Canadian Midget and the Canada Cup competitions walking away victories in each. By the time he was 19 he was selected for the Senior National Team for Canada earning the MVP award in that league.
In 2004 Michael was drafted by the Seattle Mariners in the 11th round being touted as a true five tool player. (Five tool players are a rare combination of high average, power, speed, defense and arm strength). After a year playing for the Tallahassee Eagles Saunders signed with Seattle and began his professional career by trotting into center field for the Everett AquaSox (The Mariners single A farm team).
In 2007 he was elected to play in the minor league all-star game which put him in the top 50 players in the league at that time. In 2008 Michael had an opportunity of a lifetime by representing Canada in the Beijing Summer Olympics. In 2009 Saunders missed most of the season due to a shoulder injury and subsequent surgeries.
However he did make his Major League debut in July of 2009 and showed great promise moving into the 2010 season. Baseball America even ranked Saunders as the Seattle Mariners #2 prospect heading into that season.
Michael was dubbed the nickname “The Condor” as his speed and glove shined in the outfield for the Mariners.
However his offensive production has been an issue in the big league club which has sent him hoping back and forth between playing time in Seattle and Tacoma.
However many of his struggles at the plate may be in the off-field trials that he has faced. His mother, Jane, passed away in August of 2011 after a long battle with breast cancer.
As a northwest athlete we hope the best for Michael Saunders in his career and in every aspect of his life.
He is a young man we can be proud of.