SIOUX FALLS – Following up an award-winning season won’t be easy, but American Association Rookie of the Year Wyatt Ulrich is preparing to make his second season in pro ball his best yet.
“I’ve just found a hitting facility near my house in Edina, Minnesota,” said Ulrich of his offseason workouts, which also includes extensive weight training. “I keep counting down the days until I’m back in Sioux Falls ready to play some baseball.”
Ulrich impressed right out of the gate in 2021. The true rookie out of St. John’s University (MN) and the University of Richmond set modern Canaries records with a 51-game on-base streak and a 29-game hit streak. In 2022, his goal is to add another dimension to his game by shooting more gaps for extra-base hits.
“I want to stay consistent with continuing to get on base,” said Ulrich. “For improvements, I want to get more doubles and triples, finding gaps instead of just doing my scrappy stuff. I don’t think that’ll go away so I’m really trying to focus on getting the ball more to the outfield instead of getting those infield hits.”
Ulrich finished 2021 with 150 total bases and a .402 on-base percentage. He joined teammate Mike Hart as the second Canary to win the Rookie of the Year award in the last three years. Hart was named the American Association Rookie Position Player of the Year in 2019.
The baseball field hasn’t been the only venue where the speedy and athletic Ulrich has excelled. He put a different sort of glove to work while starring as a goaltender for the Steele County Blades of the MnJHL (2014-15) and USPHL (2015-16).
These days, the Indus, Minnesota native does not get back on the ice as much as he’d like, but the itch to lace them up and go for a skate is still certainly there.
“I was literally just talking to my mom how we went to a hockey game and I was like ‘I really want to go skate,’” said Ulrich. “I’ve been itching to get out there.”
The expectations for the 2022 season will be high. With the return of Ulrich and seasoned American Association veterans like Jabari Henry and Charlie Valerio, the Canaries figure to once again have an offense that will generate plenty of opportunities. Those opportunities will start with the leadoff hitter who scored 69 runs after joining the team in late May of 2021.
“We will look for Wyatt to play an even bigger role as a table setter in 2022 after an outstanding true rookie campaign,” said Canaries Vice President of Baseball and Stadium Operations Duell Higbe. “He is a grinder that does a little bit of everything to help his team win.”
The challenge and opportunity to continue to make his mark in a Birds jersey appeals to Ulrich, who re-signed with the club in December. He continues to stay in touch this offseason with manager Mike Meyer and fellow Canaries, including his former teammate at the University of Richmond, Colby Wyatt, whom he talks to regularly.
“It’s good to have those friendships still going,” said Ulrich. “It means a lot. It’s awesome.”
The Sioux Falls Canaries will open their 2022 home schedule May 20th vs. the Milwaukee Milkmen at The Birdcage. The team’s full 100-game schedule is now available.
The Birds will play 50 games at The Birdcage this year, including seven games in the month of May. Upgrades at the stadium, an enhanced fan experience and plenty of fun, family-friendly promos will be implemented in the 2022 season.