Lacasse Off to Torrid Start With Baycats

by Ryan Eakin

BARRIE - On Sunday, March 14, 2021, Barrie Baycats director of player procurement Dante DeCaria was searching the internet -- as he so often does -- seeking out players that he believes can help the Baycats' roster.

He came upon Marcel Lacasse, an infielder from Gatineau that went to West Texas Junior College and West Texas A&M with fellow Baycats infielder Carson Burns.

He instantly began to dig deep on Lacasse, including phoning up Burns, who is close friends with Lacasse.

From there, everything played out as smoothly as a big signing possibly can for both DeCaria and Lacasse.

Lacasse agreed to sign that same night, and it's been a perfect marriage ever since between Lacasse and the Baycats, with the Gatineau, Quebec native batting .409-.581-.773 through the first five games of his Intercounty Baseball League [IBL] career, good enough for a 1.354 on-base plus slugging percentage, which ranks him in third place among hitters with at least 20 plate apperences. 

Lacasse said his rise to IBL stardom began with his decision to join West Texas Junior College after high school.

"I was looking to go somewhere in the States and they were one of the first schools to offer me a scholarship," said the left-handed bat. "Carson was there already, so that is where I met Carson. He sent me pictures of their field, told me a lot about their program, and from there, it seemed like a good program and that is where I ended up going."

From there, Lacasse absolutely dominated.

In his two and only seasons at the Texas junior college, Lacasse batted .373-.490-.759 with 22 home runs and was named to the Canadian Baseball Network's All-Canadian College Team in both 2018 and 2019, as a Second-Team All-Star in 2018 and as a Second-Team All-Star in 2019.

Lacasse said he was a bit surprised with how successful he was right out of high school.

"The pitching was way better, so that was an adjustment that I had to make," said the 6'2", 210-pound infielder. "I also got injured the second week I was there. I blew my meniscus but at the time they thought it was my MCL -- they thought it was a minor injury -- but it turned out my meniscus was snapped in half, so I played a year-and-a-half with my meniscus torn.

"So that first year, it was crazy. I still managed to put up the numbers that I did and it was truly a dream come true."

From there, Lacasse stayed in-state and transferred to West Texas A&M -- a division two school -- with Burns.

He said it was a no-brainer for him at the time,

"The program, it seemed great. They were ranked, I think, number four in the country among D2 schools, so I decided to go there. I had some D1 offers but I thought it was a great fit for me."

Unfortunately for Lacasse, just a few weeks into his first season with West Texas A&M, the COVID-19 pandemic abruptly ended his junior season and unlike many others, he decided not to return to school in the fall of 2020.

Lacasse said his decision not to return to school came down to playing time.

"They gave me seven at-bats in my first season," laughed Lacasse ahead of last Thursday's game against the Hamilton Cardinals. "I was frustrated with that and I realized if I wanted to go somewhere else, it would have to be a low-end NAIA school and I didn't think that was worth it.

"I just thought I'd be better off trying to land somewhere in independent ball, you guys called me, and here I am."

What intrigued DeCaria and the Baycats management staff was the season Lacasse had in the Junior Quebec Major League in the summer of 2020.

Not only did DeCaria like that he played last summer -- meaning he was not going to be two years removed from not playing baseball like so many other hitters on this team and across the league -- but he liked the fact that Lacasse put up video game-like numbers for St-Eustache.

In 20 games, Lacasse batted .436 with eight home runs and was named as the league's best offensive player by the season's end.

He was then drafted in the first round of the Quebec Major League draft last fall before signing with the Baycats in the spring.

Lacasse said he was very happy with the season he had for St-Eustache.

"Last year, it was kind of like this year in the sense that we didn't know we were going to play until the last minute. I went there, had fun, and it went well. I think it was important for me just to have fun hitting with the boys and it ended up working very well. When you are just playing to have fun, baseball can be so much fun."

From there, Lacasse ended up signing with the Baycats.

He said joining the team was a no-brainer.

"Dante, he called me, and right off the bat I was like 'yes.' I knew of the Baycats already since Carson talked to me about them and I have absolutely fallen in love with the ambiance of the league ever since.

"I also knew the Baycats were a great team -- I did my research well before Dante reached out to me -- and I thought it would be a great place to play, so when he reached out to me, I instantly told him that I was going to come."

DeCaria said this league and team can be a perfect place for Lacasse if he wants to end up in independent ball eventually.

"I think this is a great step for Marcel to end up in professional baseball," said DeCaria. "Oftentimes you don't see guys go right from JUCO to indy ball -- there is often a place in between -- so I think this is a great step for him to get to indy ball.

"He had a bit of a bump there with going from JUCO to a D2, only for COVID to happen, so this is a great chance to not revamp his career, but to prove himself again at a much higher level.

"I think he could play pro ball this summer but I think it's better for him to have an offseason where he is coming off a great season at a higher level that people in independent ball know is good. It will help his case going into next year. I don't think he's going to be a Baycat next year, because I think he will be playing pro ball if that's what he wants for his career. He has the arm, he has the IQ, he has the power, and he battles in his at-bats. To me, if you have three or so tools, you can play pro ball and I don't expect anything less after this season."

Lacasse concluded the interview by saying he would love to end up in pro ball and sees this team as the perfect fit to make that happen.

"A lot of guys sign out of here and a lot of guys have gone independent after this. This is a great place to start your free agent career in my opinion, so if I can keep this up, it's possible for sure."

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Photo: Bob Hurley/Bob Hurley Photography