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Coquitlam pitcher ready to show what he's got

Jack Seward is about to embark on the most pressure-packed spring of his young baseball career. And he couldn’t be more excited.

Jack Seward is about to embark on the most pressure-packed spring of his young baseball career.

And he couldn’t be more excited.

A 17-year-old right-handed pitcher for the Coquitlam Reds of the BC Premier Baseball League (BCPBL), Seward will be in St. Petersburg, Fla. March 6 to 14 for spring training with Canada’s junior national team, which will include a game March 12 against a split squad from the Toronto Blue Jays in Dunedin. The team will also play exhibition games against opponents comprised of minor league players.

Seward, who will also attend another camp in Florida in April and one in the Dominican Republic in May, said it’s the ultimate measure of how far he has come since he first ascended the mound when he was 13 years old because he wasn’t much of a hitter.

More importantly, the opportunity will be a showcase for the contingent of scouts from Major League Baseball teams who will be compiling their short lists for the June 10 amateur draft. Their notations and subsequent recommendations could determine Seward’s trajectory in the sport.

If he impresses enough to get his name called in the annual harvest of up-and-coming baseball prospects, Seward said he could forego his plan to attend the University of Oregon next fall and sign a pro contract.


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It’s a lot to unpack for the Grade 12 student at Dr. Charles Best secondary in Coquitlam who, a year ago, thought a pro contract might be beyond his reach when his first audition for the junior national team at a tournament of top players at the Rogers Centre in Toronto didn’t go so well.

Still, Seward said, he showed enough that the nats’ coach stuck around an extra day at the subsequent Best of the West tournament in Kamloops last April just to see him pitch.

“I knew I’d have to pitch really well,” Seward said. “Then I just kind of settled in.”

Seward was added to the team when another player was injured. HIs opportunity to show his stuff at a training camp in Australia and to play for his country at the U18 World Cup in Busan, South Korea last September have whet his appetite for more.

“A few years ago, I would have been nervous but now it feels routine,” he said.

While in St. Petersburg, Seward said he expects to get a couple of starts, in an intra-squad game and then during the game against the Jays that will likely have several members of the big league team on its roster. He said he’s not intimidated by the prospect of facing seasoned pro batters.

“You have to attack it like any other batter,” he said. “You just have to try your best and not change your mindset.”

Seward said he also hopes to reconnect with another former Red, Curtis Taylor, who’s trying to earn a spot in the Jays’ system after he was traded to the team by the Tampa Bay Rays last September. The two trained together during the winter.

Seward said it’s no coincidence the BCPBL has become a feeder to MLB, with former graduates like Adam Loewen, Jeff Francis and James Paxton all making it to the big league.

“Every weekend you face guys who are going to give you a fight,” he said.

Now that that fight is getting serious, Seward said he’s up to the challenge.

“I feel like I’m prepared,” he said. “I’ve got business to take care of.”