It’s a long road to the pros

Shawn Scott, 22, of East-Scarborough is taking a non-traditional approach to professional baseball.

Scott, a third baseman and pitcher for the Oshawa Talons of the Ontario Senior Baseball Association, will head south of the border on Dec. 16 for his final 2009 tryout with the single-A West Virginia Power.

Where most young Canadian prospects tend to rely on college scholarships and the hope of being drafted, some must take an alternative route.

Shawn Scott of East Scarborough takes a few swings in the batting cage during training for his upcoming tryout with the single A West Virginia Power.“I definitely am taking the long road,” says Scott, who had a previous tryout cut short by injury. “But all I need is my shot.”

As of this month, West Virginia of the South Atlantic Baseball League has become the single-A affiliate of the Pittsburgh Pirates.

Formerly it was part of the Milwaukee Brewers organization, catapulting such stars to the majors as former Power outfielder and 2007 National league rookie of the year, Ryan Braun.

A ball (three levels below the Majors) is often described as a place for young draft picks to work out issues, or as in Scott’s case, a place where un-drafted prospects can sign and display their talent.

Scott is coming off the best season of his baseball career where he finished second on the Talons with a .312 batting average and was picked for his first OSBA all-star game at the Rogers Center.

He also split time during the season with the Oshawa Dodgers, the Talons’ affiliate in Ontario’s Intercounty Baseball League (the highest level of baseball available in the province).

There, Scott received payment for his playing time and also received one of the highlights of his life.

“I came up to bat and it was Paul Spoljaric pitching,” Scott says. “Right away we all knew he was a former Major Leaguer and Blue Jay, so everyone wanted to show him up.

I got a pitch over the plate, and CRACK! It was out of here, home run.”

It seems like the future is now for Scott, as with every passing year the window of opportunity closes a little more. After his first West Virginia tryout this past September, he received a serious gash on his leg after a collision with a catcher.

Seventeen stitches later, he still attended the second tryout and was asked to come back in December.

“If they were able to look past the injury, I took it as a sign that these guys might finally be serious about me,” Scott explains.

Having missed out on his chance to be in the spotlight earlier in life, Scott is relishing the second chance.

“I could have had a scholarship,” he says, “but I can’t dwell on it, just have to look ahead at this opportunity.”

Each year after Scott turned 17, the former national junior team member returned to tryout in West Virginia, in hopes of leaving an impression. Since turning 20, he has been a member of the Talons, and his hard work is beginning to payoff.

“Since I’ve been [there], like, five years straight, the coaches and team management know my face by now,” he explains. “It’s a lot of the same guys, and this is the first year they brought me back for another tryout.”