Canada’s top baseball prospect expects busy year

If Ryan Kellogg thought 2011 was a busy year, he should expect this year to be even crazier.

Over the past 12 months, Kellogg has gone from being a virtual unknown pitcher to becoming the top prospect in Canada.

Since being scouted by Team Canada manager Greg Hamilton, Kellogg has travelled the world with the national junior squad, playing a major role in the team earning a berth into the world junior championship in Seoul, South Korea in August.

“It’s been incredible,” says Kellogg. “I started off on nobody’s radar and one thing started to lead to another.”

Kellogg’s baseball career began to take off following the Mizuno junior elite camp in the fall of 2010. It was there that Hamilton first took notice of the tall left-handed pitcher from Whitby, Ont. Following his play in the Eastern Canadian Premiere League all-star game, Kellogg was invited to join the junior national team in Florida last February.

Since then Kellogg has been to the Dominican Republic, Cuba and Columbia. It was at the COPABE world junior qualification tournament in Columbia last November that Kellogg really began turning heads, winning two games including the victory over Columbia that guaranteed Canada a place in the world junior tournament.

“It was an incredible experience helping Canada qualify for the worlds,” says Kellogg. “The entire year has been unbelievable.”

The 6’6 pitcher was also one of only two Canadians to play in the All-American Under Armor Game at Wrigley Field this past August, where he faced the best players at the junior level.

Playing against his peers was an incredible experience for the 18-year-old.

“It definitely helped me,” he says. “I saw other guys that threw harder, some guys that were more developed than me. It pushed me to think, ‘I can kind of play with these guys now, but I want to be better than them.’ That has been my motivation.”

According to the general manager of the Ontario Prospects, Todd Campbell, Kellogg has a good chance of being selected by a Major League team during this summer’s June draft.

“He has got a pro body,” says Campbell. “He’s 6’6, 200-plus pounds. He has the ability mechanically as in terms of his arm action. His arm action is effortless and very smooth. His arm works well. Those are all qualities of a high projection player.”

Despite the rapid success of his blossoming baseball career, Kellogg remains humble and continues to work on all aspects of his game.

“I try to get better everyday by practising, working out and going for runs. I just try to get better, get stronger, get bigger and more athletic. Anything I can do to help me get to the next level.”

Campbell, who has coached Kellogg since he was eight-years-old, says his protege remains modest despite his talents on the field.

“He has a level head on him and is very polite and mature. Ryan works hard and is grounded. His rise over the past year hasn’t gone to his head or to his family’s head. They’ve been able to stay grounded and realistic and focused. He continues to work hard.”

Although he is currently ranked as the top prospect in Canada, Kellogg has a contingency plan in the event he is not drafted this summer.

“We’ll have to wait and see what happens with the draft.”

Earlier this year Kellogg committed to Arizona State University, where he will take mechanical engineering. Until then, Kellogg will continue to work hard no matter where his immediate future takes him.