Canadian pitcher rides slider to national junior team success

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — Michael Clouthier always knew he was going to be a pitcher.

A right-handed pitcher, he grew up playing volleyball, basketball, track and field, basically everything, but he would always return to his true love, baseball.

The 18-year-old Guelph, On., native was drafted third by the Canadian National Junior Baseball Team from the Ontario Terriers baseball team.

Currently active on both teams’ rosters, he brings the same focus and determination to each line-up.

“I just bring the same mentality into when I play with the Terriers and to the National’s program, ” Clouthier said on Tuesday during a pre-game warm-up at St. Petersburg’s fabled Al Lang Stadium. “[It] seems to be a bit more serious here because you are at a much higher level.”

Clouthier credits his minor league coaches, especially Bill Byckowski, for getting him where he is today.

To date his baseball career has seen him bring home silver medal from the Canada Cup event, going to the Dominican Republic with the Canadian Junior team in 2011, and two trips to Florida this year.

Despite a promising baseball career, he maintains a focus on school and has accepted an offer to Boston College for the Autumn of 2012.

“[It was] just a feeling when I got onto the campus, it was basically an easy decision,” said Clouthier when asked why he chose Boston.

It helps that Boston is one of his favourite teams. Though he said he hopes for a future with the Toronto Blue Jays, he could see himself playing for Red Sox as well.

If he keeps up his 90-mph slider, his favourite and best pitch, the draft pick may go far.

For now, all he wants to do is improve and practice getting strikeouts, following in the footsteps of his hero, Detroit Tiger hurler Justin Verlander..

“I look up to [Justin] Verlander, mainly for his ability to command all three of his pitches, which is pretty impressive at a major league level,” said Clouthier.

The sky is the limit right now for Clouthier as his baseball career continues to grow.