Shane Dawson of the Toronto Blue Jays delivers a pitch during a Spring Training session in Dunedin, Fla.

Jays’ Dawson ready for next level

Toronto prospect looks to build on 2015 successes

DUNEDIN, Fla. -Confidence is not a problem for Shane Dawson. Now that his body is ready he says.

The Drayton Valley, Alb., native wants to build on a very successful 2015 baseball season and continue his progress through the minor-league system.

“No. 1 is to stay healthy,” the 22-year-old left-handed pitcher said. “I think the big thing that attributed to my success going from 2014 to 2015 was my health. My shoulder wasn’t that strong in 2014 and I was still trying to find ways to stay on the field as much as possible. [In] 2015, I could really focus on my craft.”

In 24 games between Single-A teams Lansing and Dunedin, Dawson was 15-6 with a 3.03 earned-run average. Expected to start 2016 in Dunedin, the young pitcher could earn another quick promotion with a hot start in Florida.

“Double-A, I feel it’s a big step for me because anything can happen from there. Personally I feel if everything goes right,” he said, “I’m the type of pitcher who has a chance to be called up in September…I know I can pitch. I know I can compete at I think any level.”

Dawson brings a unique confidence to the mound. After watching his father and sister play as a child in Fort MacMurray, he was intrigued by the chess-like battles between pitcher and batter.

“It’s not just brute physicality. You have to be really smart when you play this game. You have to know how to control your body, how to manipulate other peoples movements and motions and their mindsets.”

While baseball was his main focus, Dawson also played volleyball, hockey and basketball at Frank Mattock High School and was able to pull from his experiences in Canada’s national pastime.

“[Hockey has] the type of physicality, the mindset where if you take a puck in the face, you go get stitched up go back out. That’s the type of presence I try to emulate when I go out there, like I’m ready to fight whenever I step on the field.”

The fight to succeed caught the attention of the Canadian national team. Dawson was selected for the 2015 Pan-Am squad that won gold. The medal wasn’t the only prize for the former Kelowna Falcon.

“I took 2015 Team Canada as a really big challenge. I came into the year knowing that was going to happen, and that was one of my big goals, was making that team. I was fortunate enough to put up the numbers I did and get the opportunity to play with guys like Jeff Francis, [Andrew] Albers, Pete Orr,” he said, “really learn from their maturity on the field and their poise in those big game situations. I felt like I took the info I got from them and ran with it.”