Bryan Saucedo is embarking upon the most important year of his young baseball career but one wouldn’t know it after speaking to him for a couple of minutes.
The 18-year-old first baseman from Toronto is making his third appearance for the Canadian National Junior team, and while the impending Major League Baseball entry draft looms large, it doesn’t affect his approach to the game.
“I try not to think about it too much, I know it’s going to creep up in the back of my mind but I’m just going to go out there and try to help the team win and do my thing,” Saucedo, training in St. Petersburg, Fl., said.
Listed at 6-foot 3-inches and 215 pounds, Saucedo’s experience isn’t the only thing that belies his age. Dan Bleiwas, Saucedo’s head coach with the Ontario Blue Jays said “he’s a specimen … his physical skills are off the chart.”
Bleiwas believes Saucedo’s goal is to be drafted high enough to warrant signing a MLB contract, but if the dream doesn’t work out Saucedo has a contingency plan, he plans to attend Riverside Community College in California.
As one of the older players on the Canadian team, Saucedo has entered a leadership role that he gladly embraces.
“I try to give some insight to the younger guys, the guys who haven’t been here, try to give them some tips and some insight on the way we do things around here.”
In his tenure with the Canadian National Junior Team last season, Saucedo hit a home run against the Los Angeles Dodgers’ Dominican summer league team. He has also had hits against NCAA Division One schools such as the University of Michigan and Florida State University.
Saucedo said the Dominican summer league teams provide a high level of competition, with the tiny Caribbean nation churning out baseball stars as naturally as Canada churns out hockey stars.
Of all his great baseball moments in his young career, Saucedo is most proud of pounding out a base hit off of Toronto Blue Jay first round draft pick Deck McGuire:
“I think that hit off (McGuire) is a big one … surprised some people there.”
Saucedo is also aware of the emergence of Canadian infielders, such as Joey Votto, in the majors, but he’s keeping his head firmly planted on first base. Asked who he models his game around, Saucedo replied, “I just do my thing.”
If there were a player who inspires major league dreams, Saucedo said Carlos Gonzalez of the Colorado Rockies would be that guy: “I like the way he attacks the ball.”