OTTAWA — As the youngest player participating in the Toronto Blue Jays Canadian Futures Showcase, Sean Duncan arrived in Ottawa with a resume to back up the selection.
The 14-year-old lefty from Port Coquitlam, B.C. has represented Canada at the Little League World Series, thrown a 17-strikeout perfect game and played for the Milwaukee Brewers Canada Scout Team.
Duncan only added to that impressive resume last week in Ottawa.
He got a start for Team Navy in the final game of the showcase and had an impressive outing, throwing his two scheduled innings and allowing just one run, one hit and no walks while striking out three.
A power outage at Ottawa Stadium pushed his scheduled start from Friday night to Saturday morning. However, Duncan still made sure he was noticed while surrounded by other top Canadian talent — earning his way into the top prospects game that was held later Saturday afternoon.
“It’s great to play with all these older guys, know you can compete with them and show all your stuff,” Duncan said about playing in the showcase. “It’s an honour, actually. It’s crazy. I’m almost at a loss for words.”
Despite all his early success, Duncan is always asking questions and looking for ways to improve — especially last week while he was among some of Canada’s top baseball minds.
“I grew as a player [this week]. My baseball IQ has definitely gotten higher the past three or four days,” Duncan said.
His father, Anthony Duncan, who Sean gave credit to for getting him into baseball, has been alongside his son every step of the way.
“Since he’s been on the younger side a lot of the time, he’s pretty mature — he’s an old soul,” Anthony said. “So he fits in easily because he likes to ask questions and he likes to talk to people.”
Sean carries his father’s sentiments with him both on and off the field. He calls Mariano Rivera his favourite player and cheers for the Yankees.
You won’t hear a lot of 2008-born baseball players calling the former Yankee closer — who retired in 2013 — their favourite player, but Sean has done his research.
“You could talk to him about baseball all day and he could go way-way back,” Anthony said. “He’s done speeches and reports about [Rivera]. He’s got Rivera posters up in his room and has replica World Series rings from the Rivera years, he’s a big fan and it’s really cool.”
Even though he’s a southpaw and works as a starter most of the time, Sean’s stats with the Langley Blaze bantam prep team this past year were Rivera-esque.
Sean posted a 14-1 record with 0.84 ERA, 0.56 WHIP and a whopping 213 strikeouts across 99 innings in 23 games.
In addition to his overall numbers, Sean thew his perfect game, was a part of a combined no-hitter, had a 19-strikeout game where he carried a no-hitter into the final inning and a game where he struck out all 17 batters he faced.
Steve Chatzispiros, Sean’s coach with the Blaze, commended the work he does on the field but says that what his ace does off the field and in the dugout makes him special.
“He’s been given this size and a golden arm, but his work ethic is number one,” Chatzispiros said. “He stands out from others because you constantly see him, even if he’s not starting that day, making a teammate better.”
In a summer of highlights on the field, Sean is already turning his attention to what’s next.
He will be joining the Brewers Scout Team in Florida from Oct. 7-10. and is working to make the Blaze’s Grade 12 team, which Chatzispiros said is “unheard of” for a 14-year-old.
The Brewers Canada Scout Team is made up of top Canadian high school players who are picked by invite only. The team plays in American showcases in Arizona and Florida.
“I love having something to work for, which comes with being a baseball player,” Sean said. “I’ve always been a guy who likes pressure. If we’re playing in a semi-final or final, I want to be the one pitching. In baseball, the pressure’s on you and I think I thrive on that.”