OTTAWA – Sam Shaw was born to love baseball … and as it turns out, he’s pretty good at it too.
The 17-year old Victoria native has had his eyes set on the sport since before he could put one foot in front of the other — just ask his father.
“I would take him for walks and there’d be softball games going on in the near park and he was just locked in watching those games,” said Craig Shaw, while his son, Sam, was demonstrating his prowess on the diamond at the Canadian Futures Showcase put on by the Toronto Blue Jays.
“If I moved him, he’d start crying.”
Growing up the young Shaw played as many sports as he could — hockey, soccer and lacrosse had their time — but it was baseball that stole his heart.
“I played T-Ball when I was four and just fell in love with it.” said Sam, who had an excellent week showcasing himself in front of scouts and college recruiters. “I feel like (the desire to play) was from birth.”
The left handed bat, a product of the British Columbia Premier Baseball League’s Victoria Mariners, had a 2022 season fit for a top prospect. The 5-foot-10 infielder registered a .438 regular season batting average, while recording 21 hits, 20 runs, 13 RBIs, nine stolen bags and three home runs in a span of 17 games.
“He’s an absolute eagle at the dish,” said his Victoria coach, Mitch Davidoff, of what puts Shaw above the rest. “Right from the start he’s taken a professional approach. Once he turned 13, his baseball IQ was second to none.”
The Mariners infielder had a similar response to the same question.
“I like to keyhole [pitches] and I see the zone pretty well, I get up in the count and I take advantage of that.”
His season in Victoria and his skill at the plate earned the Prep Baseball Report’s second-ranked Canadian prospect for the class of 2023 the opportunity to represent his country at the U-18 Baseball World Cup.
In his first stint with the Canadian Junior National team, Shaw didn’t perform the way he had hoped only managing a .174/.217/.208 slash line at the tournament in Florida — a stark contrast to his season prior. But the 17-year old rebounded in Ottawa.
In his four game tenure with Team Royal at the the TBJ Futures Showcase, Shaw tallied four hits, two runs, two RBIs a .364 AVG and a .897 OPS. These numbers were accomplished against the best pitchers Canada has to offer, which was a welcomed bounce back.
Representing his country, committing to play college ball and now being nominated as one of the top players in Canada takes work — and according to his father, that work ethic is something Sam has in abundance.
“He just always wanted to practice and play. He always had a real desire to keep getting better and develop his skills.”
Sam Shaw has been working with his longtime coach Davidoff since he was a kid, and their hard work seems to have paid off.
“When I get pitchers coming back from the minor leagues, (they) want to face him to help (them) with pitch design.”
The Xavier University (Cincinnati) commit’s talents at the plate aren’t the only thing that got him his nod to the Junior National Team.
“Defensively I play all over the field and I play freely.” said the future Musketeer. “I like to play baseball and I feel like if you watch me you’ll see I’m always smiling,” he said. “It’s just something I enjoy doing.”
Being a top two prospect in Canada for the class of 2023, being named to the prospects game and home run derby at the Toronto Blue Jays Futures Showcase, playing with the maple leaf on his chest – Sam Shaw is no stranger to being a star.
Being at the top. however, often comes with a lot of pressure, but just like the fastballs of opposing pitchers, Sam welcomes it.
“At the end of the day I’ve proven myself” he said. “I have to not listen to the noise and go out and play my game … It’s not the end of the world if somebody doesn’t think I’m good.”
Sam’s skill has gotten him to where he is in the sport of baseball but that’s not the only thing that got him there. His poise and maturity has played a big role in his success, and it is that quality that will keep him at the top for as long as he wants to be there – and his coach agrees.
“He’s probably a lot more mature for his age, he’s a more introverted kid in the sense that he gets his nose to the grind,” said Davidoff. “I think he can make it as a big league second baseman.”