The familiar tones of Buck Martinez and Pat Tabler discussed the young hardball players with Canada’s junior national team as they faced the Toronto Blue Jays prospects in Dunedin, Fla. on Saturday.
Into the batter’s box stepped Maple Ridge’s Michael Stovman.
Martinez noted that the designated hitter plays with the Langley Blaze, is eligible for the upcoming Major League Baseball draft in June, has already commited to the Indian River State College in Florida, and that his favourite player is Baltimore Orioles power hitting first baseman Chris Davis.
“He looks a bit like Chris Davis standing in there, doesn’t he?” observed Tabler.
“He’s looking to do some damage,” agreed Martinez.
And damage he did, stroking a single to the opposite field, earning a “nicely done” from Tabler.
It was the start of a great day for Stovman, who finished with two hits in two at-bats, then came in to pitch the eighth and final inning. He struck one out and went three-up, three-down for Canada.
On the phone from Florida, Stovman said he watched himself on television afterward.
“It was pretty cool to be able to see myself televised across the country playing against the Blue Jays,” he said.
It was an outing that he hopes got the attention of MLB scouts in Florida watching the many prospects. Team Canada has played against pro ball players from MLB teams including Boston, Tampa Bay, Atlanta, Baltimore, Detroit, Philadelphia and of course Toronto.
Stovman will return to Orlando, Fla. on April 19 for more spring training games, then on to the Boca Chica and San Pedro for the Dominican Summer League for 10 days in May. All the competition will be from Major League organizations.
“I hope I’m going to be able to boost my stock in the next few months,” he said.
The Canadian Baseball Network has him ranked 13th in Canada, which puts him in the mix for the upcoming draft.
If Stovman is drafted by a major league team, it will be up to him whether he wants to sign and turn professional, starting this summer in rookie ball.
Alternately, he could go to Indian River in Fort Pierce and join the Pioneers ball team. The program has numerous ball players who went on to the majors, including present Blue Jays utility player Steve Pearce, San Francisco Giants outfield Angel Pagan and former pitcher Rusty Meacham.
Stovman was offered a full-ride scholarshop at the two-year school, and he is interested in its police academy and firefighter training. He likes Florida – not just because it lets him mock the weather on the Wet Coast, but also because he can do baseball year-round.
When he’s not with the junior national team, Stovman will be playing with the Langley Blaze. Last season, in 21 games he hit a tidy .305 with one homer and 10 RBI. He showed a good eye at the plate, striking out five times and walking 11 in his 59 at bats.
Pitching 17 innings, the righthander posted a miniscule ERA of 0.41, while striking out 14 batters in 17 innings.
He said it is still up in the air whether he will be a hitter or a pitcher. His plan is to keep developing both aspects of his game, until a professional organization – hopefully – determines what it wants him to focus on.