Marek Yeager, Muenster product and pitcher for the East Central 18U Red Sox, is bound for Rogers Stadium in Toronto to pitch from the biggest mound of his career. The home of the Blue Jays will become one of the venues for this fall’s Canadian Futures Showcase. It’s Canada’s biggest amateur baseball tournament, presented by Rogers from September 19 – 24.
Yeager is in a group of 80 chosen players, and one of only two Saskatchewan based participants, that will join a second contingent of 80 from which 6 tournament teams will be assembled. The Showcase will feature the tournament, a scout day, and a prospects game and home run derby on the final day.
Hosted by the Toronto Blue Jays Baseball Academy, the event enables Canada’s rising amateur talent with draft and college eligibility to further their athletic and academic careers, by exposing them to MLB scouts and college recruiters.
It’s Yeager’s second time participating in the showcase, but it will be his first setting foot on the turf in Rogers Centre. After heading to the showcase last year, he has a clearer set of expectations and targets for this round.
“Last year, I was based in Ottawa, so I wasn’t in Rogers Centre. This year, I’m able to go to Rogers Centre and experience the environment and the whole atmosphere surrounding the Showcase. I was a little nervous last year because I didn’t know what it was like – what the people were like, what the baseball was like. Was I even good enough? After I went there, it was all good. Now I’m really excited this year because I know it’s an awesome atmosphere.”
Yeager has come to appreciate the skill level and the quality of the players and coaches that make up the Showcase, and he’s set to work hard this year to meet that expected level of competition. While he’s not as starry-eyed as last year, the significance of his accomplishment and his upcoming experience aren’t lost.
“It’s a weird feeling when you sit down and watch a Blue Jays game, and I think ‘I’ll be on that mound in a couple weeks.’ I remind myself that it’s a big accomplishment – that only the top 150 players get to play here. It’s almost a dream come true in a way.”
Coaches like Saskatchewan born Dustin Moelleken, with a wealth of experience pitching in the MLB and overseas, are a big part of the draw for Yeager.
“He played in the MLB and he has that experience, and he knows how to go at good hitters. He brings a lot to the table not just on the physical side, but on the mental side. And it’s not just him, but there are other coaches and they’re equally experienced in other areas of baseball.”
Along with the development component, there’s the opportunity that comes with major league and NCAA scouts heavily scrutinizing the players, looking to bring new Canadian blood into their systems.
“There were some really good baseball players who had committed to a university, but after the Showcase, on social media, people started posting that someone’s committed here, someone’s committed there. It just shows that this is a great opportunity for players to show their great talent in high level baseball.”
In fact, the Showcase website notes that since 2013, 115 former Canadian Futures Showcase participants have been drafted by Major League Baseball organizations, with more than 500 receiving college scholarships.
With Yeager starting his grade 11 year, there will still be more time before he’s set to make those same college and playing commitments, but as a repeat participate in the Canadian Showcase, there’s no doubt that eyes are upon him, and that time will come.
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