Vancouver Canadians Player Profile:
Position: Right Handed Pitcher
Drafted: Toronto Blue Jays 2012 – 1st Round Selection (22nd Overall)
Hometown: Medford, NY
College: Duke University
Previously Pitched for: Team USA
Current Team: Vancouver Canadians (Single-A)
It’s been a crazy month and a half for Marcus Stroman. From being drafted by the Blue Jays in the first round of the MLB Draft this past June to signing his first contract a month later and now moving to Canada to start his professional career, Stroman has been almost as busy as his Twitter account (@MStroo7).
This number 1 draft pick joined the Vancouver Canadians a few weeks ago and has already made an impression both on and off the field. The 5’9’’ Duke standout got his first ever professional win on Saturday, July 22nd in front of the home crowd at Nat Bailey’s stadium. The talented, and yet humble, righty mixed his pitches well and worked a perfect 8th and 9th inning to get the W as the Canadians continue to fight for position in the Northwest League standings.
Off the field, Stroman is settling in nicely, whether it is hanging out with his host family or learning dance moves from fellow Canadians’ pitcher, Arik Sikula, the New York native is definitely enjoying his experience as a professional baseball player. Stroman’s new teammates and coaches all rave about his ability to fit in with the team in such a short time, and highly discuss his focus on both his own growth as a pitcher and the success of the team.
Blue Jays management is equally as excited, as Blue Jays’ assistant general manager, Andrew Tinnish, stated, “We’re excited to have Marcus. He’s a quality arm and a quality competitor. We believe he can pitch in a variety of roles and, as far as makeup and athleticism, he’s the exact type of player we wanted to add.”
Like many professional athletes, he grew up playing not just baseball, but also basketball and football. The New York native said that basketball was actually his first love, but by the time college rolled around, this point guard realized his true potential was as a baseball player.
Coming into Duke, Stroman had a terrific fastball and a comparable slider. Eventually, Stroman was able to develop two other major league quality pitches (curveball and change-up), which pole-vaulted him into a top draft prospect. His fastball tops off around 95mph with good movement and his off-speed pitches are getting better by the day. Stroman spoke about his comfort level with all four pitches, “I developed those this past year at Duke because I was starting. I was starting all year at duke, so I needed those extra two pitches. I’ve gotten a good feel for them. I’ll definitely use all four whenever I pitch.”
When asked about how he is adjusting playing against the new competition, Stroman talked about the talent of the players he is facing playing with the C’s. “The talent is better. You just got to get into the routine, once you get into the routine, everything works better. I feel like I’m getting into a groove right now.”
Another change for Stroman is his transition from a starting pitcher with Duke to becoming a reliever for the Blue Jays organization. Stroman credits his experience of pitching for Team USA as a closer as a precursor to developing a relief pitcher’s mentality. “I’ve had some experience coming out of the pen from USA. So it’s not anything new. But it’s definitely a different mentality, you got to come in, you got to shut down, you got to be more in the moment. As oppose to starting, you can gradually get into the game.
“For me now, It’s already the 7th or 8th inning when I get in, so I have to come in, be ready to go, and shut down batters.”
Like all minor leaguers, Stroman is a work in progress. Currently, he states he is working on, ‘a little bit everything.’ More specifically, he admitted that his main focus will be, “Just repeating my delivery, being able to locate all my pitches for strikes, basically the same thing they preach at every level, just being more consistent.”
Stroman is a big proponent of living in the moment, which currently, is helping the Canadians finish off the first half of the season strong. “Right now all I can do is play hard for the Vancouver Canadians and hopefully everything else will take care of itself.”
The 21-year-old concluded the interview with a message to his fans: Be loud. “Be loud and crazy and get after it. The better you cheer, the better I pitch.”
Stroman is currently working on scheduled appearances as a way to ease into professional baseball. But do expect the optimistic flame-thrower to dance his way through the minor league system and hopefully wear that elusive Major League Blue Jays’ jersey soon.