Brock Badger Shaun Valeriote Jays’ draft
*Shaun Valeriote (Guelph, Ont.), Brock Badgers, drafted in 39th round by the Toronto Blue Jays …
By James Parker
“The Toronto Blue Jays select Valeriote, Shaun, we’d like him listed as a third baseman. He’s from Brock University, hometown Guelph, Ontario, Canada.”
And with that Canadian baseball history was made, as Shaun Valeriote became the first OUA player to ever be drafted by an MLB team.
The stigma that there is no talent in Canadian Universities was shattered, the idea that no big league clubs care about Canadian University ball, gone. If there is a talented ball player you can be rest assured that MLB team’s are not only award of them but are following along with his progress and success.
“Shaun is a solid player all around. He has the ability to play multiple positions, which is a huge asset in professional baseball. He has obviously performed very well at Brock, and we think there is some upside in his bat as he adjusts to pro pitching. That being said, I think Shaun’s biggest strength is his makeup. He is a quality person, an extremely hard worker and a great competitor. Those ingredients are things you don’t find in many players,” said Toronto Blue Jays Canadian scout Jamie Lehman.
Lehman along with Blue Jays amateur scouting director Andrew Tinnish are the two men responsible for the selection. Tinnish was the first man to lay eyes onValeriote, when he made his annual visit to the Brock Badgers fall training camp. Typically Andrew is at camp as a guest evaluator, being a former Badger himself, he comes for one day during camp and helps the coaching staff evaluate the players in camp. Little did Tinnish know that an act of alumni involvement would have an impact on his current job with the Jays.
After training camp the Badgers program became excited with the hopes that with the addition of Valeriote they would be able to return to the OUA playoffs and contend for a Championship. Shaun not only led Brock to the OUA championship but also broke several program records along the way, and was the recipient of several individual awards at the end of the season (OUA Top Hitter, OUA All-Star, CIBA All-Canadian, Brock MVP and Brock Top Hitter).
After such a successful first season, the thoughts of potentially going pro began to creep in to the thoughts of Valeriote and the program. Yet, everyone involved understood that he would have to have a successful rookie summer season in the Intercounty Baseball League and then follow that up with another great fall at Brock.
With Valeriote’s hometown Guelph Royals not fielding a team for the 2011 IBL season, Shaun signed with the Kitchener Panthers and became their starting shortstop. With the pressure on to have a successful summer, Valeriote flourish posting a .385 batting average with four home runs, thirty runs scored, eighteen RBI’s and ten stolen bases. At the end of the summer he was named the IBL Rookie of the Year.
That fall he returned to Brock with the hopes of leading the team to their first CIBA Championship since 1999. Unfortunately for the Badgers that didn’t happen. But Valeriote was able to repeat his offensive dominance. Again he received the OUA Top Hitter award, and an OUA All-Star selection, along with the Brock MVP award and Top Hitter award.
With that Shaun had proved to everyone that he was a serious prospect that MLB teams had to consider in the upcoming 2012 first year player draft.
Yet, Valeriote understood that his work wasn’t finished, in fact it was just beginning. He went to work on improving himself in an effort to become more attractive to pro teams. He improved his swing, worked on his arm strength and even worked on his skills as a back catcher.
Badger hitting Coach Marc LePage worked closely with Shaun during the off-season and says, “He’s an easy player to coach. He’s always interested in the mechanics of his swing and could easily make adjustments. He takes a lot of pride in his defense and is very versatile. He has an excellent work ethic and is always enthusiastic.”
After an off-season of hard work there was nothing left to do but wait for the MLB draft to begin on June 4th. The stress mounted as the first two days of the draft past, yet by the time the last few rounds were counting down the anticipation grew.
Then the Blue Jays were called upon to make their 39th round selection. Throughout the draft Jays Amateur Scouting Coordinator Harry Einbinder had been announcing the team’s picks, but when the 39th round selection came up the voice changed. It was Andrew Tinnish, the man who first laid eyes on him two years ago at Brock training camp, who decided to step to the microphone to announce this selection. “The Toronto Blue Jays select Valeriote, Shaun!”
The surreal feeling set in, as Shaun who had been listening to the live stream of the draft with his girlfriend, went from being a normal University student to a MLB draft pick.
“I chose to announce the selection myself because I owed it to Brock, Jeff,Shaun and all the other players, coaches and support staff who’ve been a part of the program over the years. It was special for me to make the selection. I’m proud that I was able to select a player that has his ability and makeup to help our organization,” said Tinnish. “He’s an extremely talented and hard working young man. I like his strength and athleticism. But more than that, I like his work ethic and makeup. He’s humble and wants nothing more than to play baseball every day.”
One man that was able to watch Shaun day-in-day-out was Badgers Head Coach Jeff Lounsbury who says, “Shaun worked so hard for this opportunity. He worked on all parts of his game, physical and mental. He worked on his flaws and he worked on his strengths. We are so proud of him. He is a great player, teammate and student. The whole University should be proud of him. He has taken Brock baseball to another level. We are losing our best player and that will hurt, but we’re going to enjoy watching him reach his goals.”
After an outpouring of support from members of the Brock baseball family,Shaun posted this on the team’s facebook page this morning, “Thanks to everyone involved with the program for all of your support. Can’t say enough positive things about the program and what Brock Baseball has meant to me over the past two years. You guys are a classy organization with quality individuals throughout. This is not only a huge accomplishment for me but for the entire program as it is reflective of how much time and effort coaches, alumni, players, management staff, etc. has put in to building Brock Baseball to what it is today. I’m looking forward to being involved with the program for many years to come in whatever capacity possible. Proud to be a Brock Badger.”
Shaun will now pack his bags and travel to the Blue Jays minor league facility in Dunedin, Florida to get a physical and work out acquiring his US work visa. After the paperwork and contracts are signed Valeriote will be assigned by the Jays to a minor league affiliate.
Shaun is expected to head to the Gulf Coast League to play for the Jays rookie ball affiliate. The league begins play on June 18th and finishes on August 25th, playing a 60 game season.
In the fall Valeriote will be back at Brock, rejoining the Badgers as a member of the coaching staff while he continues his studies in the Universities Sport Management program.