By: Shoaib Alli
DUNEDIN, Fla. -- Playing baseball for the Canadian Junior National Team is a career highlight for pitcher Sean Ratcliffe.
After the Toronto Blue Jays drafted Ratcliffe in 2013, Baseball Canada selected the Ajax, Ont., native to join the team’s pitching staff at the U18 World Cup of Baseball in Taichung, Taiwan.
The 20-year old right-hander prides himself on having been among Canada’s best players in 2013. Ratcliffe enjoyed participating at such a high level of competition, with the world’s best players.
“That was probably one of my greatest baseball experiences,” he said. “Being able to travel to Taiwan and compete with the best countries in the world, that was a lot of fun and I’m definitely very grateful for the opportunity.”
His competitive spirit was dampened temporarily after Canada finished seventh at the World Cup. Still, he is proud of the way they battled – including a final 17-3 win over Australia, where he did not allow a run in the last inning of the game.
“It was nice to get a scoreless inning against them,” Ratcliffe said. “I think I had a couple of rough outings against them, so it was good to get some redemption.”
Though he closed out the game in style, Ratcliffe said he still had butterflies in his stomach. He said Team Canada’s coaches prepared him for the pressure of the World Cup, saying they gave him opportunities in close situations during exhibition play.
Ratcliffe said he grew up a Jays fan, especially of Roy ‘Doc’ Halladay. As a pitcher himself, Ratcliffe felt that the biggest item to take away from Halladay’s career was his professionalism. “Being a professional comes through in everything we do,” Ratcliffe said.
He credits his primary development as a player to his former coach, Frank Gallo, who coached Ratcliffe for five years with the youth club Scarborough Stingers. Gallo showed him not only how to play baseball, but how to conduct himself as a professional.
“He’s probably the guy who taught me the most about baseball,” Ratcliffe said. “Not just being a good baseball player, but being a good student of the game, a good person.”