2015 Canadian draft list
CBN Draft coverage
17 Canucks drafted …. Podcast: Chris Robinson …. Inexact science .… What’s in a Name II …. Morgan in for big pay day? …. Morgan a second-rounder …. Astros take Dykxhoorn in 6th …. Romano to Jays …. Dawgs go back-to-back …. Onyshko weighs options …. Blaze represented by Robinson, Horne …. Reds stay in house …. Pop honoured …. Swift rising up Canadian pool .... Astros tab Foster …. Jays picks Latz and Papierski head to LSU
By Bob Elliott
When Brock Dykxhoorn showed at his first Ontario Nationals workout in Stratford in the fall of 2009 he was lighting up the gun.
The numbers read: 73 MPH.
“I really only played town ball to stay healthy for hockey, then the hockey team cut me and I was offered a tryout with the Nationals,” said the 6-foot-8 Dykxhoorn the day after he was drafted from Mankato, Minn, where he had been pitching summer college ball for the Mankato Moondogs.
Now, he’s passed his physical with the Houston Astros, accepted a $250,000 US bonus and signed his contract at class-A Greeneville in the Appalachian League. Astros scout Mark Ross selected the Central Arizona Vaquero in the sixth round of the three-day June draft of collegians and high schoolers in North America.
Gareth Morgan going in the second round and gaining a $2 million signing bonus from the Seattle Mariners and Dykxhoorn were highlights for Canadians during the three-day draft as only 17 were drafted -- down from 22 last year -- and the lowest total since 1990 when Canadian high schoolers first became eligible for the draft.
As for Dykxhoorn it was the perfect storm: cut from Huron Perth Lakers hockey team, coach Shawn Gillespie came a calling asking about ball.
Gillespie had seen Dykxhoorn playing for Exeter the year before ... at shortstop.
“He was receptive to information I gave him, more so than most,” said Gillespie, who pitched five seasons in independent leagues. “Whatever you told him to do, he got it done. What separated him from others was his ability to throw strikes. He made himself into what he is.”
There is a Gillespie-Dykkxhoorn mutual admiration society, the right-hander crediting the coach for “taking me under his wing, developing me into the pitcher I am.”
“Shawn gave me my start,” said Dykxhoorn, who threw the first pitch of the college season this year. The Vaqueros kicked off the season at midnight against Phoenix College and he wound up with a no decision as the game was scoreless when he left. But most games he left with the outcome decided as he led the JUCO players in strikeouts: 114 in 78 innings while walking only 23.
Scouts who came to see the 240 pounder pitcher were surprised to see him sit at 89-90 MPH. Armed with a slider, he went 9-4 with a 2.77 ERA in one of the toughest JUCO conferences in the country beating South Mountain twice, Gateway, Eastern Arizona, Southern Idaho, Northeastern, Pima, Yapavai, Okanogan and six times reaching double-figure in strikeouts.
“Hitters don’t get good swings off Brock,” said Gillespie, who recalled Dykkxhoorn travelling to Arizona with Doug Mathieson’s Langley Blaze in the fall of 2011.
“His fastball isn’t overwhelming but he stays closed and that height of hits, Doug told me he was facing Chicago Cubs first and second-year hitter and they’re hitting line drives into the other dugout. Whatever the velocity, most of them were late.”
Compared to former Blue Jays giant Jon Rauch, Dykxhoorn pitched for the Canadian junior national team (“ one of the best opportunities of my life, along with getting drafted”) starting against Panama at the Worlds and coming on in relief in the gold medal game against Team USA (“my heart was pounding”).
After being drafted in the 20th round by the Cincinnati Reds in 2012 he had two school options: Central Arizona or West Virginia. He chose West Virginia at the 11th hour and transferred last summer.
“It ended up paying off, I was little skeptical,” he said. “I wasn’t sure of school of the education.”
Dykkxhoorn is an accounting student with 4.0 GPA and said he graduated the top of his class (150-to-200 students) at Clinton High.
This spring he met with a most teams, filled out forms and answered questions from scouts. Then Astros scout Mark Ross phoned him.
“I’d never met him, but he told me he had been at four or five of our games,” said Dykkxhoorn. After four or five phone calls things were completed.
And now the former National, who played for under Kevin Clouser, the National junior team for coach Greg Hamilton and pitching coach Chris Reitsma, will soon in a game pitching for an Astro affiliate.
“He has a ton of composure, that’s what makes him so special,” said Gillespie. “Some guys will have something go wrong and the wheels will fall off. He can give up a homer or walk a guy ... it’s on to the next pitch. He has a tremendous work ethic, which I think he got from his parents.”