By: Jamie Mountain
Canadian Baseball Network
Garner Spoljaric has pitching in his genes.
The 16-year-old Great Lakes Canadians product is the son of Paul Spoljaric, a major-league pitcher for six years who played for the Toronto Blue Jays, Seattle Mariners, Philadelphia Phillies and Kansas City Royals.
Just like his father, Garner will aim to make a name for himself on the mound.
“Yeah, I’m probably going to end up pitching, obviously my dad is a good help with that,” said Garner. “I used to love second base and I always thought I’d be a shortstop or second base kind of guy but now I think it’s going to come down to pitching.”
Pitching is a common position within the Spoljaric family. Garner’s older brother Hunter is also a pitcher with the Great Lakes Canadians and the two played on the same Navy Futures team at last year’s Tournament 12.
Garner relished the opportunity to play alongside his brother last year in Canada’s most well-known ballpark.
“It was awesome,” said Garner when describing his time at his first-ever Tournament 12. “It’s pretty cool playing here in the Rogers Centre with basically all my family here. It was a pretty awesome experience.”
The pitching gene probably won’t end with Garner, as his younger brother Turner could very well direct his career to the mound.
“Turner plays a little bit of everything right now,” said Garner. “He’s a little younger so he gets to play any position he wants to play. He’s got a good arm so I think he’s going to end up pitching too, so we’ll likely be a family of pitchers.”
Although his Futures Navy team failed to make the semi-finals at this year’s Tournament 12, finishing with a 2-2 record, Garner knows it will help to develop his mental game.
“I feel like (mentally) that’s where I’ve grown a lot over the last years," said Garner. “Just accepting failure and not being so crushed by the fact something didn’t go the way it needed to on the field. My dad is huge on that fact, he hates to see me have a bad game and then act like it’s nothing and not think about the preparation I had coming into it.
“If you don’t have a strong mental side to your game then you’re not really doing too much for yourself.”
Moving forward, Garner has one specific goal – representing Canada on the international stage, just like his father was able to do at the 2004 Summer Olympics in Athens.
“I’d like to make the national team at some point, that’s a dream of mine for sure,” said Garner. “My dad played for them and said it’s one of the best experiences you can have. He said overall it’s just a great time, so I think it would be awesome to play with national team at some point in my life.”