By: RJ Stacey
Canadian Baseball Network
DUNEDIN, FLA. - Justin Maese was selected by the Toronto Blue Jays just two years ago, and today he is working towards throwing that first pitch for Canada’s team.
Getting drafted into a professional sport is the first big moment in a young athlete’s career. Maese was selected in the third round of the 2015 MLB draft. The right-handed pitcher said the moment didn’t sink in right away.
“When it actually hit me is when I got to the complex and I started meeting everybody,” said Maese. “You put on that Blue Jays shirt and that Blue Jays hat and that’s when it really struck me. I’m now a professional baseball player.”
The 20-year-old Houston native was not worried about getting drafted to the only Canadian MLB franchise. He just wanted to play baseball. As long as he got the opportunity he would be excited. He also raves about the city of Toronto and the country of Canada.
“The first year in my GCL (Gulf Coast League) year, I got MVP of the team,” he said. “They do a nice thing where they send the MVP’s to Toronto to check out the city and the stadium. The city, it’s amazing there. People are great, the atmosphere in the stadium is unbelievable. That place is amazing.
To finally get to Toronto, though, Maese still has a ways to go after spending 2016 at Single-A.
Maese had a combined 4-6 record but a strong 2.94 earned-run average starting 15 games for the Lansing Lugnuts and the Vancouver Canadians.
As a young pitcher, he has a lot of upside with his ability to control the ball and induce weak contact, which is what he strives to do on the mound.
“Throwing balls really frustrates me,” he said. “You gotta throw strikes. I don’t care if they get a hit off me it’s better than a walk. It’s better for me if they give a hit off of me because at least they earned it. Because I’m a sinker ball pitcher I don’t look for strikeouts at all. I want them to hit the ball early in the count.”