By Alexis Brudnicki
Canadian Baseball Network
MANCHESTER, New Hampshire – Jordan Procyshen is doing his best to represent his red-and-white roots within the red-and-blue ranks of the Boston Red Sox organization.
The lone Canadian among the club’s affiliates – currently on the double-A Portland Sea Dogs roster – the 24-year-old Calgary-born native of Okotoks, Alberta wasn’t always flying solo down on the farm.
When Procyshen signed in the 14th round in 2014 out of Northern Kentucky, he joined Simon Gravel, a catcher from Montreal, Quebec, who spent six games with the rookie-class Gulf Coast League Red Sox before leaving affiliated baseball. In 2015, Boston briefly signed Granby, Quebec-born backstop Mike Blanke out of the independent Atlantic League. He got into two games with the Sea Dogs, before leaving Procyshen as the last Canuck standing.
“When I first joined the organization there was another Canadian, but as of right now I’m the only one,” he said. “I’m called the Canuck, I’m called the Canadian, and there’s a whole bunch of different stuff there, but it’s cool to represent Canada.
“Obviously baseball in Canada is getting so much better, and there’s going to be more coming up in this year’s draft. It’s cool being the only Canadian, but obviously I would love some more fellow Canadians.”
From his hometown of Calgary, Procyshen moved to Okotoks, where the catcher still returns when he isn’t playing, and helps in coaching within the Dawgs program as much as possible, trying to pass on to the next generation of ballplayers what he’s learned along his own journey.
“I try and tell the kids that I coach that there’s more out there than just baseball here in Okotoks,” Procyshen said. “You guys might be the best player here, but you’re probably not the best player in Calgary, not the best player in Canada, let alone in baseball.
“No matter what, you’re not done learning. Always get better. I’m living proof that you can get to that next level. Look at [Victoria, B.C. native] Nick Pivetta, who just made his major-league debut [with the Phillies]. I played with him in high school. That’s the ultimate goal, but you still have to keep working every single day.”
Procyshen admits that he once thought along the lines of the young players he looks to assist now, unaware of what baseball outside of Alberta was like, the left-handed-hitting backstop getting his first glimpse when he made the Canadian Junior National Team as a teenager.
“It’s tough when you go up against the best players and all of a sudden, you thought you were the best,” he said. “When I played on Team Canada was when Justin Marra was drafted in the 15th round [by the Cubs in 2011], and I wasn’t drafted out of high school. But it’s that realization that I do belong here, and I just have to understand what I’m going to do to make myself stick out.”
After his high school days at Holy Trinity Academy came to an end in Okotoks, Procyshen headed to Northeastern Junior College in Sterling, Colorado to begin his collegiate baseball career. His success with the Plainsmen led him to join the Norse, and has continued to help the 5-foot-10, 185-pound Canuck into his fourth pro season.
“It’s been a little bit of everything,” he said. “Obviously, starting with my roots back in Okotoks, getting me ready for college ball, and then playing on Team Canada in high school, and then going the junior college route. It was the perfect route for me.
“I was able to play every day, get better, and then obviously going to a Division-I school and getting to where I am, it’s taking little bits and pieces from every single coach. Everybody has a lot of info that they’re going to give to you, and whatever works, you take it and play with everything that they’re all giving to you.”
This year, breaking camp out of spring training with the double-A roster for the first time in his career, Procyshen is trying to utilize all of the things he’s learned along the way, adding the resources he has now to help him make the adjustments he needs.
“Double-A has been a lot of fun,” Procyshen said. “I mean, it’s had its challenges obviously, and it’s still early in the year, but it’s baseball. So I’m really enjoying it, and we have a really talented team here, so that makes it a lot more fun to come to the ballpark every day.
“Having a good coaching staff, having good teammates, and at the end of the day just trusting yourself helps the adjustment. I mean, you’re here for a reason and you just have to let your abilities play, for the reason why you’re here.”
With the Sea Dogs, Procyshen is currently hitting .185/.298/.222 with one home run, seven runs and seven RBI in 26 games and 81 at-bats in the Eastern League. In 204 career games with the Red Sox organization, he has hit .246/.322/.329 with eight home runs, 33 doubles, 72 runs and 84 RBI.
“I want to be remembered as a player who leaves it all out on the field,” Procyshen said. “I’m not a very flashy player. I’m a player who is going to put his nose to the ground and grind. There are going to be days when I’m going to be covered in sweat and covered in dirt, and that’s what I want to be known as, that grinder, and the guy who’s going to be playing out there for the guy next to him.”
Motivated by the words of his grandfather, who once told Procyshen, “Do what you love and love what you do,” he is making the most of every opportunity and enjoying the chance that Boston has given him to keeping going after his goals.
“The Red Sox organization has been unbelievable,” he said. “I’ve heard a lot of horror stories about the minors, everybody has them, but I can’t say that I’ve had any with the Red Sox. They’re a world-class organization and they treat us with a lot of respect. It’s awesome. They’ve given me my dream, and allowed me to continue to pursue it.”
NOTE: The Red Sox drafted Nicholos Hamilton in the 11th round of the 2015 selection process. The 19-year-old is a native of Lockport, N.Y., but spent his latter high school playing days north of the border and represented the Great Lake Canadians program out of London, Ontario when he was chosen in the draft.