Canadian Bouchey leaves hockey behind to fulfill baseball dreams

 Photo: David Morassutti

Photo: David Morassutti

By: David Morassutti

Canadian Baseball Network

DUNEDIN, FLA. – Growing up in White Rock, B.C., as a Vancouver Canucks fan, Brayden Bouchey always dreamed about a career playing hockey.

Now he steps onto the field wearing the jersey of another team that he cheered for, the Toronto Blue Jays, who drafted the right-handed pitcher in the 33rd round of the 2016 draft.

A trip to the Little League World Series in 2008 changed everything.

“When I was 12, we went to the Little League World Series so that ate up my whole summer of hockey training,” said Bouchey, who represented Canada with White Rock Surrey South. “I fell behind with my skill level there so I decided to focus on baseball.”

Bouchey didn’t start pitching full-time until his final year with the Langley Blaze youth team where his lanky frame meant there would be more opportunities to continue his career.

Now in his first spring training, the 6-foot-6 Canadian has been focusing on the form and consistency in his delivery and not worrying about his velocity which he said topped off at around 92 mph last season.

“One big focus that we’ve had for me is getting off my back leg a bit more, trying to generate some more power from there,” said Bouchey, as he prepared to go on the practice field. “We have been doing some drills to work on that as well as just repeating my delivery.

“It is really key for a pitcher to be consistent.”

Bouchey played in four games in the Gulf Coast League and 10 games with the Bluefield Blue Jays after signing last summer. In those 14 games, he recorded a 2-0 record with a 3.12 ERA giving up 19 hits, nine earned runs, 17 walks and amassing 38 strikeouts over 26 innings.

What he hopes to accomplish this season is having the opportunity to pitch in front of his family and friends with the Vancouver Canadians in low-A.

“A lot of my family and friends haven’t had the chance to see me play a lot in the last three or four years,” he said. “A lot of people have come out and express to me how awesome it would be to play for the Canadians so I probably have a lot of friends and family come to those games which would be awesome.”