By Melissa Verge
Canadian Baseball Network
The future of the Toronto Blue Jays is a tall, 6-foot-4 left-hander from Illinois.
Ryan Borucki can throw a mean changeup, and he’s passionate about what he does for a living: playing professional baseball.
“It’s always been a love for me,” he says
He’s been pitching in the Blue Jays' farm system since 2012, and last year he was named the Blue Jays' Minor League Pitcher of the Year.
The 23-year-old grew up surrounded by the sport. His dad was a professional baseball player making it as far as triple-A, and his brother played in high school.
“We were always a baseball family,” shares Borucki. “How can you not love the game of baseball? It's just fun going out there, being able to play every day and compete.”
And he’s always driven by the same thing: his desire to win. Borucki has a competitive edge, and he doesn’t like to lose.
“When I’m pitching it's you against me, and I’m going to do as much as I can to get you out,” he says. "That’s how I pitch, that’s what drives me every day, being able to compete against people."
His competitive edge doesn’t stop at the baseball field, it carries over into other sports, like heated ping pong matches against his coach, Gary Bennett.
“He [coach Bennett] beat me,” Borucki admits. “We had a Christmas party and he beat me by himself. I was a little rusty at the time, but we started playing twos against each other and I think I went like 5-0 against him. So, in the doubles I beat him, but he is 1-0 against just me.”
But no matter how fun ping pong and other sports are (He was also a strong basketball player when he was growing up), Borucki says baseball has always been his main love.
He has fond memories of high school baseball, where he says he got to play with guys he grew up playing with his whole life.
“We had a real good year my senior year. It was a lot of fun to be a part of,” he says. “The reason why baseball is so much fun is because you’re surrounded by such a great group of guys.”
For Borucki, baseball also involves some degree of superstition. If he has a couple of good outings while eating the same thing, he’ll start to eat the same thing every day.
“When I was in Dunedin I would eat Jersey Mike’s [subs] every day whenever I pitched,” he says. “In Lansing, I went to a Mediterranean place and I got the same thing there everyday.”
And although Borucki says he’s not the type of guy to make New Year's resolutions, in 2018 he’d like to focus on keeping runners from stealing any bases while he’s on the mound.
“I sometimes get into the habit of just checking runners once maybe twice, and sometimes runners will find a pattern in my game,” he says. “That’s the biggest key for me, because if you can control the running game, that’s a big part of pitching, especially as a starter.”
For the 23-year-old who spent some time competing for the Blue Jays' triple-A Buffalo Bisons last season, his call up to the Blue Jays could be coming at any moment. He says he’ll be ready when that time comes.
“Whenever they think it's time for me, I’ll try to take advantage of it,” Borucki says. “I just got to keep doing what I’m doing and keep striving to do good and have a good year. Hopefully 2018 is a special year for me.”