By Matt Betts
Canadian Baseball Network
Note: This article was originally featured in the official Tournament 12 program that was printed prior to the tournament.
Ethan Francis is ready to take full advantage of the opportunities Tournament 12 provides.
The Miscouche, P.E.I. product will be making his second appearance at T12 after debuting in 2016.
“My proudest baseball moment was making T12 in 2016,” Francis said. “I don’t get overly proud over personal attributes because I never want to be content with where I am at.”
Francis certainly should be proud of his performance at Rogers Centre last year. He picked up the win in the opening game of the 2016 tournament for Atlantic Maroon. He tossed four scoreless innings of relief, surrendering two hits and a walk. He struck out an impressive eight while sealing the 9-0 win over Prairies Purple.
Next, he threw an inning, allowing a hit, three runs (one earned) and walked two in a 6-1 loss to Alberta Red. He bounced back to throw a scoreless 1/3 of an inning against British Columbia Orange in a 2-1 loss on championship Monday.
The right-hander grew up playing baseball in Summerside, P.E.I. where he competed in AAA from the age of six until he was 15. He represented P.E.I. at the 15U Nationals for two years and played for the P.E.I. 17U Youth Selects for two years. As a sophomore he signed on to play with the Okotoks Dawgs Baseball Academy in Okotoks. Alta. to help build on his baseball ability.
He attended the T12 tryouts in Okotoks this year and was again selected to represent the Atlantic team. With a lot of players trying out he had to wait to show off his stuff. At the end of the day he felt good about his tryout.
“Since I play with the Dawgs Academy, I attended the tryouts in Okotoks, Alta. Due to the quantity of people trying out, and the fact the pitchers were last in the evaluation process, it was a long wait,” he said. “I didn’t feel the explosiveness I like to have, but at the end of the tryout I knew I did everything I could have done that given day.”
He realized just how important the T12 tryout was.
“The more tools and strengths that you display, the more likely you are to be selected by T12 or looked at by college and professional clubs.”
Listed at 5-foot-10 and 178 pounds on the Okotoks Dawgs website, Francis considers himself undersized but that doesn't bother him. He sees his drive and mindset as his biggest assets.
“My biggest strengths would be my work ethic and overall strive to get better,” he said. “Another strength is my mental toughness and the ability to get the outs in the bottom of the seventh in 1-0 game. The pressure is something I can handle well, and that is why this year I was always the guy to get the last thre outs.”
Pressure is certainly something that can play a role in a player's performance while playing in a Major League stadium. That, combined with trying to impress college recruiters and professional scouts can be intimidating. For Francis, it is something that excites him. He looks forward to the atmosphere and ability to learn from some of the best baseball minds in the game.
“When I attended last year it was amazing,” he said. “I’ve never experienced playing in a stadium like the Rogers Centre, it’s especially cool because there are former big leaguers by your side and you can pick their brains of all the valuable information.”
What the future holds motivates Francis to be at his best. The possibility of playing Division I or professional baseball is something he hopes to achieve. The youngster will look to use his second appearance at T12 as a launching pad to the rest of his career. He has clear goals and isn't shy about what he hopes to accomplish in his baseball career.
“If everything goes the way that I have it planned, I would be going to a southern JuCo for two years, advancing to a good Division 1 program for a year, and then getting drafted after my junior year of college,” he said. “What would be better then playing the game you have grown up loving and getting paid to do so?”
For now, however, Francis is looking forward to playing against the best players Canada has to offer for the second year in a row.
“From T12 I expect to play and compete against the best players in Canada,” he said. “Competing at this level can present opportunities to earn college offers which is my primary goal. T12 was the most impressive tournament I have ever been part of. I’ve played tournaments held at Ohio State , Lake Point Atlanta, College Of Charleston, and T12 is top level.”