Blue baseball glove ignited a passion
By Scott Langdon
Canadian Baseball Network
Frederick Rioux’s uncle bought him a blue, lefthanded baseball glove when he was three years old. It ignited a passion for baseball that has carried Rioux to Arizona and a player development position for the Seattle Mariners.
A native of Trois-Pistoles, Que., a city of 3,500 people 255 km from Quebec City on the south shore of the St. Lawrence River, Rioux has thoughtfully sought opportunities to build knowledge and experience for a baseball career. His journey picked up steam when he started MVP Baseball Academy after his amateur playing days.
“I started the Academy to transmit my passion for baseball to kids in my region. We operated it for two years. I had also been helping out with the Quebec Capitales’ junior team after I stopped playing. I knew from those experiences I wanted to have a career in professional baseball,” he explained.
Rioux earned a Sports Management degree at Brock University in St. Catharines, Ont. He was a relief pitcher for the school’s championship team. He sought a meeting with Blue Jays’ executive Andrew Tinnish (Ottawa, Ont.) while at school that resulted in a part-time scouting role shadowing full-time scout, Jamie Lehman.
“By that point, I was fully committed to having a career in baseball and when you want something so badly you would do whatever it takes to get it,” he said.
He also took Spanish lessons realizing its importance in professional baseball. He’s improving his skills with self-learning and speaking the language as often as possible. He also speaks English and French.
Rioux, 27, also sought and completed an internship with the Tru Gravity Baseball agency as a baseball research analyst. He was an associate scout with the Phillies last year, working with Alex Agostino (Montreal, Que.) in Ontario and covering the Canadian Junior National team.
He emailed more than 150 resumes to “everybody I could think of in baseball” during the fall, 2017. The campaign resulted in interviews with the Milwaukee Brewers, Minnesota Twins, Tampa Bay Rays and Mariners at the Winter Meetings in Orlando, Fla.
“The Mariners gave me a telephone interview, followed up by a questionnaire. Some time passed and then I had another telephone interview. January 13, 2018 was one of the best days of my life when they offered me my current position,” he said.
His internship in the Mariners’ player development department started in February this year and runs through the end of the Rookie league season in September. He hopes it leads to a full-time role, but is willing to live with the uncertainty.
“It is cool for me to never actually know where I’m going next. I have bounced around a little bit for the last few years, but It’s exciting to imagine where I might be two years from now,” he said.
His Mariners’ job is located at the team’s spring training facility in Peoria, Az, near Phoenix. Extended spring training, for players who will play in Rookie and short-season A leagues, continues until June. The Arizona Rookie League starts following the amateur draft in June and runs until the end of September.
He reports for work every morning around seven to begin editing videos he shot of various players during practices and games from the previous day. Shooting and editing video is a skill he learned when a baseball operations intern with the Ottawa Champions of the independent Can-Am League in 2016.
Then, after a meeting with coaches, he watches the pitchers in their bullpen sessions and takes in batting practice. He operates a radar gun and charts pitches during games and files game reports. A big part of his job involves helping players navigate daily life in a new environment. He estimates 2/3 of the players speak Spanish.
“I deal with coach and player requests as well. Whatever they need from statistics and video to housing and meal money. I am there to take care of it,” he said.
“I also like to watch amateur games in the area on my own time to improve my scouting skills and identify some players for the Mariners to watch in the future,” he said. “I try to learn as much as I can every day and make the most of this experience. I also try to help the team in any way I can and have an impact on the people I work with,” he said.
“This is a wonderful experience. The Mariners treat people so well. Everybody has been amazing to me,” he said. He is provided living space across the street from the baseball complex.
Rioux had the opportunity to talk with Canadian Alex Anthopolous, current executive vice-president and general manager of the Atlanta Braves, when the former was GM of the Blue Jays. Anthopolous, himself, took on a variety of intern roles before securing full-time employment in pro ball.
“Alex told me to work hard and be patient. He said to stay humble because having a good reputation is important in professional baseball. He also told me to be open-minded and willing to learn every day. From there you never know what might happen,” Rioux said.
That blue baseball glove from his childhood in Trois-Pistoles, Que. has morphed into the Navy blue of Mariners’ uniforms in Peoria, AZ. They are notable symbols of Rioux’s baseball passion and his goal of a professional baseball career.