Thorsteinson impresses at T12, but still a work in progress

 Futures Navy pitcher Justin Thorsteinson, of the Langley Blaze, pitches against the Atlantic squad at Rogers Centre on Thursday. He has committed to play for the Oregon State Beavers in 2020 after he graduates high school. Photo Credit: Austin Owens

Futures Navy pitcher Justin Thorsteinson, of the Langley Blaze, pitches against the Atlantic squad at Rogers Centre on Thursday. He has committed to play for the Oregon State Beavers in 2020 after he graduates high school. Photo Credit: Austin Owens

By David Morassutti

Canadian Baseball Network

TORONTO - Coming into Tournament 12, there was a lot of anticipation surrounding starting pitcher Justin Thorsteinson who was looking to make an impact in his debut with the Futures Navy squad.

The Langley, B.C., native was unhittable through the first three innings of his start against the Atlantic Maroon on Thursday, striking out six of the first nine batters he faced.

However, he struggled to command his pitches in the fourth inning giving up a single, and three straight walks leaving the game after allowing a run.  Three more of his inherited baserunners would eventually score.

“I was not too happy about that because my leg started to cramp,” said Thorsteinson. “I couldn’t really control my form but I didn’t want to use that as an excuse because it happens to everyone.”

 Thorsteinson struck out six of the first nine batters he faced but had four runs charged to him in the fourth inning in his T12 start for Futures Navy on Thursday. Photo Credit: Austin Owens.

Thorsteinson struck out six of the first nine batters he faced but had four runs charged to him in the fourth inning in his T12 start for Futures Navy on Thursday. Photo Credit: Austin Owens.

Coming into the tournament, the southpaw pitcher is still working on his secondary pitches already establishing a dominant fastball which he reaches up to 87 mph, not bad for a 15-year-old. 

“I am trying to develop my changeup, my curveball is not too good right now but I have a couple of years to work on that,” said the left-hander. “Coaches usually tell me to stick to my fastball because that is my best pitch.”

What makes his fastball tough to hit? He believes it is less about the velocity and more about movement he has on it which he calls “lefty luck”.

“I have some games where I just feel untouchable,” said Thorsteinson. “I don’t really know what’s going on because I am throwing it right down the middle and it seems to get a lot of batters missing.”

The young teen’s performance caught the eye of commissioner Roberto Alomar who has been amazed by the young talent at the tournament.

“I saw a guy yesterday [Thorsteinson] pitching a game throwing 85, 86 mph, for a 15-year old to see that is impressive,” said the Hall of Fame second baseman. “Yes, they are going to make mistakes like we did when we were young but it is about learning.” 

Growing up, baseball has always been a central part of his family starting with his uncle Jason Thorsteinson who was drafted by the Montreal Expos in 1991.

One of his idols growing up is fellow B.C. native Justin Morneau who he has met on numerous occasions.  

“Every time I have talked with him it is inspiring,” he said, on meeting the former 2006 AL MVP. “He’s always telling me to continue working hard and remain passionate which has been important for my development.”

Earlier this month he was recruited by Oregon State and has committed to playing with the Beavers once he graduates high school in 2020.

While getting a chance to play for the third ranked NCAA program is a great accomplishment, his sights are still set on getting drafted by a major league team.