By: Jonathan Hodgson
Canadian Baseball Network
Jordan Procyshen spent much of the 2016 season catching Michael Kopech’s 100 mile per hour fastball in Salem, Virginia.
He’ll start 2017 catch heaters from the likes of David Price and Chris Sale at Red Sox major league spring training in Fort Myers, FL.
A catcher from Okotoks, AB, Procyshen will be entering his fourth season in the Red Sox organization in 2017, after being a 14th round selection in 2014 and rising to advanced-A, playing for the Salem Red Sox in the Carolina League since the second half of 2015.
A member of the Johnny Bench Award watch list in 2014 at Northern Kentucky University and 2015 South Atlantic League all star, received a call from Boston’s farm director Ben Crockett early in January informing him that he would be invited to attend major league spring training this year in Fort Myers, FL.
His mom Lori says that it was a significant and emotional moment for the entire family when Jordan gave her and his dad Dave the news.
After a stellar collegiate career at Northern Kentucky and before that, Northeastern Junior College (CO), where he hit 20 home runs as a sophomore, Procyshen’s first two professional seasons were another resounding success, before his third campaign in 2016 presented some challenges.
Jordan battled recurring hamstring injuries last season, strapping on the gear for just 61 games in which he hit .249 with four home runs and 29 RBIs. He did amass a career-high 16 doubles and throw out a career-best 43% of attempted base stealers (23/53), a particular point of pride for a backstop who has always hung his hat on his work behind the plate.
Returning home to Okotoks this winter to train and coach catchers in the Okotoks Dawgs Academy, the youth program that produced Procyshen and major league pitcher Jim Henderson, Jordan says that a particular point of emphasis this winter has been strengthening his hamstring and doing everything in his power to ensure a strong and healthy 2017 season.
Both Henderson and Procyshen were in attendance at the Dawgs 10th annual awards banquet this past weekend in Okotoks. Henderson recently signed a minor league contract with the Chicago Cubs with an invite to spring training. The first Dawgs alum to play in the majors, the right-hander has appeared in 155 games over four seasons with the Brewers and Mets.
Henderson annually presents the Jim Henderson Scholarship at the Dawgs banquet to a graduating Dawgs Academy player. This year’s went to Danny Donnelly, a born-and-raised Dawg who grew up watching the Dawgs win three championships as a young fan at Seaman Stadium. He is on his way to Chandler-Gilbert Community College this fall.
Procyshen is one of nine non-roster invitees in camp for the Red Sox. While he knows that as a player who finished last season at advanced-A, his chances of breaking camp with the club are slim to none; that is not the focus.
He goes into the spring knowing that of the six catchers who will report to camp, he is sixth on the depth chart. This likely means long days of catching bullpens to lighten the load for the club’s veterans.
The situation is not unlike in 2010 when he was the sixth player to catch a game for the Okotoks Dawgs summer collegiate team that summer, catching 12 regular season games and six playoff games after being summoned from the Dawgs Academy.
That opened eyes and set the stage for a highly successful five-year tenure for Procyshen with the Dawgs’ top team highlighted by him receiving the club’s True Grit Award at the 2014 banquet. (The 2017 recipient, Brendan Rose, is another Dawgs Academy product who will play in his fifth season with the summer-collegiate team this coming summer).
He has an opportunity to make a positive impression on Boston’s major league coaches and players and perhaps put himself in the back of someone’s mind for the future.
Jordan says that his personal goal is to stay in big league camp for five weeks, which would keep him around until mid-March before being sent across the street of the Red Sox complex.
Procyshen’s goal is to begin the regular season with the double-A Portland Sea Dogs.
The big league dreams for the kid from Okotoks don’t seem to be as far-fetched as they once seemed. For Procyshen, it’s just about putting his best foot forward, one step at a time, beginning in the bullpen at JetBlue Park in Fort Myers, FL this spring.