CALGARY - Brant Stickel’s story is unorthodox, just like his delivery.
But it’s on the up and up — with the real possibility of rising even higher, it seems, with every passing day.
Two years ago, the Alberta pitcher was toiling for the University of Calgary Dinos baseball club.
Last year, the Veteran native was making a name for himself with the Calgary Vipers.
Now, Stickel is a member of the Los Angeles Dodgers after a couple of crazy — but successful — weeks in Phoenix.
Following a sudden chance to throw a bullpen session for a Dodgers scout in Phoenix, Stickel signed a contract with the National League club and leaves Wednesday for winter ball in Venezuela. When he returns this winter from South America, he’ll head to spring training with the Dodgers in hopes of one day fulfilling his big-league dreams.
“It’s been madness these past couple of weeks,” said Stickel from an Arizona hotel room Tuesday evening. “It’s so hard to see where this is going because everything’s happened so fast.
“But you only live once, so you may as well go for it.”
He’s received family help along the way, as cousin and NHL star Shane Doan helped grease the chance for
Stickel, 23, to showcase his skills to the major-league scout. Doan even paid Stickel’s way down to the desert for the sudden bullpen session arranged by the Phoenix Coyotes captain’s agent.
So Stickel thanks his cousin for the opportunity, as well as a few believers back home.
“I owe a lot to the Dinos program,” said Stickel, who spent four seasons with the U of C club, including the last two as an ace pitcher. “It’s a great development program.
“Then to walk onto the Vipers … they helped make this happen. (Vipers ace) Joe Sergent helped me so much with keeping my confidence.”
In particular, Sergent and the Snakes helped Stickel change his delivery to sidearm after last year’s all-star break, improving the way the young hurler pitches.
His increased velocity and movement is what caught the scout’s eyes in Phoenix.
“This is a step in the right direction,” said Stickel, who was 3-4 with 30 saves and a 3.07 ERA with the Vipers this past summer. “It’s been quite a ride. It’s definitely the long way around, but I guess being from Canada, basically you get your chance out of the (independent) leagues. It’s not like Americans, who have a better opportunity with all the baseball programs growing up.”