Canuck pitcher a tall order for Reds

BOB ELLIOTT, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 3:11 AM ET

David Dykxhoorn works with troubled teens in his job with the Ontario Ministry of Children and Youth Services.

“I learned a long time ago you can never spend enough time with your kids,” said Dykxhoorn on Wednesday afternoon.

So, for a father-and-sons project, the Dykxhoorns built a mound in their backyard in Goderich (pop: 7,521).

They not only made sure the distance was exactly 60 feet, six inches from pitching rubber to home plate, they also built a mound to exact major-league specifications and brought in red clay.

And on Day 3 of the major league draft of high-schoolers and collegians right-hander Brock Dykxhoorn was the second Canadian taken, going in the 20th round to the Cincinnati Reds.

“Brock was the pitching machine in the backyard and my older son, Brandon, was the hitting machine,” said Dykxhoorn.

Lefty Shane Dawson of Drayton Valley, Alta., and the Prairie Baseball Academy was the top Canuck taken on Wednesday going to the Blue Jays in the 17th round.

In all, 26 Canadians were selected in the three-day draft, the smallest amount since 1992 when 20 were chosen. The shortening of the draft from 50 to 40 rounds certainly cut into that total. Usually 8-10 are selected from rounds 41-50.

The 6-foot-8, 225-pound Dykxhoorn has a scholarship to Central Arizona. He also owns a 90% average and some offers from four-year schools. So, the father says they’ll weigh all options before making a decision.

“He’s 17, going on 37,” dad said.

“Brock could always throw strikes. You can’t defend against a walk. I never allowed him to throw curve balls until last year. Brandon played against pitchers throwing breaking balls at a young age. Some boys wrecked their arms.”

Dykxhoorn says his son has the frame, size and desire. Now, it’s a matter of mastering his pitches.

Oh, that frame! Think Phillippe Aumont.

“A lot of Dutch people are tall,” said Dykxhoorn. “Our parents immigrated here in the 1950s. We may be of Dutch heritage but we’re all proud Canadians.”

The father jokes: “There are now four of us in the house, yet if you saw our grocery bill you’d probably figure we were feeding eight.”

Since Goderich didn’t have a bantam team, Dykxhoorn played with Exeter and won back-to-back Baseball Ontario titles, beating host Listowel for the minor bantam D title in 2006 and knocked off John Axford’s home town of Port Dover to win the bantam D championship the next year.

JUNIOR BERTH

Dykxhoorn moved on to Shawn Gillespie’s Stratford-based Ontario Nationals and from there earned a berth on the Canadian junior team.

Both Brock and Brandon, who works at Edwards Fuels, played triple-A hockey, yet as soon as April 1 rolled around, the skates were put away for the summer game.

“I first saw him a few years ago in Kincardine ... playing shortstop if you can believe it,” said Gillespie, who didn’t see Dykxhoorn pitch until that fall when he threw a bullpen.

“He was about 73 m.p.h. He accelerated his arm and was square to the target. I can’t say I knew this would happen. He was the type who listened and did everything you have to do to get better on his own.”

The Nationals travelled to Florida last March and playing at Al Lang Stadium in St. Pete’s, Dykxhoorn had his coming-out party against a high school from Ohio.

“I’d never seen a kid that size with that type of command, one strike at the knees after another, I was pacing up and down the dugout, I knew he was going to be something special,” said Gillespie, who has been coaching since 2005.

“He has great composure. You never see him kick a water bottle. He never makes excuses. He has what you are looking for mentally. He is even- keeled and doesn’t get fazed.”

Unlike most high schoolers, Dykxhoorn wasn’t at home glued to the internet, listening for his name. He’d missed enough school travelling to the Dominican Republic with the junior team, so he couldn’t afford to miss any more class.

David took the call from Reds scout Bill Byckowski, who asked for permission to call Dykxhoorn’s cell phone at St. Anne’s Catholic Secondary School in Clinton.

Permission was granted since Brock had asked his teacher to take incoming calls.

“Oh, Brock knows he was drafted. The whole school knows, the whole school is celebrating,” said the father.

The Blue Jays, with scouting director Andrew Tinnish and Canadian scout Jamie Lehman were the busiest on the Canadian front, along with Jay Lapp and Marty Lehn of the Milwaukee Brewers — each club drafting four.

Now, it’s only 362 days until Mississauga’s Owen Spiwak of the Ontario Blue Jays is expected to be the top Canadian drafted in 2013.


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