By Mark Colley
When Ty Hamilton isn’t at the baseball field, catching flies in the outfield and pumping a top-tier curveball and changeup past hitters, he’s doing one of three things: fishing, hunting or playing video games.
Right now, he’s playing a lot of MLB The Show 22, with a side of NBA 2K23, on his new PS5. “I’ve been wearing it out,” Hamilton said.
He’s adamant, however, that he won’t fish in the cold. Ice fishing? Not a chance.
Hamilton had to endure the cold at the Canadian Futures Showcase at RCGT Park in Ottawa last week, where he was one of 140 top high school prospects from across Canada playing in front of MLB scouts and college recruiters.
Hamilton, 18, was one of four players from Ottawa’s Watson Elite Baseball program at the showcase. Catcher Sam Byers, first baseman Tyler Bono and pitcher Sam McKay also attended.
Hamilton went 3-for-12 at the showcase, walking once. His shining moment came in his team’s Sept. 23 win, when he singled in a run and scored twice on a wild pitch, exhibiting his speed on the basepaths.
But he said speed is not the biggest part of his game.
“I think I really excel out [in centre field], but obviously speed plays a big part in defence in the outfield,” Hamilton said. “If I can get the bat going a little bit better, I can be really good in this game and hopefully it happens in the next little bit.”
Hamilton also appeared in the prospects game, walking once and striking out once.
While he didn’t pitch at the showcase, Hamilton said he’d like to keep playing on both sides of the ball at the next level.
Hamilton started playing when he was three, following in the footsteps of his dad Greg, who is head coach and director of the Canada men’s national team. He played baseball in Orleans growing up and currently plays for the Canadian men’s junior national team.
Byers, a 16-year-old catcher, also began playing baseball at an early age and is currently a Grade 12 student at Cairine Wilson Secondary School in Orleans. He said his catching ability comes from playing goalie in hockey, which he still plays.
“I get to control the pace of the game, what goes on,” Byers said. “I get kind of behind the scenes when I’m catching, so I prefer to be there instead of out in the field.”
As a catcher, he described his style of game-calling as “aggressive.”
“I like to get ahead of the guys. Attack with fastballs, and then we can go to the other stuff, and then we can work in changeups and breaking balls,” Hamilton explained.
What stood out to Byers about baseball instead of hockey, volleyball and basketball, which he also plays, is the tough mental aspect.
“The best players have the worst days and then, at the end of the day, you just wipe it all off and it goes to tomorrow,” he said. “You just have to shake it off and do your best the next day and you can’t let those things sit in your head.”
At the showcase, Byers went 0-for-3 with four walks, two runs scored and a stolen base.
Byers said he may take a gap year next year, although he’s not certain of his plans yet. He said he’s spoken with a few schools and has his eyes on the University of British Columbia, as well as some junior colleges in the United States. He wants to major in something that can get him into a front office.
Hamilton, currently taking a gap year, said he wants to play on the west coast, although he’s still enjoying his current opportunity with the Canadian men’s junior team.
“It’s really exciting right now,” said Hamilton, who played in the U-18 World Cup earlier this month. “I get to go to Florida, Dominican, just travel the world … It’s been great, not only life-wise but baseball-wise. I’ve improved a lot, I think, and I don’t think I’d be where I am today without the national team program.”
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