Tyrese Johnson literally came out of left field at this year’s Tournament 12 (T12), but his performance shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone.
The outfielder, an Okotoks Dawgs Academy player, attended T12 last year and admitted that nerves got the better of him, but he went to Toronto more mentally prepared this time around.
The experience paid off. The Calgarian received “Player of the Game” honours on day three of the showcase tournament, which took place at Rogers Centre from Sept. 17-21. The annual event shines a spotlight on 150 of the best Canadian baseball players between the ages of 14 and 19 years old.
— TBJ Baseball Academy (@BlueJaysAcademy) September 20, 2019
Johnson, who made time for our 7th Inning Stretch series before he left for Ontario, brought us up to speed on his favourite baseball players and those who inspire him:
1. Let’s get to know Tyrese Johnson a bit. How old are you, where are you from, and how did you get into baseball?
I’m 17 years old. I was born in Calgary, Alberta, and I got into baseball when I was about four, and it was simply because I could throw a ball pretty far at a young age.
2. Do some self-scouting for us. What kind of player are you?
I believe my gameplay resembles that of Mookie Betts. I hit for average, with a little bit of power, and my glove and speed really come into play on both the offensive and defensive sides.
3. Speaking of Betts, who is your favourite Major League Baseball (MLB) player and why?
My favourite MLB player is Francisco Lindor, based on the way he plays the game with such heart and passion, and how he always finds a way to be smiling on the field.
4. What is your favourite baseball movie?
The Sandlot. I watched it for the first time with my now teammate Dryden Howse, and it’s been my favourite movie ever since. I think it’s due to the fact that I kind of see myself within the characters of the movie.
5. You’ve attended T12 before. What goals and expectations did you set for yourself heading into the tournament this time around?
My goal now that I’ve been there before is to really showcase what I’m capable of doing. I felt very nervous last year, but now I believe I’m confident enough to show everyone in attendance the type of player I am.
6. What is the best baseball advice you’ve received?
The best baseball advice I’ve ever received was when I was 15 years old from my now coach of the 18U black team, coach Val (Helldobler). He said, “This is just a wiffle ball game,” which is simply a game of backyard baseball with a plastic ball and a bat. I think about this advice often and it really helps bring myself back to enjoying the game I love so much and playing for the fun of it.
7. Who has had the biggest influence on you as a baseball player so far and why?
My parents definitely have had the biggest influence on my baseball. They push me every day to become the man I want to be, and help me strive to be the best in every aspect of what I do.