By IAN WILSON
Right-hander Julian Tymochko has been a steady workhorse for the Edmonton Prospects and their rotation this season.
The Toronto-area product has put in six Western Canadian Baseball League (WCBL) starts thus far and leads the Prospects in innings pitched (37), strikeouts (44) and wins (he’s tied with Jordan Moffat with three).
He was also the club’s Opening Day starter, drawing the enviable position of starting the season in Sylvan Lake at the brand-new nest of the Gulls. Tymochko came through with a win in that historic game and he’s been a consistent hill topper (with one notable exception that we’ll address in this story) all summer.
Tymochko was generous enough to make time for us and our 3 UP, 3 DOWN series of questions. Here’s a look at what he had to say …
1. You’re an Ontario guy who played for McMaster University. Tell us a bit about where you’re from and how you ended up playing for the Edmonton Prospects in the Western Canadian Baseball League (WCBL) this summer?
I’m from Toronto and have played pretty much all my baseball in the city and Ontario growing up. I go to university just 45 minutes outside of Toronto, so my collegiate competition is also limited to the province. I was initially recruited by the Fort McMurray Giants and I reached out to the rest of the league once they opted out of the 2021 season. I was lucky enough to catch Prospects coach Jordan Blundell’s attention and here I am.
2. No matter what happens in your life, or your baseball career, from here on out you will always be the first pitcher to win a game at Gulls Stadium in Sylvan Lake. You achieved that historical feat at the opening of their new ballpark in the franchise’s inaugural game. You pitched very well on that June 18th night, logging five innings of two-hit baseball while striking out nine batters. What are your memories of that 16-9 victory and what does it mean to you to pick up that win?
It was a pretty surreal feeling and the energy was unmatched. I remember feeling super-nervous pitching after only training for almost two years, and having to do that as the Opening Day starter for the first time in front of paying fans. Picking up the win meant a lot to me, confirming that my hard work during the COVID-19 pandemic really paid off.
3. In a broader sense, what does it mean to you to be playing in the WCBL this summer and what are your impressions of the league, even if it is a bit different from a typical WCBL season?
It’s been an incredible experience so far. The fans are amazing and have such a big passion for baseball and the league. It’s also been great to be playing baseball after such a long break. Being an Ontario guy and especially playing university ball there, we don’t get many opportunities to play out of province. I’m hoping that my performance this year will open some doors so that guys from my home province will get to enjoy the amazing experience I have.
1. I know you don’t have a lot of down time this summer, but as an Eastern Canadian coming to Alberta, what are your impressions of the province and its people? Were there any perceptions you may have had about Alberta that were either confirmed or changed by coming out here?
I’ve had a blast here so far, and I’ve been loving the province and its people. Everyone has been super-nice and the land is beautiful. I’ve been able to see most of the province, including the Rockies and the Badlands so far this summer. One of the best things I’ve noticed about Albertans is that they know how to relax. In Toronto, everyone is always in a rush to get somewhere and don’t take time to just cool down and enjoy themselves.
2. It’s a full count, with the game on the line near the end of your night as a starting pitcher … what’s your approach and the pitch you’ll often lean on for an out?
I think it’s all a feel thing at that point. Some nights the fastball is still live and that’s the go-to, but other times it’s the changeup or curve. I can usually throw all three pitches for strikes, so at that point it’s up to my catcher. Pitchers and thinking usually doesn’t end well.
3. You’ve been fairly consistent in your WCBL starts this season, but you had one particular outing that got away from you: July 16th against the Lethbridge Bulls. If you’ll indulge us, what went wrong that night? How did things unravel, and more importantly, you rebounded with what looked like your strongest start of the year. How did you right the ship so quickly and put in eight solid innings against Sylvan Lake on July 22nd?
I think my arm felt as good as it’s ever felt in that start against Lethbridge, which doesn’t really fit the stat line. That night was a pitcher’s nightmare in Spruce Grove as the wind was howling out and the field is smaller than most around the league. It felt like everything hit in the air was going to leave the yard. I think the other starter and I gave up a combined 18 runs that night.
Telling myself that part of the outing was uncontrollable made me forget about it and come back in my next outing knowing I have good stuff. Oh, and the wind was blowing in that game, which was a nice change.