He’s a goal-oriented player who hopes to help the Brooks Bombers take the next step in experiencing postseason success.
Middle infielder Ryan Kucy began the 2023 Western Canadian Baseball League (WCBL) season following an impressive National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA) freshman campaign with the Northeastern Junior College Plainsmen in Colorado.
After watching the Edmonton Prospects as a kid, Kucy is now one of the players that children look up to on the WCBL circuit. And while it took a while to get used to signing autographs, the hitter from the Edmonton area is excited to engage with young fans throughout Alberta and Saskatchewan.
Through the first 13 games of the season with the Brooks Bombers, the AHP Academy product posted a .349 batting average, 14 runs, eight runs batted in (RBI), 10 walks and a pair of stolen bases.
Kucy was a recent guest on Alberta Dugout Stories: The Podcast and he answered a number of questions about his college baseball travels.
Here’s a look at some of the shortstop’s answers from that Q&A session in this instalment of our “1 Thru 9” series:
1. What does it mean to you to be able to play summer collegiate baseball in the WCBL and do it in your home province?
It’s like the coolest thing ever … being a kid and going to the games and looking up to all these guys and then having it come full circle and be playing in this league, it’s really cool to be a part of that and hopefully have the same impact that the older guys had on me on the newer generation.
2. How has the transition been into summer collegiate baseball?
Honestly, it’s been so cool to see. Growing up, going to Edmonton Prospects games and that kind of stuff, and just looking at all those guys and those role models and now being put in a spot where all these kids are coming to me and asking for autographs, it’s really cool to see that I’ve come full circle, pretty much. I’m enjoying myself and it’s been awesome for me and really eye opening.
3. Do you have any goals for yourself for the WCBL season this summer?
The biggest goals for me are to hit above .300 and just have a good season, and also I wanted to be the starting shortstop from day one and, so far, that’s how it’s been. The ultimate goal is to win a WCBL championship, so hopefully we’ll have a chance to do that.
4. The Brooks Bombers are coming off their first franchise WCBL playoff appearance in 2022. How important is it for you to see the ball club evolve and improve?
We want to put on a show for the community, as well. Also, looking at the team that we have, we’ve got a lot of great guys, a great coaching staff. We want to be an underdog team that hopefully turns some heads and makes a couple upsets … the ultimate dark horse in the league. That’s the goal for us, make playoffs and then hopefully make some stuff happen in the playoffs.
5. What do you think of the team around you in Brooks?
We’ve got great hitters from one to nine, everyone can swing the bat a little bit … and honestly with our pitching staff, the guys just want to compete. That’s the goal in baseball is just compete your ass off and work as hard as you can. That’s what we get from most of the guys and the pitching staff. If we keep continuing to do that and keep the chemistry that we’re looking for, I think we’re going to be able to make some cool stuff happen this summer.
6. What are your impressions of head coach Ruddy Estrella?
Coach Estrella is an awesome dude. He keeps the environment fun at practice and at all the games. His positive attitude really has an affect on what we’re doing as a team and stuff like that. If you make a mistake in games, he just keeps you up and keeps you motivated and confident in yourself, which is honestly one of the biggest things in baseball, so coach Estrella is doing an amazing job with the boys so far.
7. You are coming off of your freshman season at Northeastern Junior College, where you hit .290 with 36 RBI, 28 runs, 11 stolen bases and six round trippers in 48 games. What was your assessment of that first year of college baseball?
I had no idea what to expect going from high school to college. It’s a bigger jump than most people would assume, even at the JUCO level, and it was an absolute blast. I made some lifelong friends and just the season we had was pretty good. We got upset in the first round but, other than that, it was a great season, great learning curve. I hit pretty well, I honestly surprised myself a little bit with how well I hit … fielding-wise, as well, I earned a spot at starting shortstop for a bit and then bounced around from second to short the rest of the season, so it was good to play a lot, too, and get a lot of experience in my freshman year.
8. What kind of influence has Taylor Burns and Absolute Human Performance (AHP) had on you?
Taylor single-handedly built me into the baseball player I am today. I went from a skinny kid who played football and had dreams of playing college football, and then came to the realization that I had a better future within baseball and Taylor saw that within me, so my whole career has been based off Taylor Burns. He got me stronger in the gym and he allowed me to realize what I could do with myself in baseball … all the other guys at AHP, too, like Connor Burns, he’s the one who helped me with my swing all the time, and then Ethan Elias, who was also my coach on the Sherwood Park Duke, he just helped pave the path for me to become a college baseball player, as well. I’ve got nothing but great things to say about the guys at AHP. I owe them absolutely everything.
9. Have you thought at all about any plans beyond the JUCO level?
As of right now, I haven’t really gotten any big hooks yet for schools past the JUCO level but I am going to a camp here pretty soon at the University of Memphis, so going there to show what I can do and then hopefully come back with an offer to play Division 1 baseball, finish the dream.