He might not have realized it when the plans were first put in place, but Brett Getz will be bringing a Little League World Series vibe to the Blue Jays Academy Canadian Futures Showcase.
The Vauxhall Academy of Baseball product stayed in touch with several of his tournament teammates from across Canada when they played in Ottawa last year.
Instead of trading pins like they do in Williamsport, Getz says they will all come bearing gifts for each other in the form of swag from their hometowns when they arrive in Toronto for the Sept. 19-23 showcase at Rogers Centre.
“I feel like I know a lot more people going from all over the country,” he told Alberta Dugout Stories: The Podcast. “That’s what it’s all about is building relationships with people you’ve never even met before.”
Getting to see some old friends will add to what promises to be a busy itinerary for Getz and the other athletes as they look to improve their baseball skills and capture the eyes of scouts and college recruiters.
SOAKING IT ALL IN
While this will be Getz’s second Canadian Futures Showcase, he says it will be his first time being in Toronto.
Aside from seeing the sights of “The Big Smoke,” the Medicine Hat product says that means he’s also never been to Rogers Centre, which will be surreal stepping onto the same field as the team he watched growing up.
“When I first step out there, I feel like I have to soak it all in and try not to get nervous seeing everything,” laughed Getz, who went 0-4 with a 6.17 earned-run average in nine appearances for the Brooks Bombers this past summer.
“I’ve been told it’s one of the best atmospheres to play in and the coolest field, especially after the renovations they just made – it will be pretty legit, I’m thinking.”
Getz admits he was a “little starstruck” when he took to the field with some of Canada’s best young talent last season, so this year he wanted to be better-prepared.
“I feel like I have more of an approach and a better mindset,” he said. “I want to go at it, have fun, make sure I’m taking more in of everyone and learn more from the coaches.”
Suiting up for Team Red alongside fellow Albertans Dylan Dekker and Sawyer Jensen, Getz will receive mentoring and coaching from former Major League Baseball pitchers Andrew Albers and Dustin Molleken.
It’s music to the left-handed hurler’s ears, who says he will undoubtedly be picking their brains, as they have already fulfilled his life-long dreams of suiting up for Baseball Canada on the international stage and in the big leagues.
MAKE IT THE BEST TRIP
Getz is among 20 Alberta-born athletes heading to Toronto for the showcase, and they will be joined by several others who were born elsewhere and train in our province.
One of those is Halifax, Nova Scotia’s Benito Bonilla, who has spent the past two years with Dawgs Academy in Okotoks.
The infielder and pitcher is also returning for his second tour of duty at the showcase and, like Getz, believes he is going in more prepared with a better idea of what to expect.
“I just want to take everything in, on and off the field,” Bonilla told Alberta Dugout Stories: The Podcast. “Everyone’s going to be competing to showcase their talents and stuff, but to take a moment to really get to know the people you’re playing with and just enjoy the environment.”
Already having represented his country with the Junior National Team, Bonilla says he’s looking forward to meeting up with some old friends from that program and connect with some new people.
The 6-foot-4, 225-pound utilityman would also like to take part in the Home Run Derby, which is slated for the end of the showcase.
“It’s an honour to be able to go back for a second year in a row,” Bonilla said.
“I’m going to make this trip the best trip and just have fun with it.”
FUTURE IN THEIR HANDS
One thing that will ease the minds of both Bonilla and Getz is that they won’t have to try to impress college coaches and recruiters at the showcase, which used to be known as the Tournament-12.
Bonilla, who is ranked as the No. 2 Alberta-based product by PBR Alberta, has already committed to Missouri State while Getz, who is ranked No. 10, is heading to Sacramento State.
Both say it was a no-brainer to head back to the Canadian Futures Showcase, as they wanted to show the rest of the baseball world what they’re capable of.
Along with the tournament, they will get to take part in a scout day as well as a prospects game and home run derby to wrap things up on the final day.
“The main thing is to have fun and play your game,” Getz said. “Many guys will get nervous in front of all the scouts and the big names there, but you know how you’re supposed to play, so don’t let it get to you.”
Among the other Albertans slated to play in the Canadian Futures Showcase include: Dylan Chopp and Zac Foden (Team Black); Austin Collins, Kai Rempel, Luke Wheatley and Stevyn Andrachick (Team Grey); Eric Hartman, Eric Machej, Keenan Parker, Nathan Flewelling and Patrick MacInnis (Team New Blue); and Colton Ullyett-French and William Labonte (Team Navy). Okotoks Dawgs head coach Lou Pote is also expected to be a coach with Team Black.