By TREVOR FITZPATRICK
It doesn’t get much simpler than the first day of the Canadian Futures Showcase.
How fast can you run? How well can you field the ball? How hard can you hit the ball?
Simplicity is good for the scouts. It gives them an easy and fair way to measure each player in the short hour they’re given to do so.
On the other hand, it makes it much harder to stand out as a player.
You have to be the best of the 160 players in a given category to sweep anyone off their feet. If you’re not, something else has to create that ‘wow’ factor to get your name out there.
For Colton Ullyett-French (Calgary, Alta.), it’s his age.
A brief skim through the event’s roster would make his name stand out. That’s because he’s the only player who’s representing the class of 2027. In his own mind though, that doesn’t change anything.
“It does just feel like another day in the life … I play fall league back home and most of the guys are older there too so not much is different here.”
Seeing Ullyett-French in person, you likely wouldn’t even be able to tell he was the youngest member of his Team Navy. In fact, he looks huge next to most of them standing at 6-foot-3, 210 pounds.
He also put on a solid showing in all three categories of the testing. His 60-yard dash was right there with the rest of the pack and his exit velocity was topping out at 96 mph.
Most impressive was his glove. He was one of the only fielders in his group to have a consistent pre-hit routine, showed excellent range to his right and left side, and all of his throws were right on the money at first base.
That glove will be a highly touted component of his game for the positions he registered for – third and first base.
As a current member of the Okotoks Dawgs Academy, perhaps this doesn’t come as too much of a surprise. The organization does have a history of producing talent that has gone on to play for Team Canada as well as college and professional ball.
More surprising is that Ullyett-French decided not to play as a pitcher during the showcase. He pitches quite frequently for the Dawgs Academy but was quite blunt when describing why he decided not to pitch this week.
“I’m not the hardest thrower here, I know if I started throwing here, I would probably get lit up.”
Scouting reports have his fastball velocity in the 77-80 mph range currently. It is possible we see him return to future showcases to pitch as his velocity increases over his high school years.
Of course, Ullyett-French has been putting in the work off the field to achieve that with a variety of different workouts.
“I’ve been lifting weights to get my strength up but aside from that, I’ve been doing a lot of agility work. Pilates and stretching have been huge for me lately.”
It wouldn’t be fair to only give credit to off-the-field work. Ullyett-French has a nice swing which is a large reason why he’s able to get such high exit velocities at the plate.
The big lefty lacks a big leg kick at the plate and trades that out for a much smaller, quicker one. This should — in theory — allow his hands to get to the ball faster and make him highly effective at fouling off balls when he’s behind in the count.
His swing certainly looked the part during batting practice. How it will translate to his upcoming live games with Team Navy remains to be seen.
Ullyett-French and Team Navy will take to the field Wednesday when they play Team Red at 3 p.m., Thursday at 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. against Team Grey and Royal respectively, and their final game is 1 p.m. Friday when they play a second game against Team Royal.