Adam Rossit and Braden Johnston are one step closer to fulfilling their dream of playing professional baseball.
The Stoney Creek natives were among the best Canadian amateur players with college eligibility chosen to participate in the Blue Jays Baseball Academy’s inaugural Tournament 12 Sept. 20 to Sept. 24 at Rogers Centre in Toronto.
Players were selected by the academy with assistance from the Blue Jays scouting department, Baseball Canada and Major League Baseball Scouting Bureau. Tournament 12 – held in collaboration with Jays hall of famer Roberto Alomar – showcases Canadian talent to professional scouts and NCAA schools across North America.
Heading into the tournament last week, both players were excited to hit the diamond.
“I’m honoured to be among the top 200 players chosen to take part in the tournament. When I got a call saying I had been selected, it put a big smile on my face,” said 17-year-old Cardinal Newman Catholic Secondary School student Rossit, who plays shortstop and third base. “I’m going to go out there and play like I always play. I just want to do my best and make sure I give the scouts and schools the best opportunity to see what I can do.”
“I’m a little nervous, but I’m really excited to see how I match up against the best of the best. It will be interesting,” said 17-year-old Orchard Park Secondary School student Johnston, who plays left and centre field. “When I got an email saying I had been chosen, I was really honoured. I’m just going to go out there and play my best and see what happens; I really hope to show people what I can do.”
Rossit hit the infield for Ontario Maroon while Johnston manned the outfield for Ontario Green at the tournament, which featured three teams from Ontario, two teams from Quebec, one each from British Columbia, Alberta and Atlantic Canada, a combined team from Manitoba and Saskatchewan and a Futures Team made up of players from all provinces.
Teams participated in a workout day where they were evaluated on speed and throwing ability on Sept. 20, before taking to the diamond for round-robin action Sept. 21 to 23 and the playoffs on Sept. 24.
Ontario Maroon held first place in pool B with three wins and one loss and Ontario Green was in third place in pool A with two wins and two losses as of Sept. 24. Playoff results were unavailable at press deadline.
Rossit and Johnston began playing baseball at a young age.
Both players started their career in the sport with the Stoney Creek Optimist Little League and worked their way up through the ranks.
Rossit hit the field for the Welland Bullett Proof Prospects at age 12, Hamilton Cardinals from age 13 to 15 and Oakville Royals at age 16.
He now plays for the Ontario Blue Jays in the Premier Baseball League of Ontario.
“I’ve always enjoyed playing baseball. I have a natural love for the game,” Rossit said. “The team that I’m playing on right now is really fun; they’re a great group of guys. There are many things to love about baseball and the college opportunities are just tremendous. All of those things just keep me going.”
Johnston also hit the field with the Bullett Proof Prospects – named after Chicago Cub Scott Bullett – at age 12 and Hamilton Cardinals for four years.
He now plays for the 18U New Era Bullett Proof Prospects Showcase team.
“Baseball is something I really have a passion for. I really love it,” Johnston said. “I think about it all the time. There’s just something about going on the diamond and playing.”
Looking ahead to the future, both players would like to one day step onto the field with a professional baseball team.
“If I could pick a team to play for, being from Stoney Creek, I’d have to say I’d love to play for the Jays,” Rossit said. “I really want to play professional ball one day. If I continue to work hard, I think that it’s a very achievable goal.”
“If I could play for any team, I’d like to play for the Baltimore Orioles. I’ve been a fan for a while; they’re just my favourite team,” Johnston said. “I want to go as far as I can with baseball. This is a dream, but I would love to pursue it as a career – that would really be a dream come true.”