Kingston’s Lukas McDowell will soon have a chance to showcase his pitching abilities on a national stage. Earlier this week, the local baseball player and Frontenac Secondary School student was selected to participate in the Toronto Blue Jays’ Canadian Futures Showcase, an annual event featuring some of the country’s biggest prospects.
According to McDowell, who currently plays for the Canadian Reds Baseball Academy in Ottawa, the journey that led to his selection was a long one, which included several tryouts before the final roster was determined. McDowell and some of his Reds teammates were even given a special first-round tryout after they missed the open tryouts while they were away at an out-of-town tournament.
McDowell explained, “A couple of players from our team got selected to go to the first of the tryouts, and I was included in that, and so was a bunch of our team. There [were] a couple of guys from that tryout that ended up going on to another tryout, and then I was given one more opportunity… So it was a total of three tryouts. I ended up being selected after the third tryout.”
While the selection process was a lengthy one, McDowell remarked that he felt comfortable as he competed alongside pitchers from around Canada for a spot in the showcase.
“It was different for every position. Because I’m a pitcher only, I would do my bullpen, my warmup, and everything I needed to do. But, the only thing they were looking at in the tryouts was my bullpen itself, [which] went up to 20 pitches,” he explained.
When the roster for this year’s showcase was announced last week, McDowell was a little surprised to see his name on the list, especially considering he is a bit younger than many of the other players who were selected to take part.
“I was super excited,” he said of his reaction to the news. “With having just turned 16, at first, I was not expecting to be selected, because it’s kids all the way up to 18 from all around Canada… But when I heard this news, I was super excited because it was something that I didn’t really expect, but I’m so happy that I was able to get the opportunity.”
The showcase will take place this September in Toronto at the Rogers Centre. For three days, athletes will participate in a series of workouts and scrimmages, with scouts from professional teams and American colleges in attendance. According to organizers, since the first edition of the showcase back in 2013, 110 athletes who have taken part in the event have gone on to be drafted by a Major League Baseball (MLB) team.
While McDowell is excited about the opportunity to showcase his abilities in front of professional scouts, he said he is more focused on using the event to earn a scholarship to an American college or university — something that’s certainly possible, given that more than 500 collegiate scholarships have been awarded through the Futures Showcase over the past 10 years.
“The main thing I’m hoping for is to be seen by scouts, mainly university scouts… I’m really just hoping for an opportunity for [NCAA Division 1] scouts, scouts in general from the states, to see me and hopefully consider me for scholarships,” he noted.
“Right now, my goal is to get a scholarship to the states, preferably a good scholarship to the states for baseball. So, I’m hoping scouts will see me [at the Futures Showcase], or, at least, my name will get even further out there than it already is.”
In the lead-up to this year’s showcase, McDowell has spent the majority of his summer in Ottawa, playing as a member of the Canadian Reds Baseball Academy, where he’s been able to benefit from the team’s pitching expertise and exposure to MLB scouts. Throughout the 2023 season, McDowell has had the opportunity to compete in tournaments all over North America, gaining valuable experience that will help his career prospects, he explained.
“It’s been a great [summer], we’ve been really busy, but I can’t complain. We’ve gone to many tournaments in New York, Ohio, and Indiana. It’s been a ton of baseball and I cannot complain because I’m loving it,” McDowell expressed.
Here in Kingston, McDowell has also spent time with the Kingston Colts and Junior Ponies baseball programs, which helped shape his trajectory in the sport.
The 2023 Canadian Futures Showcase will take place from September 19 to 23, 2023 at the Rogers Center in Toronto.