By Amanda Duncombe-Lee
At just sixteen years old and one of the younger players selected, Austin Boylan, who grew up in Minden, was recently invited to be part of the 2022 Canadian Futures Showcase among 140 other elite baseball players selected from across Canada. Hosted by the Toronto Blue Jays this past September in Ottawa, the Showcase is a platform where major league and division 1 college scouts from the US can scope out potential prospects.
During his Friday morning game appearance on Sept. 23, Boylan earned Player of the Game after achieving two triples and three RBIs.
He was then one of approximately 70 players to be selected for the Top Prospects Game and participated in Team Stairs, where a former Toronto Blue Jays player gave professional tips and constructive criticism to the young prospects.
Each player was presented with an honorary engraved participant bat commemorating their participation in the 2022 Showcase.
Boylan only started playing baseball seriously in 2020, after the pandemic shut down hockey, and has made remarkable strides since. After earning a spot through a video application to the Ontario Astros Under 14U team in 2020, he is now playing for the Ontario Blue Jays, a top-tier program in the Canadian Premier Baseball League.
Growing up in Minden, which only offers a recreational softball, there were limited opportunities for practice. Boylan also traveled to Fenelon Falls twice per week to play hardball.
“Once Covid came, I wanted to specialize and work in baseball, and because hockey was shut down and there was nothing to do, I tried out for a team in Vaughan and got on the Team Ontario Astros, and it started from there,” he said.
“Really, I just did it on my own. I would go to the field [in Minden] to practice with my mom and stepdad.”
Boylan now lives in Barrie, attending the athletic-based Bill Crothers Secondary School in Markham, where he must balance his extensive training with a full school course load. He’s currently maintaining an A+ average.
In November of 2021, at the age of fifteen, he competed in a game and home run derby at Lone Depot Park in Miami, part of the 14th Annual World Power Showcase, featuring the top high school power hitting prospects from around the world. Boylan hit four home runs to place sixth in the derby.
Boylan said one of his goals is to make the Team Canada PBR Future Games, one of the biggest events in Georgia for players to get committed.
“I have some college interest but nothing really going yet – I’m just not that age. I would like to make the Team Canada under 18 National Team. That could happen in the next year or so, and I’d also like to get invited back to the Canadian Futures Showcase. This year is crucial – [age] 16 is the big breakout year where colleges are looking at the next recruiting class,” he said.
Boylan said he’s currently practising at least four nights a week, focusing on increasing his exit velocity (rate that the ball comes off the bat) and infield velocity (how hard the ball is thrown across the infield). “My exit velo is 96 miles per hour. If I can get into the 100 zone, that’s MLB Division 1 stuff,” he said.
When asked if he has any tips for rural kids who want to achieve excellence in athletics, Boylan emphasized determination. “I’d say grind as much as you can on your own. Just because you don’t have the resources right now, it doesn’t mean you can’t be the player you want, or go as far as you want. Keep your head up and grind. Nothing is impossible.”
“He’s growing up really fast and handling the pressure really well both athletically and academically,” said his father, Jason Boylan. “He’s rising to the occasion in terms of expectations. He’s finally realizing his capabilities and everyone else around him is too.”
“We truly feel he is bound for success and wanted to share it with our local community,” said his mother, Kristen Glass. “We appreciate and want to thank our local sponsors. We hope that others may wish to help support Austin as he continues to work towards his goals, being a local boy. Every little bit helps, and we are so very thankful.”
Glass said that as Austin enters his ‘draft’ years, his family needs to get him to showcases, tournaments and events in the US to gain more exposure. These events are all out of pocket expenses, over and above his player fees with the Ontario Blue Jay Organization.
Interested persons/businesses may donate through the “Believe in a Blue Jay” sponsor program, where 100 per cent of sponsorship funds go towards the named player. Details are available on the Ontario Blue Jays website at www.objbaseball.com under “About OBJ/Sponsorship Opportunities.”
By Amanda Duncombe-Lee