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Sunday, Jul. 22, 2018
Baseball back-up plan bears fruit for Roy
by Randy Pascal

Ashton Roy has had a back-up plan for quite for time now.

A very talented "AAA" hockey player throughout his youth, Roy would spend his summers on local ball diamonds, always in search of the best competition he could find.

Come the conclusion of his minor midget year on the ice, and drawing little interest from OHL teams, Roy was at a cross-roads. Based on the National Letter of Intent that he signed with the Pratt Community College Beavers Tuesday afternoon at Skaters Edge, it would appear that his decision to focus on baseball was a good one.

"I'm a pretty good hitter, and swing from the left side," stated Roy, outlining his baseball bio. "I have to do better on my defense, ger a little bit quicker, throw a little bit harder, but other than that, I'm an all-around decent baseball player."

Has been for some time now. In September of 2007, Roy joined a primarily underage group of youngsters to form the Sudbury OPP Strike Force Mosquitoes, travelling to Sarnia for the provincial championships with head coach Rick Hynes.

Six years later, Roy would join the likes of Joey Moher, Chase Davidson and Tyson Troscinski, grooming their skills within the Premier Baseball League of Ontario.

More recently, Roy has spent time with the Okotoks Dawgs of the Western Major Baseball League in Alberta, the same destination he travels to come early January, as he enjoys one final eight-month tune-up prior to joining the Beavers in Kansas.

Simply put, there had to be growth in Roy's game, building upon the foundation that had been created locally, allowing the scouts to better envision the potential that lay within this prospect with more-than-solid genetics (more on that later).

"They had to see more defensive reps," said Roy. "Scouts and coaches said they were fine with my bat in the lineup, but my defensive part had to improve." That defensive improvement sees Roy likely to find a home at third base, with perhaps some time at second, as training camp in the Kansas Jayhawk Community College Conference kicks off in late summer.

One of 19 teams competing in the conference, Pratt falls under the auspices of the NJCAA, the National Junior College Athletic Association. And while Roy looks to this opportunity as a springboard that will eventually allow him to earn a spot within the vast expanse that is minor league baseball south of the border, he also knows that it covers far more than sports alone.

"It's about developing as a person, doing stuff independently, different challenges you get to face, leaving Sudbury." Music to the ears of local baseball promoter Jean-Gilles Larocque of The Baseball Academy, a man who has worked closely with Roy and countless others for the past several years.

"Without the support at home, the kids wouldn't have the things they have," explained Larocque. "But Ashton's dad got the big picture, in the sense that it wasn't just about baseball." Little surprise that Kevin Roy might bring a unique perspective to the table.

A gold medallist at the 1983 Pan American Games in Caracas (Venezuela), the elder Roy was a member of the 1984 Canadian Olympic contingent that travelled to Los Angeles, site of the Games of the XXIII Olympiad.

"His dad was really diligent, and really made Ashton grow up," said Larocque. "If you get injured in the first week, are you here for baseball only, or because of school?".

That pedigree, he hopes, will set this local prospect apart. That, combined with a baseball specific skill-set that the scouts don't always see. "It's his bat," said Larocque. "Nobody has left-handed hitters. They're dying for some left-handed hitters, and he's got some pop."

As for Ashton, he is understandably just itching to get started on this next segment of his journey. "There are a couple of guys from Alberta that I played with that are in my conference," he said. "Hopefully, I can go to the minors and never stop playing baseball."

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