Ontario Insider: Ty Barclay The Definition Of Hard Worker

By Alexis Brudnicki
PBR Ontario Lead Writer

Ty Barclay knows the meaning of hard work.

He’s not a natural – the 16-year-old catcher puts a lot of time into everything he does. He is thoughtful and methodical, extending an incredible amount of effort into his schoolwork, the game, and everything that he does.

“It’s something that doesn’t come easy to me,” Barclay said of school. “It’s kind of like baseball. It never really came easy to me I didn’t find. I’ve felt like I have to work hard to get to where I’m at. It’s the same thing with school and the classroom. Nothing really comes easy to me. I have to try really hard to get the grades I do.”

And he does try really hard, spending the vast majority of his time between Lambton Central Collegiate Vocational Institute – from which he will graduate next year – and Centrefield Sports, where he plays for the Great Lake Canadians, works out, assists his coaches, and sometimes just hangs around.

“Almost every minute,” Barclay said of his time spent on school and baseball. “It’s pretty close – probably a little more baseball – but you do have to go to school five days a week.”

The hard work is paying off for young backstop from Wyoming, who has impressed in his time with the Canadians, and was also recognized by the selection committee for the second-annual Tournament 12 showcase at Rogers Centre in September, where he suited up for the Futures Navy team.

“My biggest baseball accomplishment was probably getting selected to Tournament 12,” he said. “That was pretty big. That was a really neat tournament with lots of very good players…I got two games in [behind the plate, also playing first and third]. It was really exciting.

“[Team Canada legend and New Hampshire Fisher Cats hitting coach] Stubby Clapp was my coach and by the second day I went up to him and I asked him if we could do some extra hitting in the tunnel underneath the stadium, and he was all for it. So I went down there and hit with Cooper Davis and Adam Hall, he put us through some major-league hitting drills, and it was awesome.”

At the five-day event in the fall, Barclay also left an early impression on Chris Kemlo, scouting director of Prep Baseball Report Ontario, who is looking forward to seeing more from the young player as he continues his development.

“He might have the highest baseball IQ on the list [of top uncommitted 2016 catchers],” Kemlo said. “He knows how to handle a staff and goes about his business the right way. His technique is very polished and he has proper actions receiving and throwing and blocks well.

“He hits from the right side with proper mechanics and a balanced stance. He is a baseball rat who plays hard and competes. At 5-foot-9, 155 pounds the biggest component is added strength to take his game to the next level. His leadership qualities are evident. The potential is there to be a top catcher once he physically matures.”

Barclay is looking forward to another season with his London-based team after a great experience last year that was highlighted by several intense games against a very high calibre of competition across the border.

“It was fun, a good year with lots of ball,” he said. “The best part was probably competing against the Ohio Warhawks and the Midland Redskins. Those games were really intense, close games, and they were really fun to play…

“They were very high-end teams with [college] commits up and down their roster. They were committed to the ACC, SEC; on both teams everybody was committed somewhere. It was pretty neat.”

Heading into the upcoming season with the Great Lake program, Barclay is excited about what he learned last year that he can build off of as his team gets going.

“I felt like I caught very well,” he said. “It felt like I improved with handling the staff, with the presence of [former big-league backstop Chris Robinson] here and the other coaches [Adam] Arnold and [Adam] Stern. It was easy to pick up little things to help get pitchers through games.”

He believes the area with the most room for improvement is at the plate, but he continues to put in the work to get better every day.

“I probably need to work on hitting most, getting better as a hitter and having competitive at-bats every at-bat,” Barclay said. “I am working on not having lackadaisical at-bats, or giving at-bats away…I try to pick up little things from the dugout.

“All of team will talk after an at-bat, [for example Adam] Hall would come back and tell me [the pitcher] was showing something with his curveball, or he sees a pretty flat fastball, so when I go up there I would try to jump on the first pitch. But I try to put together solid at-bats.”

Barclay believes his last season was much better than the previous one had been, because he made so many improvements and took his game to an entirely new level.

“Before this year I had never caught velocity before,” he said. “So when I first started catching last winter, guys like Michael Brettell and Daniel Marquez who could bring it a little bit, I felt like I had a long way to go. But it caught up pretty quick. By the middle of the winter I felt like I could handle those guys, and by the end of the year I was comfortable catching 88 easily. It felt pretty good.

“But before this season I never really thought [about] how to approach hitters and stuff like that, when to throw off-speed [pitches]. [Robinson] helped me through that quite a bit, my pitch-calling side of the game. So that improved by the end of the year too.”

Longtime national team catcher Robinson, who retired from playing before the Canadians most recent season after making his big-league debut for the San Diego Padres in September, has been an incredibly valuable asset to Barclay over the years, but especially now that he is with the squad full-time.

“Getting pitchers through really rough innings [and] limiting damage is a big thing he talked to us about,” Barclay said. “Me and Phil Guilmette, he talked to us about how to get pitchers through when they’re not doing so well in an inning, trying to get them through and instead of giving up three runs, giving up one run and holding two guys on second and third.

“Having to bear down in those situations was probably the biggest change I saw, trying to get those guys through.”

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