* C Jordan Procyshen (Calgary, Alta.), here applying the tag at Fenway Park with the class-A Lowell Spinners, was drafted in the 14th round from Northern Kentucky by the Boston Red Sox. The Okotoks Dawgs grad hit .274 with four doubles, a homer and nine RBIs in 28 games at Lowell and class-A Greenville.
Huge season lands Procyshen on Red Sox radar
By Jonathan Hodgson
For the past several years, Dawgs catcher Jordan Procyshen has made his place of residence in the dirt behind home plate at Okotoks’ Seaman Stadium. By season’s end in a whirlwind 2014, he would strap on the gear for three different teams, be drafted by one of baseball’s storied franchises, and get a glimpse of what could be, in one of baseball’s iconic ballparks.
The name Procyshen has become almost as synonymous with Dawgs baseball as Brett Thomas or Manny Kumar or Jeff Duda. From rising through the Dawgs Academy to spending parts of four seasons with the Dawgs summer collegiate team, the hometown product wore a Dawgs uniform for seven years, from 2007 to 2013.
Procyshen began 2014 focused on his junior year at Northern Kentucky University (NKU). It was his first with the Norse, after an outstanding two years at Northeastern Junior College in Colorado, where he hit .420 and launched 15 home runs in his sophomore year.
Also at NKU were senior Zac Asman and junior David Head, both members of the 2013 Dawgs. Head and Procyshen also played together both years at Northeastern.
After one homerun and three RBI’s in his first 13 games at NKU, Procyshen got back to his old ways, finishing the season with 10 home runs and 33 RBI’s, starting all 51 of his team’s games.
A very solid first year at the NCAA Division 1 level for sure, but the 2011 Canadian Junior National Team member was hoping that this was the beginning of his 2014 as summer rolled around.
At this time a year earlier, in June of 2013, Procyshen had big hopes fresh off of his 15-home run campaign at Northeastern.
Eligible for the MLB draft, he was invited to Kansas City Royals pre-draft workouts which included A day of activities on the field at Kauffman Stadium in Kansas City, led by instructors such as Hall of Famer, George Brett.
All while wearing his own ‘Procyshen’ Royals jersey and using a major league locker complete with his nametag.
He had signed to return to the Dawgs for the summer of 2013 but after being given the Royal treatment, he was hopeful that the future was now.
The Royals passed on Procyshen, as did everyone else. He would go undrafted in the 2013 draft and return to Okotoks.
He was able to move past the disappointment and continued to swing it, hitting .313 with 29 RBI’s in the regular season, and .393 with an on-base percentage over .500 in eight playoff games. All while continuing to provide the stellar defensive work behind the plate that has become his calling card.
For his contributions, Procyshen was named the recipient of the team’s True Grit Award.
Procyshen recalls the disappointment of the 2013 draft,
“This was a very tough time for me.” He says. “There was a lot of hype leading up to the draft and for nothing to come of it was a tough pill to swallow.”
Though he didn’t know it at the time, Procyshen says it was the best thing for him,
“People say everything happens for a reason, and looking back on it, that truly wasn’t my time. My teammates with the Dawgs that summer helped me a lot in gaining confidence back.” He says.
“They became my family.”
That is how we get to this June.
Having secured a contract for the 2014 summer collegiate season in the prestigious Cape Cod League, Procyshen was again hoping to be selected in the draft, but was going to make the best of whatever happened.
This time when the first week of June rolled around it was different as the Boston Red Sox took Procyshen with their 14th round selection.
Procyshen remembers draft day 2014,
“The previous year I sat around listening to the draft, and I decided I wasn’t going to put myself through that pain again.” He says. “I was out golfing with my brother [Jared] and friends when I got the call that I had been selected by the Red Sox.”
His thoughts when he picked up the phone?
“Everything that I have worked so hard for finally paid off in that moment.” He recalls, “All of the heartbreak from the year before didn’t even cross my mind when I was finally chosen.”
Moments later, it became a very unique moment nobody could have scripted. With the very next pick, the St. Louis Cardinals selected fellow Dawgs alum, catcher Chris Shaw (Winnipeg, Man.). Both catchers were teammates in the Dawgs Academy and on the 2013 Dawgs summer collegiate team.
“It is a special thing to be drafted and for Chris and I to be selected in back-to-back picks like that is incredible.” Says Procyshen.
Procyshen says his former catching partner is going places himself.
“Chris is a Dawg through and through. He works his tail off and it has paid off with him being drafted twice now, and it will most likely happen for him a third time since he decided to return to school.”
The Milwaukee Brewers previously drafted Shaw after his senior year in the Dawgs Academy in the 38th round in 2012. This time coming off of his sophomore year at Midland College in Texas, Shaw elected not to sign with the Cardinals, deciding instead to report to the University of Oklahoma for his junior year.
After a few weeks to sort out the formalities, work visas and such, Procyshen was all settled in to Lowell, Mass., home of the Spinners, the short-season class-A affiliate for the Red Sox.
While their son was no longer behind the plate for the first time in five seasons, Jordan’s parents, Dave and Lori, or ‘Mama and PapaPro’, still faithfully attended Dawgs games at Seaman Stadium. They in fact housed a former Northeastern teammate of Jordan’s, Chris Sievers, who enjoyed a fine season of his own as a starting pitcher with the Dawgs.
The only difference was that now as they joined 4,767 others at another record-breaking Dawgs Canada Day game, Mama Pro came prepared to listen to the game happening in Lowell, from her seat in Okotoks.
Jordan’s debut didn’t come that night, but finally did take place on July 3rd when the Connecticut Tigers, Detroit’s affiliate, visited the Spinners.
Procyshen went 1-for-2, lacing his first professional hit directly to none other than left-fielder Kasey Coffman. An alum of Arizona State, the 2011 Dawgs MVP was drafted in the 10th round by the Tigers in 2013.
The two old Dawgs were able to meet up and swap stories after the game.
LeLacheur Park in Lowell is approximately 45 minutes from Fenway Park, the fabled home of the Boston Red Sox, and the big club schedules the Spinners to play a home game at Fenway every season. Wouldn’t you know it, this year’s game was nicely timed for Procyshen’s arrival, taking place on July 13th.
Procyshen remembers his taste of the big league stage,
“Getting the opportunity to play at Fenway was an unbelievable experience.” He begins. “We arrived at the park about two hours before we had to stretch so we could take ourselves on a tour. From the depths of the visitors locker room all the way out to the ‘red chair’ I was able to take it all in.”
The ‘red seat’ he talks about, is the lone seat that is painted red, 37 rows up in right field, marking the landing site of Ted Williams’ 502-foot blast on June 6, 1946, the longest home run hit in Fenway Park.
The experience gave Procyshen major incentive to keep working so that someday he may return as a resident so to speak, and not just a visitor,
“On top of being able to explore the historic park, I was lucky enough to see some action in the final four innings of the game. This little taste of Fenway makes me work harder so that one day I can call it home.”
With four young catchers on the roster in Lowell, competition for time behind the plate was tough. Procyshen saw action in 19 games and hit .259 while throwing out six base stealers in a little over a month’s time.
In mid August, the class-A Greenville Drive, next level up from Lowell in the system, lost a catcher to injury, so a call was placed.
Days later, the pride of Okotoks, Alberta found himself settling into new arrangements in Greenville, S.C., about to put on his third different uniform of the year.
And he wasn’t filling a roster spot for the South Atlantic League squad, starting behind the plate in nine of Greenville’s final 12 games, posting a .300 average.
During a road trip to Charleston to play the RiverDogs, the New York Yankees affiliate, 2013 Dawgs MVP & WMBL batting champion Thomas Rodrigues paid ‘Pro’ a visit, and on Aug. 30th back in Greenville, Procyshen belted his first professional home run deep to right at Fluor Field.
Mama Pro was sitting behind home plate.
On Sept. 1, Jordan Procyshen’s remarkable 2014 season finally came to a close. From college ball at Northern Kentucky in February, to Lowell and Fenway Park in July, and finally Greenville, S.C. in August, he could finally step off the ride until next spring.
The Red Sox were encouraged enough with Procyshen’s first season to assign him to instructional league. So after a brief visit at home, he was back on a plane, this time to the Red Sox spring training facilities in Fort Myers, Fla.
Approximately 50 minor leaguers are invited to an organization’s instructional league in September; these are typically the most highly regarded prospects in the lower levels of an organization. Players have workouts and games on a daily basis for approximately four weeks, all under the watch of coaches and scouting staff from the organization.
It was a very nice feather in the cap to end his first year.
Jordan Procyshen’s 2014 season finally came to a close when instructional league concluded on Oct. 7th. He has since returned home, and will be in Okotoks until after the Dawgs Awards Banquet, returning to Florida for spring training in February.