2016 Canadian draft list
Letters of Intent
Curtis Commits to Blue Raiders, headsto the Volunteer State
By Matt Betts
Ontario Terrier infielder Elliott Curtis (Waterloo, Ont.) signed this fall with the Middle Tennessee State University Blue Raiders baseball program, a Division 1 school located south of Nashville in Murfreesboro Tenn.
His Terrier career began in 2011 when he played for the inaugural 15u developmental team. Currently on the 18u squad and in just grade 11, it may seem he signed a NCAA letter of intent earlier than most of his peers. Signing in grade eleven may not be the norm, but it is far from unusual when recruiting from south of the border according to Dan Thompson, director of baseball operations for the Terriers. Thompson added that a lot of young prospects sign as early as possible to avoid being passed over.
“These days it is not early at all for high profile players to commit early (to division 1 schools),” Thompson said. “In many cases in the states they even commit in grade ten.”
There are many factors involved for players to succeed in taking their game to the next level. Skill, motivation, focus, strong work ethic, family support and great coaching to name just a few. Timing helps as well. Performing at their best when the spotlight is on, or being in the right place at the right time often seals the deal. Curtis caught the eye of MTSU coaches this past summer while competing at the Sandlot World Series in Nashville.
So just who is Elliott Curtis?
Well, he grew up playing in Waterloo, being named ICBA Junior Player of the Year prior to playing for the 15U, 16U, 17U and 18U Terrier teams. This past summer with the Terriers he had the honour to play in the Oklahoma Junior Sunbelt Tournament, and was named to the All-Tournament team. One of his most significant accomplishments came this fall when he was invited to play at Rogers Centre as a member of Ontario Green at the Tournament 12.
MTSU provides many intriguing and important aspects that gave Curtis the confidence he was making the right decision to sign. Quality coaching was a big factor. After getting to know head coach Jim McGuire and assistant Scott Hall, Curtis said that he “fit in really well at MTSU”, and that he “really liked the way they do things.” Academically, the university has a strong science program that fits well with his biology and Pre-Physical Therapy goals. Oh yeah, and the southern climate doesn’t hurt either.
“The warm climate in Tennessee will allow our team to play outdoors almost year round which will help me develop.” Curtis said.
Playing in the Conference USA against schools such as Rice, Southern Mississippi and Alabama Birmingham was also very important to Curtis when making his decision. The “competitive atmosphere of the games” will be very exciting and something Curtis is looking forward to.
Loaded with a strong throwing arm and the ability to hit for average, combined with a strong work ethic off the field is what Curtis prides himself on. Although he realizes his strengths, Curtis knows he has a lot of work ahead of him to compete with the big boys in the NCAA.
“This offseason and going into the beginning of spring season, my main focus will be on improving my physical strength,” Curtis said. “I am also working on improving my overall speed, which will help improve my defence and ability to steal bases.”
Whenever a young man signs to play college baseball there are people to thank. For this youngster it all starts with his parents, brother and with his Terrier team. Rick Johnston, Scott VandeValk, Ryan Armstrong, John Milton, Christ Hartery, Omari Briscoe and Thompson have all been instrumental in his development and helping him reach his goals. He also wishes to thank Waterloo coach Scott McBrien.
Curtis’ coaches have raved about his abilities and commitment level. VandeValk, the Terriers 18U coach has seen him develop and sure likes what he has seen. There is definitely going to be more to his game as time goes on.
“Elliott is developing into a five tool guy,” VandeValk said. “He is not afraid to ask questions or take risks. He has a great balance for someone this young. Extremely mature and very focused.”
Sure seems like the ultimate compliment for someone who hopes to thrive at the next level.
The Blue Raiders will be welcoming a fine young man to campus. His character, talent and future potential will be an asset for years to come.
A fun and very bright future to follow.