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Tuesday, Jun. 25, 2019
Braedon Whalen: Another piece of the L.U. baseball puzzle
by Randy Pascal

In the mind of Laurentian Voyageurs baseball program general manager Jean-Gilles Larocque, success will come, at least in part, by identifying athletes with a core skill-set, but the ambition and ability to work and develop well beyond their current playing status.

He believes that he has found just that in freshman pitcher and Sault Ste Marie native Braedon Whalen.

"His grit, his competitiveness set him apart," said Larocque at a recent media introduction of one of the northerners looking to make a name for himself, right in his own backyard.

"He's one of those guys who is the first one in to get work done, and the last to leave." Those characteristics will be key, as Whelan is not yet a finished product. "A big part is going to be his velocity," noted Larocque.

"He throws well off the mound, sits around 83 (MPH), 84, and we're hoping to bump that up in the next six months or so. Everything is a little piece of the puzzle to be able to get to that point. In regards to the program, strength and conditioning will be key."

"He's got to have at least two pitches that he can throw for strikes, three is ideal," Larocque continued. "And he has to have command. If he's not throwing strikes, it doesn't matter if he's throwing 100, it's irrelevant."

"I've had good guidance from coaches, especially Steve Hurley in the Sault, for the last two years," said Whalen. "He helped me a lot. He knows a lot about mechanics, and really helped me bring it all together."

"I try not to over-think the pitch, I just throw it," Whalen added. "I would like to work more on my off-speed pitches, my change-up and curveball. They're not that bad now, but I would like to improve on them even more."

"We're just going to have to put him out there every four games, get his bullpen sessions in between games, and let him develop," summarized Larocque. "His baseball IQ is good, but we need him to understand himself even that much more."

"A lot of the Northern Ontario kids are in that situation, we need to play more. So the more game experience we can get him, the more he can evolve." And the quicker that evolution occurs, for Braedon Whalen and his teammates, the sooner the Laurentian Voyageurs can prove themselves formidable opponents as they launch their entry into the OUA (Ontario University Athletics) this coming September.

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