Todd Leavitt has a one-way ticket to pursue his baseball dream.
The Vernon and District Baseball Association alumnus is in Yuma, Ariz. looking to impress Major League Baseball scouts during the month-long Arizona Winter League.
“My ticket down there is for one-way. I’ll do my best and see what happens, then figure things out,” said Leavitt, who turned 24 on Jan. 23.
Leavitt, a Canadian, has been placed on the roster of the Pericos de Puebla squad, playing against five other teams in Yuma including Team Canada and the Edmonton Capitals.
He had yet to appear in the team’s first two games this week.
“I’m going into this pretty blind but I’ll show them what I have,” said Leavitt. “There’s going to be a lot of talented players there so I’m going to earn whatever playing time they give me.”
Leavitt is a 6-foot 195-pound right-handed starting pitcher whose velocity is 90-92 miles per hour. He has a two-seam and four-seam fastball, cut fastball, slider, curveball and change up in his repetoire.
He also has a lot of wins and experience to impress scouts on his resumé.
Leavitt, who played in Vernon for coaches like his dad, Todd, Sr., Phil Joly, Norm Amiel, Doug Wurz and Barry Jackson, spent three years in the B.C. Premier Baseball League, from 15 to 18 (where he faced current Chicago White Sox infielder Brett Lawrie, a Langley native), before heading to the Okanagan College Coyotes program for a freshman year of college baseball.
After that, he ended up in Mayville, ND, playing for the Mayville State Comets, a powerhouse in the NAIA university ranks.
In three seasons with the Comets, Leavitt started 15 games and went 9-3 overall with two no-hitters. One was a 17-strikeout gem against the University of Minnesota-Morris Cougars.
He helped the Comets to three straight appearances in the NAIA World Series regional tournament.
The Comets are coached by Scott Berry, who, in 35 years at Mayville State, has won 23 regular season conference champions, 21 conference tournament crowns and guided his teams to 26 appearances in the NAIA national playoffs.
“My assistant coach and recruiting coordinator, Peter Pratt, made contact with some of the coaches of B.C.’s elite programs and Todd was recommended to us,” said Berry.
“We recruit a lot of Canadian student-athletes. Personally, I was most impressed with Todd’s enthusiasm and passion for playing. He had some raw pitching skills and some ability so both coach Pratt and I were excited to have him in the program.”
In the summers, Leavitt played in the Western Major Baseball League for the Moose Jaw Miller Express, in 2013-14. Last summer, Leavitt joined the San Diego Force in the Southern California Collegiate League, helping them win the league championship and advance to the National Baseball Congress World Series, the highest level of amateur baseball in the U.S.
While at the World Series, Leavitt earned an invitation to the Major League Baseball Pro Day.
He got a student-teaching job, teaching social studies at Maricopa High School in Maricopa, Ariz., a suburb of Phoenix, which ran through til December. Leavitt then returned to help out with the family’s Sherlock Moving business before reporting to Yuma.
“Baseball got me through school and taught me about work ethic,” said Leavitt of the game he loves. “It’s been my biggest passion since I was a kid. I was always swinging a bat or carrying a glove.”
Asked about his former pitcher pursuing a pro dream, Berry said: “you’ll never find out if you can make it unless you give it a try. He is young and hard-working so the time is now to give it a shot. I wish him only the best in pursuing his lofty dream.”