Canada Games hopefuls
Stewart Brazil, Bradley Riggs aiming for a spot on provincial team
The 2013 Canada Summer Games are just under a year away and two local ball players are deep into the selection process to represent Newfoundland and Labrador in Sherbrooke, Quebec Aug. 2-17.
Bradley Riggs and Stewart Brazil, both products of the Conception Bay North baseball program and play on the program’s midget team, are two of 35 players vying for a spot on the club led by three prominent provincial baseball figures — Sean Gulliver, Frank Humber and Mark Healey.
“It’s easier to go through it when knowing someone,” said Riggs on going through the process with a teammate. “Most of the boys on the team, I don’t talk to on a regular basis, but I talk to Stewart all of the time.”
Brazil, from Spaniard’s Bay, is the son of Damien and Edwina Brazil. He agreed with Riggs.
“The first year was tough, where I didn’t know anybody because I was the only one from my area who got selected,” he said. “But this year, it’s been good, because not only am I good friends with Bradley because we’re from the same area, but I can talk to the other guys as well.”
It all started for Riggs and Brazil two years ago in the summer of 2011, when both athletes participated in the first evaluation camp in June of that year.
“My mom was biting her nails waiting to see if I had been selected,” said Brazil.
With the original selections made, this is where the narrative breaks in two.
Brazil was selected after the first round of selections, while Riggs was cut.
“It felt pretty bad not making it first,” said Riggs.
Brazil went on to spend the summer of 2011 travelling with the bantam selects and picking up baseball knowledge from the minds of Gulliver, Humber and Healey.
“It’s been an excellence experience the past two years,” Brazil said.
Their narratives would intertwine again when Riggs again tried out during a selection camp in June of this year.
As fate would have it, Riggs, the son of Ricky and Evelyn Riggs of Upper Island Cove, was selected the second time out to be a part of a 20-player roster that headed to Prince Edward Island to compete in developmental games against Canada Games aged players from PEI and the other Atlantic provinces. Brazil was also selected. “It was great getting selected,” said Riggs. “I wasn’t even going to try out.”
Brazil said the entire process has been “excellent.”
He noted that the trip to PEI was a successful one, something Riggs agreed with.
“I was pleased with my performance,” said Brazil.
Gulliver said both players have “showed promise.”
“Both are very good kids and are very coachable,” he told The Compass. “They fit in well and get along with the boys.”
Gulliver said he liked Riggs “athletic ability” and will be looking at him more as a left-handed pitcher.
“He has a live arm,” he said. “But, he needs a bit of seasoning as a pitcher.”
Gulliver said Brazil is also being looked at primarily as a pitcher, but he can “also play a bit of the outfield.”
“He’s a decent contact hitter,” he said.
Gulliver and his staff have been using provincial tournaments to evaluate all of the players involved in the selection process.
This week’s Newfoundland and Labrador Summer Games figures to be the final audition time for all of the players and Gulliver said he will be in town for the last two days of the tournament.
“It’s largely about performance,” said Gulliver about what influences the final roster. “Where do they fit in with the team?”
The roster is expected to be finalized by the end of September.
Riggs and Brazil have different outlooks on how they are as pitchers.
Riggs likes to use his big frame to his advantage, describing himself as a power pitcher who uses a knuckle-curve as an out pitch.
Brazil fancies himself a control pitcher, one who hits his spots and favours his fourseam fastball.
Neither of the athletes expect to be nervous as the tournament progresses.
“I’ll be nervous at the beginning, but as it goes on I’ll try my best to have fun,” said Brazil.
Conception Bay North ball players Stewart Brazil (left) and Bradley Riggs are deep into the selection process for the 2013 Canada Games team.