PEORIA, Ariz.—Many players give up football to focus on baseball. Some, like Matt Kemp, give up basketball. Tom Glavine chose pitching over a professional hockey career and Twins prospect Aaron Hicks was a talented golfer before he starred on the diamond.
Chris Shaw from Holy Trinity High in Calgary, Alberta, gave up curling to focus full-time on baseball.
"It's always been on the back burner to baseball, but it's something I do with my friends," Shaw said. "It was two times a week in the winter to just keep me busy because we get all the snow in Manitoba, but my dream has always been to become a professional baseball player."
The 6-foot-1, 180-pound catcher stood out over the past few days at the Arizona Senior Fall Classic with his strong hands behind the plate and a quick righthanded bat.
Originally from Winnipeg, Manitoba, Shaw moved to Okotoks, Alberta, last month to train at the Okotoks Dawgs training complex under former California catcher Brett Thomas.
"Brett's really helped me with catching," Shaw said. "He's really helped me with receiving and throwing out runners and footwork and all that. We've got a great facility there and there's tons of coaches to help with my swing whenever I need them."
Okotoks Dawgs' Director of Baseball Brandon Newell, who used to scout for the Brewers, has been impressed with what he's seen out of Shaw.
"He showed up at our academy this year in August and for a kid that didn't know any of our players before coming in, he walked right in and took a leadership role," Newell said. "Our players jumped on his back because of his personality. For his position, it's obviously important, but to have a guy who's an outsider come in and do that was very special."
Shaw also catches for the Canadian Junior National Team.
"It's been unreal," Shaw said about playing for the team. "I never thought I'd have a chance to do something like that. Representing your country is a really special thing to do. And you get to see so many players and get to know so many people around the world, so it's been really exciting."
In addition to his tools, Shaw also has the intangibles scouts look for in young players, especially catchers.
"It's really special when your best player is also your hardest worker," Newell said. "That's Chris to a T. He wants to get better everyday and his receiving skills have come a long way—and Brett Thomas deserves a lot of that credit. He's going to continue to work and I'm really excited to see how he looks in the spring because now we get to go work at our indoor facility for three or four months because we won't be able to get outside.
"It's not going to be for a lack of work if he's not better."
• Two shortstops that are sons of former big leaguers stood out at the event: Jose Vizcaino Jr. from Parker High in San Diego and Lucas Hunter (son of Brian L. Hunter) from Central Catholic High in Portland. Vizcaino Jr. Is more physical at 6-foot-2 and 185 pounds, while Hunter is listed at 5-foot-11 and 160 pounds. Both are righthanded hitters and Vizcaino Jr. showed more present strength, though Hunter has more speed. While he's not as fast as his father was, Hunter runs a 6.60-second 60-yard dash when healthy, but he sprained his left ankle this week in a collision with an outfielder while going out for a pop-up. Both players are still uncommitted.
• Players at the event had the option of being electronically timed for the 60-yard dash. Here are the 10 fastest participants:
Jacob Scavuzzo, 2012 of, Villa Park (Calif.) HS, 6.33
Justin Black, 2012 of, Billings (Mont.) West HS, 6.34
Branden Kaupe, 2012 inf, Baldwin HS, Wailuki, Hawaii, 6.46
Tyler Williams, 2015 of, Kellis HS, Glendale, Ariz., 6.47
Taylor Grace, 2012 2b, Rancho Cucamonga (Calif.) HS, 6.52
Cody Schmidt, 2013 c/inf, Desert Oasis HS, Las Vegas, 6.54
Steven Scaccia, 2012 of/rhp, Willoughby (Ohio) South HS, 6.55
Alika McGuire, 2012 inf, Kamehameha HS, Honolulu, 6.56
Jackson Willeford, 2012 inf, Ramona (Calif.) HS, 6.56
Taylor Uselman, 2012 of/rhp, Farmington (N.M.) HS, 6.61
Austin Johnson, 2012 of, Mountlake Terrace (Wash.) HS, 6.61
Scott Kingery, 2012 inf/of, Mountain Pointe HS, Phoenix, 6.61