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2021 Prospect Micah Bucknam Travels To Where The Opportunities Are

This draft cycle has been atypical for Canadian high schoolers, to say the least. 

Young Canucks have headed south of the border to take opportunities where they come, and to try to create others for themselves that they don’t yet have at home, with most of the country still under strict pandemic protocols and travel limitations. 

Abbotsford, British Columbia native Micah Bucknam has done his best to capitalize on every chance he’s been given, traveling to Arizona, Seattle, Chicago, Los Angeles, and more, with trips still to come. The 17-year-old righthander knows he’s also fortunate that his dad has been able to get time off from work to accompany him, since he’s not yet old enough to even book a hotel room. 

“It’s been crazy,” Bucknam said. “It’s not your typical draft year in any regard. It’s been hard because every single place you go is out of your comfort zone. You can’t wake up in the morning in your own house, ready to go pitch, and know there are going to be scouts there. You travel here or there, you get in last night and have to pitch this morning and it’s a little taste of pro ball, but at the same time a little different because you are still out of your comfort zone every single time you pitch. You’re not with a team, you’re bouncing around, it’s hard.” 

Bucknam—along with numerous other young Canadians like Calvin Ziegler, Mitch Bratt, Adam Shoemaker, and Elijha Hammill—knows where the scouts are, and that even though there are plenty of Canada-based scouts still also stuck at home, he needs to bring himself to where the evaluation is. And every time he returns home, Bucknam also needs to comply with the country’s travel rules, something he’s adjusted to over the last while. 

“A lot of the opportunities right now are in the US, so as a result, you have to go down there,” the 6-foot-2, 190-pound righty said. “That’s been hard because mentally you have to think about quarantining when you come back every time. Obviously I want to be home and it’s my senior year, I’m trying to be connected as best I can but I also realize the future is important. These are opportunities you have to take and sacrifices you have to make.  

“There was a time in the fall, I was invited to the Future Stars Series in Boston in September and I was thinking to myself whether I was going to be able to do it, and I had a little bit of a panic attack before going down and I couldn’t do it. I ended up not going because I would rather have my mental health be OK and I didn’t think the tradeoff was beneficial for me.  

“Then come spring, I knew I needed to go to the US. I need to go down, get some looks, other guys are doing it, I need to do it, and ultimately it’s beneficial for my future. … There were events where in the past I would have been the first guy to jump all over it but when you factor everything in now, I would be hesitant. But ultimately (quarantining for) two weeks is just two weeks. It’s not the biggest deal at the end of the day.” 

The thing that helped Bucknam’s shift in mindset the most was a look both to the future and to the past, and an understanding of how the two might collide, if all goes well.  

“One of the things I’ve always wanted to do is chase the dream to the end,” the Washington commit said. “I want to try my best to make it as far as I possibly can in baseball. Something that changed my mindset was the future of possibilities, and the dream that the 7-year-old kid had playing on a tee-ball field. What would he do, and what would he say, if he had the possibility? If you told him in nine years from now, you’re going to have the opportunity to play in front of major league scouts and you could possibly get drafted, what would you do?  

“Obviously that kid is going to say yes even if there is a quarantine on the way back. So that mindset helped me realize I’m not just doing this for the short term, I’m doing this for the dream I’ve had since I was a little kid.”


The kid with the dream is now throwing a fastball that has been up to 96 and sits 92-94 mph, a slider that is a bit of a meld with a curveball, and a firm changeup, a combination which landed him as the No. 246-ranked prospect in the latest edition of the BA 500. And here’s how he’s broken down his repertoire and what he hopes will take him to the next level. 


“When I was a little kid, I actually didn’t hold the ball properly,” Bucknam said. “I threw the ball with three fingers on it rather than a traditional fastball grip. I remember someone told me that I needed to throw it properly because I was going to hurt my arm. So I did that and the next year (the velocity) starts happening. I was always that thick, kind of chubby kid growing up, and then I slimmed down a little bit and it just came with time. 

“But one thing that’s important to me, especially with the fastball velo, is flexibility. It’s become huge for me. I stretch so much and that’s key in a lot of regards. If you are flexible, you can put on a bunch of muscle and not fear injury as much and your velocity is going to jump up too. That’s been good for me. 

“And grip-wise, I’ve always thrown it traditionally but honestly I’m still learning. I probably started pitching more when I was in my sophomore year and then when I started throwing my fastball, some days it tails, it’s flat other days, and other days it has rise on it, and I don’t know how I do this. Sometimes scouts will come up to me afterwards and ask, ‘What is this? How do you do that?’ And I’m still learning (what happens) when I hold it a certain way. If I hold it with my thumb out, not directly under my fingers, it will rise more, stuff like that.” 

Slider-curveball blend 

“One of the things I was trying to do this year was to differentiate between the slider and the curveball,” Bucknam said. “But some of the scouts said they liked my curveball-slurve thing, it’s better, so I thought I would just throw that a little bit more. That’s blended more into the slider.

“I tried to play around with a spike curveball grip, and I still am playing around with it because I feel like getting that 12-6 action is nice to have that difference, because it’s a different pitch than the slider. You consistently see the slider and slurve action over and over again; it’s different than seeing a spike curve, so I’m still trying to work on that. 

“My slider has a very traditional curveball grip, but it’s been working really well. Over the years, especially more recently, I just figured out how to throw it. I’ve been able to throw it for strikes more recently, which has been good, and that’s key for me. I was talking to a guy in Washington when I was there and he was saying, ‘When you throw this ball you should try to throw this slider for strikes early in the game, so that you can throw it as a wipeout pitch, and bury it in the dirt later because hitters will think OK he threw it for a strike, it might be a strike this time.’ That’s been big for me too.” 


“My changeup has been something I’ve worked on a lot in the offseason,” he said. “It’s firm right now, and that’s one thing I’m working on, is trying to lose a little velo on it, but the movement is really good. I hold it like a circle change but it works like a split change. Usually it’s a hard pitch to hit because it drops a lot, and has more arm-side drop than any other pitch I throw … It plays off my fastball and slider really well too.

“Some of the ways you can take that (velocity) off is by putting more hand on the ball. You don’t want to slow down your motion because that messes it up a lot. And then people would obviously realize there’s a changeup coming. So I’ve been trying to put more hand on the ball and throw it that way, but then sometimes I can’t throw it with as much movement.” 

Command and control

“At the beginning of the season, everyone cannot throw a strike for their life,” Bucknam said. “You’re throwing velo ‘pens and everyone is gassing up. I felt like I did that but my command has gotten so much better. Now I can put the ball wherever I want. I’ve always kind of been able to do that but now if the catcher is going to set up there, I’m going to put it there. Especially with my fastball, I can run it high, run it low, and moving it around has been important and will help me in the future. With my slider, being able to throw it for a strike and not for a strike is harder to do than your average thing, so that will play to my benefit in the future. Even now, being able to throw a slider for a strike and having kids buckle on it is a really satisfying thing.” 

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