Taggart targets the mound
Putting away his bat may have been the best thing for Aiden Taggart’s baseball career.
The 15-year-old Grimsby resident gave up hitting to concentrate strictly on pitching this season and the results have been impressive.
“At the start of this year I planned to be an outfielder as well but as the season progressed I’ve leaned more into the pitcher-only role,” Taggart said. “It’s real helpful because I don’t have any outside distractions with hitting or fielding. I have a schedule just for pitching and I stick to it and I’m always ready to go out when I need to.”
Taggart, who plays club ball with the Fieldhouse Pirates, felt confident enough in his pitching to try out for Team Ontario when told of the opportunity by Fieldhouse coach Perry Scott, who is also a coach on Team Ontario.
“It just kind of happened,” Taggart said this week before Team Ontario took to the field at Oakes Park in Niagara Falls at the Niagara 2022 Canada Summer Games. “There were two tryouts and I went into both of them just trying to do the best I could and happy with whatever would happen and luckily I made the team.”
Taggart, who is being used as a reliever, made his Games debut earlier in the week against British Columbia striking out two and permitting one hit in a scoreless inning of work.
He is enjoying competing against some of the top young players from across Canada in the U-17 tournament.
“It’s extremely helpful playing against guys that are up to two years older than me. It’s a great view of what the next level is going to be like,” he said.
Taggart throws a four-seam fastball, curve and change-up.
“I like using my fastball a lot but I think my change-up is my best strikeout pitch,” he said. “I’ve sort of had it at the beginning but making adjustments to it is what really makes it so good.”
Taggart said changing speeds is key against good hitters.
“It’s really important, especially playing in a tournaments like this where there are lots of college commits and a few JC (junior college) guys. They can all hit the fastball but throwing a change-up to keep them off balance is an easy way to collect outs.”
Taggart, who is scheduled to enter Grade 11 at the new West Niagara Secondary School, has been blown away at how well things have been organized for the team.
“It’s been kind of surreal how big of an event this is and how well managed it’s been by the volunteers,” he said. “It was amazing to see all those people come out and support the Games and amazing to walk the floor (at the Opening Ceremonies) with all of the other Ontario athletes.”
He has enjoyed the experience with his new teammates as well.
“It’s been great. Meeting new people through baseball is one of my favourite things and I’m glad I could be with such a great group of guys.”
Taggart played travel ball for one year with the Beamsville Stingers before moving to Fieldhouse four years ago.
His long-range goal is to secure a scholarship to play baseball in the United States.
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