Angels score on Canadian talent in 2017 draft
By Michael DiStefano
Canadian Baseball Network
Add another name to the list of Canadian players drafted into major league baseball.
Toronto native Daniel Procopio was drafted by the Los Angeles Angels 295th overall in the 2017 MLB draft.
“It was the 10th round and Dan Leahy, the Angels area scout for New York, called me. I picked up the phone and he said, “Dan … ” and started chuckling.” Procopio said. “I looked at the TV and it announced Angels select Daniel Procopio.”
However, this was not the first time Procopio heard his name called at the MLB draft. The former Niagara University Purple Eagle was previously drafted by the New York Mets in the 22nd round of the 2013 draft as well, but elected to forgo his professional career to attend University so he could mature as a person and a player.
Electing to decline a pro career in order to go to college could seen as be costly for some, but for the former Purple Eagles hurler it wound being the perfect amount of time he needed to hone his craft and become a better pitcher.
“[By] going the college route I was able to mature a lot more,” he said. “Out of high school I considered myself just a thrower, someone able to just throw hard but not accurately. But these past four years I was able to become a pitcher instead of just a thrower.”
“I’m able to pitch up in the mid-90s, [which is] something you don’t see often in the Metro Atlantic conference, so I was able to overpower most of the hitters in my league,” Procopio said.
In Procopio’s senior year with Niagara he went 6-4 with a 4.19 earned-run average, while leading the team with 75 strikeouts and a career best .203 batting-average against.
The newly minted Angles righty will be facing much stiffer competition, making for this upcoming season a much more daunting task for the Canadian pitcher as he makes his way through the system, with the first stop being rookie-class Orem, Utah.
After deferring his professional contract in 2013, Procopio was determined to start his professional baseball career as soon as possible and was on a flight to 48 hours after being drafted. He flew Pearson-to-San Francisco-to-Salt Lake City. And then he drove to Orem from there.
“I couldn’t wait to start my professional career,” he said.
Procopio will face a much more daunting task as he makes his way through the Angels’ system, with the first stop being with the Orem Owlz of the Pioneer League.
In Procopio’s first outing as an Owl against the Ogden Raptors, the young right-hander tossed a clean inning while striking out a batter.
Despite a successful first outing, the Angels prospect believes he still has many improvements to make to climb the minor league ladder.
“The thing I have to work on the most is being able to repeat my cutter,” Procopio said. “Sometimes it breaks unbelievably and sometimes it just hangs.”
Procopio currently has a three pitch repertoire (fastball, cutter, curve), but he has intentions to add a change-up into the mix to give batters an extra pitch to worry about as he progresses through his career.
“There is a plan in place for my future and it’s the same as in any job,” he said. “I have to work hard and show good results in order to make my way up this great organization.