Sylvan Lake Gulls pitcher Josh Tucker’s 2022 season will go down in the record books.
The 21-year-old from Spokane, Wash. broke the Western Canadian Baseball League (WCBL) strikeout record with 91 last summer.
The southpaw looked virtually unbeatable and emerged as one of the WCBL’s top pitchers.
He was as dominant as they come and Tucker received the ultimate honour in December for his stellar campaign winning the league’s Most Outstanding Pitcher award.
The rookie found out he won the award after a phone call from his parents.
“I was pretty excited when I found out I won the award,” he said. “It’s pretty rewarding. I got to say it’s nice to be recognized for putting in the work and getting the job done.”
Oh, did he ever.
In 10 games, nine of them starts, Tucker finished 6-0 on the season with a 2.23 earned run average (ERA) and struck out 91 batters, 15 strikeouts ahead of Fort McMurray Giants pitcher Luiz Martinez-Gomez.
In the playoffs, Tucker went 1-1. However, he didn’t lose a step on the mound throwing a 3.37 ERA while striking out 16 batters.
Despite this, the American will not return to the Gulls next season.
Instead, he will be staying out in his home state of Washington to play his first season with the Yakima Valley Pippins in the West Coast League.
In the spring, Tucker will headline the pitching rotation for his university club in Missouri the Central Methodist University Eagles in the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics.
His reasoning for leaving the Gulls was due to an innings played limit set by his coaching staff at the collegiate level. He’s expected to throw 80 - 90 innings in the spring and the team wants to keep his arm fresh. If that happens, he’ll only be able to throw 10 - 20 innings this summer and for that reason, it doesn’t seem worth it to travel to Canada.
“I really enjoyed it in Sylvan and it was a really fun summer. I’ve played summer ball for the last three years and that’s probably the most fun I’ve had in the summer,” he said.
“I was able to play the whole season and I felt healthy. The town and area were great… I loved the camaraderie the fans had and the support they showed was exceptional.”
Playing in Sylvan helped him regain his love for baseball. During the pandemic, he questioned whether to continue playing the game. Tucker felt he wasn’t progressing in his life and lost the desire to play.
“Playing up there last summer really made me realize I still love the game and it’s more about enjoying it while I’m there. Not thinking about the future just living in the present,” he said.
“I had this realization that it’s very important for my life and that I need it to get to my next point in life, wherever that may be.”
Even though he won’t be in central Alberta next summer, Tucker is confident in the coaching staff’s ability to put together another successful roster. Tucker urges Gulls fans to trust the process.
“There’s going to be some talent coming in this next year. I know a few of the guys from last year said they’re returning so they’ll definitely be new but that’s part of the process,” Tucker added.