Kurt Horne's solid season has led to an invite to the national junior baseball team's fall training camp in Florida next month.
The towering left-handed pitcher with the Victoria Eagles will be among the young recruits when they settle into the Orlando area for a 10-day camp that will include games against the Toronto Blue Jays, Atlanta Braves and Detroit Tigers' fall instructional teams.
"That's definitely my biggest goal right now," the six-foot-five, 185-pounder said of an opportunity to make the national junior team. "I'm very appreciative of all the opportunities that I've got and I'm very thankful for this one.
"If I play the way I know I can play, I feel that I've got a good chance [to make it]," added Horne, a Grade 11 student at Edward Milne Community School in Sooke.
The 16-year-old is coming off an impressive season with the Eagles in which he finished with a 5-2 record with a 2.00 earned run average.
Horne will head out, along with four other Mainlanders from the B.C.
Junior Premier Baseball League, to Phoenix with Doug Mathieson's Diamondbacks scout team prior to joining the national junior recruits in Florida.
He was also a part of the B.C. Selects team that claimed silver at the Canada Cup in August in London, Ont., pitching two shutout innings in the final.
"By the end of the year he was one of our best guys on the mound," said Eagles general manager Gautam Srivistava. "He turned the page after the first month. Every time he went out there he threw a good game and got us wins.
"He pitched against some strong offensive teams, like Okanagan, and beat them and when he started doing that his confidence skyrocketed.
"[The national junior camp] is going to be a really good experience for him. Going down with these guys from all across Canada, who are the top guys, and he's going to come back with information not only to help himself but help the club."
Horne is also one of the younger recruits who will surely capture some attention over the next season.
"He's got a lot of size and he's only 16," said Srivistava. "He needs to fill out and get stronger. He has a plan, though, which is huge. He's got a lot of people behind him, which will help him."
One of those people, besides dad Rocky and the Eagles, is personal pitching coach Marty Hall who has worked with numerous Vancouver Island prospects.
"He's still thin, he'll fill out," said Hall. "But he has a very good arm, a very loose arm and he's a tall, left-handed pitcher and there aren't a lot of tall lefthanded pitchers around.
"Being nice and loose and effortless in his mechanics, that gains a lot of attention because he can repeat his motion. He has some velocity and those are the things, as you improve and get older in your career, that's what the next level is all about," added Hall.
"I don't think there are a lot of six-foot-five, left handed pitchers in Canada right now, so timing has a lot to do with it."
As does good old fashioned hard work.
"It's been a good year. I'm appreciative and just want to keep working hard," said Horne, who looks forward to his trip south. "I was happy, excited when they called. I'm relaxed now. I don't want to get too nervous and worked up about it, just stay focused."
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