Graduating Class: 2020
Primary Position: Pitcher
Weight: 205 LBS
Team: Langley Blaze
Baseball Roots: The Montreal Expos drafted uncle Jason Thorsteinson in 1991
When you hear about a sophomore southpaw throwing in the high 80’s out of British Columbia, you first think of James Paxton. But it’s not 2005, it’s 2018, and Justin Thorsteinson is making strides to become the next great BC arm. And he’s not just a pitcher, he also happens to be one of the better left-handed bats in the 2020 graduating class.
Thorsteinson is way ahead of the game for a kid his age: He was the first Canadian kid to commit to an American school from his graduating class as he committed to his dream school, Oregon State University. In September, he was the second youngest teenager at Tournament 12, hosted under the Rogers Centre roof, and later in the year, he was the youngest player on the Canadian Junior National Team. He’s an advanced player, and he’s being treated like it.
Committing to play for the Oregon State Beavers is a great thrill for Thorsteinson. “Oregon State is one of the best college baseball programs in the country, and obviously they showed that with there amazing 2017 season,” Thorsteinson said. “Pat Casey, Pat Bailey, Nate Yeskie and many other of the coaches know so much about the game and have developed some of the best Major League Baseball players like Jacoby Ellsbury, Darwin Barney, and Michael Conforto. The campus is beautiful, beaver nation and the fans are so supportive, I can’t wait to be apart of that.”
He will be sharing the experience of playing for Oregan State with a familiar name: Cesar Valero. Valero, one of the most highly touted 2019 prospects, has known Thorsteinson for years now. Recently, they had a chance to speak to each other about the great opportunity they will be sharing. “We talked about OSU and realized how cool it is how us Canadians will be apart of the Beaver Baseball program in the future and be teammates down in Oregon.” Canadian fans will be rooting for these two Canucks south of the border, a privilege they have experienced once before with the Canadian Junior National Team.
For Justin, being a part of the Canadian Junior team was a “dream come true” and a “blessing.” “I couldn’t put into words how amazing it felt putting that uniform on and having Canada across my chest.” In September 2017, the BC native got the phone call he’d been hoping for from Canada’s head coach, Greg Hamilton, while in Toronto for T12. The call came a year after an unforgettable conversation with his mother. “I remember last year watching JNT play the Blue Jays on TV and I said to my mom that I will be there on that team one day. And skip ahead a few months later, and I’m in Orlando playing for that team!”
The two-way player is dominant on both sides of the ball. At the dish, he features a beautiful lefty swing, simple and compact with the ability to drive the ball. And of course, on the mound, he’s imposing. For a youngster with an electric arm, what stands out is his clean delivery. He’s loose and powerful with more strength in the tank. His mentality makes him even more challenging; “I love pitching, I love to be a part of every single play, being in the limelight, and pitching in the big games. I love the feeling of striking someone out. It doesn’t matter who’s in the batter’s box. Whether you are Mike Trout or a kid my age, I am going to be aggressive and try to bring my best stuff to strike you out.”
Thorsteinson’s idols are Clayton Kershaw and Jon Lester. Just like Kershaw, he wears a black Wilson A2000 glove, and his pre-pitch setup on the mound is identical to the Future Hall of Famer. What attracts the Canadian pitcher to the two National League southpaw’s has more to do with their makeup as opposed to their talent; “I love the way they fight for their team in the big game. They play the game with passion and energy and love to be in the big moment. I love to be in the big moment and pitch the big games as well just like them, and I will do anything to win.”
Justin’s family is everything to him. Their impact on him as a person and player have turned him into a quality kid. His most significant influence is his father. That’s where his love for the game came from, “My dad is the biggest influence on me. From day one, he has been my role model and coach not only for baseball but in life. He was my first baseball coach.” The 16-year-old went on to talk more about his love for his whole family. “My family is so supportive, and I couldn’t do anything I do right now without them. [T]hey sacrifice so much time and money towards my baseball and I love them so much.”
Thorsteinson’s teammate Theo Millas had a front-row seat for all of Justin’s games last year as they were together on three separate clubs. Millas couldn’t have had anything better to say about his friend and fellow pitcher; “Justin brings great energy to our team, he’s not only a great person on the field but as well as off the field. Justin’s work ethic is shown through his performance. He will continue to excel in both hitting and pitching. He will be something special someday. He has lots of upside on both sides of the ball.”
Expect Thorsteinson to continue to develop rapidly throughout his final two years of high school. It is just the beginning for the Canuck player, the beginning of a great future in the game of baseball.