Growing up in Canada, Brock Dykxhoorn was a Toronto Blue Jays fan and loved watching Roy Halladay pitch. However, he dreamed of being a professional hockey player.
“I was a defensemen growing up,” Dykxhoorn said. “Then in the tenth grade, I was cut from my hockey team and was invited to play baseball by a friend in high school. When I was done with hockey, he asked if I wanted to try out.”
Dykxhoorn was invited to play for a club program in Canada called the Ontario Nationals.
“You have to go to the bigger cities to find real organized baseball and that was a year-round program so it filled the void from hockey.”
The Nationals traveled throughout Canada playing in many tournaments and came down to play in the US as well. It was during one of these tournaments that Dykxhoorn caught the attention of the national team’s coach.
“I played for them and the Team Canada coach roams around and watches teams. After seeing me play, he invited me to try out for the nationals team,” Dykxhoorn said. “I made the team and went on four different trips with Team Canada. At 17 years old, I got to go around the world. It was really unbelievable and probably the coolest thing I’ve done so far.”
As a relief pitcher for the Canadian national team, Dykxhoorn traveled to Florida, the Dominican Republic, Italy, and South Korea. He said seeing fans in other countries was definitely an eye-opening experience.
“It was cool especially in South Korea because we did play against Korea and the stadium was pretty packed,” Dykxhoorn said. “Then we went to the Dominican and played against them and their stadium was filled to the top. It was cool to see the culture and they do different stuff there that we don’t see here.”
Playing for Team Canada drew the attention of major league scouts and Dykxhoorn was drafted by the Cincinnati Reds in 2012. However, Dykxhoorn chose not to sign and instead focused on college.
“As a high school senior, I wasn’t that big of a prospect in Canada. I was kind of a late bloomer. I didn’t really start baseball seriously until the 11th grade,” Dykxhoorn said. “For Cincinnati to draft me in the 20th round was awesome. It was a tough decision to say no but looking back, I’m glad I did.”
Dykxhoorn added that he didn’t feel like he was ready to go pro.
“I knew I was good but I knew pro ball was a totally different level. A coach for the Ontario Nationals who has helped me a lot and has been aroudn the game forever gave me a judge of where I would be in pro ball and it wasn’t exactly where I thought I could be so I thought I benefitted from two years of college.”
A connection through Team Canada landed Dykxhoorn at West Virginia where he played alongside Bobby Boyd, another current River Bandit.
“West Virginia is kind of a random place to go for baseball but I love the school and liked what they were doing there baseball-wise,” Dykxhoorn said. “It was their first year in the Big 12 which was a cool opportunity to play against the big schools from Texas and Oklahoma.”
After a year at West Virginia, Dykxhoorn decided to transfer to Central Arizona Junior College for his sophomore year.
“I had a pretty good season as a freshman and became a mid-week starter about halfway through the year but things just didn’t work out so I figured I’d go to junior college so I didn’t sit out for a year,” Dykxhoorn said. “I was actually committed to that junior college before West Virginia and then chose West Virginia over them. I kind of stood them up the first time but I went back. I knew the pitching coach there for awhile and actually played summer ball for him (in the Northwoods league). He wasn’t trying to get me to go to that school at all. It just kind of worked out that way.”
Dykxhoorn put up big numbers and garnered even more attention from scouts after his sophomore year. He returned to the Northwoods League the next summer and waited anxiously for the draft.
“There was a little more anxiety because I knew thim time there would be a lot more people who knew about me and almost every major league team contacted me,” Dykxhoorn said. “I was at my host family’s house watching it online. When the first five rounds went around, I got a little worried and then to be the first pick of the sixth round was obviously pretty incredible. Looking back, I don’t really why I was upset not going in the first five rounds because the sixth round is still great and I’m honored to be with the Astros.”
Dykxhoorn said he didn’t know much about many of the Southern teams but did his research before the draft.
“I know a lot of top prospects have come through here with first overall picks the past few years and I knew they were kind of a smaller market team so they’re really going to develop the prospects they have,” Dykxhoorn said. “They’re not going to trade all of them away to get more talent at the big league level so I was excited to know that being in the minor leagues is a big deal for the Astros. They’re not just trying to make you into somebody to trade. They really want to develop you which is a good thing for players.”
The past five years have been a whirlwind for Dykxhoorn and he said that he hopes to continue progressing through the minors and enjoy the ride.
“I always thought I was going to be a hockey player and when I went into baseball, I thought I would just get some school paid for. Major league baseball was distant and didn’t seem realistic at the time,” Dykxhoorn said. “My mom and I always talk about how it’s been up and down from Team Canada going all around the world, going to college in West Virginia and Arizona, and now being in minor league baseball, it’s almost surreal to know that it’s happened and it’s awesome.”