Sports

Precision over Power: How an Aurora native made it to UBC

January 28, 2021   ·   0 Comments

By Robert Belardi 

The art of pitching can be defined in two crude forms. 

Power pitchers are those indefatigable throwers, whipping the ball 100mph. The others, a more relatively precise form, are those who pick their corners and speeds effortlessly, confusing batters at the plate.

This is one of baseball’s most intriguing matchups. A pitcher’s duel will drive fans to the stadiums. 

Each pitcher calculates every move. With a kick of the leg and a towering arc of the arm, you simply never know what you’re going to get. But, these pitchers know what they are going to give. What defines these throwers is simply what they value more. 

Some pitchers value both power and precision equally. Some place one value over the other.

So, which will it be? Precision over power? Some of the best pitchers in the game, like Clayton Kershaw, with his trademark curveball, might say it’s precision. In this case, that is the answer.

Aurora native Adam Khan has lived by this motto.

To his memory, he didn’t step onto the mound as a precision pitcher. But now, as an 18-year-old who only has to make his commitment official with the University of British Columbia, he is living by these words: precision over power. 

“I like to use the mental side of the game more. I’m a statistics guy. I look at hitters and I try to study them. I look at their strengths and weaknesses. Where can I locate my pitches better?” Khan said.  “I like to mix in my off-speed a lot. If they’re not going to be able to hit my off-speed, I’ll throw it five times in a row.” 

The 6’3, 180-pound pitcher says he has been told he resembles the late Roy Halladay. And now, being a part of the UBC Thunderbirds, that resemblance could pay dividends moving forward in his university career. 

Between 2001 and 2019, 24 pitchers from UBC have been drafted to Major League Baseball clubs, along with three other, non-drafted pitchers signed on free agency. 

It’s something Khan discussed with head coach at UBC, Chris Pritchard. 

“He thinks I could be one of those players to be drafted next. If that’s the case, I’ll be very excited and happy. It’s something I look forward to, there’s a whole lot of opportunity there,” Khan said. 

“All that stuff on how the history is there and I can be one of the next players to hop along that history is just something very exciting to look forward to for me.” 

Khan began playing baseball with the Aurora-King Baseball Association when he was four. His grandfather, Luke Lefevre, was a famous fastball pitcher. He was inducted into the Timmins Sports Hall of Fame in 2016. 

Along with his family history, Khan seemingly enjoyed baseball’s natural elements as well. He loved throwing and catching and playing under summer’s smooth heat. 

He travelled through the ranks, playing in A, AA and AAA. When he was 15, he tasted what it felt like to be a pro. 

With the Vaughan Vikings in 2016, Khan, travelled to Prince Edward Island. This group of elite players represented Team Ontario in the competition. Whoever won the tournament had the opportunity to represent Ontario in a province-wide competition. Everything was paid for. Players were flown out from Pearson. 

It was his first taste of something professional. It’s also when the Toronto Mets elite team took notice of him. 

Khan signed for the Mets in the fall of 2017. 

Last year, with the U-17 Mets team, Khan was learning from head coach Rich Leitch and pitching coach Paul Spoljaric. The Kelowna native and former Toronto Blue Jays pitcher taught everything he knew about pitching, things he may not have known before. Khan came into the program playing multiple positions and it was the Toronto Mets who transformed him into a full-time thrower. 

Now, heading to UBC, Leitch believes this is the right fit for him. 

“Early on with Adam, he commands his pitches, knows how to work his own. His best attribute is his attitude. He’s a bright kid,” Leitch said. 

“His best days are ahead. It’s going to be fun to watch him develop. I know they do a great job in developing pitchers at UBC for sure.” 

Now, under the president of the Toronto Mets in this COVID-ridden year, Ryan McBride shares what he has seen from Khan in his final year with the club. 

“He’s a high energy guy. Passionate about the game. He’s a good teammate, he’s always in a good mood. Likes to keep things light when he can. A lot of teammates gravitate towards him,” McBride said. 

“One thing that’s really impressed me about coaching Adam is he doesn’t shy away from competition at all. He wants the ball and wants the ball in big situations.” 

And competition is exactly what the doctor ordered for Khan at UBC. The Thunderbirds, uniquely compete in the NAIA division. The baseball program competes against the likes of the College of Idaho, Corban, Lewis-Clark State and Oregon Tech. 

Last season, the Thunderbirds finished 12-8 and ranked in the top 10 in at bats per game, putouts per game, innings pitched per game and fielding. 

Khan says he is excited to compete against teams south of the border. He is also excited to play against international teams from Japan. All of this, of course, post-COVID. 

For now, he is gearing up to finalize his commitment. UBC is currently sending over a letter of intent for Khan to sign and he is currently training with Mets teammate and Florida State University commit Mitch Bratt. 



         

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