Derek Aucoin

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Derek Alfred Aucoin

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Biographical Information[edit]

Derek Aucoin was born on March 21, 1970 in Lachine, Quebec.

He went to Collège Saint-Sacrement in Terrebonne, QC. He then attended Douglas College in New Westminster, British Columbia, while he was a member of the Canadian Baseball Academy. He then went to Empire State College in New York State.

He has the distinction of being the only hometown player ever developed by the Montreal Expos in their 36-year history. A tall right-hander from the northern suburbs of Montreal, QC, he was signed as a very raw 19-year-old with a blazing fastball. He toiled for over seven seasons in the minors, mainly as a middle reliever and spot starter, before finally making the Major Leagues in May 1996.

Aucoin began his pro career in 1989 and did well with the GCL Expos, going 2-1 with a 2,66 ERA in seven outings, including three starts. He struck out 27 in 23 2/3 innings, the best ratio on the team.

In 1990, he was assigned in to the Jamestown Expos, in the New York-Penn League. In eight starts, he went 1-3 with a 4.46 ERA. However, his WHIP (1,266) bettered the team's (1,390). He showed he had stuff, allowing only 28 hits in 36 innings. Among pitchers with at least five starts, only Chris Haney had a better ratio.

The next season, 1991, was spent with the Sumter Expos, in the South Atlantic League. He was used mostly as a reliever and his days as a starter were basically over. He made 41 appearances (three starts), going 3-6 with one save and a 4,28 ERA. He remained in A ball in 1992 with the Rockford Expos, in the Midwest League. His record was 3-2 with saves and a 3.00 ERA in 39 games (2 starts). He struck out 65 in 69 innings and allowed only 48 hits, the team's best H/IP ratio.

Aucoin reached the West Palm Beach Expos, in the Florida State League, in 1993. It was still A ball but a notch better and only one step from AA. He made six starts, his last in pro ball, in 38 appearances. He went 4-4 with one save and a 4.23 ERA. He was back with West Palm Beach in 1994 and he was dominating, allowing no run in seven games and striking out 10 in 7 1/3 innings. In early June, he was promoted to the Harrisburg Senators, in the AA Eastern League. He kept pitching well in AA, going 3-4 with 4 saves with a 3,26 ERA. He struck out 48 in 47 innings, the second best ratio with Harrisburg.

In 1995, he missed the first two months of the season and pitched his first game only in June with Harrisburg, where he finished the regular season with a 2-4 record with one save and a 4.96 ERA. But his season wasn't over. In fact, the highlight of his minor league career was being added to the roster of the AAA Ottawa Lynx for the International League playoffs, and then playing a key role in securing an unlikely Governor's Cup victory, winning the ultimate game with 2 2/3 scoreless innings.

After the season, he was added to the Expos' 40-man roster. He also pitched that Fall, leading the Florida Instructional League in saves. Armed with strong credentials, many thought he had a good chance to earn a spot with the Expos in training camp in 1996. But he was a late cut and was assigned to Ottawa. In May, he was called up by the Expos as the team was in California. He was saddled with a loss on his debut pon May 21st against the San Francisco Giants as a result of the only run he ever gave up. He pitched one more game in front of friends and family on May 25th, facing the Los Angeles Dodgers at Stade Olympique, before being sent down to AAA, never to return to the big leagues. He had fulfilled his childhood dream by pitching with the Expos. But he was not ready mentally to accept his demotion. With Ottawa, he struck out 69 in 75 innings but allowed 53 walks.

It went downhill from there which led to a total loss of any notion of throwing the ball, a shut confidence and symptoms of depression that he had a hard time accepting. He pitched for both Ottawa and West Palm Beach in 1997, allowing 48 walks in 25 1/3 innings with 16 hit batters and 17 wild pitches. It was a typical case of the mysterious ailment known colloquially as the yips.

The Expos let him go after the season. After a bullpen session attended by MLB teams, the New York Mets were impressed enough to sign him. He pitched for four teams in 1998, from the Rookie Gulf Coast League to AAA with the Norfolk Tides, in the International League. In 28 appearances, he struck out 52 in 37 2/3 innings while walking 22. His ERA was 6.21. He became a free agent after the season. The Chicago Cubs showed some interest but Aucoin declined and thus his pro career was over.

He remained in the New York, NY area where he played semi-pro ball in 1999. Aucoin continued his baseball career in a significant way. He also teamed up with Derek Jeter's Turn 2 Foundation and worked hard each year for kids all over New York. Best of all, Derek had a fantastic knowledge of baseball. Kids blossomed under his coaching and later played effectively in high school, college, and pro ball.

In the 2010s, he became a guest analyst on French-language major league baseball broadcasts on TVA Sports, working alongside Jacques Doucet among others. In August 2019, he announced that he was being treated for a cancerous brain tumor. He had to stop working but agreed at that point to have a journalist work on his biography, in order for his young son Dawson, named for the former Expos Hall of Famer and his boyhood idol, Andre Dawson, would know more about his father. The book was published in French in March 2020. In December of that year, he received the Medal of the Quebec National Assembly in recognition for his tireless community work. Aucoin passed away only two weeks later, dying at age 50 from the brain tumor.

Further Reading[edit]

  • Derek Aucoin and Benoît Rioux: Derek Aucoin, la tête haute, Les Éditions de l'Homme, Montréal, 2020. ISBN 9782761954594
  • Léa Carrier: "L’ex-lanceur des Expos Derek Aucoin s’éteint à l'âge de 50 ans", La Presse, December 27, 2020. [1]
  • Guillaume Lefrançois: "Derek Aucoin: la tête haute, l’héritage d’un père à son fils", La Presse, March 21, 2020. [2]

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