Diminutive Marcus Stroman a budding superstar, and entrepreneur

Diminutive Marcus Stroman a budding superstar, and entrepreneur

DUNEDIN, Fla. – Marcus Stroman appears poised to become a major-league star. After a breakout rookie campaign in 2014 the Toronto Blue Jays are putting a lot of hopes in the 23-year-old righthander, but if baseball for some reason doesn’t work out, he’s already jumped into the business world.

Earlier this year Stroman trademarked the phrase “Height Doesn’t Measure Heart.” For Stroman, it’s both a motivational saying and a personal brand. His website is already selling HDMH merchandise and there’s more to come.

While it’s a personal mantra for the diminutive pitcher, he also wants to empower other undersized athletes - and inspire kids or anyone else told they can’t do something because of their size.

“There’s a bunch of undersized athletes out there,” Stroman said. “I’m trying to just get that message out there. I’ve seen it, people get discouraged because someone will say that they’re too short to play a position. Or too small to do this, or too small to do that.

“I think it’s had a pretty positive impact already. I’ve interacted with some fans and young athletes through Twitter and Instagram. They seem to like it and it seems to give them a bit of motivation and inspiration to be better.”

While Stroman wants to motivate, it’s also a business venture. He studied sociology and business while playing baseball at Duke University and said if he wasn’t playing he believes he would be involved in sports marketing or sports business.

Via Twitter.
Via Twitter.

“[Getting the trademark] has been a long process; we started a long time ago and finally just got approved. It’s pretty exciting. The designs I started as just something me and my friends sketched up. It was just something more to get the trademark and get the business rolling. The logo and everything will be changed. We’re working on it now.”

At his listed height of five-foot-nine Stroman is a rarity when it comes to major-league pitchers. He was just the sixth pitcher under 5-10 since 2001 to make a big-league start, and the other five are far from household names. Stroman was first drafted by the Washington Nationals in 2009 in the 18th round but did not sign. Instead he went to Duke and re-entered the draft three years later where he was taken by the Blue Jays in the first round, 22nd overall.

He flew through three levels of minor-league ball between 2012 and 2014 then made the leap to the majors and made his debut last May. While some skeptics fear he could regress or hit a dreaded sophomore slump his intangibles suggest otherwise.

In 20 starts last season Stroman ranked sixth best in the American League with a 53.8 percent ground ball rate, an encouraging sign for a pitcher playing in homer-happy Rogers Centre. In fact, he only allowed seven home runs last year and also allowed just 1.9 walks per nine innings, 7.6 strikeouts per nine innings, and a 2.0 WAR. Those are encouraging numbers for a pitcher who intends to be even better in 2015.

“I’m excited, I feel great. My body’s never felt better, I’m in the best shape of my life,” Stroman said. “I just want to go out there and throw 200-plus innings, and take the ball and have the mindset to go nine innings every single time. That’s the goal. I want to do everything I can to put the team in a position to win every fifth day.”

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Ian Denomme is an editor and writer for Yahoo Sports. Email him at or follow him on Twitter.