Morgan in for big pay day?

by on June 8, 2014

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 * RF Gareth Morgan (North York, Ont.) of the Ontario Blue Jays was selected on the final day of the three-day June draft of high schoolers and collegians by the Seattle Mariners. Being selected 74th over-all in North America carries a slot of $760,300 US. Now, will he sign or attend North Carolina State? ….

 

2014 Canadian draft list … Social Media draft list … Canadians in the Minors … Canadians in College
2015 Canadian draft list … Letters of Intent

CBN Draft coverage

Onyshko will weigh options … Mariners make Morgan a second-rounder ….  Astros come calling for Dykxhoorn at No. 166  …. Romano goes to Blue Jays on Day 2  ….

 

By Bob Elliott

His biggest supporters compare him to Miami Marlins’ Giancarlo Stanton.

His detractors say he’ll strike out more than Houston Astros Chris Carter.

Whichever comparison proves accurate will take time, but we know one thing: Gareth Morgan was drafted by the Seattle Mariners late on Day 1 of the three-year player draft of high schoolers and collegians.

Does he join the North Carolina Wolfpack or sign with the Mariners? Could scout Wayne Norton (Port Moody, BC) some day have an outfield of Victoria’s Michael Saunders, Tyler O’Neill of Maple Ridge, B.C. and Morgan.

Negotiations — and time — will tell. The slot assigned to the 74th pick is $760,000 US, but pre-draft talk had the Morgan camp looking for more than $1 million.

“We simply liked the player,” said M’s general manager Jack Zduriencik, who flew to the Dominican last month to see Morgan. “We see him as a high upside kid who has a very nice profile and skill set. Our opinion was simple, we valued the player. We’re happy to be in a position to add him and envision him having a very nice major league career.”

Both M’s scouting director Tom McNamara and Zduriencik were with the Milwaukee Brewers six years ago when they made Brett Lawrie a first-rounder.

“Not many players anywhere play with Brett’s level of intensity,” Zduriencik said. “I am very proud to have made him our first-round selection in Milwaukee and am pulling for him as he continues his career.”

The most influential person in Morgan’s baseball life, beside his father Giles, a computer engineer, Morgan says was Greg Hamilton coach of Canada’s Junior National Team.

“He built my confidence up, I’ve been with him since grade 9 and he always had something positive to say,” said Morgan.

And there were days he needed a boost.

His worst day on a ball field? “Striking out five times in one game when we were in Australia last summer. I couldn’t see the ball. I was swinging at pitches out of the zone. Greg told me it was ‘just one game, baseball was a roller coaster.’”

And his best day? Playing for gold against Team USA in Korea in 2012 as he was about to begin grade 11. “We wound up losing to the U.S. but it was a crazy atmosphere.”

Of the 11 Canadian high schoolers taken in the top 78 picks the Zduriencik/McNamara combo are the only duo with two selections.

“The entire country should be proud of the amateur operation,” said Zduriencik. “It is very well run and impressive as they expose their best young players to the level of competition that they play against. I am an admirer of Greg Hamilton, his dedication to the players and the program.

“We have known and watched Greg for years as he does a great job in preparing and grooming these players for both college and pro ball. He has a great reputation and is highly respected.

Morgan had a front show seat as he watched his junior national team teammates go through the draft process:

Tom Robson, Dustin Houle, Vaughn Covington, Justin Marra, Jesen Dygestile-Therrien and Ethan Elias in 2011.

Johnny Caputo, Ryan Kellogg, Dayton Dawe, Nathan DeSouza, Jake Marks, Logan Seifrit, Christian Botnick, Chris Shaw and Brock Dykxhoorn in 2012, Dykxhoorn was the top Canuck selected Friday, going in the sixth round from Central Arizona to the Houston Astros.

Travis Seabrooke, Malik Collymore, Lachlan Fontaine, Sean Ratcliffe, Morgan Lofstrom, Owen Spiwak, Dylan Brooks, Jacob Robson, Charles Leblanc, Chris Thibideau and O’Neill last year.

Some signed. Some went to school. All went through the process.

“I follow O’Neill how he was ripping it up in the Seattle Mariners system before he got hurt,” said Morgan as he ticked off most of his teammates Now after playing with the North York Blues and winning five OBA titles, the Toronto Mets, the Ontario Blue Jays and the Canadian Junior National Morgan began playing for the North York Blues at rookie ball for Steve Davis, Anthony Rhynold and Autumn Mills then minor and major mosquito, then minor and major bantam.

Then, he headed to the Mets 16U playing for Bob Roberts and Honsing Leung for one year, then Ryan McBride and Rich Leitch with the Mets 18U. And now he’s with coach Danny Bleiwas of the Ontario Blue Jays who he helped getting him “more exposure” on the fall trips through the U.S.

This winter Morgan spent a few days in Jupiter, Fla. with former MVP winner Larry Walker. They only went to the St. Louis Cardinals complex to hit once … “it was more me picking his brain about major league baseball,” said Morgan.

“He was a intimidating at first,” Morgan said. “he explained how a lot of guys watch video, but he was more of a see ball, hit ball type guy.”

Not as intimidating to a pitcher when Morgan steps into the batter’s box.

 

Bob Elliott
Bob Elliott is the founder of the Canadian Baseball Network. He is also a baseball columnist for the Toronto Sun, Sun Media and a frequent guest on The FAN-590. He was born in Kingston, Ont. If you want to know anything and everything to do with the Major Leagues, Minor Leagues or amateur baseball in Canada - Bob is the man to talk to.

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