Veteran Morgan still needs a ride to park
* Despite his age Gareth Morgan (North York, Ont.) is the most tenured member of the Canadian Junior National Team and still needs a ride to practice. Photo: Alexis Brudnicki ….
By Alexis Brudnicki
Gareth Morgan is up at the top of the list when it comes to the most-tenured players on the Canadian junior national team.
He also still happens to be the youngest on the squad.
The 16-year-old isn’t draft eligible until 2014, but he has been making an impression with Team Canada for almost two full years. He doesn’t yet know what it feels like to be anything but the baby of the team, still not even old enough to drive himself to practices or games.
Morgan’s mark far exceeds any number that is his age, however, as he has excited coaches, other players, scouts and evaluators, time and time again.
He’s also come a very long way within his two-year stretch with the national team, developing not only into a better player, but also gaining confidence and becoming more comfortable around his teammates, the media and other baseball bystanders.
The young outfielder had to pass up the opportunity to head to the Under Armour All-American Classic at Wrigley Field for a second time earlier this month in order to travel to the Italian Baseball Week Tournament in Trieste, Italy.
“It was pretty disappointing,” Morgan said of not being able to attend. “But it was a great experience last year. I think that playing for my country always takes priority over the individual events, like going to the showcase.”
To put things into perspective, the Classic showcases the top talent from around North America, with the majority of those players coming from the United States.
Last year, Morgan and Ryan Kellogg were the only Canadians who were extended invitations. Kellogg was expected to be the top draft pick from north of the border this past June. This summer, Morgan and Cal Quantrill were the lone Canuck invitees. The expectation is that Quantrill will be the top Canadian taken in next year’s draft.
So where does that leave Morgan? He’s already been invited twice and still has one summer to go before any team has a chance to get their bid in for him.
It seems likely that you might find the native of Toronto playing at Wrigley Field once again next August.
Morgan, who joined the team along with Dayton Dawe, Kyle Hann and Chris Shaw, who started out together in Oct. 2010 in Orlando, has certainly generated his share of hype throughout the baseball world already, and all of it has been good. But, most recently he found himself inadvertently in the middle of a controversial decision, leading many to ask him questions that he couldn’t answer.
The young hitter was not selected to play for Team Ontario in the Canada Cup earlier this month. The non-selection became a big deal because here’s this kid, the next big thing in Canadian baseball, already playing for Team Canada, yet somehow not on his province’s roster.
While there were plenty of discussions had on the topic, and it was mentioned to Morgan numerous times, the teenager didn’t let any of it get to him.
“I wasn’t really worried about it,” he said. “It was something that was in the back of my mind. Some people have asked me about it. I try to forget about it because it’s not a huge thing. It really wasn’t a big deal.”
What is a big deal right now for Morgan is the IBAF 18U World Championship tournament in Seoul, Korea. After being a part of the Team Canada squad that qualified for worlds last November in Cartagena, Colombia, Morgan and the rest of his team are hoping to finish even better than the second place that earned them the silver medals that they brought home last year.
“I think we have a good chance of taking home gold,” he said. “Although the other countries are going to be tough, especially the top competitors, but I think we can pull it off.”
Morgan believes that the team’s biggest challenges are going to come in facing the American and Asian teams, but that the key to Canadian success is simple.
“Play well, do the right things at the right times, and hopefully we can get some wins.”