* RP Andrew Case (Saint John, N.B.) is the lone Canadian with the Vancouver Canadians as they opened the season Wednesday night at Nat Bailey Stadium. .... 2014 Canadians drafted … Canadians in the Minors … Canadians in College … MLB Bureau camps
2015 Canadian draft list
Previous weeks: Romano signs with Jays, Scouts ranks Jays top 10 prospects, Jays prospects Week VII ... Short one for Sanchez, Jays prospects VI Burns versatile, Jays prospects V …. Lawrence a cool cat, Jays prospects IV … De Jong II, Jays prospects III … Copeland picks up Janssen, Jays prospects II …. Pompey burning bases, Jays prospects I …. Matt Boyd.
By Bob Elliott They won’t be changing the name of the team from plural to singular.
Not yet anyway. Andrew Case of Saint John, N.B. was the lone Canadian in uniform as the Vancouver Canadians opened their 2014 home schedule at Nat Bailey Stadium Wednesday night.
Imagine the cost of changing the uniforms, logos and letterhead from Canadians to Canadian.
“Hopefully we’ll have some more Canadians up here before too long, I’m the only one guys are making fun of for having an accent,” said Case as the Vancouver bus began its six-hour trip from Salem, Oregon home after a 4-3 loss to the Salem-Keizer Volcanoes Tuesday night.
Some Jays farmhands have noticed the drop off after playing before large crowds in a major-league city like Vancouver, then moving to Lansing which draws well and getting promoted to Dunedin which draws a few hundred fans per game.
The Canadians earned the John H. Johnson president’s trophy for the best-run minor-league franchise drawing a total of 184,042 for 38 home dates (averaging 4,843 fans per game).
“They tell me it’s going to be about 5,000 but it will feel like 80,000,” Case said. “I’m looking forward to it, that’s for sure. I might have a chance to get into the game.”
Vancouver dropped the home opener 5-2 to the Spokane Indians in front of 5,157 fans. Case did not pitch, as was the case for Case in the season opener when he followed starter Alberto Tirado (four innings) and Starlyn Suriel (one) to the mound in front of 3,552 fans at Volcanoes Stadium -- which is a lot more than the crowd at Tournament 12 at the Rogers Centre when Jays Canadian scout Jamie Lehman signed Case.
“Yeah, but it was kinda cool pitching at the Rogers Centre in front of my family,” Case said. “I was little nervous (opening night in Salem) for the first hitter, but I kept my emotions in check after that.”
Case took over with an 8-2 lead after Vancouver scored five in the top of the sixth. He walked the first hitter, then popped up the next, struck out a man looking and a fly ball to left ended his first pro inning.
And in the seventh, he set down the first two Salem hitters on a fly ball and a comebacker, walked Calgary’s Tyler Hollick and then popped up Christian Arroyo to end the inning. A year ago the Giants made Arroyo, a Brooksville, Fla. high schooler, the 25th pick over-all in the June draft and gave him a $1,866,500 US million signing bonus.
“A bunch of the guys in the bullpen didn’t think he was anything all that special,” said Case.
And two nights after the Vancouver’s 11-2 opening-night win, Case was at work again, taking over in the bottom of the ninth in a 9-9 tie. He struck out the first hitter, hit the next and fanned two more.
He walked the lead-off man in the 10th and after a pop up fielded a comebacker and fired to second for the force. After another walk he caught the next Salem hitter looking. Vancouver lost in 12.
“Andrew has done a great job for us early in the season,” said manager John Schneider. “He attacks hitters and commands three pitches, and is a valuable piece to any staff because he can pitch in a variety of roles.”
Case pitched for coach Todd Hubka and the Prairie Baseball Academy Dawgs in Lethbridge before the Jays signed him. Now he is on the same team, er bus, as Tyler Gonzalez a San Antonio high schooler selected 64th over all in North America in 2012, Jonathan Davis, a 15th rounder from the University of Central Arkansas, Christian Vasquez, 19th rounder from Lubbock Christian and Daniel Klein, a 28th rounder from Kansas State.
Does Case tell teammates he pitched at the PBA when they ask where he played?
“Yes and they have no idea, so I wind up saying a Canadian university program,” said Case. “But hey coach Todd has had two players sign in two years (lefty Shane Dawson of Drayton Valley, Alta. is at Lansing).”
Playing in Lethbridge and making trips to B.C. Case had seen the mountains before, which was not the case for all of his teammates as the 35 man team of players and support staff flew from Tampa to Denver to Vancouver and worked out one day at scenic Nat Bailey before climbing aboard the bus for their six hour trip. “Some of the States boys are amazed,” he said.
Case was concerned when he heard about the possible flooding in Lethbridge County from Old Man River.
When the customs officer asked the Canadians if they had anything to declare at the border, Schneider could have answered “three wins” and Case could have responded “four scoreless innings.”
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A National League pro scout take his turn at giving us his take on the top 10 Blue Jays prospects:
1. RHP Aaron Sanchez, Buffalo. “I didn’t see his first outing in Toledo. Looking at his line the four earned runs he gave up don’t bother me, but the four walks do. Maybe he was a little revved up -- first triple-A start. He’s still the best.”
2. LHP Daniel Norris, N.H. “Very impressive with Dunedin and now like Sanchez he’s moved up a notch. He’ll have Cubs and maybe Rays scouts watching him.”
3. OF Anthony Gose, Buffalo. “Anyone in the minors right? This was his best stint with in the majors. He bunted more and took more pitches, including all six to end Tuesday’s game. But what’s the second toughest thing next to getting a called third strike, bottom of the ninth, close game at Yankee Stadium? Getting a border-line call from an ump in the top half. It’s been that way for 50 years.”
4. OF Dalton Pompey, Dunedin. “A much sought-after prospect as the trade deadline nears. I’d keep him.”
5. SS Franklin Barreto, Vancouver. “He’s OK, 18 years old: 4-for-4 opening night against a college pitcher, only hitting .571 after five games. Move him up.”
7. 3B Mitch Nay, Lansing. “Power hitting corner guy, may have to move to first base. He has 16 extra-base hits, but isn’t finished with his development. Lots of room to project.”
8. C A.J. Jimenez, Buffalo “Four extra-base hits in 70 plate appearances. At least he’s healthy now.”
9. OF D.J. Davis, Lansing “Still learning, I see he’s 7-for-19 stealing bases. Some guys didn’t like this guy as a No. 1, others think he won’t make it, I see him as a back-up. I like Gose better.”
10. OF Kevin Pillar, Buffalo. “Not a prospect, but he could be a fourth or fifth outfielder, maybe even play every day on a second-division club.”
E-I-E-I-O At Buffalo: LHP Sean Nolin last 2 1/3 innings allowing three runs in 6-2 loss to Columbus Tuesday as Jared Goedert has three hits and SS Jonathan Diaz two ... OF Brad Glenn is hitting .345 (30-87) in 23 games while RHP Esmil Rogers has posted a 2.81 ERA in 16 innings, with three walks and 19 strikeouts.
At NH: K.C. Hobson homered in his double-A debut, a 4-2 loss to Altoona, while OF Kenny Wilson had two hits ... C Derrick Chung was promoted after hitting .320 with 15 doubles, two home runs and an .833 OPS in 49 games this season for Dunedin.
At Dunedin: SS Emilio Guerrero was 2-for-4 with a double and two RBIs in a 5-1 win over Brevard County ... Mississauga OF Dalton Pompey is hitting .313 (75-for-240), with an .851 OPS, nine doubles, four triples, six home runs, 24 stolen bases, 33 RBIs, in his 61 games, while scoring 44 runs.
At Lansing: Four Lugnuts competed in Midwest League All-Star team for the East division team. 1B Matt Dean started the game batting 4th, and was 0-for-2 with two strikeouts. 3B Mitch Nay started batting hitting seventh and went 0-for-3 with two strikeouts. OF Derrick Loveless entered the game in right field, and was 0-for-2. LHP Griffin Murphy pitched a scoreless 2/3 with one walk and one strikeout.
At Vancouver: RHP Starlyn Suriel pitched five scoreless innings allowing three hits in a 4-3 loss to Salem-Kaizer as 1B Boomer Collins and OF Roemon Fields doubled ... SS Franklin Barreto has gone 12-for-21 (.571) with two doubles, five RBIs, three runs scored, and three stolen bases in his five games and OF Jonathan Davis is hitting .333 (7-21) in his five games.