Gareth Morgan opens eyes, sailing drives over palm trees

*Gareth Morgan (North York, Ont.) the youngest player with the Team Canada Junior National Team put on a show in batting practice and games in Florida./EDDIE MICHELS Photo.  

Letters of Intent

2011 Canadians in College

2011 Canadians in the Minors


By Bob Elliott

The phone call was going along like so many others ...

“So who was the best prospect you saw in Florida?” we asked the talent evaluator who had just returned from watching the Team Canada Junior National Team on its  trip to ESPN’s Wide World of Sports to play extended spring squads of major league teams at Lake Buena Vista.

“That’s easy,” the scout said. “Gareth Morgan.”

Gareth Morgan?

He’s in grade nine.

A year ago he was playing minor bantam for the North York Blues.

“Well, when all is said and done he may be the best,” the evaluator said.

Make no mistake right-hander Tom Robson (Ladner, BC) remains the best of the high schoolers heading into this June’s amateur draft of collegians and high schoolers.

The Perfect Game Scouting Service’s latest rankings has Robson ranked 108th on its top 110 combined list of collegians and high schools.

When the sandwich picks are added in, the 108th pick this June is in the third round and goes to ... the Toronto Blue Jays.

But it’s early.

Back to Morgan.

“When Team Canada played the Blue Jays at Dunedin he hit 10 balls over the palm trees in left field on a back field at the Bobby Mattick complex,” said the scout.

Another scout said how he watched Morgan turn around a 90-plus mph fastball for a double in the final game and an evaluator from another team  learned over to ask whether the number 9 under the Grade column was a misprint.

Most Team Canada players are in grade 11 or 12.

“When we could see into their dugout you could see most of the players on the top step when he came to the plate,” said another scout.

Morgan will not be eligible until the 2014 draft, which is a long, long way off.

Players regress, players improve, players get injured, adjustments are made ... life happens.

As for the class of 2011 -- and we’re almost inside two months away from the June 6-8 -- the best five, besides Robson, were INF Justin Atkinson (Surrey, BC), RHP Jensen Dygestile-Therrien (Montreal, Que.), RHP Skylar Janisse (Maidstone, Ont.), C-3B Dustin Houle (Penticton, BC) and OF Cory Scammell (Edmonton, Alta.).

“This might be a B.C. year, but most of the 2012 talent is in Ontario,” said another scout.

And scouts already have a leg up on the 2014 class.