Issue 1 - December 2013


Welcome to our first ever newsletter! In this issue...Letter from the Editor Bob Elliott The Top 10 Moments in 2013 by Melissa Couto The history of the CBN Draft List by Bob Elliott Who is on the move on the CBN Draft List? By Bob Elliott Messages and events from our sponsors
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A letter from the Editor...Bob Elliott

Dear friends, 

This wasn’t the best year ever for Canadians.

There wasn’t a MVP winner like 2010 (Joey Votto), 2006 (Justin Morneau) or 1997 (Larry Walker).

There weren’t two Canadians selected in the first nine picks as was the case in 2002 (Adam Loewen fourth over-all and Jeff Francis, ninth).

There wasn't a gold medal win as in 2011 (Scott Richmond striking out the final hitter as Ernie Whitt’s Canadian team edged Team USA 2-1.

The 2013 season will be remembered for, among other things:

* The June draft as 21 Canadians were drafted, 14 signed, plus three other free agents signed. Of the 14 who signed, eight received six-figure signing bonuses.

LHP Rob Zastryzny, Edmonton, Alta. selected in the second round by the Chicago Cubs from the University of Missouri was given a $1.1 million bonus, RF Tyler O’Neill (Maple Ridge, BC) was selected by the Seattle Mariners from the Langley Blaze and given $650,000; RHP Nick Pivetta (Victoria, BC) was chosen in the fourth round by the Washington Nationals from New Mexico Jr. College earning $364,300, LHP Travis Seabrooke (Peterborough, Ont.) was picked by the Baltimore Orioles from the Ontario Terriers and given $291,800, INF Malik Collymore (Mississauga, Ont.) was drafted from the Ontario Blue Jays by the St. Louis Cardinals and given $275,000.

Given $100,000 signing bonuses were 3B Lachlin Fontaine (North Vancouver, BC) of the North Shore Twins was drafted by the Mariners, RHP Dylan Rheault (Garson, Ont.) of Central Michigan was selected by the Orioles and C Morgan Lofstrom (Kelowna, BC) of the Okanagan Athletics was chosen by the Cincinnati Reds

 * LHP Andrew Albers (North Battleford, Sask.) making his debut for the Minnesota Twins six seasons after being drafted by the San Diego Padres. Albers arrived in the Twins clubhouse after being released by the Padres, after missing a year due to Tommy John surgery, after pitching indy ball in Quebec, after long-distancse drives from Arizona to Fort Myers, from Phoenix to Saskatchewan and showing a never-give-up Canadian grit. Albers pitched 8 1/3 scoreless in his debut against the Kansas City Royals and followed that up with a shut out over the Cleveland Indians.

* 1B Jeremie Fagnan (Calgary, Alta.) of the Midland Chaparrals earned ABCA/Rawlings NJCAA Players of the Year. He hit .419 with 21 doubles, 10 triples, five homers and 70 RBIs. He slugged .685 with a 1.178 slugging mark, stealing 30 bases in 33 tries.

* The World Baseball Classic with Team Canada five outs away from eliminating Team USA. There were 101 other highlights: Chris Robinson, a 2005 draft, making his way to the majors, Russell Martin and Justin Morneau leading the Pittsburgh Pirates to post-season play, Brett Lawrie giving the Blue Jays gold glove defense at third and Votto winning his fourth straight National League on-base title with the Cincinnati Reds.

One thing we are sure of, however, it was the best year for the Canadian Baseball Network.

Now, people a lot smarter than I know how to measure these things: hits, unique hits, average visit duration and bounce rate.

We can say that this was our best year.

We have Alexis Brudnicki churning out feature stories and news like Andrew Case signing with the Blue Jays after Tournament 12. Melissa Couto continues to write eloquently and Canadian Baseball Hall of Famer Allan Simpson gives us authority on the draft. 

We have an army of Canadian seamheads (read about our contributors here) who have passion about the game: Kevin Glew, Todd Devlin, Danny Gallagher, Jonathan Hodgson, Liam McGuire, Andrew Hendriks and Dan Estey turning out bright, interesting, newsy reads.

Finally, released from the MLB Fan Cave after being one of the three finalists, April Whitzman is ready to crank ‘em out again.

Adam Morissette keeps us up to date on the National Team and Junior National Team’s goings on ... David Matchett knows his history ... Devon Teeple covers a number of subjects including indy ball ... Jay Blue is on top of the Jays minor league system.

Andrew Albers and Chris Robinson started out blogging for us at triple-A and wound up in the majors, with excelent stories to tell. (Think it will be difficult to get a triple-A player to blog next season?)

Maxx Tissenbaum, a Padres farmhand, writes with his eyes better than any blogger we’ve seen. He peels back layer of layer on the minor league infield. South Dakota’s Jordan Varga, Maine’s Alex Calbick, Canisius grad and world traveller Alex Tufts, Roane State’s Matt Smith, McNeese State’s Chayse Marion and Melissa Verge from Titusville, N.B.

Do we have every province covered? No, we were batting 8-for-10 at one-time but now need help down east and we could use some help since Bob Broughton left Vancouver to move to Mexico.

No one in North America has a better handle on statistics or where players rank -- whether it be Robbie Alomar as a second baseman or Walker’s MVP season in the history of the NL -- than North Bay’s Neil Munro.

And George Farelli has both thumbs on the pulse of the Canadians in the minors.

Over the years the likes of Shi Davidi, Mike Cormack, Chris Toman and others have written for the site and moved on to full-time gigs.  There will come a day when we say goodbye to many of these quality journalists.

Yet the biggest difference in the web site today compared to a year ago is the arrival of Peter Bean. He is the Director of Marketing and Fan Engagement. I didn't understand the title when he arrived. But I know now what he does: tweeting out links to our stories on Facebook, and twitter 22 1/2 hours a day, posting photos to Instagram and videos to YouTube; plus doing podcasts and meeting with advertisers. With his efforts I can say with confidence this website of ours will be here for the long haul. In the past, that hasn't always been the case. 

This is good news, as we are now a web site with a stronger heart beat. This newsletter is his idea. He has another 18 balls in the air when it comes to ideas.

Next year is going to be a big year for this site, and for Canadian Baseball.

Bob Elliott

The Top 10 moments in Canadian baseball

By Melissa Couto

From the World Baseball Classic to the MLB post-season, 2013 was an eventful year for Canadian baseball.

Though it didn't always go the way fans of the game had hoped, the year was jam-packed of captivating moments from amateur ball to the big leagues.

Here are the year's Top 10 most significant events:

10. A feisty WBC

For the third straight time, Canada failed to make it past the second round of the World Baseball Classic, but that doesn't mean that the 2013 installment of the tournament wasn't a memorable one.

The nation's WBC journey began with controversy when Russell Martin backed out of his starting catching duties eight days before. Though the Montreal native said he would gladly play shortstop instead, neither the Pirates -- who had just signed him to a two-year, $17 million contract -- nor Canada's director of national teams, Greg Hamilton, would allow that.

As a result, Dorchester, Ont., native Chris Robinson, who had yet to play his first major league game, filled in, and he became the centrepiece for Canada's most memorable moment of the tournament. With his squad up 9-3 against Mexico, Robinson led off the ninth inning with a bunt single, sparking a benches-clearing brawl when the next batter, Rene Tosoni, was thrown at twice before being plunked in the back.

In a tournament weighted by run differential, Robinson's bunt was a legitimate play. Mexico, however, didn't see it that way. Robinson later said the fight "fired up" Canadians at home -- especially hockey fans -- who were suddenly paying attention to baseball.

Even Canadian hockey icon Don Cherry aired highlights from the Saturday afternoon melee on that night's segment of Coach's Corner on "Hockey Night in Canada."

Aside from Robinson's accidental impact on the tournament, Martin's decision not to play also had ramifications for another Canadian catcher -- 33-year-old John Suomi of Etobicoke, Ont. A career minor leaguer (13 seasons with five different organizations), Suomi was selected as the team's back-up catcher. It was the first time he'd ever represented Canada on the international stage, and it was a moment he'll never forget.

9. Jordan Lennerton gets better with age

Langley, B.C., native Jordan Lennerton hadn’t played a single game past the double-A level prior to this season. But in 2013, his sixth year in the minor leagues, he soared to new heights.

Lennerton, 27, made both the triple-A all-star game, where he represented the Detroit Tigers’ Toledo Mud Hens, and the future’s game, where he was Canada’s only representative on the World roster. Though the Canadian went hitless in one at-bat at the triple-A all-star game, he had an RBI and a walk in the World team’s 4-2 loss to the U.S. future's squad.

The Tigers selected Lennerton out of the University of Oregon in the 33rd round of the 2008 amateur draft. After three years at the single-A level, Lennerton spent the entire 2012 season with the double-A Erie SeaWolves, racking up 133 hits -- including 34 doubles and 21 home runs -- in 139 games.

This season, the first baseman made the Tigers’ triple-A squad out of spring training, and hit .278 with a .382 on-base percentage. Lennerton had 143 hits in 139 games for the best performance of his career. Having conquered every level of the minor leagues after this season, only one more level remains. And with Detroit recently trading first baseman Prince Fielder to the Texas Rangers for second baseman Ian Kinsler, Lennerton may get a taste of big league action sometime in 2014.

8. The Vancouver Canadians complete the three-peat

It took 11 years for the Vancouver Canadians to win the Northwest League championship, but ever since they experienced their first taste of victory in 2011, they haven’t been able to stop. The Toronto Blue Jays class-A farm team beat the Boise Hawks 5-0 in Game 3 of the championship final this September to take their third consecutive Northwest League title.

And to make things even sweeter for Canadian baseball fans, three Canadian-born players contributed to the victory.

Right-handed starter Tom Robson pitched 6 ⅓ innings of scoreless ball, giving up just three hits while striking out two. Justin Atkinson of Surrey, B.C., was 1 for 4, and Mike Reeves of Peterborough, Ont., was 1 for 3 with an RBI and a walk. Robson, who grew up less than 30 kilometres away from Vancouver in Ladner, B.C., packed the stands at Nat Bailey Field with over 100 friends and family members. Selected by the Blue Jays in the fourth round of the 2011 draft, the 20-year-old was 3-0 with an 0.94 ERA in seven outings with the Canadians.

The team celebrated its victory on the field with a spontaneous rendition of O Canada, which took Robson by surprise.

Vancouver defeated the Tri-City Dust Devils for its first championship in 2011, and downed Boise in 2012 to become the league’s first back-to-back winners since 2007. The Hawks beat the Canadians 5-0 in Game 1 of the Championship, but Vancouver bounced back to take Game 2, 4-2.

7. Ryan Kellogg impresses at ASU

Whitby, Ont., native Ryan Kellogg’s dreams came true in June 2012 when he was selected by his hometown Blue Jays in the 12th round of MLB amateur draft. But the left-handed pitcher turned Toronto down, choosing to honour his commitment to the Arizona State University Sun Devils instead.

And that turned out to be a great decision.

The former Junior National team star went 11-0 in 15 starts, becoming the only Sun Devil freshman in ASU history to accomplish that feat, and just the fourth to pick up 11 wins in a rookie season. In March, Kellogg threw ASU’s first no-hitter in 20 years -- against then No.3 ranked Oregon State University. He was two fielding errors removed from a 110-pitch perfect game, and the hat he wore during his no-hitter now resides in the College Baseball Hall of Fame. Kellogg’s only loss of the year came in a 1-0 playoff defeat against Cal State Fullerton, where he gave up the game’s only run in the seventh inning.

The southpaw isn’t eligible for the draft again until 2015, after his junior year in college, but Kellogg is already the top-ranked Canadian heading into it.

6. Canadians in the post-season and World Series

While Canada’s only baseball team failed to make it to the post-season, at least some Canadian fans were happy with the results this   October. In total, six Canadians contributed to their MLB team’s post-season berths, and one -- Ryan Dempster of Gibsons, B.C. -- went home with a World Series ring.

Dempster signed a two-year, $26.5 million contract with the the Boston Red Sox following the 2012 season, and went 8-9 with a 4.57 ERA through 32 appearances (29 starts) in 2013. The right-hander pitched three innings out of the bullpen during Boston’s post-season run, giving up four hits and one earned run.

But if Dempster and the Red Sox hadn’t won the World Series, another Canadian would have.

Sitting in the opposite dugout during those six games was Port Dover, Ont., native John Axford of the St. Louis Cardinals. Axford was traded to the Cardinals from the Milwaukee Brewers on Aug. 30 to help St. Louis finish their eventual 97-win season in first place in the National League Central. Axford worked 5 ⅓ innings in the post-season, striking out 9 and allowing one run on two hits.

The Pittsburgh Pirates made it to the National League Division Series with two Canadians on their roster -- Justin Morneau of New Westminster, B.C., who was acquired from the Minnesota Twins late in the season, and Russell Martin of Montreal, who signed a free agent contract with the Pirates last year.

Pittsburgh downed the Cincinnati Reds -- and Etobicoke, Ont., native Joey Votto -- in the National League wild card game, while semi-Canadian Freddie Freeman and the Atlanta Braves lost to the L.A. Dodgers in the other NLDS. Though Freeman was born and raised in California, his father was born in Windsor, Ont., and his mother was born in Toronto.

5. Excitement for the Blue Jays

It’s not very often that the city of Toronto shows excitement for baseball in January, but that’s the way 2013 began.

After Blue Jays general manager Alex Anthopoulos pulled off significant trades with the Miami Marlins and New York Mets to bring the likes of Jose Reyes, Mark Buehrle, and R.A. Dickey to the city, there was a real hope in Toronto that this team was finally built to contend.

That dream unravelled quickly, and the Blue Jays finished dead last in the A.L. East with a 74-88 record. But despite the failed season, there were significant moments in Toronto’s 2013 campaign which may bode well for baseball in Canada. Attendance at Rogers Centre -- 2,536,562 total in 2013 -- grew by more than 20% from 2012 and marked the franchise’s highest total in more than 15 years. Even in their most dismal stretches of the season, the Blue Jays consistently sold approximately 30,000 tickets per game.

Not only did fans come out in droves to watch the team in action, they also showed their support by voting one of Toronto’s best relievers into the 2013 all-star game for the first time in his career. Thanks in part to the Jays’ #RaiseTheBar Twitter campaign, fans gave Steve Delabar the American League’s final roster spot, voting him over David Robertson of the Yankees, Koji Uehara of the Red Sox, Tanner Scheppers of Texas, and Joaquin Benoit of Detroit. Delabar joined Edwin Encarnacion and Brett Cecil at Citi Field for their first taste of the Midsummer Classic while Jose Bautista represented Toronto for the fourth consecutive year.

4. Chris Robinson makes his long-awaited major-league debut

It took nine seasons and six different organizations, but Dorchester, Ont., native Chris Robinson finally made it to the big leagues.

Canadian baseball fans fell in love with Robinson during the 2013 World Baseball Classic when his reputation as a grinder was put on display as the 29-year-old filled in for Montreal’s Russell Martin behind the plate. After being traded to the San Diego Padres from the Baltimore Orioles midway through the season, Robinson got his big break in August when Padres catcher Nick Hundley took three days off on paternity leave.

Though Robinson didn’t get a single at-bat during his first brief stint in The Show, San Diego recalled the Canadian from triple-A when rosters expanded in September.

On Sept. 25, in his sixth major league at-bat, Robinson picked up his first hit -- a pinch-hit, three-run home run off Arizona’s Eury De La Rosa. As Robinson rounded the bases, Padres broadcaster Dick Enberg, ocalled him a “hockey player from Canada,” adding: “It couldn't have happened to a better kid.” After the game, which San Diego won 12-2, Padres second baseman Jedd Gyorko called Robinson’s home run the “highlight of the year.”

Robinson played 634 career minor league games, hitting .276 with a .320 on-base percentage. Through eight games (12 at-bats) with the Padres, he had two hits and three RBIs.

Read Chris' blog on CBN

3. Andrew Albers makes Saskatchewan proud

Before Andrew Albers made his MLB debut for the Minnesota Twins in August, the province of Saskatchewan hadn’t had a major league representative in over 20 years.

So when the North Battleford native began excelling on the mound over his first few starts, Rider Nation took notice.

Fans flocked from Saskatchewan to Kansas City where Albers made his debut -- 8 ⅓ innings of scoreless ball against the Royals on Aug. 6 -- and a week later, they made the trek to Target Field for his first home start -- a complete game, two-hit shutout over the Cleveland Indians.

Back in 2009, less than a year into his professional career, Albers underwent Tommy John surgery and painful rehab which left him wondering if he should give up baseball altogether. Though the left-hander returned to the San Diego Padres camp for spring training the following year, he threw to live batters only once before being cut from the organization that drafted him in 2008. Albers spent the next season playing independent ball with the Quebec Capitales of the CanAm League before a successful tryout with the Twins in 2011 brought him back to the minors.

Before earning his call-up this season, Albers went 11-5 with a 2.86 earned-run average through 22 starts with the triple-A Rochester Red Wings.

His unconventional road to the big leagues has inspired some of Saskatchewan’s best young baseball players, including 17-year-olds Brayden Resch and Wyatt Schlosser, who represented the province at the Canada Games, and played for the Prairies team at Tournament 12.

Read Andrew's blog on CBN

2. Tom Cheek lives on at Cooperstown

Twenty years after Joe Carter touched ‘em all in Game 6 of the 1993 World Series, the man responsible for the most iconic call in Blue Jays history was elected into the National Baseball Hall of Fame.

Tom Cheek was this year’s recipient of the Ford C. Frick Award for broadcasting excellence, after being nominated as a finalist for the award for the last seven years. Cheek, in his unmistakable baritone voice, broadcast 4,306 consecutive Blue Jays games -- including both of Toronto’s World Series victories -- from the club’s first game at Exhibition Stadium on April 7, 1977 to June 2, 2004. The “voice of the Blue Jays” was recognized by the organization in 2005, when his name was added to the Rogers Centre Level of Excellence, and he was inducted into the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame in St. Marys, Ont., in June.

Cheek passed away in Oct. 2005, and he was represented at Cooperstown this summer by his wife Shirley, who gave a moving speech thanking Canada’s baseball fans for inducting her late husband into the Hall. (Video here)

"After seven years, fans across Canada have never forgotten Tom," Shirley said at Cooperstown. "I've heard from Blue Jays fans from British Columbia to Newfoundland expressing support and congratulations. Each year, Jays fans voted and voted for Tom. From the bottom of my heart, thank you."

Read CBN's Special Archive on Tom Cheek

1. The success of the inaugural Tournament 12

For four days in September, the nation’s top young players converged on the Rogers Centre turf in Toronto to showcase their abilities in front of professional and college scouts from across the United States and Canada.

Put together by the Blue Jays and Roberto Alomar, the tournament featured 10 teams -- three from Ontario, two from Quebec, one each from B.C., Alberta, the Prairies, the Maritimes, and one future’s team made up of players who are sure to be prominent in the 2015 draft and beyond.

The surprising star of the show was the Maritimes team, which beat Quebec Blue 7-4 to take home the inaugural championship. Little known heading into the showcase, the Maritimes’ pitching staff made quite an impression throughout the four-day event. First there was J.P. Stevenson of Hunter River, P.E.I., who pitched five scoreless innings in the first game of the tournament. Two Dartmouth, N.S., natives -- Jesse Borden and Cody Shrider -- allowed one run in six combined innings, while Myles Vincent of Corner Brook, Nfld., gave up three runs in three innings in one game, then pitched six hitless frames in the final.

The Maritimes’ most impressive arm, however, belonged to Andrew Case, 20, of Saint John. Case pitched a no-hitter in the semifinal against Quebec White, striking out a tournament-high 13 batters and earning himself a pro contract with the Blue Jays as a result.

Read CBN's Tournament 12 Archive

Honourable Mention

The 2013 MLB draft

Though fewer Canadians were taken is this year’s draft (21) than last year’s (26), more Canadians were taken in higher rounds in 2013.

By the end of the fifth round, four Canadians had already been selected by MLB teams, with the highest pick coming in Round 2 -- left-handed pitcher Rob Zastryzny of Edmonton, Alta. The first Canadian to go in 2012 was third baseman Eric Wood of Pickering, Ont., who was chosen by the Pirates in the sixth round.

Here are the Top 5 drafted in 2013:

1) LHP Rob Zastryzny (Edmonton, Alta.) – Chicago Cubs 2nd Round (41st overall) 2) RF Tyler O’Neill (Maple Ridge, B.C.) – Seattle Mariners 3rd Round (85th overall) 3) RHP Nick Pivetta (Victoria, B.C.) – Washington Nationals 4thRound (136th overall) 4) LHP Travis Seabrooke (Peterborough, Ont.) – Baltimore Orioles 5thRound (159th overall) 5) SS Malik Collymore (Mississauga, Ont.) – St. Louis Cardinals 10thRound (305th overall)

Full 2013 Draft List

Larry Walker: The case for Cooperstown

Attention: All Coaches, general managers and scorekeepers across Canada

The history of the CBN Draft ListBy Bob ElliottThere have been some big names on our draft list over the years.Nine Canadians have been selected in the top 30 picks of high schoolers and collegians in North America, since Canadians were included in the draft since 1985.

The most influential name to appear on the Canadian Baseball Network draft list?

Well, it’s not Jameson Taillon, Adam Loewen or Jeff Francis, who all went in the first 10 over-all picks.

It’s not Phillippe Aumont, Brett Lawrie or Dave Wainhouse who went in the first 20.

And it’s not Kellin Deglan, Kevin Nicholson or Scott Thorman, the other first rounders.

No, the most important name in this the 19th year of our top Canadian draft list is Yan Jean-Louis LaChapelle, of Gatineau, Que.

LaChapelle was a third round choice of the Toronto Blue Jays in 1996.

How could a third round pick rank as the most influential?


For three years in the 1990s we ran a Baseball America-style list of the best eligible Canadians for the June draft in the Toronto Sun. Each year someone in our circulation area -- from Oakville in the west to Oshawa in the east -- was atop or near the top of the list.

However, in 1996 our top man in the initial draft installment was LaChapelle, followed by Calgary’s Chris Reitsma.

“We’re not running your list,” said assistant sports editor John Kryk, who now covers the NFL for Sun Media. “Zero local names.”

I tried again a month later. Again, he said no.

On the third try Kryk said “you know we have this CANOE web site starting up, why not try there?”

“Ah, what is a web site,” I asked.

So, after a meeting with Mike Simpson, we started with a one page draft list, which today, last month, last year and every year is our leader in web hits.

Then, we added the Canadians in College list, Canadian Player of the Week and Canadians in the Minors.

The web site ran under various names: CANOE, MLB.Canada, SLAM! Canadian Baseball and finally the CBN.

All because of LaChapelle.

So whether you are a shortstop in Langley, B.C. or a left-hander in Montreal the added exposure you receive from making the draft list, or if your name appears on the CBN Facebook or CBN Twitter feed it is a direct result of LaChapelle.

Our final list heading into the 1996 draft wound up being Reitsma, Lachapelle, Cody McKay, Chris Mears and Jeff Guiel. When the draft unfolded Reitsma was selected as the top Canadian going 34th over-all to the Boston Red Sox. Blue Jays scout Bill Byckowski chose LaChapelle in the third round.

Vancouver’s Mears went in the fifth round to the Seattle Mariners, McKay in the ninth to the Oakland A’s and Guelph’s Greg Heffernan to the St. Louis Cardinals in the 15th.

LaChapelle received a $185,000 US signing bonus, which at the time was the third highest bonus ever to a Canadian -- that we knew of at the time -- given by a club.

Has Canadian baseball grown?

Well, now the third-highest bonus is the $1.9 million US Aumont received in 2007 from the Mariners, behind  Taillon ($6.5 million) and Loewen ($3.2 million).

Maybe without LaChapelle you would know that Gareth Morgan is expected to be the top Canadian drafted in June of 2014. Or that INF Roberto Byckowski (Etobicoke, Ont.) was the fastest riser of late?

Of that Jeff Kellogg, Josh Naylor or Demi Orimoloye contend for top spot in 2015?

Maybe, maybe not.

LaChapelle pitched five seasons in the minors at class-A St. Catharines, class-A Hagerstown and class-A Dunedin. He appeared in 86 games, making 53 starts, going 25-19 with a 3.64 ERA. He had 334 strikeouts in 349 innings.

He didn’t make the majors, but he went a lot further than most and his success helped give exposure to 100s of Canadians from coast to coast, promoting the game.

Now, the web site has expanded to podcasts, chats, a facebook page, a twitter account -- you name it.

We have an army or writers -- and always looking for more – cranking out stories from different provinces and hoping to reach 10-for-10.

We have a crack social media expert in Peter Bean who has the twitter feeds humming at all hours of the day.

Mercie Monsieur LaChapelle.

SS Sean Jamieson (Simcoe, Ont.) impressed at class-A Visailia in the Arizona Diamonds organization. He scored the most runs of any Canadian in the minors and had the third highest OPS to win the Canadian Baseball Network player of the year award and the Randy Echlin memorial award

Who is on the move on the Canadian Draft List?

By Bob Elliott

The Perfect Game 85-team World Wood Bat championship in Jupiter, Fla. finished Oct. 28.

Results trickled in throughout November and into December on the 82 Canadians on six different teams with the three Canadian teams -- Ontario Blue Jays, Dbacks Team BC and Canada PG Gold -- plus players on other teams.

Let’s start at the start for the 2015 draft:

Ranked the No. 1 Canadian is OF Gareth Morgan (North York, Ont.) of the Ontario Blue Jays and the Canadian Junior National Team. Going into the tournament the 6-foot-3 specimen had showed home run power during batting practice. In the game? Not so much. “He has to show me he can do it in a game,” said one scouting director.

Morgan, who has committed to North Carolina State, homered and knocked in three runs against the Toronto Blue Jays Scout Team, had two hits against the Texas Sun Devils and doubled facing the Rays.

After heading into the summer as a projected first round pick Morgan has slumped on scouting lists south of the border. He’s now 34th on Perfect Game top 500 high list (down from 28th), 45th on Baseball America’s top 100 HSers and 103rd on Allan Simpson’s top 250 (down from 18th).

Still ...

“We’re picking in the top five, he’s not there,” said another top amateur evaluator, “but we don’t think he’ll be there when our second turn comes. He has trouble with a breaking ball, but who doesn’t at this age ... some teams pick off work outs. We don’t but I’ve been with teams that do.”

Morgan may slip from first to second or third round ... whatever, he’s still going to be the top Canadian come June.

Those on the move upwards -- either during fall ball on their respective campus or in Jupiter -- with the 2014 draft less than six months away.

* INF Robert Byckowski (Etobicoke, Ont.) of the Ontario Blue Jays and the Canadian Junior National Team.

Committed to Florida Gulf Coast University. One AL scout predicts Byckowski has a chance to be “the best hitter in the class next spring.” Byckowski has been playing third base, but projects as a first baseman. And he showed the best power at Tournament 12 with ground-rule doubles to left and right and a home run of the cement facade above the centre field wall.

* OF Travis Wacker (Oakville, Ont.) Field House Pirates.

Scouts are anxious to see Wacker. After impressing at an August MLB Scouting Bureau camp with a 6.75 60-yard time, he was going to get some looks at Tournament 12. However, the Texas native was injured and could not participate.

*RHP Cody Chartrand (Nanaimo, BC) Lewis-Clark State

Another newcomer to the list is he showed completely healthy during fall ball, displaying consistent velocity  in the 91-93 MPH range with his fastball. He also showed good breaking ball and one veteran evaluator said he could be special.

* RHP Zachary Pop (Brampton, Ont.) Ontario Blue Jays, Toronto Blue Jays Scout Team and the Canadian Junior National Team.

Pop touched 90 MPH against GBG Marucci with three strikeouts in two innings.

* 1B-LHP Mitchell Bigras (Sarnia, Ont.) Great Lake Canadians/Canadian Junior National Team

He had two hits, including a double and RBI facing New Jersey PG at Jupiter. Sandy Alomar compared Bigras’ swing to that of John Olerud’s during T12.

* 3B-C Mitchell Robinson (Cloverdale, BC) Langley Blaze/Dbacks Team BC/Canadian Junior National Team.

Committed to Florida International. Robinson had a pair of hits and an RBI against the Mid Atlantic Rookies in Jupiter.

*LHP Kurt Horne (Sooke BC) Langley Blaze/Dbacks Team BC/Canadian Junior National Team

The lefty fanned six in four innings against the Mid-Atlantic Rookies, throwing 70% of his pitches (43-for-61) strikes topping out at 86 MPH.

* SS-RHP Matt Lloyd (Okotoks Alta.) Okotoks Dawgs Academy/Team Northeast/Canadian Junior National Team.

Lloyd pitched against Midwest Warducks in Jupiter and was impressive. Meanwhile in at PG Showcase in Phoenix he was named to the all-tourney PG team for his play in the field.

And for the class of 2015...

* OF Josh Naylor (Mississauga, Ont.) Ontario Blue Jays/Canadian Junior National Team

Naylor had the top outfield velocity (95 MPH) of any prospect at PG showcase in 2013. He had four hits in Jupiter.

* OF Demi Orimoloye (Orleans, Ont.) Ottawa-Nepean Canadians/DBacks Team BC/ Canadian Junior National Team

Orimoloye was tied for 10th best 60 time (6.57) in by PG by ‘15s.

* RHP Kristjan Storrie (Langley, BC) Langley Blaze/Dbacks Team BC

Storrie was clocked at 91 MPH against Tri-state on the final day of in Jupiter. And in the opener he hit 90 MPH three times in the opener against the Ontario Blue Jays.

Jays’ Naylor used to facing older arms

Updates and upcoming events from our sponsors From our friends at The Ontario Blue Jays1. The Ontario Blue Jays are better expanding their reach into the community and opening their programs and facilities to all local youth teams. Private lessons, camps and clinics are available with Ontario Blue Jays instructors for players of all ages and ability.   As well, the Ontario Blue Jays Clubhouse Indoor Training Centre - the GTA's largest indoor baseball facility is available for team rentals. For information on all program and rentals please email The Ontario Blue Jays are pleased to announce that Paul Molitor will be the keynote speaker at their 3rd Annual Hall of Fame and Awards Gala Dinner.  The dinner is set for Saturday January 18 at 7:00 pm at La Prima Vera Banquet Centre in Vaughan.   Full details including ticket sales will be available through starting December 6.

From our friends at Pro Teach Baseball:

1. Winter Instructional league - Starts January 11th at the Lake Shore dome in Etobicoke (60,000 square feet!) - Cure your winter blues with 8 weeks of actual games! - For more information check out

2. Prospects North Annual College Showcase - January 11th at the Pro Teach Center - For high school players looking to play US college baseball - For more info contact

3. Velocity Development Program - The same program used by Toronto Blue Jay Steve Delabar - Over 60 current participants seeing an improvement of 2-6mph! - Program can be used in conjunction with your team workouts - Sign up now by contacting

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