* Gareth Morgan drew a crowd of scouts and scouting director for Spring Break II and put on a hitting display for the Langley Blaze against pro pitching. The Blaze finish their trip with their Wednesday schedule of games. ....
By Bob Elliott
It’s no longer early.
Gareth Morgan, projected to be a first rounder by some, a second-to-fourth rounder by others, was in the red and white of the Canadian Junior National Team at Al Lang Field in St. Petersburg during March break.
He nearly knocked off the cap of Toronto Blue Jays starter Brandon Morrow a la Charlie Brown and had five other hits facing first and second-year pro pitchers.
Included were a pair of doubles as he struck out seven times.
“I have to see him do more in a game,” said one scouting director who came to Al Lang.
“What he really has going for him is the fact that this is not a real good year for position players,” said another.
And Morgan flew to Phoenix last weekend to join the Langley Blaze for their spring trip.
He changed into a navy Langley Blaze uniform, but it could have been a Super Man’s cape.
All Morgan did was go ...
_ Two-for-four with a homer, a double and a fine running catch in right field against the Chicago Cubs minor leaguers on Thursday. At the Cubs new facility in Mesa there is a high screen down the left field line to protect the vehicles in the parking lot. Morgan cleared the screen with a drive.
_ Two-for-three facing the San Diego Padres with a double and single a 8-6 win for the Blaze on Tuesday.
_ One-for-two with a walk in a 4-4 tie to the Milwaukee Brewers on Monday.
_ Two-for-4 against the Cincinnati Reds on Wednesday.
“He’s seeing the ball much better,” said one evaluator.
“Seems as if all scouts are all back in, he has really raised his stock,” said a scout.
Morgan made some money on his trip to the desert before heading home Saturday after auditioning before over 100 scouts and seven scouting directors with the June draft of high schoolers and collegians less than 11 weeks away.
Doug Mathieson’s troops will play 29 games in 10 days with their final games on Wednesday against the Cubs and Padres minor leaguers. Mathieson runs the Blaze program and doubles as an Arizona Diamondbacks scout.
Also lighting it up was Mitchell Robinson (Surrey, BC) as he showed well behind the plate. He was 7-for-13 “showing solid contact on velocity going 2-for-3 with a double against the Cubs, 2-for-3 with a triple and a double in a Blaze win 6-5 over Seattle Mariners on Friday and was 0-for-2 with a walk and two hard line drives on Monday, becoming the talk of the trip, along with Morgan. Robinson was hitting again on Tuesday.
There is talk Robinson has bumped his stock to where he’ll go in the first five rounds.
How others fared to date on the Langley excursion to Arizona:
_ RHP Mike Soroka (Calgary, Alta.) was also 88 MPH, pitching very well and throwing all three pitches for strikes against the Padres in front of 80 scouts. He had another three-inning outing allowing one hit and unearned run against Oakland A’s double-A Oakland hitters. He was clocked at 88 again striking out three and now allowing a walk, showing a plus change. After the first baseman bobbled a grounder, he flipped to Soroka covering first and he dropped the ball.
“From the side he looks like he’s playing catch and you get behind home plate and he’s throwing 86-88 MPH easy,” said one scout. “He’s very projectable, commanding his fastball, curve, slider, his second best pitch and his change up for strike. He’s a strike throwing machine. He worked quickly and has great pitchabiliy.”
_ RHP Zach Pop (Brampton, Ont.) was 88-91 MPH, showing a better slider and staying on top in his impressive outing against the Padres.
_ LHP Kurtis Horne (Sooke, BC) was 84-87 MPH and displayed a decent curve, allowing one unearned run against the Reds with three strikeouts in three innings as he allowed one hit and walked one. The second outing for Horne was outstanding one as he touched 90 with a better curve ball against the A’s double-A lineup on Sunday.
_ OF Demi Ormiloye (Orleans, Ont.) was 3-for-4 with a double, two singles and two stolen bases. Has a hit in all pro games, including a Monday double against the Reds.
“He’s am amazing dude,” said one evaluator, “He’s hit well here, but I saw him in St. Pete’s and he was missing balls while in the batting cage during BP. Then, a guy throws him a nasty slider low and away low and he hit it 420 feet the other way for a home run.”
_ Josh Naylor (Mississauga, Ont.) gave a showing to remember the second day Langley was at the Cubs complex. On another diamond where Morgan put on his show, the man some are comparing to Prince Fielder of the Texas Rangers, or Dan Vogelbach, who was on an adjacent field.
“He must have an 80 raw power on a 20-to-80 scale,” said a scout.
_ C Luke Horanski (Dugald, Man.) had two singles in one game and added another on Monday. He had a good day on Tuesday, facing a 99 MPH fastball and lining out hard, as well as throwing out two runners.
_ RHP Ryan Braun (Cloverdale, BC), a strapping 6-foot-5, threw well against the Mariners, as his fastball was clocked at 87-88 MPH, allowing two hits in two innings. Mariner’s farmhand and the top high schooler drafted last June, Tyler O’Neill (Maple Ridge, BC) hit a single and stole second against his former team.
_ INF Louis-Philippe Pelletier (Montreal, Que.) had two triples and two singles in one game.
_ RHP Skylar Janisse (Maidstone, Ont.) pitched three innings with three strikeouts and being clocked at 88-90 against the Cubs. And in his second outing, Janisse threw well against the Reds pitching three scoreless innings. His fastball was 88-93 MPH with both his change and curve ball both working well.
_ Alaska’s Scooter Bynum, one of the top basketball player in the state as voted the MVP, got off the plane Sunday and went 3-for-4. The 6-foot-2, 190 lb. Bynum is now 7-for-12.
_ Pittsburgh LHP Brendan McKay pitched three scoreless and was at 90-92 MPH and on Monday struck out five in three innings and was at 89-92 MPH with five strikeouts.
_ Montana’s Gage Hinsz was 88-92 MPH allowing three runs in three innings.
The Blaze lost 8-0 loss to the Kansas City Royals on Tuesday, 1-0 to the Reds on Wednesday
In other games the Blaze played Seminole College to a 4-4, lost to Cochise 7-1.