The best come from near and far to Rogers Centre for Mizuno camp

Sept. 17, 2010 By Bob Elliott


One week you’re taking grade 10 math.

The next weekend you are learning trigonometry and calculus, the kind they teach at M.I.T., Stanford or a Queen’s University BA program.

In a way it’s like getting invited to the senior prom by the head cheerleader ... while still in grade 10 or 11.

The 55 best and seven 15-year-old and 16-year-olds from across the country representing every province were invited to the Mizuno Junior Elite Camp at Rogers Centre camp, hosted by Baseball Canada and Jays scouting director Andrew Tinnish.

Instead of learning from their own hard-working instructors Blue Jays coaches pitching coach Bruce Walton and third base coach Brian Butterfield, along with former Blue Jays reliever Paul Quantrill, Junior National Team Head Coach and Director of National Teams for Baseball Canada, Greg Hamilton and a host of other top coaches from around the country, led by former Montreal Expos and Detroit Tigers catcher Joe Siddall (Windsor, Ont.).

The most famous Mizuno grads are Russell Martin (Montreal, Que.) of the Los Angeles Dodgers and lefty Adam Loewen (Surrey, B.C.) of the Baltimore Orioles.

Former Seattle Mariners farmhand Hyung Cho (Scarborough, Ont.), also a National Team alumnae and a territory manager with Mizuno Canada discussed finding proper equipment and sizing while Jeff Krushell (Calgary, Alta.), of Krush Sports Performance, spoke on proper nutrition and strength and conditioning.

The other instructors on hand were: Gautam Srivastava (Victoria, BC), Andy Remple (Abbotsford, BC), Greg Wolfe (St. Albert, Alta.), Frank Ingram (Okotoks, Alta.), Matt Kosteniuk (Saskatoon, Sask.), Marc Babaluk (St. Andrews, Man.), Dave Dufour (Québec City, Que.), Jean-Nicholas Blanchette (Québec City, Que.), Robert Jeffrey (Saint John, N.B.), Eric Newbould (Halifax, N.S.), Kevin Daurie (Halifax (N.S.), Desi Doyle (Mt. Stewart, PEI) and Steve Phillips (St. John’s, Nfld.)

Some pictures courtesy of Baseball Canada.

The 2008 Mizuno camp included the likes of C Kellin Delgan (Langley, BC) who went to the Texas Rangers in the first round of the 2010 draft and received a $1 million US signing bonus; RHP Jonathan Paquet (Ancienne Lorette, Que.), who went in the 22nd round to the Philadelphia Phillies, but chose to attend the University of Kentucky; RHP Steve McKinnon (Duncan, BC), 32nd round to the Rangers; RHP Mike Ellis (Surrey, BC) 35th round to the San Diego Padres, who headed to Florida International University and RHP Tom Robson (Ladner, BC) expected to be the top Canuck drafted in 2011.

The Mizuno camp is a feeder system into the Junior National Team with Mizuno player who shone in September invited to the Canadian Junior National Team fall camp at ESPN in Lake Buena, Fla. in October, including the likes of RHP Michael Clouthier (Guelph, Ont.), RHP Dayton Dawe (London, Ont.), LHP Steven Dressler (Burlington, Ont.), SS Kyle Hann (Oakville, Ont.), OF Max Hollingworth (Coquitlam, BC), LHP Clayton Isherwood (Van Anda, BC), RHP Anthony McKinley (Dartmouth, N.S.), OF Gareth Morgan, Toronto, Ont.), 3B Jean-Philippe Rousseau (Blainville, Que.), 3B Bryan Saucedo (Toronto, Ont.), RHP Logan Seifrit (Spurce Grove, Alta.) C Chris Shaw (Winnipeg, Man.), OF Damion Smith (Windsor, Ont.) and 1B Devan Thomas (Saint John, N.B.).

The CBN spoke to a number of players -- at least one from each province -- during the camp to get their impressions of taking advanced classes ...

Name: Matt Benn

Position: C.

Age: 15.

Ht: 6’0” Wt: 185 lbs.

Bats: R Throws: R.

Hometown: Tuelon, Man.

2010 Teams: Team Manitoba, Inter Lake Blue Jays midgets, Inter Lake juniors, Tuelon seniors, Winnipeg Wolf, Team Manitoba Prospects, Stonewall High School.

2011 Teams: Inter Lake Blue Jays midgets, Inter Lake juniors, Tuelon seniors, Winnipeg, Team Manitoba Prospects, Stonewall High School.

Baseball Influence: “Gord Ledochowski and Andrew Halpenny who have coached be at the Rookies facility. I’ve been going there since I was seven and this year I’ll be in their college development program. Gord taught me everything about hitting, while Andrew helped me learn about the catching aspects.”

Favorite Player: “Joe Mauer, because he can play every day and he’s real agile.”

Greatest Baseball Achievement: “Making Team Manitoba for the Canada Cup as an under ager.”

No. 1 Thing Learned at Mizuno Camp: “Andrew Tinnish, the Jays scouting director, explained how you had to keep your composure or else no one will like you. Jamie Lehmen, the Jays Canadian scout, had a similar message.”

Highlight of the Mizuno Camp: “I was 0-for-4 then Ihit a double.”


Name: Tyson Blue.

Position: RHP.

Age: 15.

Ht: 6’0” Wt: 175 lbs.

Bats: L Throws: R.

Hometown: Winsloe, PEI.

2010 Team: Charlottetown Royals bantams.

2011 Team: Charlottetown Royals bantams.

Baseball Influence: “My father Chris, he was constantly practicing with me in the yard.”

Favorite Players: “Tim Lincecum and Mariano Rivera. I watch them on TV and they are just awesome.”

Greatest Baseball Achievement: “Making the Canada Cup team as an under ager, I was only one of two players to make it. It was quite an experience. I pitched twice, against Manitoba (three innings, five runs, three walks, two strikeouts) and Newfoundland (three innings, one run, four walks, two strikeouts).”

No. 1 Thing Learned at Mizuno Camp: “I learned a lot about covering first base from the Jays pitching coach Bruce Walton.”

Highlight of the Mizuno Camp: “Pitching at the Rogers Centre. I was nervous to start, then I settled down. There’s lots of pressure.”


Name: Alec Clavet

Position: RHP-INF.

Age: 16.

Ht: 6’0” Wt: 190

Bats: R Throws: R.

Hometown: St-Nicholas, Que.

2010 Team: Monquares de Levis Midget AAA.

2011 Team: Monquares de Levis Midget AAA.

Baseball Influence: “Jean-Philippe Roy has been my instructor for a long time. He scouts for the Milwaukee Brewers. He’s taught me since I was eight years old, every Wednesday night. Christian Chenard with Sport Studies Roy Cardinal Pointe-Levy, has taught me more precise things, like the separation of my hands. And Jimmy Durette from the Monquares taught me my change up, which is my best pitch.”

Favorite Player: “Roy Halladay, because he’s simply the best. I learned a lot from him. His poker face. He’s cold blood.”

Greatest Baseball Achievement: “Making Les Ailes du Quebec and going to the Canada Cup. i pitched four scoreless in a loss to Alberta and I got the loss in a one-run game against Ontario (5 2/3 innings, two runs, four hits, four walks, six strikeouts).”

No. 1 Thing Learned at Mizuno Camp: “Bruce Walton, the Jays pitching coach worked with me on my PFPs and gave me some deeper instruction. Paul Quantrill taught me how to separate my hands.”

Highlight of the Mizuno Camp: “Pitching off the Rogers Centre mound. I was really nervous, but did OK ... I struck out the side, two on changeups.”


Name: Dan Connors.

Position: RHP-SS.

Age: 15.

Ht: 5’10” Wt: 170 lbs.

Bats: L. Throws: R.

Hometown: Mount Pearl, Nfld.

2010 Team: Mount Pearl Blazers midgets.

2011 Team: Undecided.

Baseball Influence: “My dad Joe, he got me into the sport, pushed me hard and taught me how to pitch. He used to be a softball player, but he knows baseball.”

Favorite Player: “Robinson Cano because I used to play second. He’s an impressive players and I’m not a New York Yankees fan.”

Greatest Baseball Achievement: “Making the Canada Cup team. I pitched in three games: 2 1/3 scoreless innings with two strikeouts, against Manitoba; three innings and allowed two runs against Alberta and 3 2/3 against Saskatchewan.”

No. 1 Thing Learned at Mizuno Camp: “How to use my whole body when I pitched. I never used my legs at home and I still dominated.”

Highlight of the Mizuno Camp: “Getting to pitch in the game and working a scoreless inning: a lead-off-single, a ground ball to short, a fly ball and a strikeout.”


Name: Bryan Corona-Moreno.

Position: LHP

Age: 16

Ht: 5’ 9” Wt: 165

Bats: L Throws: L

Hometown: Montreal, Que.

2010 Team: Monquares de Levis Midget AAA.

2011 Team: Monquares de Levis Midget AAA.

Baseball Influence: “My father, Franklin, he taught me all that I know about pitching. At Ecole Édouard-Montpetit Stephane Lepage taught me how to improve on my pitching mechanics. And coach Ronal-Virak Um helped me a lot with the mental aspect of pitching -- how I should not be scared when I am pitching.”

Favorite Player: “Johan Santana of the New York Mets. He’s a good lefty and has an excellent change.”

Greatest Baseball Achievement: “At the 2009 Canadian bantam championship in Vaughan in the gold medal game I took a no-hit bit into the sixth inning. I had a good curve ball, but my catcher did not have a good night. We lost 4-2 to Ontario and all they had was a bunt single. I pitched two innings in our win over B.C. also.”

No. 1 Thing Learned at Mizuno Camp: “Bruce Walton taught me how to throw a slider, I was getting it over the plate pretty good.”

Highlight of the Mizuno Camp: “The feeeling of pitching at the Rogers Centre. It was fantastic.”


Name: Jeff Heidma.

Position: LHP.

Age: 16.

Ht: 6’0” Wt: 175 lbs.

Bats: R Throws: L.

Hometown: Coquitlam, BC.

2010 Team: Coquitlam Reds, BC Selects.

2011 Team: Coquitlam Reds.

Baseball Influence: “My father John. We lived in Japan until I was about seven years old. We moved to Vancouver and about six months later he put me in baseball. And man I was terrible when I started.”

Favorite Player: “Ichiro Suzuki because I grew up watching him. I remember one game in the WBC he came through with a clutch hit to beat Korea I think.”

Greatest Baseball Achievement: “Going to the Canada Cup, although I didn’t pitch much, I pitched 4 2/3 innings when we beat New Brunswick (two runs, four walks, six strikeouts).”

No. 1 Thing Learned at Mizuno Camp: “Bruce Walton, the Jays pitching coach taught me specific things you need to do, concentrating on accuracy, keeping my shoulder towards the catcher’s glove and keeping my weight back.”

Highlight of the Mizuno Camp: “Pitching on the mound. I needed only seven pitches, six strikes two strikeouts and a fly ball (hitters started with 1-1 count).”


Name: Payton Hillsdon.

Position: RHP.

Age: 16.

Ht: 6’6” Wt: 155 lbs.

Bats: R. Throws: R.

Hometown: Moose Jaw, Sask.

2010 Team: Moose Jaw Cardinals.

2011 Team: Moose Jaw Cardinals.

Baseball Influence: “My dad Mike was so supportive throughout. He never played but he always caught me in the back yard.”

Favorite Player: “Roy Halladay because he’s a great pitcher, he’s someone to look up to due to his work ethic.”

Greatest Baseball Achievement: “I had a couple of no hitters, one against Pilot Butte, 15 strikeouts, two walks, 94 pitches and Regina, think I had 13 strikeouts, four walks and 97 pitches.”

No. 1 Thing Learned at Mizuno Camp: “I learned that I should always be eating healthy, always keep running and staying in shape from Jeff Krushell.”

Highlight of the Mizuno Camp: “The inning I pitched I gave up a lead-off single, a fly ball and struck out the next two hitters.”


Name: Max Hollingsworth.

Position: OF

Age: 15

Ht: 6’0” Wt: 185

Bats: R Throws: R.

Hometown: Coquitlam, BC.

2010 Teams: Coquitlam Reds, Team BC..

2011 Team: Coquitlam Reds.

Baseball Influence: “My coach Bill Green helped me with my hitting approach and learning how to be a better outfielder.”

Favorite Player: “Justin Morneau because he’s a good Canadian guy.”

Greatest Baseball Achievement: “Going to the 2009 bantam nationals in Vaughan. I played for Tri-City Indians and the Burnaby Braves picked me up. We saw the tornado that touched down and ruin the opening ceremonies. I had a double and scored three runs. And I pitched three scoreless.”

No. 1 Thing Learned at Mizuno Camp: “Jeff Krushell taught us at the seminar how important movement was when it comes to speed amongst outfielder. He explained how ‘everyone can run, everyone can throw, but it’s all how well you move when the ball is hit.”

Highlight of the Mizuno Camp: “Being on the same field with the Team Canada coaches.”


Name: Clayton Isherwood

Position: LHP

Age: 16

Ht: 6’0” Wt: 170

Bats: L Throws: L.

Hometown: Van Anda, B.C.

2010 Teams: Parksville Royals, B.C. Selects

2011 Team: Parksville Royals.

Baseball Influence: “My dad, Terry Woods, Ever since I was little he taught me stuff about my mechanics, going back to when I was three-years old. He coached me from ages 9-to-13.”

Favorite Player: “David Price. He’s impressive lefty, like the way I want to be. I like the way he throws.”

Greatest Baseball Achievement: “Pitching a complete-game shutout in the Canada Cup semi-final game against Quebec at Kindersley, Sask. this year. I pitched a three hitter, walked one, had nine strikeouts and threw 92 m.p.h.

No. 1 Thing Learned at Mizuno Camp: “Bruce Walton helped me with mental approach. He showed us ways to warm up properly and when to through certain pitches.”

Highlight of the Mizuno Camp: “Getting to pitch off the Jays mound. I had two strikeouts, walked a guy and struck out the third guy.”


Name: Anthony McKinley

Position: RHP-OF

Age: 16

Ht: 6’3” Wt: 200.

Bats: R Throws: R

Hometown: Dartmouth, N.S.

2010 Teams: Dartmouth Mariners, Nova Scotia Selects,

2011 Team: Vauxhall Jets

Baseball Influence: “My brother Aaron, 23, he took me to the field when I was younger to practice. He taught me to be focussed and to show that you are dedicated.”

Favorite Player: “CC Sabathia. He’s shown how good he is. I hope he wins the Cy Young award.”

Greatest Baseball Achievement: “Making the Canada Cup team.”

No. 1 Thing Learned at Mizuno Camp: “To be focussed and not to be afraid to try out new things.”

Highlight of the Mizuno Camp: “Being able to pitch on the same mound that the Jays pitchers use. I went strikeout, base hit, strikeout and a ground ball. I felt good out there.”


Name: Bryan Saucedo.

Position: OF.

Age: 16.

Ht: 6’2” Wt: 185

Bats: R Throws: R.

Hometown: Toronto, Ont.

2010 Team: Ontario International Baseball Academy.

2011 Team: Ontario International Baseball Academy.

Baseball Influence: “My father, Dariel, who played in Cuba. He taught me to play with hustle and heart, taught me everything I know. We spent a lot of time in the cage we built downstairs in the basement. We’d do three reps of 10 on soft toss and three reps of 10 off the tee. Then, he’s throw me batting practice until his arm was sore. I was fortunate he was a pitcher, so he knows a lot about hitting.”

Favorite Player: “Kirby Puckett, he had a lot of fun while playing; Tony Gywnn, he was always hitting line drives and Pete Rose because Petey was Petey. They all played the game right. They weren’t the biggest guys but the way they played they showed they belonged.”

Greatest Baseball Achievement: “I hit a walk-off game-winner and I remember the feeling of hitting a walk off. And with the Mississauga North Bengals in my first game I hit two doubles, it felt pretty good as the new kid.”

No. 1 Thing Learned at Mizuno Camp: “You have to accept failure. It is part of the game, Both Greg Hamilton and Jamie Lehman talked about the same thing.”

Highlight of the Mizuno Camp: “Hitting an RBI double on a low and inside pitch the first pitch of the at-bat.”


Name: Logan Seifrit

Position: RHP

Age: 16.

Ht: 5’ 11” Wt: 165 lbs.

Bats: S Throws: R

Hometown: Spruce Grove, Alta.

2010 Team: Spruce Grove White Sox

2011 Teams: Spruce Grove White Sox/Vauxhall Jets

Baseball Influence: “Mark Randall of St. Francis Xavier Academy, who has really helped with pitch pitches. Sheen Bromley (SFX) worked with me a lot when I was younger. And of course my mother and father (Cathy and Mitch). They were always taking me to baseball. My dad would catch my bullpens, although he doesn’t any more. My brother Burke (drafted by the Blue Jays in the 50th round in 2009, who didn’t sign with the Southern Nevada Coyotes and had Bryce Harper as a teammate). He’s helped me with all the steps. He went away to pitch at White Rock, B.C. in grade 12.”

Favorite Player: Jason Bay (Trail, BC) and David Price. Bay because he’s from the same area I’m from and he struggled through four years of college and was drafted late. I’ve watched Price pitch on You Tube and he’s pretty amazing.”

Greatest Baseball Achievement: “Making the tryouts for the Canadian Junior National Team. I was scared because I wanted it for such a long time. We were standing in right field when they called my name on the diamond in Kindersley, Sask. I shook the hand of my coach Greg Wolfe and he said “good job.” I was a little shaky running into the mound area.”

No. 1 Thing Learned at Mizuno Camp: “It’s not all about throwing hard. Bruce Walton told me you should worry about these three things in this order: 1. accuracy, 2. veloctiy and 3. movement. Greg Hamilton taught me not to worry about tomorrow.”

Highlight of the Mizuno Camp: “Pitching on the Jays mound at Rogers Centre. I had a strikeout, a walk, a fly ball to centre and another strikeout.”


Name: Brett Siddall

Position: LHP.

Age: 15.

Ht: 5’11”  Wt: 170 lbs.

Bats: L Throws: L.

Hometown: Windsor, Ont.

2010 Teams: Windsor Selects, Ontario Youth Team

2011 Team: Windsor Selects.

Baseball Influence: “Probably my father (Joe Siddall, who played four seasons in the majors with the Montreal Expos, the Detroit Tigers and the Florida Marlins) he’s been around the game a lot. Obviously as a pitcher some bad things can happen, but his message has always been to ‘stay up, leave your flaws behind.’”

Favorite Player: "Aroldis Chapman. He’s a young guy, I want to throw hard just like him.”

Greatest Baseball Achievement: “Making the Youth Team my first year. I went to the tryouts just for the experience. I pitched a scoreless inning against Quebec and another against New Brunswick.”

No. 1 Thing Learned at Mizuno Camp: “That baseball is not the only thing out there. Greg Hamilton told us that you have to be a good person both on and off the field.”

Highlight of the Mizuno Camp: “Being with all the elite players from across the country. At home some of the players are mediocre, you don’t have that much competition. In  my inning I allowed a single, then struck out the side.”


Name: Owen Spiwak

Position: C-1B

Age: 15

Ht: 6’0” Wt: 190

Bats: L Throws: R.

Hometown: Mississauga, Ont.

2010 Team: Team Ontario, Mississauga Majors, Ontario Youth Team

2011 Team: Ontario Blue Jays.

Baseball Influence: “My mom, Sue, when I was a kid my dad wanted to put me in hockey, my mom said no and signed me up for baseball.”

Favorite Player: “Joe Mauer, because he’s a catcher like me. He does a good job. He does what I’d like to do as a catcher.”

Greatest Baseball Achievement: “Pitching for the host Vaughan Vikings against Ontario in the bantam nationals semi-final this August. Before the game started my coach Marc Picard asked me to envision what I’d like to do. I saw myself striking out guys. I’d never been asked that before. I pitched four innings, struck out nine, didn’t walk a man and left with an 8-0 lead and we won. I also pitched two innings in our win over Quebec. (Spiwak worked six innings and did not allow an earned run, didn’t walk a man and fanned 13).”

No. 1 Thing Learned at Mizuno Camp: “Greg Hamilton told us how important it was for you show respect to everyone at the field whether it is a grounds keeper, a coach or a umpire, because if you are rude to someone he relay the message back to a recruiter or a scout. He said we should make the effort to be the most polite players on the field.”

Highlight of the Mizuno Camp: “Getting to play on the same field where the Jays play. I struck out, flew out and singled.”


Name: Devan Thomas

Position: RHP-1B

Age: 16

Ht: 6’3” Wt: 185

Bats: L Throws: R

Hometown: Saint John, N.B.

2010 Team: Saint John Pirates.

2011 Team: Saint John Pirates.

Baseball Influence: “My father David. He played senior for New Brunswick and went to 10 nationals. I went once at peewee, twice at Bantam and twice to the Canada Cup.”

Favorite Player: “Justin Morneau because he’s from Canada, he plays first and he’s such a good hitter.”

Greatest Baseball Achievement: “We were fourth at the Canadian bantams in Vaughan in 2009.”

No. 1 Thing Learned at Mizuno Camp: “I learned a lot about the minors and what minor-league life is like from (Jays Canadian scout) Jamie Lehman and how tough it is. It sounded appealing to me.”

Highlight of the Mizuno Camp: “Playing on the Rogers Centre turf. When I see a Jays game on TV when I get back home I’m going to say ‘I played there.”