* Tyler Whalen (Hamilton, Ont.), such a big Casey Janssen fan he has the Blue Jays closer's picture as his screensaver, got the Futures Navy team off to a great start pitching four scoreless inning in a walk-off win over Atlantic Grey, the defending Tournament 12 champions. .... 2014 Canadians in the Minors … Canadians in College 2015 Canadian draft list Letters of Intent
By Bob Elliott Tyler Whalen was embarrassed.
Sort of ...
Not by his outing.
Not by the outcome of the game.
Far from it.
No, Whalen is sometimes embarrassed by his screensaver.
“Most guys at school have Beyonce, Ariana Grande, Megan Fox, models, actresses or cars as their screensavers,” said Whalen. “They see my machine and they see a ball player.”
The grade 10 right-hander is all baseball business.
His screen-saver is a “saver” by the name of Blue Jays closer Casey Janssen.
“He’s a great pitcher, I like the way he gets outs, he’s not overpowering, but he sure gets the job done,” said Whalen. “I’m like him.”
By rights the right-hander should be due to pitch in the 2016 Tournament 12.
By talent Whalen (Hamilton, Ont.) was on the mound at the Rogers Centre pitching for Futures Navy Wednesday night.
The Futures had a 2-0 lead before Atlantic Grey, the defending champions, rallied for three runs in the sixth for a 3-2 lead. The Futures scored a pair in the bottom of the seventh for a walk-off win when Luke Van Rycheghem (Kent Bridge, Ont.) singled to left.
Garner Spoljaric (Bolton, Ont.) led off the bottom of the seventh with a walk, Lucas Parente (Burlington, Ont.) reached on an infield single and Cooper Davis (Mississauga, Ont.) dropped a bunt which he couldn’t have placed any better had he called time and rolled it onto the carpet.
And the bases were loaded.
Adam Hall (London, Ont.) walked to force home the tying game and one out later Van Rycheghem, who showed a much better swing than the Ontario Cup tryouts, singled into left -- the first ball that left the infield.
And the young ins gathered at first to congratulate LVR, who had caught Whalen.
Whelan, the Hamilton Cardinals grad who pitched this summer for legendary sandlot coach Rick Gallo, pitched four scoreless allowing two hits and three walks, as he fanned five.
Whalen’s first pitch to Atlantic lead-off hitter Jay Oram was a fastball and the auxiliary board showed 79 MPH.
“I snuck a peak a few times, it was easy to see on the board,” Whalen said. “ I was disappointed actually. I was 79, 79, 79. Most of the summer I was at 82 MPH.”
Whalen was explaining how he will pitch this fall for the Great Lake Canadians when Hamilton’s John Hashimoto walked by, “never mind Great Lake Canadians -- he’s from Hamilton.”
Not that Whalen is green but when he filled in his Major League Scouting Bureau card on Aug. 12 and in the spot where it was marked grade he wrote: grade nine. He’s now in grade 10 and not eligible until the 2017 draft being born July 22, 1999.
Spoljaric, a 2018 draft is the youngest player in the tourney, while the other 2017 draft eligible players with the Futures are: Karl Dawkins (Ajax, Ont.), Ryan Kula (Etobicoke, Ont.), Hall, Davis and Parente.
“I had big butterflies when I first got to the mound,” said Whalen. In the bullpen coach Jean-Gilles Larocque (Sudbury, Ont.) told Whalen to “keep the ball down in the strike zone and pitch to contact.”
The other Futures coaches are former Seattle Mariners farmhand Hyung Cho (Toronto, Ont.), Chris Begg (Uxbridge, Ont.) former San Francisco Giants minor leaguer as well as Team Canada workhorse, who looks like he can still pitch and Stubby Clapp (Windsor, Ont.).
“They tell me Stubby is Capt. Canada,” said Whalen. “He told me how pitchers were stupid. “All pitchers.”
Clapp became the Prime Minister of Canadian international baseball at the Pan Ams in 1999 in Winnipeg as Canada captured the nation’s heart -- back then TV had a novel idea of showing baseball other than the Montreal Expos and the Blue Jays. This was before TV fell in love with girls 16U soccer.
And Clapp hid a lucky Lonnie under second base at Chase Field as Canada upset Team USA 8-6 in the inaugural World Baseball Classic in Phoenix. All of which means Capt. Canada is the perfect choice to throw out the ceremonial first pitch next summer when the Pan Ams come to Ajax, Ont.
“I told him pitchers were stupid -- I don’t like pitchers,” said Clapp, who played with the St. Louis Cardinals.
Why do hitters like Clapp dislike pitchers like Janssen and Whalen?
Because pitchers get hitters out.
Count please: Due to the strict time lines and to keep games moving each hitters begin each at-bat with an automatic 1-1 count, like the Michigan high school league Windsor teams used to dominate with the likes of LHP John Picco. “Ahhh, they should start with the count 2-0, then you’d see some people hacking,” said George Bell the only Blue Jay player to win the American League MVP award
The defending champs: As starts go it ranked up there with waking up in the middle of the night to find that the power was out ... stubbing your toe ... then tripping over a toy ... falling and hurting a wrist.
Atlantic Grey opened against BC Orange and thanks to Luc Hebert (Cocagne, NB) and Blake Finn (Riverview, NB), who pitched three and two scoreless innings respectively, plus an Anthony McKinley (Dartmouth, N.S.) single, a Darcy Affleck (York, PEI) double and a Jed Noonan (Albany, PEI) single, the lads from the East were winning 2-0 in the sixth.
Yet, BC scored twice in the sixth to tie and three to win it in the seventh.
“It would have been nice to do what we did last year,” said Cole MacLaren (Morrell, PEI), who had a good game behind the plate throwing out a runner at third base. “With a left-handed hitter up I had a clear lane.”
But in true Atlantic modesty he added “I don’t think the runner got much off a jump off second.”
MacLaren got to squat where some of his favorite catchers have been before him in Matt Weiters of the Baltimore Orioles, Buster Posey of the San Francisco Giants and Christian Vasquez of the Boston Red Sox. Blake Gallagher (Waasis, NB), Jake Lonar (Coldbrook, NS), Jay Oram (Summerside, PEI), Nolan Levy (Lower Derby, NB) and Affleck -- as Aflac insurance missed a golden advertising opportunity by showing a video of the Aflac duck -- are the only returning players from the defending champs.
Oram said the Atlantic team got to visit with RHP Andrew Case (Saint John, NB) who is the poster boy for the tournament -- along with RHP Zach Pop (Brampton, Ont.). The Blue Jays signed Case and he was an all-star with the Vancouver Canadians, while Pop earned a scholarship to the University of Kentucky.
Case told the Maritimers before the tourney began “don’t give up, anything is possible,” and how he thought his career was over before he arrived a year ago this month.”
After losing 5-2 to BC Orange, Atlantic Grey lost 4-3 to the Navy Futures in one of two walk-off.
Assistant commissioner Rob Jack issued a mild vote of confidence to Atlantic Grey GM Jake Paddle.
Men down: BC finished its game without a middle infielder as SS Lichel Hirakawa-Kao (Vancouver, BC) pulled a hamstring running the 60-yard dash on Tuesday and 2B Tony Pharand (Chilliwack, BC) rolled his ankle taking a relay throw from right field.
On the move: RHP Jesen Dygestile-Therrien (Montreal, Que.) has been asked to play winter ball in Colombia by the Philadelphia Phillies. Winter ball in Colombia? That’s where Blue Jays scout Duanne Larson spotted an INF named Kelly Gruber, who was then a Cleveland Indians minor leaguer. The Jays claimed him in the Rule V draft. The Phillies reliever is 3-0, with two saves and a 6.27 ERA at Single A Lakewood BlueClaws, as well as 1-1, with one save and a 2.81 ERA at Single A Williamsport Crosscutters ... Joel Landry has resigned as coach of the Academdie Baseball Canada ... C Konner Lutz (Medicine Hat, Alta.) decided not to attend Canisius College.
Cover jinx?: The Tournament 12 program features fine reading material by the Canadian Baseball Network crack staff. On the cover are Calgary’s Mike Soroka (Calgary, Alta.), Demi Orimoloye (Orleans, Ont.) and Josh Naylor (Mississauga, Ont.). All three members of the Canadian Junior National Team were stranded in Mexico after a hurricane hit La Paz, Mex. after the Canucks beat Mexico Sunday night to win bronze.
Along with Team USA, Canada was air lifted out of Mexico by a US Military cargo plane which flew the players and parents to Tijuana. The Canucks were then bused to LAX and flights were booked home.
Besides the three players on the cover there Darren Shred (Brampton, Ont.) and Jean-Francois Garon (Terbonne, Que.) are headed home to play in T12.
The airport is closed until Sept. 30.
Best hitters on the day: Ranked in order of number of scouts, recruiters and evaluators polled ... Cooper Davis (Mississauga, Ont.), Futures Navy, Ontario Blue Jays “He ran to first base three times under 4.00, how many guys in the big league do that ... and he’s only 15.” Isaac Deveaux, (Montreal, Que.) Futures Navy, Upstate Mavericks. “Makes a lot of solid contact.” Anthony McKinley (Dartmouth, N.S.) Atlantic Grey “I really like his approach. Considering his age and he has a year at a JUCO with a medical red shirt year, he’s one of the most attractive to a college recruiter or a pro scout. I would not be surprised if he’s signed before this is over.” Luxon Glor (Winnipeg, Man.), Prairies Purple, Vauxhall Academy Dakota Curry (Prince George, BC) BC Orange, Langley Blaze “The best bolt of the day?” Trevor Loftstrom (West Kelowna, BC) BC Orange, Okanagan Athletics “No, his ground rule double was one of the best drives of the day.” Brad Aldred (Oshawa, Ont.) Futures Navy, Toronto Mets Jacob Sims (Guelph, Ont.) Ontario Black, Ontario Terriers Andy Remple (Chilliwack, BC) BC Orange, Abbotsford Cardinals Hayden Jaco (Coquitlam, BC) BC Orange, Langley Blaze
Miles Gordon (Oakville, Ont.) Ontario Green, Great Lake Canadians Luke Van Rycheghem (Kent Bridge, Ont.) Futures Navy, Ontario Blue Jays.
Best pitching arms Vincent Beauegard (Laval, Que.) Quebec Blue, Montreal Orioles 2 IP, 5 H, 4 R, 3 ER, 2 BB, 3 Ks. “The line was messy, but the arm was not. I liked his curve ball and I loved a lefty throwing 88.” Nicholas Vidro (Brampton, Ont.) Ontario Green, Toronto Mets 3 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 2 BB, 4 Ks. “He throws across his body, he still has more in him. He gets that fixed and he’s up to 84-87 MPH.” Michael Brettell (Fonthill, Ont.) Ontario Green, Great Lake Canadians 2 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 3 Ks. Tyler Whitbread (Camlachie, Ont.) Ontario Black, Great Lake Canadians 2 IP, 1 H, 2 R, 0 ER, 2 BBs, 2 Ks.
Best catcher: “Fill your hat, this might be the deepest position here.” Ben Komonsky (Regina, Sask.) Prairies Purple, Vauxhall Academy. “He’s the real deal.” Jacob Sims (Guelph, Ont.) Ontario Black, Ontario Terriers Tony Hrynkiw (Brampton, Ont.) Ontario Green, Ontario Blue Jays. Andrew Yerzy (Toronto, Ont.) Ontario Black, Toronto Mets. Zach Fascia (Brampton, Ont.) Ontario Black, Brampton Royals. Luke Van Rycheghem (Kent Bridge, Ont.) Futures Navy, Ontario Blue Jays. Max Wright (Toronto, Ont.) Ontario Green, Great Lake Canadians Cole MacLaren (Morrell, PEI) Atlantic Grey, Okotoks Dawgs
Best defensive plays Cooper Davis (Mississauga, Ont.), Futures Navy, Ontario Blue Jays. Ian Wilson (Toronto, Ont.) Ontrio Green, Toronto Mets.
Best bolt of the day:
Nolan Rattai (Medicine Hat, Alta.) homered down the left field line to help Alberta come back to beat the Prairies.
Best player in the tournament: Including past viewings ... Peter Hutzal (Calgary, Alta.) Alberta Red, Okotoks Dawgs “He played third and caught for Alberta at the Canada Cup, got up on the mound and was 88 in Saskatoon. Now, here he’s playing shortstop. He’s a great athlete. How many guys here can pitch, catch, play a corner and play the middle?”