* As expected OF Gareth Morgan (North York, Ont.) was the best of the prospects at Major League Baseball scouting Bureau camps at Connorvale Park in Etobicoke and Trudeau Field in Montreal. .... 2014 Canadian draft list … Canadians in the Minors … Canadians in College 2015 Canadian draft list Letters of Intent
By Bob Elliott
As final camps go it was not the best.
And that’s not describing the wet weather which restricted the travel of some players and scouts or left one bullpen at Connorvale Park under water. After a day and a half down pour crack grounds keeper John Ferracuti did get the field ready -- as well as the third base bullpen -- for Walt Burrows annual Major League Scouting Bureau invite-only camp in May.
Gareth Morgan, expected to go in the top two rounds put on a display ... but after that, reviews of the 2014 draft class weren’t high, with the exception of RHP Zach Pop.
“This is a going to be a down year, maybe one of the lowest in terms of draft picks,” said one veteran evaluator.
Another scout guessed 5-to-10 Canadian high schoolers would be drafted. One veteran scout suggested 12-to-14.
Other estimates ranged as high as 20, counting Canadians attending university of junior colleges south of the border.
There was a difference in what was on the Connorvale field where Joey Votto used to launch moonshots beyond the right field fence:
“If it was 10, 15, 20 years ago all you saw in Canada was pitchers ... well pitchers and catchers,” said a visiting scout, “now you see more position players than pitchers over the next few years. That says this isn’t a one dimensional area any more.”
And since many scouts had arrived in Etobicoke after being in Montreal there was praise for the previous workout. As more than one said “best Montreal bureau camp in year” and the class of 2015 as well.
And then there was always the two almost yearly addendums:
“I”m not sure how many but get drafted but a lot less will sign.”
“Wait until next year.” ... "Next year will be good, this crop is one of the leanest in 20 years."
A year ago 21 Canadians were drafted, 13 signed as well as four free agents signed.
* * *
Any look at the June 5-7 draft has to start will with the player who has been projected to be the top Canadian chosen since 2011:
_ OF Gareth Morgan (North York, Ont.) Ontario Blue Jays.
Morgan showed an impressive arm from right field throwing to third base.
Burrows decide not to time the 30 players in the 60-yard dash since the grass was so soggy.
In batting practice Morgan put on his customary display of power facing the strike machine Chris Kemlo, who missed only two bats -- both checked swings.
“He might be the all-time champ of BP,” said one scout.
Morgan doubled off the fence against R. J. Fruere, singled to left, had another single and grounded out.
There were only three cross checkers -- the Atlanta Braves, Oakland A’s and Cincinnati Reds -- at Connorvale, which could be blamed on the weather. That close to draft day cross checkers it’s a wasted day if scouts go somewhere with bad weather and not see anyone. Plus Morgan has been seen in Florida, Arizona, Florida again with the Canadian Junior National Teams as well as in his travels with the Ontario Blue Jays.
Scouts from the Arizona Diamondbacks, Baltimore Orioles, Boston Red Sox, Kansas City Royals, Milwaukee Brewers, Minnesota Twins, New York Mets, New York Yankees, San Francisco Giants, Seattle Mariners, St. Louis Cardinals, Toronto Blue Jays, the A’s, Braves and Reds, 18 in all, were at Connorvale.
Morgan then made his final trip to the Dominican Republic with the Canadian Junior National Team and drew interest from the Kansas City Royals, Texas Rangers and the Seattle Mariners.
Six years ago to the exact day, Tom McNamara was on the island as a Milwaukee Brewers scout and reported back to his Brewers scouting director Jack Zduriencik, who took Lawrie 16th over all in North America.
Now, McNamara is the scouting director of the M’s and he has made all the stops Morgan and Team Canada has made. He wasn’t in the Domonican. Seattle GM Zduriencik was.
Morgan, who plays for coach Danny Bleiwas, homered against the Dodgers rookie-class Dominican Summer League team.
* * *
Others at Connorvale, class of 2014 (four days away)
_ RHP Zach Pop (Brampton, Ont.) Ontario Blue Jays.
Pop was clocked in the low 90s.
He has signed a letter of intent to the University of Kentucky, the first scholarship landed from the Toronto Blue Jays first Tournament 12 last September where Kentucky coach Gary Henderson saw him pitch and then Pop’s Ontario Blue Jays coach Danny Bleiwas got involved the seven months after T12, forwarding current video and reports to the Blue Grass state.
“Best high school pitcher in the country, he’ll go pretty good,” said one scout.
_ C Travis Wacker (Oakville, Ont.) Field House Pirates.
Wacker threw well to second base.
“Some guys are consumed with pop times and all that,” said one scout, “I never use a watch because so many catcher will
cheat on pitches in a workout -- things that they can’t do in a game. I watch and ask myself did he look good throwing or not? He looked good. Smooth. Strong arm.”
_ C Owen Spiwak (Mississauga, Ont.) Ontario Blue Jays.
Spiwak also threw well from behind the plate. Good frame
“I’m not sure he has improved any off last year,” said one scout. “I think he’ll get drafted.”
_ 3B Robert Byckowski (Etobicoke, Ont.) Ontario Blue Jays.
Byckowski didn’t partake in the workout due to a shoulder injury.
“He’ll be drafted because he has been seen so many places and has handled himself well,” said a scout. “If I remember Scott Thorman wasn’t at this Bureau camp his draft year either, due to a shoulder injury.”
_ OF Tristan Clarke (Brampton, Ont.) Great Lake Canadians.
He pitches, plays third and centre.
“He might be the best below-the-radar guy in the country,” said one scout. “He’ll fill out.
_ 1B-OF Mitchell Bigras (Sarnia, Ont.) Great Lake Canadians.
He’s a two-way guy with a scholarship to Boston College, newcomers to the Canadian recruiting scene. RHP Michael Clouthier (Guelph, Ont.) went to BC two years ago.
_ RHP Skylar Janisse (Maidstone, Ont.) Windsor Selects.
Janisse was academically ineligible from Central Michigan so did not pitch this spring and had little leverage. Now he had committed to Lewis-Clark State, the NAIA powerhouse in Idaho.
_ OF Austen Swift (Etobicoke, Ont.) Ontario Blue Jays.
Scouts project Swift as a “real good college player.”
_ INF Mike Moffatt (Burlington, Ont.) Great Lake Canadians.
Moffatt was with the Junior National Team in Florida in March.
“I liked him better at Connorvale than I did in Florida, he’s a maybe,” said a scout.
Class of 2015 (12 months away)
Both OF Demi Orimoloye, of Orleans, Ont., and RHP Matt Ianni, of Ottawa, Ont. of the Ottawa-Nepean Canadians were no shows do the to bad weather, but were seen in the Dominican.
_ OF Josh Naylor (Mississauga, Ont.) Ontario Blue Jays.
Connorvale is the same field where the left-handed hitter doubled off the fence off lefty Travis Seabrooke (Peterborough, Ont.) from the Ontario Terriers went in the fifth round last June to the Baltimore Orioles and as the Junior Team and the Futures team were shaking hands post game, coach Greg Hamilton asked what Naylor was doing the next night:
Naylor: “Working out for the bantam nationals.” Hamilton: “Do you have a passport? How would you like to come with us we’re leaving tomorrow.”
One evaluator is not only in love with his light-tower power: “He has two plus tools out of five, with his power and arm.”
_ C Darren Shred (Brampton, Ont.) Ontario Blue Jays.
Another strong armed, good-looking catching prospect.
“I might be the only one in the park who thinks so, but he might be the top high schooler selected a year from now,” said a scout in an excited manner.
_ INF Royce Ando (Mississauga, Ont.) Ontario Blue Jays.
Ando is currently playing shortstop but most think he projects as a second baseman at the next level whether it be college or the pros.
_ RHP R.J. Freure (Burlington, Ont.) Ontario Blue Jays.
Fastball clocked at 88-90 MPH.
_ OF Tristan Pompey (Mississauga, Ont.) Oakville Royals.
The switch hitter showed well from both sides of the plate.
“He’s longer and leaner than his brother at the same age, he looks like he can fly, too bad they couldn’t run the 60, but we’ll see him down the road ... if I live that long, I’m hoping to still be alive for June of ” said one scout.
Said another: “he’s like Bambi right now getting his legs under him, the strength hasn’t caught up to his growth spurt, but it will.”
_ OF Ian Wilson (Toronto, Ont.) Toronto Mets.
Does some things well.
_ LHP Isaac Anesty (Guelph, Ont.) Ontario Blue Jays.
Was part of the Ontario Blue Jays team that won the Mickey Mantle World Series in McKinney, Tex.
_ RHP Michael Brettel (Fonthill, Ont.) Great Lake Canadians.
Good size (6-foot-3), was 86-88 MPH.
_ RHP Matt Szabo (Sarnia, Ont.) Great Lake Canadians.
Pitched for Brett Gray at Wyoming, clocked in the mid 80s.
_ RHP Nathan Arruda (Brampton, Ont.) Ontario Blue Jays.
Showed a loose easy arm.
Class of 2016 (24 months away)
_ C Andrew Yerzy (North York, Ont.) Toronto Mets.
Yerzy also threw well from behind the plate.
“He doesn’t look like he’s two years away,” said one scout. “I like the kid a lot.”
_ OF Brad Aldred (Whitby, Ont.) Toronto Mets.
Aldred put on a show with the bat at Connorvale, but the talk amongst scouts was of the previous weekend at Bond Park. Beyond right field fence there is a tennis court and in order to protect the tennis players who think love means nothing, the city put up a 50-foot high net that rises above the home run fence. Any ball clearing the home run fence and hitting the net is a home run. Aldred, who is 15, actually hit the ball over the protective netting and into the tennis area ... making it 15-love.
_ RHP Nicolas Virdo (Brampton, Ont.) Brampton Royals
Trying to be like Jamie Richmond ... drafted off an OBA team, the Mississauga Majors (31st round by the Atlanta Braves in 2004, pitched six seasons in the minors). Was clocked at 82-84 MPH.
“Has a chance to be something special ... big shoulder span, his arms almost go his ankles,” said one scout, while another compared him to Kevin Brown.
_ RHP Sam Turcotte (Toronto, Ont.) Ontario Terriers.
Has shown increased velocity since the last time scouts had the chance to see him.
_ RHP Mateos Kekatos (Toronto, Ont.) Toronto Mets.
“A big strong kid, I though his arm worked,” said an evaluator.
_ RHP Hunter Spoljaric (Lisle, Ont.) Great Lake Canadians.
A chip offthe Paul Spoljaric block.
“He has length like his father,” said one evaluator.
_ INF Cooper Davis (Mississauga, Ont.) Ontario Blue Jays.
Davis wowed scouts, recruiters and the hardest markers of all -- the ex-pros, the Blue Jays alumni -- at Tournament 12 last September.
“Another Jacob Robson,” asked one evaulator. Robson was drafted by the San Diego Padres two years ago electing to attend Mississippi State.
_ INF Adam Hall (London, Ont.) Great Lake Canadians.
Showed speed at T12.
“Faces guys beyond his years,” said one evaluator, “Can really hit and plays above his age. I’m not sure if the future holds a position change.”
_ C Mawell Wright (Toronto, Ont.) Toronto Mets.
A physical kid with size and a left-handed bat.
And the good news from Quebec ....
Quebec players are eligible a year earlier, which is why the Milwaukee Brewers were able to select INF Charles Leblanc (Laval, Que.) in the 32nd round last year and he’s eligible a year from now.
Same with this year’s class: eligible this year, eligible next year -- if they
In other news ... since Les Ailes du Québec program has been cut back it has led to a number of Quebec players heading south to face better pitching:
Jean-Francois Garon (Terbonne, Que.) will play for the DBat Mustangs travelling team in Dallas, while OF Jonathan Martin (L’Assomption, Que). with the Lookouts U17 Northeast in Boston and LeBlanc returns to the Waterdown Rams of the Perfect Game summer college league and then on to the University of Pittsburgh, to mention a couple of draft eligible players not at the camp. Others are listed below. All are expected to play for the provincial team at the end of the summer.
As for the Montreal bureau camp ...
Class of 2014 (four days away)
INF Louis-Phillippe Pelletier (Montreal, Que.) Les Ailes du Québec/C-Western Oklahoma JC
Ran one of the fastest clockings at the Rogers Centre at T12 and has impressed with the Junior National Team.
RHP Mathieu Denault (Candiac, Que.) Rive-Sud Patriotes/Richmond Braves, Virginia
Clocked at 84 MPH.
“Was loose easy arm with quickness, with lots more in the tank.”
RHP Alexis Lavenge (Gatineau, Que.) Attak de Gatineau.
Clocked at 87-88 MPH.
“Showed good sink on his fastball,” said one evaluator.
C Michel Dagenais (Ste-Julie, Que.) Rive-Sud Patriotes.
Good looking catcher probably the best catcher in the province.
OF Jonathan Lacroix (Montreal, Que.) Montreal Orioles.
Ran a 6.9 60.
“Very athletic, with a nice loose swing,” said a scout.
INF-RHP Abraham Toro (Greenfield Park, Que.) Montreal Orioles.
Was clocked at 86-87 MPH.
“He does a lot of things well, he switch hits, he can even catch,” said one scout.
C Matthew Chiz (Pte. Claire, Que.) Lachine Athletics.
Showed solid arm strength.
LHP Vincent Beuregard (Montreal, Que.) Lookouts U17, Northeast, Boston.
Fastball clocked at 84 MPH.
“Showed a strong body, a bigger verision of Mehdi Djebbar (20th round, by the Milwaukee Brewers in 2006),” said a vetera scout.
OF Ben Pelletier (Varennes, Que.) Tampa Bay Score International.
Showed decent speed at Bureau camp.
Class of 2015 (12 months away)
OF Isaac Deveaux (Montreal, Que.) Montreal Orioles/Mavericks South Carolina Upstate.
Ran a 6.9 60.
“He showed good hand speed, he’s a cross between Demi Ormiloye and Gareth Morgan. He’s smaller in heighth than Gareth, athletically strong like Demi.”
RHP David Metiever (St. Georges, Que.) Levis Monarques.
Clocked at 83-84 MPH.
2017 (36 months away)
SS Pierre-Oliver Avoine (Gatineau, Que.) Attak de Gatineau.
“He’s a youngster, a young pup, who is very advanced for his age.”