* Lloyd Moseby, left, and Duane Ward talk to the BC Orange team during a game at Tournament 12 at the Rogers Centre. Photo: Michelle Prata. ....
CAMPBELL: The Big O throws 000-000s
HORNE: Others who came to play too.
PERROTTE: Beckett carrying on family tradition
ELJAWHARY: Hrynkiw dressed early
VERGE: Camping with Alomars
By Bob Elliott
Alex Agostino wasn’t around -- back in the day.
Like waaaaaay back in 1997 and the next couple of years when the Blue Jays would stage tournaments and doubleheaders at the SkyDome involving amateur teams... and wouldn’t allow opposing scouts inside the building.
Tournament 12 saw the doors open for the best set of eyes who wanted to come from Blue Jays scouts Brian Parker, Tim Rooney, Don Cowan and top Canadian scout Jamie Lehman, to scouts who flew in from south of the border and to Agostino, a Philadelphia Phillies, who made the trip from Montreal.
“Tournament 12 was for the betterment of the game in Canada, it wasn’t for the betterment of the Blue Jays,” said Agostino. “As a scout this was an unbelievable opportunity. Some scouts complained that there were too many teams ... to them I say watch the games, don’t be lazy. Try to find players rather than eliminating guys.
“What I enjoyed the most was that it was run first class, run by the local team who is doing something for baseball in Canada.”
Agostino said he like other scouts will be contacting their counterparts throughout the country: “Here’s a list of 7-8, or 12 guys from the West, you might want to take a look at these guys.”
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Colorado Rockies area scout Mike Garlatti flew into Toronto from Denver where he watched the Rockies play and attended organizational meetings before the event.
“Watching that many games in a day is a hard gig for scouts,” said Garlatti, “you’re going to sit outside for eight hours in the sun, the wind or the rain.
“So you’re going to sweating to death or freezing.”
Garlatti said once he returned home to New Jersey, he told his scouting director Bill Schmidt about what a well-run event Tournament 12 was.
It was Schmidt who selected LHP Jeff Francis (North Delta, BC) ninth over-all in North America in 2002.
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Mark Wilson has been an area scout for the Minnesota Twins for 13 years.
Wilson scouted and signed major leaguers Joe Mauer, Glen Perkins and Brian Duensing with the Twins.
Wilson, 45, is from Lindstromís, Minn. and covers the Upper Midwest.
When Jim Ridley (Burlington, Ont.) passed, he added Canada to his portfolio.
“Tournament 12 is an outstanding event,” said Wilson seated in section 123 at the Rogers Centre. “It was structured well. Workout day went off without a hitch, that’s not always easy.”
All 10 teams each had an hour for a pro-style workout: to run their 60-yard dashes, catchers to throw to second, outfielders to throw from right field to third, infielders to throw from shortstop and batting practice. Adam Stern kept things on pace.
“This is an event that will grow, I can see double the amount of colleges here next year,” said Wilson. “This is going to be a top recruiting event -- it covers all the bases and is a no brainer when deciding whether to attend.”
Wilson said down the road it would be a must-see for scouts looking at the top Canadians for the upcoming draft and the year after, the get a look at players who have been passed over and an excellent opportunity for colleges to see a cross section of Canadian talent.
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Working for the Los Angeles Dodgers Claude Pelletier (Ste-Lazare, Que.) insisted his boss Eddie Bane come to Alberta to see a right-hander who had pitched at Seminole College in Oklahoma had been dominant and had been overlooked in the draft.
Now, the pitcher was making a cross-country tour with Team Canada on the way to the 1995 Olympics qualifier for Atlanta.
Bane showed and signed right-hander Eric Gagne, who went on to win a Cy Young award.
“I found Tournament 12 instrumental in seeing the talent which exists in Canada,” said Pelletier, who now scouts for the New York Mets and took time to send the Blue Jays a note of congratulations on the tourney. “It sure made it easy for us scouts to see everyone under one roof.
“I look forward to the next one.”
Now, Pelletier has been around long enough to remember the days when the Jays would not allow opposing scouts inside the building to scout.
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Greg Hamilton, coach of the Junior National Team didn’t miss a pitch during the tourney, adding 17 players to his roster for their fall trip to Lake Buena Vista, Fla., who played in the T-12. Hamilton had identified a number of players before the tourney but found it easier to evaluate and make final decisions after seeing players compete against one another. The additions:
Ontario Blue Jays: INF Royce Ando (Mississauga, Ont.), LHP Isaac Anesty (Guelph, Ont.), 3B Robert Byckowski (Etobicoke, Ont.), C-RHP Darren Shred (Brampton, Ont.) and C Lucas Zilli (Mississauga, Ont.).
Academy Baseball Canada: OF Jonathan Martin (Montréal, Que.), INF Louis-Philippe Pelletier (Montréal, Que.) and OF Jean Francois Garon (Terrebonne, Que.), Royals de Repentigny.
North Shore Twins; LHP Brad Smith (Vancouver, BC) and OF-RHP Keenan Williams (Vancouver, BC).
Toronto Mets: 1B-OF Ian Wilson (Toronto, Ont.) and C Andrew Yerzy (Toronto, Ont.).
Calgary PFB Redbirds: RHP Mike Soroka (Calgary, Alta.).
Great Lake Canadians: OF-RHP Tristan Clarke (Brampton, Ont.)
Langley Blaze: C Luke Horanski (Dugald, Man.)
Ottawa-Nepean Canadians: RHP Matthew Ianni (Ottawa, Ont.).
Prospects Academy/St. Albert Cardinals: RHP Jackson Wark (St. Albert, Alta.),
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Agostino ran one of the two Quebec teams, but spent most of his time scouting ... zero bunt signs to flash.
One of his favorite moments when SportsNet Connected was played on the Jumbotron before the two Quebec teams met one morn.
“We look at the big board and they are showing the Pittsburgh Pirates highlights from the night before,” Agostino said. “There is Russell Martin. I told our guys there’s a guy in a similar position to you. I drafted Russell in the 35th round in 2000, he went to Chipola College, two years later the Los Angeles Dodgers drafted him in the 17th round and he signed.”
Agostino told his troops “you guys can dream, because he did.”
And the next shot of was Pirates 1B Justin Morneau (New Westminster, BC), a third-round pick of the Minnesota Twins in 1999.
“And Morneau made a hell of a play,” Agostino said. “All these Canadian kids on the Rogers Centre watching Canadian kids on the Jumbotron. Perfect.”
* * *
Good Day Sir:
Let me introduce myself first. I am a parent of two ball players. I am from Corner Brook, Newfoundland.
I am the President of our local baseball association and vice president of our provincial association.
My son Daniel McCarthy represented Team Maritimes at T-12. Wow, what an experience for him and his family. I have read your columns lately on the teams from out our way and how we have done on the national scene -- not very good.
I have watched my own participate in three Canada Cups and multiple national championships (peewee, bantam and midget) over the years and I always thought if we could only win a game or two at each of these events then it would be a huge success. Well, that did not happen but we always tried to have a good time off the field to make up for our lack of showing on the field.
Again, heading to Toronto, I was hoping for the same -- let’s not get beat too badly. I had the chance to speak with other parents on the team and they also shared my thoughts.
And now this ... I never imagined that this could happen. Not only did we win a game but we won the tourney.
Robbie Alomar, Lloyd Moseby, Sandy Alomar, Devon White and Duane Ward were all out on the field doing a great job.
They were my heroes like the rest of the proud Canadian baseball fans of that era. Moseby made the biggest impression with my son with his humour and baseball style. These guys are the faces of the tournament and it’s only right they receive all their accolades.
But I do know that you were as big or a bigger part of making this happen as they were. Behind the scenes, people need to be recognized as well. You and people like you that helped make this happen have no idea what this tournament has done for the baseball out east.
It has given us the jump back in our game.
Over the years I would watch the players on the Ontario and B.C. teams and compare them to my own and it was like watching men playing against boys. But this week, when they put them on a competitive team, they all looked the same.
At this time, I would like to thank you and whoever made this happen. It is people like yourself that need to be recognized for your involvement in this. I saw you a couple of times this week at the dome from afar but never got the chance to thank you in person. But if our paths should cross again, I will make that happen. Again, from the bottom of a proud Dad’s heart, thank you.
(No thanks deserved here, but thanks should be extended to the likes of Stephen Brooks, Jamie Lehman, Rob Jack, T.J. Burton, Jake (Carry a Big) Paddle, Greg Hamilton, Jim (I Hope I Got It Right) Baba and Adam Morissette. Plus scoreboard content director and Baseball America correspondent Alexis Brudnicki, Melissa Cuoto and Malcolm Kelly’s journalisim class, who churned out all the copy.)
* * *
To keep on schedule each hitter began with a 1-1 count, much like when Windsor’s Villanova High School played in the Michigan HS League in the days when John Picco was setting strikeout marks.
“I don’t like it because I want to see Gareth Morgan work the count,” complained one scout.
Morgan hit the longest home run on the work out day going deep into the second deck into left ... and didn’t watch it.
Wanting to see Morgan work the count would be like going to a Blue Jays game and wanting to see Jose Bautista and Edwin Encarnacion work the count.
Scouts should have been looking to see if Morgan could knock out a bulb in the Budweiser sign, not work the count. He’s a young man with the physique of a power hitter, not someone who works a walk.
“Neither the pitcher nor the hitter has the advantage in a 1-1 count,” said Agostino. “We play games that way when we take our teams to Florida and train in the morning. A lot of these kids have had long summers. It was the right thing to do.
“We told our kids that they were not out there to show that they can draw a walk ... working for count is for player development.”
Quebec teams played inter-squads with 1-1 counts playing 13 inning games in three hours.
* * *
The Arizona Diamondbacks sent Mike Serbalik from Albany, N.Y.
Besides Brampton’s Jamie Lehman, the Jays top Canadian scout, Jays scouting director Brian Parker, west coast crosschecker Tim Rooney and Dan Cowan from Delta, B.C. were watching. to London’s Jay Lapp of the Milwaukee’s Brewers, to Matt Higginson of the Oakland A’s from Oakville, to Murray Zuk of Souris, Man. of the San Diego Padres, Cincinnati Reds’ Bill Byckowski and Danny Bleiwas, Denis Boucher of the New York Yankees, Vancouver’s Chris Pritchett of the Boston Red Sox, Montreal’s Ray Callari of the San Francisco Giants and Baltimore Orioles’ Tyler Moe, plus American-based scouts from the Tampa Bay Rays, Houston Astros, Miami Marlins, Pittsburgh Pirates, Texas Rangers, Kansas City Royals and the Cleveland Indians.
In all, there were 29 pro scouts from 25 teams.
* * *
I attended Tournament 12. First of all, I wanted to let you know I thought it was one of, if not the best tournament/showcase I have been to in 12 years of coaching.
I thought it was very well run and was absolutely loaded with talent.
I am looking forward to next year already.
Associate Head Coach
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My name is Mat Szabo. I played for Ontario Black at T12.
I wanted to let you know how much I appreciated the opportunity to play in the tournament.
The chance to meet Roberto Alomar, Duane Ward, and Lloyd Moseby was amazing!!!!
Roberto Alomar was great to talk to, he even took the time to auto graph a baseball for me.
I couldn’t believe how many scouts from the MLB and universities were there.
My performance wasn’t my best, but this definitely goes down as my best baseball experience!
Please thank my coaches Nigel Wilson, Mike Lumley and JG Larocque.
* * *
Likely some kids missed an invite.
Some weren’t happy with the number of at-bats they received.
But the perfect lineup has never been constructed -- even when only nine players show, someone isn’t happy he’s hitting in the No. 8 hole.
Was it perfect?
But it was a heck of a lot better than last year’s
And a real good start for T-12 II.
* * *
Agostino liked the fact that the Maritimes won.
“The beauty of the Maritimes winning and Andrew Case signing is the message that “you’re not finished, college juniors are 20 years old, why can’t a kid from PEI or Manitoba sign?” said Agostino. Case, 20, who attends the Prairie Baseball Academy, signed with the Blue Jays with the Milwaukee Brewers and the Oakland A’s amongst interested clubs.
“It was all positive from the kids I spoke with, I’ve been on radio in Montreal talking about it for a week,” said Agostino. “This was an opportunity for guys who were not on the National Team.
“It was raining and it was cold outside, but you were under the dome. I hope this keeps going T.J. Burton and all the guys did a great job. Thumbs up to the Jays.”
Agostino recalls the two Quebec teams playing and after the Game Hall of Famer Robbie Alomar walking over and saying to the Phillies scout: “I thought Quebec wasn’t supposed to be any good, man you guys have got some players.’
“I told my guys what Robbie Alomar, a Hall of Famer said, and that ‘they should stop feeling sorry for yourself that your not on the national team and go out and play,’ You’re in a dome in the biggest city in Canada, Blue Jays alumni are there day and night talking to all the kids.”