Eric Senior made the most of the opportunity he was given.
Named the Most Valuable Player by the Toronto Blue Jays Baseball Academy in the second-annual Tournament 12, the 6-foot-2, 170-pound outfielder stepped up in his encore chance at the event for his Ontario Black team and led the way hitting .529 (9-for-17) with three doubles, three runs driven in and five runs scored.
“It feels great for people to recognize me at this type of tournament,” Senior said. “It also shows me that they are looking for me to get better and improve a lot over the off-season, so it shows me that I need to work even harder in the winter months.”
Senior (Toronto, Ont.) and his squad began the five-day amateur showcase for the country’s top college-eligible talent at Rogers Centre shorthanded, with top-ranked players Josh Naylor (Mississauga, Ont.) and Demi Orimoloye(Orleans, Ont.) temporarily stranded in Mexico because of Hurricane Odile, but the outfielder who turns 17 at the end of the month paced his team the entire way.
“The big surprise for me was Eric Senior,” one American League scout said. “The strength he has added in the last year, combined with his athleticism and feel at the plate have turned him into an outfielder with some serious upside.”
Senior ran a 6.86 60-yard dash on the tournament’s workout day and showed his speed, power and arm strength throughout Ontario Black’s six games. Two of his doubles likely could have been stretched for even more extra bases if they hadn’t been ground-rule hits.
“Tournament 12 was one of the best experiences that I have ever had playing baseball,” Senior said. “Playing at Rogers Centre has always been a dream of mine and to actually play there is amazing. This being my second time around, I was less nervous so I could enjoy it more and just play the game.”
One of five outfielders, Senior was one of 17 players named to an all-tournament team selected by the Blue Jays Baseball Academy on Tuesday night. The other outfield spots were taken by JF Garon (Terbonne, Que.), Tristan Pompey (Milton, Ont.), Isaac Deveaux (Montreal, Que.) and Cooper Davis (Mississauga, Ont.) , who all had standout performances on the big stage.
Garon was one of the event’s late arrivals, also stuck in Mexico with the Canadian Junior National Team – after winning bronze at the 18U Pan American championships – until Thursday morning. Not getting to the tournament until the second day of games he quickly showed his tools for Quebec Blue, hitting .400 with six walks and four stolen bases at the event.
“I’m just enjoying my time here in Toronto,” the 6-foot-3, 192-pound outfielder said. “It’s nice to have a good performance. I had a good tournament in Mexico [at the Pan Am championships] and we faced good pitching so since I got here I’ve been seeing the ball well.”
One scout said: “Garon has been one of the most consistent players in the country over the last year. He’s a competitor. I’ve never seen him give away an at-bat or lack hustle in anything he does. It’s hard not to like a guy who has had to earn everything he’s achieved.”
Pompey, named to the all-star squad on the same night his older brother Dalton Pompey hit his first home run in the big leagues with the Blue Jays, hit .357 with five runs scored and five stolen bases for Ontario Green at the event.
At 17, the younger Pompey knows it might help him to share a surname with Toronto’s 21-year-old September call-up, not to mention having a similar profile as a 6-foot-3, 180-pound switch-hitting outfielder, but heading into his draft year he is excited to be able to take the stage on his own.
“I’ve felt really good,” Tristan said. “I’ve played really well so far. I feel like I’ve been doing well for myself and I’m one of the ones showing well at this tournament … I wanted to come out and show people where I’m at right now as opposed to where I was last year and how much I’ve improved since then because I’ve improved a lot.”
Deveaux and Davis both took the field for Navy as a couple of the tournament’s youngest players. The 15-year-olds both impressed, with Deveaux’s power standing out and Davis leading the way with his speed.
Deveaux, a 6-foot-1, 190-pound outfielder had one of the event’s biggest home runs with a three-run shot to left-centre field in his team’s final game, and Davis, 5-foot-10, 160 pounds, made his mark right out of the gate running the fastest 60-yard dash at 6.45 seconds on Tournament 12’s workout day.
“There is [more to prove],” Davis said. “But I have more to offer. I feel like I’ve gotten better in the last year and I still need to improve. I don’t want to get worse so I want to keep improving and try to get here again next year and keep working from there.”
Four infielders were named to the all-star team with Trevor Lofstrom (West Kelowna, BC) claiming the first baseman’s spot after going 7-for-15 with two doubles, a triple, three walks, three runs scored and seven RBI for BC Orange, also spending some time in the outfield.
“I’ve done really well,” Lofstrom said. “I played well defensively and then I’ve hit pretty well too … It meant a lot just to get invited, that someone is watching me and someone thinks I’m worth the time to come here and play, so I think I made the most of it.”
A scout added: “Trevor has some of the best power projection from out west. There is no question that he has upside with the bat, but I was impressed with the job he did in left field for a guy of his size.”
Nolan Rattai (Medicine Hat, Alta.) took the spot at the hot corner, coming out of the gate hot and hitting the first home run of the tournament. The 17-year-old infielder sent a ball over the left-field fence and into the Blue Jays bullpen in his first game for Alberta Red, and drove in five total runs in the event. Blake Gallagher (Waasis, NB) of Atlantic Grey claimed second base after hitting .375 with three runs scored at the tournament.
Adam Hall (London, Ont.), another 15-year-old from the Futures Navy squad, was named the all-tournament shortstop impressing with his speed, power and defensive ability, also leading the event with eight runs driven in, three on a huge bases-clearing triple to the warning track in right-centre field. At Tournament 12 for the second year in a row and still one of the youngest players, Hall came out looking to continue to make a name for himself.
“This year I’d like to show more because it’s another year and I feel more comfortable playing in [the event],” he said. “Instead of trying to show who I am and establish myself, I want to show that I’m getting better and I’m ready to do more.”
Filling out the position player spots on the roster, catcher Tony Hrynkiw(Brampton, Ont.) from Ontario Green, who led the tournament with a .571 average, utility man Brett Esau (Meadow Lake, Sask.) from Prairies Purple and DH Naylor were also named to the squad.
Five pitchers made the all-tournament team, led by the event’s top-named hurler in 16-year-old righty Mathieu Denault-Gauthier (Candiac, Que.) who went 2-0 with a 0.90 ERA with seven strikeouts over 10 innings. In the final, Denault-Gauthier shut out BC Orange for four innings, performing his best under pressure.
“It was really fun,” Denault-Gauthier said. “It was a little bit of a nervous situation but it went well so I’m pretty happy about it … Throwing strikes and doing my job is always the same even when I’m playing with the older guys so I was able to just do my job.”
In Quebec’s semi-final match up, 19-year-old right-hander Jason Tarapasky(Pierrefonds, Que.) came back from a less-than-ideal relief outing where he fought control issues to throw a seven-inning, two-hit, complete-game shutout with 10 strikeouts and get himself named to the all-tournament team.
“Jason came to the tournament as a guy looking for another chance,” an AL scout said. “I thought he pitched his best when the game was on the line in the semi-final and that’s the mark of a good competitor.”
Ethan Skuija (Victoria, BC) is BC’s lone pitching representative on the roster after posting a 1.00 ERA with 13 strikeouts throughout the event. The 6-foot-2, 185-pound right-hander from Victoria is joined by two Ontario Green hurlers in Michael Brettell (Fonthill, Ont.) and Nick Virdo (Brampton, Ont.).
Virdo, a 16-year-old righty from made his second Tournament 12 appearance and got two starts this year and didn’t allow a run.
“He’s interesting,” one NL scout said. “He has a projectable arm and body. The delivery needs a little work to get him on line but the arm works and he can spin a breaking ball. He’s got a chance to be one of the top pitching prospects in 2016.”
Brettell came to the tournament with a brand new slider and the 6-foot-4, 192-pound right-hander quickly impressed.
“I used to have kind of like a knuckle-curve pitch and that slider I actually learned last Monday so it’s fairly new,” Brettell said. “This is actually the first time, [on Friday] and my last outing here were the first two times it’s actually worked the best. It’s nice for it to be coming along, so that’s pretty good.”
Quebec Blue coach Denis Boucher was also named all-tournament after his team got off to a rough start in its first game and then dominated the competition for its remaining six matchups en route to the championship victory.
“Pitching won it for us this year,” Boucher said. “The guys were just great, and after the first game where everybody was maybe a little nervous in getting out here and in awe of the place, they got themselves together. I told them just to relax and have fun and let their abilities take over and everything would be fine.”
Tournament commissioner and Hall of Fame second baseman Roberto Alomar was happy with the results of the second-annual event named for his retired number, and excited for the players named to the all-tournament team.
“I’m really happy with all of the players who were selected for the tournament and I am happy to give recognition to the 17 players who were selected as Tournament 12 all-stars,” he said.
Eric Senior (Toronto, Ont.) Ontario Black, Toronto Mets
Mathieu Denault-Gautier (Candiac, Que.) Quebec Blue Patriote Rive Sud.
Denis Boucher (Laval, Que.) Quebec Blue
Tournament 12 All-Star Team
Position Player Team
P Mathieu Denault-Gautier, (Candiac, Que.) Quebec Blue, Patriote Rive Sud.
P Ethan Skuija (Victoria, BC) BC Orange, Victoria Eagles
P Nick Virdo (Brampton, Ont.) Ontario Green, Toronto Mets
P Michael Brettel (Fonthill, Ont.) Ontario Green, Great Lake Canadians
P Jason Tarapasky (Pierrefonds, Que.) Quebec Blue, Lasalle Cardinals.
C Tony Hrynkiw (Brampton, Ont.) Ontario Green Ontario Blue Jays
1B Trevor Lofstrom (West Kelowna, BC) BC Orange, Okanagan A’s
2B Blake Gallager ((Waasis, NB) Atlantic Grey, Vauchall Academy
3B Nolan Rattai (Medicine Hat, Alta.) Alberta Red, Vauxhall Academy
SS Adam Hall (London, Ont.) Futures Navy, Great Lake Canadians
OF Eric Senior (Toronto, Ont.) Ontario Black, Toronto Mets
OF JF Garon (Terbonne, Que.) Quebec Blue, Repentigny Royals
OF Cooper Davis (Mississauga, Ont.) Futures Navy, Ontario Blue Jays
OF Tristan Pompey (Milton, Ont.) Ontario Green Toronto Mets
OF Issac Deveaux (Montreal, Que.) Futures Navy, Upstate Mavericks
DH Josh Naylor (Mississauga, Ont.) Ontario Black, Ontario Blue Jays
Utility Brett Esau (Meadow Lake, Sask.) Praries Purple, Northwest Prairie Pirates