By Adam Morissette
GOLD COAST, Australia - Baseball Canada set it 20-player Junior National Team roster that will represent Canada at the WBSC U-18 Baseball World Cup in Osaka, Japan from Aug. 28-Sept. 6.
The roster was announced following the team’s selection camp that saw Canada play seven games against the Australian U-18 side. The teams will meet once more Monday for a final tune-up game before departing for Japan on Tuesday.
In Osaka, Canada will be joined by Cuba, Korea, Chinese Taipei, Italy and South Africa in Group B, while Group A will feature two-time defending champion USA along with host Japan, Mexico, Brazil, Australia and the Czech Republic.
Each group will play a round robin with the top three records in each pool playing each other in crossover games in what is being called the “super round”.
Following the super round, the top two records will meet for gold, while the third and fourth best records will play to decide the bronze medal.
Canada will open the tournament on August 28th against Chinese Taipei at Nanko Chuo Stadium (12:30pm JST/11:30pm EDT - 08/27).
Canada qualified for the WBSC U-18 Baseball World Cup after winning a bronze medal at the COPABE 18U Pan American Championship last September in La Paz, Mexico.
Historically, Canada has won four medals at the U-18 World Cup including gold in 1991 (Brandon, Man.), silver in 2012 (Seoul, Korea) and bronze in 1997 (Moncton, NB) and 2006 (Sancti Spiritus, Cuba). Canada is coming off a seventh place finish at the most recent U-18 Baseball World Cup that was held in Taichung, Taiwan in 2013.
- The roster features two players (Josh Naylor and Demi Orimoloye) that took part in the 2014 COPABE 18U Pan American Championship in La Paz, Mexico. Naylor and Orimoloye are holdovers from the 2013 Junior National Team that finished seventh at the IBAF 18U World Cup in Taichung, Taiwan. Naylor also participated in the 2012 IBAF 18U World Cup in Seoul, Korea where he helped Canada win a silver medal. He is set to become the first Canadian ever to participate in three baseball world championships at the U-18 level.
- Naylor (1st round) and Orimoloye (4th round) were selected in June’s MLB First-Year Player draft and are on loan to Team Canada from the Miami Marlins and Milwaukee Brewers, respectively. Other players named to the roster that were selected in the draft include Will McAffer (Reds) and Tristan Pompey (Twins).
_ OF Cooper Davis (Mississauga, Ont.) and RHP Matteo Vincelli (Burnaby, BC) are the only rookies on the roster.
_ RHP Nicholas Virdo (Brampton, Ont.) injured his elbow, was unable to pitch and did not make the Japan roster. OF JF Garon (Terbonne, Que.), INF Brad Alfred (Whitby, Ont.) and RHP William Sierra (Montréal Que.) didn’t make the final roster.
_ The coaching staff features Manager Greg Hamilton (Ottawa, Ont.) along with Pitching Coach Chris Reitsma (Calgary, Alta.) and Coaches Shawn Bowman (Port Moody, BC) and Mike Johnson (Sherwood Park, Alta.)