Naylor, O’Neill, Soroka among top prospects
Feb. 1, 2016
By Adam Morissette
Not that long ago, Canadians were represented on baseball prospect lists by the likes of Michael Saunders, James Paxton, Brett Lawrie and more recently, Dalton Pompey. With all of the aforementioned having reached the big leagues, a new wave of Canadian prospects are emerging led by a trio of Junior National Team grads.
Miami Marlins 2015 first rounder (12th overall) Josh Naylor, fellow 2015 first rounder (28th overall) Mike Soroka of the Atlanta Braves organization and Seattle Mariners prospect Tyler O’Neill were among their respective clubs’ Top 10 prospects that were compiled by Baseball America during the offseason.
Naylor was listed as the second best prospect in the Marlins organization earning praise for his “double-plus raw power” and having plenty of polish to his approach at the plate. He was among the top performers last September at the WBSC U-18 Baseball World Cup in Japan where his three home runs were tops in the tournament earning him a spot on the events All-Star team.
Soroka came in as the eighth best prospect in the Braves system and finds himself among a group of arms that the Braves will be looking to in the future. The Calgary native was noted for his excellent athleticism on the mound and for possessing and above average curveball. His 28th overall selection by the Braves in June came on the heels of 13 scoreless innings thrown during the Junior National Teams’ annual tour through the Dominican Summer League just days before the draft.
O’Neill, the senior member of the group at age 20, led all Mariners minor leaguers with 32 home runs in 2015 and was named as the fourth best prospect in their system by Baseball America. In addition to his plus power, O’Neill also earned praise for his above average arm and improved defensive play in the outfield. The Maple Ridge, BC product was a member of Canada’s gold medal winning Pan Am games club in 2015 and also participated for Canada at the inaugural Premier 12 event.
Thirty Canadians were selected in the MLB Draft in June 2015 with another crop, led by Junior National Team alum Cal Quantrill, of the Stanford Cardinal, set to be selected in 2016. In addition, nearly 100 Canadians played affiliated minor league baseball in 2015 that included even more Canadian prospects knocking on the door of their clubs’ Top 10 prospects lists.
The future is looking bright for the next generation of Canadian big leaguers.