Happy campers: Balazovic, Burgmann, Leach, Shields, Yerzy
By Bob Elliott
Canadian Baseball Network
They started on the west coast and worked their way east.
The annual Major League Baseball Scouting Bureau made six stops in four provinces and attended two other camps along the way. It was a final look indoors before teams head south to Arizona and Florida this month.
Walt Burrows (Brentwood Bay, BC) went the distance from North Vancouver, BC to London, Ont. And for Burrows it was a relaxing trip. Rather than looking after all the travelling scouts coming in and out, plus making sure all the talent was on hand -- as he used to do when he was head of the MLB Scouting Bureau in Canada -- and keeping track of each and every player ... Burrows was able to look at players he was interested in.
The Minnesota Twins hired Burrows away from the Bureau. He’s gone from being responsible to every high schooler in Canada to only those he’s interested in drafting.
Murray Zuk (Souris, Man.) of the San Diego Padres and Greg Hamilton (Ottawa, Ont.) director of Baseball Canada’s national teams were the other two evaluators to go start to finish.
The invite-only camps are a look at this year’s crop of high schooler’s -- and down the road -- before checking in again in April and May.
How the tour went, who impressed and what some of the evaluators are saying ...
At Inside Performance
North Vancouver, BC.
Scouts and evaluators: 15
Teams: Blue Jays, Mariners, Padres, Twins, Major League Scouting Bureau, Team Canada.
OF Tyler Duncan (Sooke, BC) Victoria Eagles.
“Appears to be about 6-foot-4, throws and runs well for a big guy. Looks the way they are supposed to look. Has a presence like Gareth Morgan did his grade 12 year.”
RHP Jake Polancic (Langley, BC) Langley Blaze.
“Was 50 pounds overweight at age 14 and transformed himself into a 6-foot-3, 210 pounder. Has gone from 82-84 to 88-91 MPH in about a year. Has a plus curve and change. A strike thrower, with a great work ethic.”
RHP Cory Jackson (Abbotsford, BC) Abbotsford Cardinals
“Was clocked at 88 MPH, showed some promise.”
LHP Kyle Ross (Maple Ridge, BC) Langley Blaze
“Was 89 at Bureau camp, has been clocked at 91 MPH in games.”
RHP Indigo Diaz (North Vancouver, BC) Coquitlam Reds
“88 MPH, better than he was at Tournament 12.”
INF Kobe Morris (Victoria, BC) Victoria Eagles.
“Runs OK, decent swing. Tough for Canadian infielders, but has had some pro interest.”
OF Colton Harold (Abbotsford BC) Abbotsford Cardinals
“Was interesting, he was 88-90.”
RHP Carter Loewen (Abbotsford BC) Abbotsford Cardinals.
“Strong arm, has a good school (Hawaii).”
RHP Tim Walters (Gibsons, BC) North Shore Twins.
“Was 85-86 and opened eyes.”
Teams: Blue Jays, Mariners, Mets, Padres, Phillies, Tigers, Twins, Major League Scouting Bureau, Team Canada.
RHP Josh Burgmann (Nanaimo, BC) Vauxhall.
“Showed a very good fastball, change up has life, breaking ball needs a bit more depth ... 90-92 MPH.”
RHP Carson Perkins (Blenfait, Sask.), Vauxhall.
“Showed a good fastball that jumps out of his hand, breaking ball has depth. Needs more command. 88-90 MPH.”
RHP Bryce Fraser (Lethbridge, Alta.)
“Showed solid improvement from last year. Quick arm. 88 MPH.”
LHP Garrett Nicholson (Sydney Mines, NS) Vauxhall.
“He may throw really hard someday. Off speed needs a ton of work but lots of projection ... 85 MPH.”
LHP Wesley Moore (Surrey, BC) Vauxhall.
“A good follow for 2017.”
C Victor Cerny (Winnipeg, Man.) Vauxhall
“Has shown improvement since last year. Swing has balance and bat speed. Shows some arm strength and really competes behind the plate.”
RHP Ben Erwin (Spruce Grove, Alta.) Vauxhall.
“Another good follow for next year.”
OF Damiano Palmegiani (Surrey, BC) Vauxhall.
“Showed plus bat speed with projection. An intriguing athlete.”
Scouts and evaluators: 11.
Teams: Blue Jays, Dodgers, Mariners, Mets, Tigers, Padres, Phillies, Twins, Major League Scouting Bureau, Team Canada, Prairie Baseball Academy.
OF Clayton Keyes (Calgary, Alta.) Okotoks Dawgs.
“Some say that there is not a lot of room for projection, I mean ‘what you see is what you get’ but I like what I see, a lot. Only thing I worry about is the bat. He’s strong as a bull.”
OF Justin King (Okotoks, Alta.) Okotoks Dawgs.
“Big, good-looking left-handed hitter. Showed well with the bat. Pitched for the first time this year and sat 84-86.”
INF Kobe Hyland (Spruce Grove, Alta.) Spruce Grove White Sox/St. Francis Xavier Academy.
“Strong armed shortstop, Improved with the glove last season, Had the best pop time as a catcher as well.
INF Peter Hutzal (Calgary, Alta.) Okotoks Dawgs.
“Showed well in the infield throwing with high velocity across the infield.”
3B Brett Esau (Meadow Lake, Sask.) Okotoks Dawgs.
“Esau stole the show with the bat having two great rounds squaring everything up.”
RHP Ben Thompson (Auckland, NZ) Okotoks Dawgs.
“Kiwi reached 87 MPH. Showed great command of all three pitches with plus breaking balls. ”
RHP Zack Demchenko (Saskatoon, Sask.) Okotoks Dawgs.
“Tournament 12 star was in the mid-80s.”
LHP Jared Spearing (Winnipeg, Man.) Okotoks Dawgs
“Another one in the mid 80’s. Had all three pitches working, especially his breaking balls. ”
1B Soren Graversen (Calgary, Alta.) Okotoks Dawgs.
“Nice easy, left-handed swing. You can dream on power down the road.”
3B Robert Holmes (Leduc, Alta.) St. Franics Xavier Academy.
“A good sized left-handed hitter (6-foot-4), likely a third baseman. Also a hockey player has been called up by the Regina Pats this season.”
RHP Tyler McWillie (Watrous, Sask.) Okotoks Dawgs.
“Threw well with 82-85 topping out at 86 MPH. Interesting player.”
SS LaRon Smith (Spruce Grove, Alta.) Spruce Grove White Sox
“Kobe Hyland’s brother is interesting also, A little bigger than Kobe, Quick arm with natural sink with the ability to spin a slider, Swings the bat well too, Right handed swing with gap to gap power. Plays in the middle of the infield, but probably will end up at third.”
C Ayden Makarus (Airdrie, Alta.)
“Performed with the bat, did well behind the dish as well. Was the best player on the team (coach) Marty Lehn took to Vegas last month.”
INF Cesar Valero (Calgary, Alta.) Okotoks Dawgs.
“Young Cesar swung it well of course. He made a good showing like always but for a lot of people this was the first time he’s been seen.”
Claude Robillard Centre
Scouts and evaluators: nine.
Teams: A’s, Brewers, Padres (including John Stewart, involved when Atlanta Braves chose Scott Thorman in the first round in 2000), Twins, Yankees, Baseball Canada, Major League Scouting Bureau.
RHP Mathieu Deneault-Gauthier (Candiac, Que.) Academie Baseball Canada/Team Elite Atlanta.
“Was 90 MPH. Has impressed at Tournament 12 and big stages during the summer. Committed to big-time program (North Carolina State).”
INF Edouard Julien (Québec City, Que.) Academie Baseball Canada/Team Elite Louisville Slugger.
“Ran 6.4 60 on indoor track. Showed really quick bat. Hit .385 (5-for-13) earning spot on World Wood Bat All-Tourney Team in Jupiter.”
RHP William Sierra (Montréal Que.) Academie Baseball Canada.
“Real loose, quick arm. Clean delivery, Velocity will continue to come when he fills out.”
RHP Conor Angel (Lachine Que.) Academie Baseball Canada.
“A tall lanky guy who is growing into his body, working on repeating his delivery.”
The Baseball Zone
Scouts and evaluators: 17.
Teams: A’s, Blue Jays, Brewers, Diamondbacks, Padres, Red Sox, Rockies, Royals, Twins, Baseball Canada, Major League Scouting Bureau.
C Luke Van Rycheghem (Kent Bridge, Ont.) Ontario Blue Jays.
“A very special bat, Much better than say Owen Spiwak who went a year ago, If he ever learns to go the other way, realize he shouldn’t try to pull everything ... watch out. He has a nice easy Chris Davis type swing.”
RHP Sam Turcotte (Toronto, Ont.) Ontario Terriers.
“Better than last time I saw him, was 90 MPH.”
LHP Matt Jones (Whitby, Ont.) Toronto Mets
“Was 89 from the left side, which should play.”
INF Elliott Curtis (Watleroo, Ont.) Ontario Terriers.
“Showed a real quick bat in the cage.”
C Joe Tevlin (Toronto, Ont.) Ontario Terriers
“Had a good day in the cage.”
OF Marcus Johnston (Whitby, Ont.) Ontario Yankees.
“Showed some pop in the cage.”
RHP Landon Leach (Pickering, Ont.) Toronto Mets.
“John Mariotti (his pitching coach) certainly has spent a lot of time with this young man and done a good job. Landon looked so good coach Rick Leitch may be changing the spelling of his name. Threw eight straight pitches at 91 MPH.”
After his eighth consecutive pitch at 91, coach Hyung Cho whispered “that’s eight in a row at 91.”
“You just jinxed him,” Cho was told.
Not only was the next pitch under 91 ... Leach threw a pitch which skipped under the bar of the screen and through the legs of former Seattle Mariners infielder Cho, now a Mets coach.
“Just like in a game huh Hyung?” said Ryan (Magic Man) Armstrong, a pitching instructor at The Baseball Zone, “you never laid a glove on it.”
INF Dondrae Bremner (Toronto, Ont.) Toronto Mets.
“Smooth, Strong, quick arm, Gathers everything in like a Hoover vacuum.”
INF Jacob Martins (Richmond Hill, Ont.) Ontario Terriers.
“Put on a show, steady and consistent with his line drives as a pitching machine throwing strikes.”
RHP Ben Abram (Georgetown, Ont.) Ontario Terriers.
“Was 80-83 MPH, but is certainly on the right track.”
OF Denzel Clarke (Pickering, Ont.) Toronto Mets.
“Reaa physical (6-2, 170) Athletic, Has a chance to hit with power.”
INF Leo Markotic (Etobicoke, Ont.) Toronto Mets.
“Hit the ball hard, had a good day, Has speed and skills.”
C Ryan Leitch (Whitby, Ont.) Pickering/Ajax Cubs bantams.
“One to dream on, had a great day.”
Centre Field Sports
Teams: A’s, Blue Jays, Brewers, Diamondbacks, Mets, Padres, Red Sox, Rockies, Royals, Twins, Baseball Canada, Major League Scouting Bureau.
C Andrew Yerzy (Toronto Ont.) Toronto Mets.
“Looked great in BP. Has plus power from the left side. Threw well in the throwing drills.”
RHP Austin Shields (Dundas, Ont.) Great Lake Canadians.
“Was 91-93 MPH, one tick off the highest indoor clocking I’ve ever seen in the winter since Michael Clouthier. Sat 91-93. Clean arm. Really had not pitched that much, body has slimmed out. Looks sleek and slim.
RHP Devlin Jovetic (Hamilton, Ont.) Ontario Nationals
“A 6-foot-4, 200 pounder with room to grow, Athleticism is easy to see, broad shoulders, strong lower half, throws from a 3/4 arm slot, has arm-side run on his fastball sitting 83-86 MPH, Curve sits 70-71 MPH, Repeats delivery well.”
C Max Wright (Toronto, Ont.) Great Lake Canadians.
“His bat looked good, a big strong physical kid.”
OF Jake Wilson (New Lowell, Ont.) Great Lake Canadians.
“Good arm, Makings of decent bad speed, Athletic.”
INF Adam Hall (London, Ont.) Great Lake Canadians.
“Plus runner, Excellent arm strength, Moves around well, Generates plus bat speed.”
RHP Garner Spoljaric (Lisle, Ont.) Great Lake Canadians.
“Loose arm, Everything works.”
Ontario Blue Jays
Scouts and evaluators: 17.
Teams: A’s, Blue Jays, Brewers, Diamondbacks, Mets, Padres, Red Sox, Rockies, Royals, Twins, Baseball Canada.
RHP Jordan Balazovic (Mississauga, Ont.) Ontario Blue Jays.
“Decent movement on the fastball, Very projectable, Was 90 MPH.”
OF Nick Howie (Oakville, Ont.) Ontario Blue Jays.
“Big strong physical kid, Runs well and throws well for a big guy. Chance to hit with power.”
RHP R.J. Freure (Burlington, Ont.) Ontario Blue Jays.
“Was eligible a year ago, I had him at 91 MPH.”
INF Jakob Newton (Oakville, Ont.) Ontario Blue Jays.
“Interesting, Makings of a decent swing.”
OF Cooper Davis (Mississauga Ont.) Ontario Blue Jays.
“Ball jumps off his bat, Quick like a bunny, Plus speed, Catches up to good fastball and can recognize offspeed pitches.”
SS-C Noah Naylor (Mississauga, Ont.) Ontario Blue Jays.
“Advanced bat, Chance to be a very good hitter, Catches up to velocity. Good approach.”
INF Ryan Kula (Toronto, Ont.) Ontario Blue Jays.
“Quick bat, Resembles James Kottaras the infielder who played for Canada at the World Juniors.”
INF Jayden Brown (Mississagua, Ont.) Ontario Blue Jays
“Son of sprinter Courtney Brown who raced 200 metres against Carl Lewis and the best in the world (Linford Christie, Canadians Atlee Mahorn and Cyprian Enweani plus gold medal winner Joe DeLoach) at Bejing Olympics. Looks real smooth. Cut from his bantam team the year before. WOW!”
LHP Justin Bradt (Burlington, Ont.) Ontario Blue Jays.
"Looks like he is going to be a stud. Already 6-foot, 185-pounder, 80-82 with his fastball. Early feel for secondary pitches. Still growing into body.Fairly decent mechanics at 14U, Strong physically already."
Pro Teach Baseball.
Teams: A’s, Diamondbacks, Twins, Baseball Canada.
C-RHP Zachary Fascia (Brampton, Ont.) Brampton Royals.
“He might be the best defensive catcher in the country. Struggled with the bat last year but was better at the end. Sits at 87 MPH off the mound for fun, but it seems like 90, Throws a real heavy ball.”
RHP Darren Dwyer (Guelph, Ont.) Oakville A’s.
“Playing for coach Tyler Moe, was at 87 MPH and there is more in there.”
RHP Cameron Dyck (Etobicoke, Ont.) Etobicoke Rangers.
“Up to 85 MPH, Good rotation on his breaking ball.”