* OF-1B Josh Naylor was the best of the bunch as scouts travelled from Montreal to Vancouver for the annual invitational only Major League Scouting Bureau series of workout, hosted by Walt Burrows. Naylor plays for coach Dan Bleiwas and the Ontario Blue Jays. ....
By Bob Elliott
The annual cross country road show bundled up and ventured into the cold ...
All the better so its members could pack their radar guns and trundle inside.
Scouts from across Canada and the U.S. covered ground from Montreal to Vancouver touring the country late last month looking at the best high school hitters and arms leading into this year’s draft June 8-10.
OF-1B Josh Naylor (Mississauga, Ont.) of the Ontario Blue Jays was acclaimed the best of the lot.
RHP Mike Soroka (Calgary, Alta.) of the Calgary PBF Redbirds was the best high school pitcher in the land.
The top five heading into the 2015 draft were rounded out by OF Tristan Pompey (Milton, Ont.) of the Toronto Mets, OF Jean-Francois Garon (Terrbonne, Que.) of the Royals de Repentigny and OF Miles Gordon (Oakville, Ont.) of the Great Lakes Canadians.
The expected top-ranked high schooler OF Demi Orimoloye (Orleans, Ont.) of the Ottawa-Nepean Canadians, who dominated at the Area Codes Games last summer in Long Beach Calif. did not make an appearance.
The pilgrimage set up by Walt Burrows (Brentwood Bay, BC), the Canadian director of the Major League Scouting Bureau began in Scarborough, then headed to Mississauga and finally finished the day off in Etobicoke.
Next it was off to London.
Then, a trip to Montreal
After that the scouts flew west and doubled up visiting both Okotoks and Vauxhall on the same day in Alberta.
And then it was on to the coast.
Eight stops in five days.
“Anyone care for a double-double, I’m making a run to Tim’s?”
The scouts saw players for this year’s draft ... less than 15 weeks away.
For the 2016 draft ... 15 months away
And for 2017 draft ... 27 months away.
Blue Jays scout Jamie Lehman (Brampton, Ont.), Wayne Norton (Port Moody, BC) of the Seattle Mariners, Minnesota-based Mark Wilson of the Minnesota Twins and Iowa-based Trey Magnuson of the Los Angeles Dodgers went wire to wire.
San Diego Padres area scout Murray Zuk (Souris, Man.) and his crosschecker Rob St. Julien were on the trip along with Bill Byckowski (Georgetown, Ont.) and Dan Bleiwas (Thornill, Ont.) of the Cincinnati Reds, Hilton Ruchardson and Sylvain Poissant of the Philadelphia Phillies plus Chris Pritchett (Vancouver, BC) of the Boston Red Sox and Adam Stern (London, Ont.). Don Cowan (Tsawwassen, BC) of the Jays was with Lehman.
The other scouts included Claude Pelletier (Ste-Lezare, Que.) of the New York Mets, Denis Boucher (Lachine, Que.) of the New York Yankees, Doug Mathieson (Algergrove, BC) of the Arizona Diamondbacks, Jay Lapp (London, Ont.) of the Milwaukee Brewers, Matt Higginson (Oakville, Ont.) of the Oakland A’s, Tyler Moe (Oakville, Ont.) of the Baltimore Orioles, Corey Eckstein (Langley, BC) of the Kansas City Royals and Connor Glassey of the Cleveland Indians.
We asked some scouts to tell us who impressed and they give their comments.
(Note: players were ranked in order of their respective camp either by position players or pitchers and by year ... some players attended more than one workout ... some players had more comments than others.)
Out of the Park Sports (Scarborough, Ont.) Top Position Players 2016 C Andrew Yerzy (Toronto, Ont.) Toronto Mets Improved off last year, heck has improved since Tournament 12 in September.
Top Pitchers RHP Nick Virdo (Brampton, Ont.) Toronto Mets 81-83 MPH, has been 84-85 MPH Loose easy, arm-side, fade
2017 Top pitchers RHP Landon Leach (Pickering, Ont.) Toronto Mets He was 85-87 MPH and was by far the best arm. Joined Mets primarily as a catcher Converted catcher was 86-87 of the mound.
RHP Trevor Lethbridge (Toronto, Ont.) Toronto Mets First time I’ve seen him.
Ontario Blue Jays Clubhouse 2015 Top Position Players OF-1B Josh Naylor (Mississauga, Ont.) Ontario Blue Jays Took a step up if possible as some scouts were amazed with his improved body over winter. Just crushed the ball.
C Darren Shred (Brampton, Ont.) Ontario Blue Jays Plus arm, catcher’s body, hands work as a hitter Athletic body.
Top Pitchers LHP Isaac Anesty (Guelph, Ont.) Ontario Blue Jays Best left-handed arm there is 88-91 MPH, very projectable.
RHP R.J. Freure (Burlington, Ont.) Ontario Blue Jays 88-91 MPH 3/4 arm slot
2016 Top Poisition Players C Luke Van Rycheghem (Kent Bridge, Ont.) Ontario Blue Jays Physical strong kid, bat is intriguing Does he stay behind the plate, the bat belongs
INF Ethan Cummins (Mississauga, Ont.) Ontario Blue Jays DP partner with Royce Ando
Pitchers LHP Jack Berczi (Oakville, Ont.) Ontario Blue Jays) 85 MPH and there’s more there.
RHP Noah Skirrow (Hamilton, Ont.) Ontario Blue Jays) Physical and mature, FB up to 88 with good command
RHP Jordan Balazovic (Mississauga, Ont.) Ontario Blue Jays) Loose, lean and projectible, prototype pitchers body. 81-85 MPH with plus change and makings of above average curve ball.
2017 Top Position Players OF Cooper Davis (Mississauga, Ont.) Ontario Blue Jays Plus speed, athletic body Game-changing speed
SS-2B Owen Jansen (Oakville, Ont.) Ontario Blue Jays) Plus bat speed with good approach, ball jumps.
2018 C-SS Noah Naylor (Mississauga, Ont.) Mississauga North Tigers/Ontario Blue Jays Really opened some eyes. Is going to be a good one.
Pro Teach Etobicoke, Ont. 2015 Top Pitchers LHP Austin Gerow (Oakville, Ont.) Etobicoke Rangers 83-85 MPH Not too many hard-throwing Canadians.
RHP Joshua Marson (Brampton, Ont.) Brampton Royals 83-85 MPH on radar.
2016 Top Position Players C Zack Fascia (Brampton, Ont.) Swing looked much better than the summer time. Nice arm and good size.
2017 Top Pitchers RHP Cameron Dyck (Oakville, Ont.) Etobicoke Rangers Nice arm, good size. Good 12-6 breaking ball
LHP Dean Christidis (Markham, Ont.) Ontario Prospects Sneaky fast
Centre Field Sports London 2015 Top Position Players OF Tristan Pompey (Milton, Ont.) Toronto Mets. The top guy for 2015. Ran extremely well (6.59), has had an huge off-season. Looks like he has added about 20 pounds of good weight. He hit well as well. Impressive showing for him! Ten pounds heavier and all tools have improved.
OF Miles Gordon (Oakville, Ont.) Great Lake Canadians 6.51, 60 with a decent round of BP. Plays easy Continues to get bigger and stronger ... has had a great off-season. Have heard a lot of the pro guys love him! Best and fastest OF, along with Cooper Davis
OF/2B J.D. Williams (Brampton Ont.) Ontario Blue Jays) Ran 6.6 Quick bat and possesses speed/power combo.
Top Pitchers LHP Matt Krutsch (Windsor, Ont.) Windsor Selects/St. Clair College Can really throw it, up to 87 ... and can spin it. Victory lap kid that came on the scene out of nowhere in November. Created some buzz with the scouts. Legit curve ball. Similar to Andrew Albers one year out of high school 86-87 MPH little like ex-Jay Tim Collins.
RHP Austin Shields (Dundas, Ont.) Great Lake Canadians Big fella has cleaned things up and looks like a pitcher now. Threw a couple hard breaking balls that were plus plus! Sat around 87-88 the entire side and touched 89 a couple times.
RHP Michael Brettel (Fonthill, Ont.) Great Lake Canadians On a different level than any of the other pitchers there. 88-90 the whole time and didn’t miss a spot his entire bullpen. I love this kid. Think Central Michigan got a good one here! Best all around bull pen. (stuff, location and velocity)
RHP Cole White (Barrie, Ont.) Ontario Blue Jays) Heading in right direction, 84 - 86 MPH with good secondary stuff 85 MPH
RHP Drew Reilly (Cambridge, Ont.) Field House Pirates Hard throwing RHP ... touched 90 ... sat in the mid 80s. Not as polished as some power arms but has the body. Physically mature over-age player, converted catcher, up to 90 MPH on mound.
2016 Position Players C Andrew Yerzy (Toronto, Ont.) Toronto Mets Impressive POP time with good rounds of BP. Another guy that looks like he’s put the work in this off-season.
3B Brad Aldred (Whitby, Ont.) Toronto Mets Plenty of power potential Enough arm to play 3B, soft hands. He looks the part of a pro player.
C Luke Van Rycheghem (Kent Bridge, Ont.) Ontario Blue Jays Catches your eye with his size
C-RHP Zack Fascia (Brampton, Ont.) Brampton Royals) Showed arm strength on mound, up to 88 MPH. Exhibits good command, touch and feel for secondary pitches Better behind the plate
OF-LHP Matt Warkentin (Leamington, Ont.) Great Lakes Canadians Probably the most impressive rounds of BP. Big strong lengthy kid with some athleticism for a big man. Threw very well from OF and INF. Was 82 off the mound from the left side.
INF Elliot Curtis (Watleroo, Ont.) Ontario Terriers Great day for him. Ran OK (7.01), but threw very well from SS. Don’t remember this much arm strength at the T12 in the fall. Another one that seems to be a gamer.
Pitchers LHP Niall Windeler (Toronto, Ont.) Toronto Mets Showed clean arm action, good-looking frame (6-foot-3, 195 lbs.) 84 MPH
LHP Matt Jones (Whitby, Ont. ) Toronto Mets 84 MPH Easy arm, 6-foot-3, 165 lbs.
RHP Sam Turcotte (Toronto, Ont.) Ontario Terriers Up to 89 as a 16. Can’t imagine it getting any softer ... a monster. May be the most intriguing guy from his class. Growing into his body. Best young arm
RHP Hunter Spoljaric (Lisle, Ont.) Great Lake Canadians Up to 86 ... starting to figure out his off-speed stuff. Wsn’t as sharp as I’ve seen him this past month but velocity was good.
2017 Position Players OF Cooper Davis (Mississauga, Ont.) Ontario Blue Jays. Ran well (6.5). Really looked good in batting practice. Showed that he can play the speed game by driving the ball the other way and keeping the ball on the ground. I was impressed. Had a very, very, good day.
SS Dondrae Bremner (Markham, Ont.) Toronto Mets Left-handed hitter, nice easy swing.
Pitchers RHP Tyler Whelan (Hamilton, Ont.) Great Lake Canadians Up to 84. Really had a good off-season and has cleaned up his mechanics a ton ... might be one to keep an eye on. Athletic physical kid.
Claude Robillard Centre Montreal, Que. Top Position Players 2015 OF Jean-Francois Garon (Terbonne, Que.) Royals de Repentigny Great athlete, former football player
OF-3B Ben Pelletier (Montreal, Que.) Patriotes Rive Sud Good bat, young.
C Tristan Paris (Gatineau, Que.) Attak Black Outaouais Like T12 showed strong bat.
Top Pitchers LHP Vincent Beauregard (Terrebonne, Que.) Royals de Repentign 87 MPH Pitches a little uphill
RHP Matt Ianni (Orleans, Ont.) Ottawa-Nepean Canadians Arm was clean 85-87 MPH, has thrown 90.
2016 Top Position Players OF Isaac Deveaux Real quick hands as a hitter. Hand really work. Jump in his bat.
Top pitchers RHP Mathieu Deneault-Gauthier (Candiac, Que.) Patriotes Rive Sudé Touched 85-86, MPH, touched 88.
2017 Top Position Players SS Edouard Julien (Quebec City, Que.) Smooth, reliable with the glove.
Top pitchers RHP Connor Angel (Montreal, Que.) 6-foot-3, 155 lbs. Real loose and long Looked at 84 MPH and has more. Good breaking ball
RHP William Sierra (Montreal, Que.) ABC Can spin the breaking ball.
Duvernay Fieldhouse, Seaman Stadium Okotoks, Alta. 2015 Top Pitchers RHP Mike Soroka (Calgary, Alta). 92 MPH free and easy Ranks in a totally different class Off the charts impressive. Stock soaring.
RHP Jackson Wark (At. Albert, Alta.) Prospects Academy 89-90 MPH Good slider, chaange.
2016 Top position player SS Clayaton Keyes (Calgary, Alta.) Okotoks Dawgs Throw well Strong, athletic player.
Vauxhall Community Hall/VAB indoor facility Vauxhall, Alta. 2015 Top Position Players C Ben Komononsky (Regina, Sask.) Vauxhall Jets Physical kid, good body Swung it well.
OF Zack Kunkel (Medicine Hat, Alta.) Vauxhall Jets 6-5, 195 Runs welll, left-handed hitter
INF Nolan Rattai (Medicine Hat, Alta.) Vauxhall Jets Swinging the bat well.
Top Pitchers LHP Jared Kennedy (Calgary, Alta.) Vauxhall Jets 85-87 MPH 86-88 easy arm, needs a breaking ball.
RHP Brady Moxham (Oakville, Man.) Vauxhall Jets 6-foot- 3, 190, pitcher’s frame 88-89 with plus slider.
2016 Top Pitchers RHP Josh Burgmann (Naimimo, BC) Vauxhall Jets 88-90 MPH Arm was efficient. 88-91 MPH with three-pitch command.
RHP Branden Hatley (Morden, Man.) Vauxhall Jets 85 MPH Good fastball, showed real good life Plus movement. Could be exceptional.
RHP Carson Perkins (Blenfait, Sask.) Vauxhall Jets Big strong horse at 6’2 215. Heavy sinking 86 with slider.
Inside Performance Baseball Vancouver, BC 2015 Top Pitchers RHP Will McAffer (North Vancouver, BC) North Shore Twins 90-92 MPH. Signed to South Dakota State.
RHP Kristjan Storrie (Langley, BC) Langley Blaze 86 MPH. There’s a 90 in there, has been down that road before
LHP Kyle Ross (Maple Ridge, BC) Langley Blaze 86 MPH. Decent folo.
Ethan Skuija (Victoria, BC) Victoria Eagles 85-86 MPH.
2016 Top Pitcher RHP Alex Davis (North Delta, BC) North Delta Blue Jays Lots of life on his slider.
2017 Top Position Player SS Rhys Cratty (Langley, BC) Langley Blaze Really put on a show in Vancouver. Jump in his bad, short swing
Top Pitchers LHP Jack DeCooman (West Vancouver, BC) North Shore Twins 6-foot-3 long and lanky He has a real chance
LHP Sam Shoemaker (North Vancouver, BC) North Shore Twins 85 MPH