CBN Draft Day 1: blog

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Be sure to follow along as we update you as it happens here on the Canadian Baseball Network!


By Bob Elliott

Canadian Baseball Network

Day 1, 6:21 PM HURRY, HURRY, HARD!: When it comes to curling John Kawaja can read which way the ice will curl.

Kawaja was in four Briers, winning two, as well as two World championships playing second for Ed Werenich, along with Paul Savage and Neil Harrison.   

And Kawaja can tell which way the wind blows attending his son’s games at La Costa Canyon High in Rancho Santa Fe, Calif.

“I’ve seen Pat Gillick here a number of times, and he always has a bunch of scouts with him,” said Cawaja. “Our outfielder Mickey Moniak should go in the first round. There are scouts and GMs at every game, they come to practice and intra-squad games.”  

And the Philadelphia Phillies, where Gillick works as an advisor to ownership are off the clock. Will they stay away from a power college arm and take a high school outfielder?

Kawaja usually walks, paces and moves around when his son, 6-foot-5 right-handed Brendan Kawaja starts. Brendan is headed to Loyola Marymount next fall.

“I never felt pressure when I curled, I always felt in control,” said John. “I pay close attention to the pitch selection, his approach. We have a great relationship. I live and die on every pitch.”

Born in Chandler, Que., Kawaja grew up in Scarborough and “threw hard as a 14-year-old but without much control,” and then moved south to work for Addias’ Taylormade Golf and now Viktre works for a digital media company based in Toronto. 

“Baseball is a thinking man’s game and curling is the same thing, you need to anticipate 2-to-3 moves down the road, control the moment,” Kawaja says, “in some respects they are similar.”

Brendan was a second baseman who started to pitch as a freshman with a 3/4 movement. He dropped down side arm, felt movement and the ball was really tough for hitters to pick up. His best pitch is a change up. He only lost one game in three years going 9-0, 8-1 and 5-0.

Kawaja is a member of the Canadian Curling Hall of Fame and the Ontario Sports Hall of Fame.

6:47 Impressive at Safeco: RHP Curtis Taylor (Port Coquitlam, BC) impressed on his invite by the Seattle Mariners to Safeco Field. On workout day University of British Columbia Thunderbirds faced all three hitters he faced. 

7:12 You can Always Trust a Curler: Kawaja had it right three weeks ago when he predicted that his son's teammate, OF Mickey Moniak  would go first overall to the Phillies after being scouted by Hall of Fame GM and scout Pat Gillick and all of his cross checkers and assistants.

7:19 Rolen, Rolen, Rolen: Former Blue Jays scouting director Chris Buckley chose 3B Nick Senzel, Tennessee Volunteers, after a big year on the Cape. Former Colorado Rockies GM Dan O'Dowd compared him to Gold Glove winner Scott Rolen. Thanks for that. Senzel started his college career as a DH.

7:21: Braves on the clock: Will Atlanta trade for a future No. 1 pick in 2019? They are rebuilding you know. .

7:32 He Better Have Picked the Right One: LHP Jeff Francis, from North Delta, BC and now a London, Ont. resident was on hand to select the Rockies first round and he chose RHP Riley Pint, a Kansas City high schooler. Or maybe Francis had help from the scouting department. Pint would do well if he ever matched Francis' 17-win season which took the Rockies to the World Series against the Boston Red Sox.

7:37: Final, final, updated list: We have finally finalized our last-minute touches to the 2016 Top Canadians eligible for the draft list. Check it out. 

7:43 Great comp: The Milwaukee Brewers selected OF Corey Ray. Used to be it was scoffed at when Sparky Anderson called Kirk Gibson the next Mickey Mantle or Chris Pittaro the next Lou Whitaker or Alan Trammell. Now the comparison are tossed around like Eddie Haskell compliments (“My what lovely drapes you have in the living room, Mrs. Cleaver,” June Cleaver leaves and Eddie says “Let’s blow this dumpy pop stand Wally”).

Harold Reynolds just dropped an Oddibe McDowell on Ray. Now, Oddibe was my son’s favorite player when he was five or six because of the name. Of course I am one to talk ... my fave was Jake Wood of the Detroit Tigers (in the American League). My standard was golden in the NL _ Eddie Mathews. 

8:02 Cal A Pod: RHP Cal Quantrill goes to the San Diego Padres. Baseball America's Mock Draft 4.0 had it right (although they had him going to 14th overall to the Cleveland Indians this afternoon.) Has been clocked at 96 mph. He's the third highest Canadian ever selected, a spot ahead of LHP Jeff Francis. Slot money for eighth over-all $3,630,900 US. Among Canadians Quantrill was slected behind only  

_ RHP Jameson Taillon (The Woodlands, Tx.) second overall to the Pittsburgh Pirates in 2010 behind only Bryce Harper. Taillon's mother is from Toronto, his father is from the Cornwall area and he started for Canada in the last WBC.

_ And LHP Adam Loewen (Surrey, BC) of the Whalley Chiefs who went fourth overall to the Orioles in 2002. 

8:39 Quantrill backgrounder posted: A feature on RHP Cal Quantrill (Port Hope, Ont.) is posted on out main page ... how the Ontario Terriers followed him from afar at the NCAA Super Regionals pitching against Vanderbilt as a freshman. 

8:43 Whose got next as Len Elias of the Ontario Blue Jays used to yell: Well, if someone from a team has falllen in love with a player it could come tonight -- and that would be C Andrew Yerzy (Toronto, Ont.) of the Toronto Mets. Now, if no one falls heads over heels it will likely be RHP Curtis Taylor ((Port Coquitlam, BC) of the British Columbia Thunderbirds.

8:59 One from the memory banks: Danny Thompson of the Ontario Terriers once coached with Team Ontario and was throwing batting practice inside a cage at a Perfect Game event at Ft Myers. In the next cage was Roger Clemens throwing BP to his son Cody and his Houston team. 

Eventually they ran out of baseballs and as the players came in to 'pick em up' Clemens met Thompson at the mesh between cages as both were sweatin up a storm.

Clemens to Thompson: "Geez, do you do this all the time?”

Thompson replied: "Yep, I’ve probably thrown more baseballs than you in my life, that’s why I throw like an alligator”. 

Clemens: "Yeah, I noticed your slot was kinda low.”

Both men went back to work throwing strikes. The only bad part was that Thompson did not have time to ask for an autograph to bring back to Mississauga and Erindale Cardinals coach Greg Cranker, the president of the Roger Clemens Fan Club, Ontario chapter. 

9:19 Jays go big: Tony LaCava didn’t wind up with the Jays general manager job but he made an imprint. The Pittsburgh native had a part in selecting 6-foot-7 RHP T.J. Zeuch of the Pitt Panthers with the 21st over-all pick. Slot money is $2,285,100 US. 

Zeuch was 6-1 with a 3.10  ERA in 10 starts walking 19 and striking out 74 in 69 2/3 innings. Doug Witt was the area scout. 

LHP Mark Hendrickson, who was 6-foot-9 had all kinds of problems repeating his delivery with the Jays. Zeuch did not appear to have control problems with this spring at Pitt.  

Baseball America Scouting Report: Zeuch established himself as a prospect to follow with a strong freshman campaign, and then he develop into the ace of Pitt’s staff as a sophomore. He missed the beginning of this spring with a groin injury, but got off to a strong start when he did take the mound. Zeuch’s best pitch is his fastball, which sits at 92-94 and sometimes touches higher. Zeuch’s extra large, 6-foot-7 frame allows him to generate solid extension towards home plate, making his pitches even more difficult for hitters to pick up out of his hand. His fastball also shows both sink and arm-side run, making it an effective ground ball-inducing pitch. His offspeed pitches, a slider and changeup, receive fringe-average grades from scouts, but he has solid command of his arsenal and repeats his delivery well. The development of his offspeed pitches will dictate his ultimate ceiling.

Twitter Handle: @tjbigz2zeuch

9:39: Harold from the hip: The St. Louis Cardinals chose SS Delvin Perez No. 23 over all despite a failed PED test. MLB Network’s Harold Reynolds was not impressed saying “a first round pick for a PED pick sends a horrible message to young players.” Methinks Harold got this one right.

10:01 Good Lux: The Los Angeles Dodgers selected SS Gavin Lux, a Kenosha, Wis. high schooler with the 20th pick over-all in the first round. And good for the Blue Jays for staying away from the Lux blood lines. The Jays selected Lux’s uncle, INF Augie Schmidt of Kenosha from the University of New Orleans with the second over-all pick in 1982. Schmidt hit .297 at Class-A Kinston in 50 games, .266 at Double-A Knoxville in 135 games and .234 splitting time between Knoxville and triple-A Syracuse in 99 games. And that was that. He never made the majors spending the 1985 season in the San Francisco Giants system at Double-A Shreveport and Triple-A Phoenix. His final year was in 1986 when he spend the season at home at Class-A Kenosha. 

10:38 Guest selectors: Jeff Francis (North Delta, BC), guest selector for the Colorado Rockies, chose Georgia RHP Robert Tyler with a lottery pick, 38th over-all ... The Arizona Diamondbacks were next and former Jays second baseman Orlando Hudson chose Auburn OF Anfernee Grier ... And Jason Bay of Trail, BC, was there representing the Pittsburgh Pirates to announce the signing of LHP Nick Lodolo of La Verne, Calif. 

10:47 He says he just read them: And Francis was back to chose Vanderbilt LHP Ben Bowden in the second round. 

11:03 HR Derby champ goes to Desert: Orlando Hudson was at the mike as the Diamondbacks and scout Doug Mathieson chose C Andrew Yerzy (Toronto, Ont.) of the Toronto Mets. Yerzy travelled to Arizona with Mathieson's DBacks Scout Team in the spring. Slot money for the 52nd spot is $1,214,100 US. 

Harold Reynolds compared Yerzy, co-winner of the Jr. Home Run Derby last year at Great American Ballpark in Cincinnati.

Yerzy was ranked by all three leading scouting services. The only player besides Quantrill. While evaluators liked him ... their opinions varied: MLB Pipeline had him 157th, Baseball America 248th and Perfect Game 395th on the top 500.

MLB Pipeline Scouting Report: 
Scouting grades: Hit: 40 | Power: 55 | Run: 40 | Arm: 50 | Field: 40 | Overall: 45
Yerzy, a native of Toronto, really put himself firmly on the map during the High School Select home run derby held over the All Star Game weekend in Cincinnati, advancing to the finals and getting to swing with the Major Leaguers in the main event on Monday. Team Canada’s annual tour through Florida this spring gave Yerzy the chance to raise his stock, and he took advantage.

Scouts made a note of Yerzy’s left-handed power, something he showed at other showcase events over the summer, and his ability to square up the baseball showed up consistently this spring. He’s more power than hit, but it’s easy power, and while he may never hit for a high average, the home run pop should play in games. His play behind the plate is a bit more crude. He has an average arm that’s accurate, even though he needs to improve his footwork. His hands work decently, and he should become an adequate overall receiver in time.

Catchers are always in high demand, especially ones with left-handed power who have a chance to stay behind the plate. Yerzy’s spring tour had teams discussing the Notre Dame commit in the Draft’s first few rounds. 

Baseball America Scouting Report: Yerzy homered in last summer’s Under Armour All-American Game at Wrigley Field and has shown consistent hitting ability and present power from the left side. He’s shown the ability to handle velocity at the plate with Canada’s junior national team, playing top competition in trips to Florida and Arizona in the fall and spring. He’s a tough profile for the draft in some ways, though, because of his lack of a defensive home. While he’s improved behind the plate, he has fringy arm strength and some stiffness in his strong, 6-foot-3, 215-pound frame. Many scouts see him moving to first base, and it may be tough to buy him out of his Notre Dame commitment.

Perfect Game Scouting Report: Yerzy is a big and strong lefthanded hitting catcher from Canada who has played with the Canadian National Junior team since he was 15-years old and performed very well at high-level events over the past year.  His best tools are his bat and his raw power and he has shown enough potential offensively that he would still be considered a prospect even if he has to move out from behind the plate defensively. Yerzy has plenty of arm strength to remain catching but will have to continue to improve his quickness and lower-half athleticism.

Did not notice time pm Jays land The Wood Man: The Jays chose Ole Miss OF J.B. Woodman with the 57th pick. He hit .323  with 15 doubles, a triple, 14 homers and 55 RBIs in 62 games. He was 12-for-19 stealing bases and had a .990 OPS.

11:43 Big League Son: The Jays selected Bo Bichette, a Lakewood Fla. High Schooler in the second round. In 1994 at the all-star game in Pittsburgh, Bo’s father said he was “so happy to make the all-star game because his former Milwaukee Brewers teammate Paul Molitor was on the team ... and we both play the game the same way, we’re from the same place,” Bichette, a Colorado Rockies OF, said in the NL room. And in the AL room Molitor responded: “I’ve never been to Mars -- isn’t that where Dante is from?” Jesse Barfield did the announcing.  

12:14 AM And who's got next as Lenny Elias used to yell?: Well,  RHP Curtis Taylor (Port Coquitlam, BC) of the British Columbia Thunderbirds. RHP Jordan Balazovic (Mississauga, Ont.) of the Ontario Blue Jays and RHP Austin Shields (Dundas, Ont.) of the Great Lake Canadians were all rated between fourth and sixth round picks. So, it will be one of those three: Taylor, Balazovic or Shields.  


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