Dunedin, Centre of Baseball Universe
* Dunedin was the centre of the baseball universe as roughly 100 scouts came to Florida Auto Exchange Stadium to see the Canadian Junior National Team play the Toronto Blue Jays. ....
By Bob Elliott
DUNEDIN _ Former Blue Jays scouting director Tim Wilken often refers to his hometown of Dunedin as the centre of the universe.
And it was on Sunday with roughly 100 scouts on hand to watch the Canadian Junior National Team and two possible first rounders in Josh Naylor (Mississauga, Ont.) and outfielder Demi Orimoloye (Orleans, Ont.), plus four other picks in the first 10 rounds.
The head honchos included: Mike Radcliff, vice-president player personnel and scouting director Deron Johnson, area scout Mark Wilson of the Minnesota Twins; assistant GM Kris Kline and area scout Brian Cleary, Washington Nationals; plus scouting director Gary Rajsich, Baltimore Orioles and area scout Tyler Moe (Oakville, Ont.), plus scouting director Billy Gasparino, Los Angeles Dodgers, Wilken, former Cubs scouting director and Brian Parker of the Blue Jays, along with the other Jays top amateur evaluators.
Scouts were impressed when Naylor hit a ball off the top of the Jays offices in right prompting one to say “He has the best power in either dugout.”
Soroka allowed seven runs -- one earned -- in the second, as shortstop Kobe Hyland (Spruce Grove, Alta.) had a pair of errors.
Later in the game, Hyland charged a roller, fielded a tricky hop and fired a low throw to first to get the out.
A fan seated down the first base line applauded and yelled “way to go ... ah way to go, way to go SHORTSTOP!”
“Soroka had a good curve, he threw me a high fastball to strike me out from the same arm slot,” said Dalton Pompey (Mississauga, Ont.). “Guys in our dugout were saying ‘this kid’s not bad.’”
After his outing Soroka headed upstairs to the press box to do join Jerry Howarth (Etobicoke, Ont.) and Joe Siddall (Windsor, Ont.) in the booth for an inning on Rogers Sportsnet radio.
Then, the best high school pitcher in the country headed next door to the GM Suite to meet with Alex Anthopoulos (Montreal, Que.) and his most trusted set of eyes Dana Brown, assistant GM Andrew Tinnish (Ottawa, Ont.) and Parker.
Walt Burrows (Brentwood Bay, BC) of the MLB Scouting Bureau was on hand, along with Wayne Norton (Port Moody, BC) of the Seattle Mariners, Claude Pelletier (St-Lezare, Que.), Denis Boucher (Lachine, Que.) New York Yankees, Jamie Lehman (Brampton, Ont.), Blue Jays; Murray Cook (Sackville, NB), Detroit Tigers, Murray Zuk (Souris, Man.), Padres, Mike Garlatti, Colorado Rockies, Alex Agostino (Montreal, Que.), Philadelphia Phillies, Jay Lapp (London, Ont.) Milwaukee Brewers, Raimondo Callari (Montreal, Que.), San Francisco Giants, Matt Higginson (Oakville, Ont.), Orioles; Bill Byckowski (Georgetown, Ont.) Cincinnati Reds, Ron Tostenson (Kelowna, BC), Chicago Cubs, Don Cowan (Delta, BC) and many, many others.
Their main interest is RHP Mike Soroka (Calgary, Alta.), OF Tristan Pompey (Milton, Ont.), OF Jean-Francois Garon (Terbonne, Que.), OF Orimoloye, 1B Naylor and OF Miles Gordon (Oakville, Ont.), who scouts figure will go in the first 10 rounds … depending upon signabality.
The day before in St. Pete’s the Canucks played the Phillies and Hall of Famer Pat Gillick, now the club president, Benny Looper, assistant GM, player personnel and Johnny Almaraz, scouting director.
While Nailor injured (pulled hamstring) and Soroka having started the scouting crowd had thinned to 13 on Thursday to see the Canucks play Clearwater Christian College.
Gordon, who had the chance to meet RHP Aaron Sanchez and talk to Dalton Pompey, during batting practice, played Oakville Little League, the Oakville A’s double-A and the Oakville Royals. Pompey is an Oakville Royals grad too.
Leading off for Canada against for Cy Young award winner R. A. Dickey he was going to “look for a first-pitch fastball.”
Gordon said his break came when attending the Major League Scouting Bureau August open camp a couple of years back in Etobicoke and that’s when he met Great Lake Canadians coach Adam Stern.
“That day at Connorvale Park he was trying to show me how to keep my hands in on my swing,” Gordon said. “I couldn’t pick it up. So, he said ‘why not come to his place in London?’”
Gordon made the trip a few times and then Stern offered him a spot with the Canadians.
“Adam showed me how to play my game,” Gordon said, “and not to try to do too much.”
Stern was a speedy outfielder when he was with the London Badgers and then the Ontario Blue Jays ... just like Gordon.