Elliott: 2019 CBN Draft Blog; Day 1

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June 3, 2019

By Bob Elliott
Canadian Baseball Network

Three Canucks will be on the draft floor at the annual major league draft of high schoolers and collegians which goes tonight at Major League Baseball Network’s Studio 42 in Secaucus, N.J.

Fomer Montreal Expos, Cincinnati Reds and New York Yankees GM Murray Cook (Sackville, NB) will represent the Detroit Tigers. Cook scouts for the Tigers.

At the Milwaukee Brewers table will be scout Taylor Green (Comox, BC) who used to play for the Brewers and Gord Ash (Toronto, Ont.), the former GM of the Blue Jays.

Says Gordon Ash, left: “Taylor Green and I rep the Brewers and We the North.”

Says Gordon Ash, left: “Taylor Green and I rep the Brewers and We the North.”

Besides Hall of Famers Randy Johnson (Diamondbacks), Ryne Sandberg (Cubs), Lee Smith (Giants), other former All-Stars who will represent the are Carlos Baerga (Indians); Tom Browning (Reds); Jason Isringhausen (Cardinals); Grant Jackson (Pirates); Charles Johnson (Marlins); Jim Kaat (Twins); Shane Reynolds (Astros); Brian Roberts (Orioles); Reggie Sanders (Royals); and Nick Swisher (Yankees).

Baerga is familiar to all Canadian fans in Ajax back in 2015. Before the game Puerto Rico and Canada exchange pins, then Baerga headed to the base of the mound and placed a small Puerto Rico flag into the ground.

Out came coach Stubby Clapp (Windsor, Ont.) who snapped the stick in half and stuff the flag in his back pocket. Clapp walked back into the dugout staring into the Puerto Rico dugout.

We forget exactly, but Canada scored about five in the first on their way to a romp.

Hall of Fame scout Gary Hughes and former Expos scouting director will represent the Red Sox. 

Former Blue Jays 1B Willie Upshaw and scout Pete Holmes, an area scout from Boston, will be at the Jays table. The Jays select 11th. 

Private workouts: OF Dasan Brown (Oakville, Ont.) of the Ontario Blue Jays had workouts with the Orioles, the Angels and the Pades.

RHP Logan Hofmann (Muenster, Sask.) of the Crowder Trojans was invited to a workout at Busch Stadium with the Cardinals. Hofmann will pitched for the Falmouth Commodres on Cape Cod this summer. 

1B Nolan Machibroda (Saskatoon,Sask.) of the College of Central Florida Patriots was invited to workout with the New York Yankees.


INF TJ Schofield-Sam (Brampton, Ont.) of the Ontario Blue Jays had a workout with the Philadelphia Phillies.

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Some light reading: Where do the Blue Jays rank when it comes to handing out six-figures bonuses?From Pirates RHP Jameson Taillon (The Woodlands Tex) to RHP Tom Boleska (Burlington, Ont.) 126 Canadians had six-figure bonusesAnd our annual set of FAQs.


Bobby Witt, Jr. who went second over-all to the Kansas City Royals. He’s the son of the major leaguer by the same name.

Bobby Witt, Jr. who went second over-all to the Kansas City Royals. He’s the son of the major leaguer by the same name.

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Bobby and I: I’d never be mistaken for Bobby Witt.

Witt won 142 games -- over 100 for the Texas Rangers -- as well as starting for the Oakland A’s, Arizona Diamondbacks, Tampa Bay Rays, St. Louis Cardinals, Cleveland Indians and the Florida Marlins during his 16-year career.

Witt was 6-foot-2, 190 pounds and looked like a major leaguer.

Meanwhile I played second base three years for the Kingscourt Little League Tigers and outfield for the bantam Pirates, coached by Doug Gilmour’s father, Don Gilmour.

But one day ... for one day the Canadian customs and immigration officials could not tell the difference between Bobby Witt and I.

The office sent me to Arlington, Tex. to see Nolan Ryan make his first try for his 300 win and to write a feature as the Rangers were coming to SkyDome after the series. The Yankees were winning 7-3 after eight innings as Ryan allowed seven runs in eight innings. Rafael Palmeiro and Ruben Sierra each singled before Pete Incaviglia hit a game-tying, three-run homer against Dave Righetti.

In the 11th, Palmeiro hit a walk-off homer against Mark Leiter.  Not a loss, but a no decision. 

I forget the particulars and how this all evolved ... whether it was my dear friend Gerry Fraley, Hall of Fame scribe Tracy Ringolsby or Hall of Fame executive John Blake. But rather than buying a ticket, travelling secretary Dan Schimek walked by and plunked down a boarding pass for the next day.

The name on it was Bobby Witt. 

Remember this was 1990 ... way before 9/11. I walked on with the Rangers travelling party — I can’t recall if it was a charter or a commercial flight — and I walked through customs with the Rangers travelling party ... and magically transformed into the old writer I was. 

I thought of that story when Bobby Witt, Jr. went second over-all to the Kansas City Royals. 

Makes a fan with a fake boarding pass proud. 

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Clothing tribute: That wasn’t the Cardinals wearing red sports coats in their war room. It was the Padres scouts and executives. They wore the same colour as a tribute to the late Don Welke. 

Welke formerly worked for the Blue Jays and was involved in drafting Cy Young award winner Pat Hentgen. 

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Not what the Jays wanted to hear: It’s the longest draft day before someone selected an arm. If we have heard it once we have heard it five times: “This is a bad year for pitching.”

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The Jays selected Alek Manoah, RHP, West Virginia with the 11th over-all pick.

Baseball America had Manoah ranked 13th over-all in the top 500 prospects in North America.

Baseball America review
Alek Manoah, RHP, West Virginia  
Source: 4YR • Ht: 6-6 • Wt: 260 • B-T: R-R • Commitment/Drafted: Never Drafted


Manoah split time between starting and relieving during his first two seasons with West Virginia, but after a stellar campaign as a starter in the Cape Cod League last summer—when he posted a 2.70 ERA with 48 strikeouts in 33 1/3 innings — Manoah has made a successful transition to a full-time starting role this spring. Through his first 12 starts this season, Manoah has been one of the more dominant arms in the country, posting a 2.07 ERA with 108 strikeouts over his first 82.2 innings (11.76 strikeouts per nine innings) and the lowest walk rate (2.29 per nine) of his career. Manoah mostly works off of two pitches—a power fastball that sits in the mid- to upper 90s and a hard slider that projects as a second plus pitch. While Monoah has shown a changeup at times, he’s mostly been a two-pitch starter this season. He also entered the season with significant reliever risk because of his erratic control, large, 6-foot-6, 260-pound frame and questionable athleticism. However, he has started pitching exclusively out of the stretch and, as a result, has improved his strike-throwing ability enough to give him a real shot of sticking as a starter in pro ball. But while his walk rate is down significantly this season, Manoah still needs to refine his command—as evidenced by 17 hit batters over his first 12 starts—and teams will likely be concerned with how well he is able to manage his body moving forward. This list of major league starting pitchers who have had success at or near Manoah’s size is a short one, with CC Sabathia, Aaron Harang, Justin Masterson and Michael Pineda some of the names who qualify. Still, Manoah’s stuff compares nicely with most of the pitchers in the 2019 class, and he’s steadily improved his draft stock with each start. Manoah should be one of the first college pitchers drafted this June.



Ranked 14th over-all in Perfect Game Scouting Service top 610 prospects


2015 NATIONAL SHOWCASE  
Alek Manoah is a 2016 RHP with a 6-6 245 lb. frame from Homestead, FL who attends South Dade HS. Extra large and strong build, mature look physically. Knee lift delivery, 3/4’s arm action with some downhill plane, late hand separation, quick and loose arm action, slightly closed at landing. Fastball topped out at 94 mph, has good consistent life even up in the zone, can elevate it over hitter’s barrels up in the zone. Mid-70’s curveball, shows good depth and shape at times with 11/5 shape, not consistent but can be tight at times, throws his curveball for strikes. Rare change up. Reliever look and profile but has a big arm and sound command for a young XL pitcher. Good student.


Playing the slots: Slot money for 11th over-all is $4.55 Million. If Manoah signs for slot money he will earn more this season than any Blue Jays with the exception of  Randal Grichuk, Justin Smoak, Marcus Stroman and Ken Giles. Of course, that's only counting players inside the Jays clubhouse and excludes Troy Tulowitski ($18.4 Million), Russell Martin ($15.4 million) and Kendrys Morales ($10 million).


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Jays second-round pick: With the 52nd over-all pick the Blue Jays chose RHP Kendall Williams of IMG Academy, he was ranked 32nd in Perfect Game’s top 610 players.

Kendall Williams, rhp, IMG Academy
R-R, 6-6/208, Olive Branch, Miss.
College Commitment: Vanderbilt



Kendall Williams (2019, Olive Branch, Miss.) got the start for IMG Academy in their quarterfinal matchup with Blessed Trinity, and while BT ended up winning the game in extra innings and moving onto the semis, Williams was still exemplary in his outing. A PG All-American last summer, Williams is the No. 26 player in the class right now and looks like he could end up being a top two-round pick this June.

Long and lean with a solid combination of strength and projection, Williams was a bit rough out of the gate in terms of command and feel to spin the ball, but found both quickly in the second inning and was essentially untouchable for the rest of his outing. He worked in the 91-93 mph range consistently, hitting 94 mph a couple times, and generating steep plane to the plate while working the fastball to both sides. He does a good job of staying down in the zone with the pitch, and when he’s at the knees with that amount of plane and velocity, the pitch is tough to hit.

He worked in a full arsenal of off-speed pitches as well, all of them flashing at least average. The curve ball is his preferred breaking ball, thrown in the upper-70s with 12-to-6 to 11-to-5 shape, showing power depth and spin when he’s on top of it. It’s a pitch that could be projected as plus long term. His changeup was actually better than the curve ball for a fair amount of his time on the mound, thrown in the 81-84 mph range with outstanding tumbling action and fade to the arm side. He throws the pitch with conviction and trust, and it accounted for a great deal of the swings-and-misses he elicited on this day. There were also flashes of a slider, a pitch he’s been trying to master for a while now and seems to have found a grip that he likes and is comfortable with. It’s not as consistent yet as the rest of the arsenal, but he broke off a couple with sharp tilt and firmer velocity from his curve ball. He does a good job of tunneling everything out of that high slot as well, and his overall upside on the mound is pretty substantial overall.



Rated No. 58 in Baseball America’s top 500

Kendall Williams, RHP, IMG Academy, Bradenton, Fla. 
Source: HS • Ht: 6-6 • Wt: 206 • B-T: R-R • Commitment/Drafted: Vanderbilt



A 6-foot-6, 206-pound righthander who pitches alongside Brennan Malone at IMG Academy, Williams has added muscle and strength to his frame over the past few seasons, pairing a big league body with a solid mix of five pitches, clean arm action and adequate strike-throwing ability. Williams might not have a plus pitch at the moment, but each of his offerings project as average or above-average, led by a fastball that sits in the low 90s and touches 94-95 mph. He had previously used a mid-70s curve ball as his go-to secondary offering, but he recently added a low-80s slider with short break that also showed out-pitch potential at USA Baseball’s National High School Invitational this spring. Meanwhile, Williams’ curve ball varied in shape from an 11-to-5 downer to three-quarter breaker with finish to the glove side. He also throws a low-80s changeup and a two-seam fastball. There is some slight length in Williams’ arm action, but he repeats a high, three-quarter arm action well and throws strikes consistently. While he doesn’t have overwhelming pure stuff, the tall righthander gets good angle on his fastball and still has some physical projection remaining. Williams is a Vanderbilt commit and could be a tougher sign, but he has the talent to be selected on the first day of the draft.

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A shutout: Zero Canucks were selected on Day One of the draft for the first time since 2012. Ontario Blue Jays OF Dasan Brown (Oakville, Ont.) was the only Canadian expected to go since the Naylor family did not not have anyone eligible. If signable he should go early on Tuesday Day II.

Previous Day One selections: Bo Naylor (Mississauga, Ont.) of the Ontario Blue Jays went on last year, RHP Landon Leach (Pickering, Ont.) of the Toronto Mets and INF Adam Hall (London, Ont.) of the Great Lake Canadians in 2017, former Ontario Terriers RHP Cal Quantrill (Port Hope, Ont.) and C Andrew Yerzy of the Toronto Mets in 2016, Josh Naylor (Mississauga, Ont.), RHP Mike Soroka (Calgary, Alta.) and LHP Jeff Degano (Surrey, BC) in 2015, Ontario Blue Jays OF Gareth Morgan (North York, Ont.) in 2014 and, Rob Zastryny (Edmonton, Alta.) in 2013.