Elliott: 2019 CBN Draft Blog; Day 3


By Bob Elliott
Canadian Baseball Network

Where other Canadians rank is listed on their individual pages. However, we have some others

Ranked ninth on Baseball America’s 17 prospects from Pennsylvania 
Kellan Tulio, LHP, Emmaus (Pa.) HS (BA RANK: 407) 
His mom competed for Canada at the Montreal Olympics in the high jump.

Ranked 49th of 54 Texas prospects according to Baseball America prospects Trei Cruz, SS, Rice (BA RANK: 445)
Source: 4YR • Ht: 6-1 • Wt: 175 • B-T: B-R • Commitment/Drafted: Astros ‘17 (35)

Cruz, who was born in Toronto, is the son of Jose Cruz Jr. and the grandson of Jose Cruz Sr. He has a chance to become a third generation pro baseball player as a switch-hitting shortstop with the patience to draw walks, although he also strikes out a lot. He has average power potential as well. A second baseman as a freshman, he’s moved over to shortstop for Rice as a sophomore, but he’ll likely slide back over to second in pro ball.’


OF Clayton Keyes (Calgary, Alta.) a former Okotoks Dawgs now with Central Arizona is ranked 27 out of Arizona’s top 36 prospects, according to Baseball America

RHP Braden Halladay (Odessa, Fla.) is ranked 60th on Florida’s top 89 prospects according to Baseball America. Halladay is the son of Hall of Famer Roy Halladay and was born in Toronto, Ont.

* * *


TJ is OK: Scouts had an differing approach to INF TJ Schofield-Sam (Brampton, Ont.) who went in the 12th round to the Oakland A’s, after being selected by scout Matt Higginson (Grimsby, Ont.)

A year ago if you asked about Schofield-Sam the answer was “Good college player and there is nothing wrong with getting your schooling paid for.”

Last fall at Tournament 12 the answer was “He’s going to be a great college hockey player.”

This spring the answer was: “He might be a draft. He does not have one outstanding tool, but the more you watch him the more you like him. He competes.”

And a week before the draft it was: “I think he should go in the first 10 rounds.”

Well, Schofield-Sam did not go in the first 10 rounds, but he was the first Canuck taken on Day III. He’ll have the chance to sign with the A’s or attend Chipola College in the Florida panhandle which was good enough for Jose Bautista, Russell Martin (Montreal, Que.) and Adam Loewen (Surrey, BC).

Few work as hard as A’s scout Higginson. Teams active teams in Canada consider Higginson a threat. Higginson stepped up in the 12th round on Day III.

Schofield-Sam won three golds: At 2018 21U Nationals in St. Thomas with Mississauga North Tigers hitting .615 (8-for-13) with four RBIs and a 1.282 OPS. At the 2016 15U Nationals, he won in Summerside, PEI with the Mississauga North batting .474 (9-for-19) with four doubles and three RBIs and at 13U Nationals, he hit an amazing .765 (13-for-17) with four doubles, a homer and four RBIs.

* * *

Email Q and A: Question: Why haven’t some of the higher-ranked players been drafted?

Answer: Very easy ... the players either asked for too much of a bonus -- or the teams thought they were asking too much. Used to be Canadians would sign with Michigan and New York schools. Now, they sign Letters of Intent with top 25 powerhouses.

* * *

Matt Lloyd (14) crosses the plate after scoring

Matt Lloyd (14) crosses the plate after scoring

Two-Way Man off the board: Scout Bill Byckowski (Georgetown, Ont.) took control of the mike in the Reds war room inside Great American Park to read off the I.D. number and say that his club had selected with their 15th round pick ... “OF-RHP Matt Lloyd (Okotoks, Alta.) ... from the Indiana Hoosiers.” Lloyd has been Indiana’s closer, first baseman and DH. Byckowski wanted Lloyd listed as an outfielder. The Reds jumped into the Canadian draft waters selecting the two-way man for the Indiana Hoosiers and on the conference call the Reds still wanted him listed as a two-way man.

Lloyd played for the Okotoks Dawgs before moving on to Iowa Western Reivers and then Indians, where former Blue Jays 3B Scott Rolen was at every practice helping out.

Lloyd was the DH, played some first base and closed for Indiana, although some scouts think he might be better suited to play the outfield. 

As a senior Lloyd hit .280 in 59 games with 15 doubles, 17 homers and 59 RBIs with a .963 OPS in 59 games. On the mound was 0-1 with a 2.70 ERA and five saves in 14 games as he walked 12 and struck out 18 in 16 2/3 innings.

The Reds scooped Lloyd one round before the Atlanta Braves were going to re-unite one Alberta pitcher with another RHP Mike Soroka (Calgary, Alta.)

* * *


Burrows knows pitching: In 2016 Minnesota Twins scout Walt Burrows (Brentwood Bay, BC) drafted RHP Jordan Balazovic (Mississauga, Ont.) in the fifth round and gave him a $515,000 signing bonus. 

And in 2017, the Twins and Burrows gave RHP Landon Leach (Pickering, Ont.) a second rounder $1.4 Million.

Balazovic has been promoted to class-A Fort Myers and is doing well, while Leach is injured.

So when Burrows picked LHP Antoine Jean (Montreal, Que.) from the Academy Baseball Canada and Canadian Junior National Team there is a chance he might be able to pitch.

Jean was the first player selected not on the Canadian Baseball Network’s top 20 list. Maxime Lamarche of Baseball Quebec predicted before the draft that Jean would be the surprise pick of the draft among Canucks.

Baseball America had Jean rated as the seventh-best prospect among Canadian high schoolers in its final ratings. 

* * *


We don’t care how old you are: RHP Trevor Brigden (Toronto, Ont.) was chosen by the Tampa Bay Rays in the 17th round from the Okanagan College Coyotes. A tweet by coach Jared Johnson showing Bridgen’s fastball clocked at 94 MPH had people buzzing about Brigden. The Twins, Pirates, Royals, Blue Jays and the Red Sox contacted either him or his coaches Geoff White and Johnson.

The Rays maintained a steady interest in the 6-foot-3, 210 pounder who had pitched at Lackawanna and the Ontario Terriers.

Bridgen went 6-0 with a 2.00 ERA in seven games, making five starts, walking 11 and striking out 64. Plus he also has two wins in the post season pitching six scoreless.

* * *


Sac State impact: The Chicago Cubs selected RHP Tanner Jesson-Dalton (Lethbridge, Alta.) in the 17th round. Jesson-Dalton was one of six Canucks with the Sac State Hornets ... the only one eligible to be drafted.

Jesson-Dalton, a former Prairie Baseball Academy Dawg, Lethbridge Bull and Fort Macleod Royal pitched to a 2.14 ERA over 59 innings amassing 67 strikeouts and 19 walks. He had a 10.22 K/9 rate and two home runs allowed.

* * *


Twins know hitting: Last spring, Edouard Julien (Québec, Que.) broke freshman Frank Thomas’ RBI record with 71. Julien began the season as a sophomore before the NCAA decided he was sophomore-eligible for the draft. He had graduated high school, then attended a CGEP for one year before heading south to Auburn. He has two years of eligibility remaining.

As the Tigers head to the College World Series in Omaha, Julien is hitting .248 in with 14 doubles, a triple, nine homers and driving in 54 runs. In 63 games, Julien has an .813 OPS.

* * *


Burrows knows pitching III: With their 19th round pick, Burrows and the Twins chose LHP Niall Windeler (Toronto, Ont.) from the University of British Columbia Thunderbirds.

He was named co-winner of the 2019 NAIA West Pitcher of the Year award while making the All-NAIA West team for a second straight year. He also earned an NAIA All-American honourable mention.

Windeler, a former Toronto Met, had a 5-4 record with a 3.72 ERA and 105 strikeouts, which includes tying Jeff Francis’ program record of 15 strikeouts in a game. Windeler recorded the first-ever, solo nine-inning no hitter in program history.

Over his 40 career starts at UBC, Windeler amassed a 14-11 record with a 3.36 ERA and 247 strikeouts. Coming to UBC from the Toronto Mets program, Windeler becomes the 23rd player from the program drafted.

* * *


No. 25 with emotion: The Texas Rangers and scout Takeshi Sakurayama selected C Raphaël Pelletier (Mascouche, Que.) in the 25th round from the Junior National Team and the ABC.

Assistant coach Kirk Saarloos made a scholarship offer from the TCU Horned Frogs. Saarloos saw Pelletier twice: at the TCU tournament in Fort Worth at Lupton Stadium and again later at Indianapolis.

Before Kip Fagg, senior director of amateur scouting, a hire from the Sandy Johnson era, announced the Rangers pick he dedicated it to the late Dallas Morning News ball scribe Gerry Fraley. A classy move by the Rangers, GM Jon Daniels and Fagg. Few respected scouts or loved draft day more than Fraley.

* * *


Young gun: The Blue Jays chose OF Jean-Christophe Masson (Lévis, Que.) in the 26th round from the Junior National Team and the ABC.

Masson is the youngest player drafted -- at 16 years, 287 days -- according to reports out of Montreal. Led Quebec hitters as ABC won the Perfect Game 16U Elite Championship at Lupton Stadium on TCU campus in Fort Worth, Tex.

* * *


Family tradition: Chris Gill played for Canada in the Pan Am Games. The Niagara Falls, Ont. resident was a Second Team All-American with the Ithaca College Bombers in 1986.

Former Jays scout John Ceprini, now of the Reds, drafted Chris’s son, RHP Matt Gill, in the 27th round for Boston College.

At Boston College this spring Gill was 3-3 with a 6.90 ERA with six saves. He a appeared in 29 games, making nine starts as he walked 28 and struck out 35 in 60 innings.

* * *


Not the Blue Mingo grill ... but close: The one hot spot in Cooperstown is the Blue Mingo Grill. Whether he is headed for upstate New York we’re unsure, but RHP Indigo Diaz (North Vancouver, BC) was selected in the 27th round by the Atlanta Braves.

Diaz was drafted from the Michigan State Spartans after pitching for the North Shore Twins, Coquitlam Reds and Iowa Western. He had a 5.73 ERA in 25 appearances for the Spartans, including four starts, with 51 strikeouts in 44 innings. Opponents batted .249 against him.

* * *


Big Mac Attack: The Yankees chose 1B Kyle MacDonald (Mississauga, Ont.) in the 27th round from Arkansas State. MacDonald is a graduate of the Ontario Terriers program.

He hit .301 with 45 RBIs in 47 games his senior season, while on the Red Wolves his batting average (.301) and on-base percentage (.419) were second and he was tied for second with in doubles (12). The batting eye he displayed as a youngster is much the same: 28 walks, 23 strikeouts.

* * *


A wise young Saul: The Rangers chose RHP Eli Saul (Vancouver, BC) in the 29th round from the UBC Thunder and Canadian Junior National Team.

Listed at 6-foot-5 and 210 pounds Saul was up to 94 mph with a mid-70s breaking ball. He has committed to Sacramento State. This season with the Junior National Team he pitched 9 2/3 innings, with two walks and 11 strikeouts.

Saul was the best arm at Inside Performance showcase at North Vancouver, BC. A Perfect Game Preseason All-American and All-Region Team Honourable Mention for Canada/Puerto Rico participated in Area Code Games in Long Beach, Calif. Saul struck out 10 in five innings as the B.C. Orange beat Ontario Green 4-3 in Tournament 12 at the Rogers Centre, as he threw 55 pitches (40 strikes).

* * *


Long swing, long bombs: Blue Jays scout Kory Lafreniere selected C-1B Owen Diodati (Niagara Falls, Ont.) of the Great Lake Canadians in the 29th round. Diodati certainly would have gone a lot higher if his signability would have been better. The 6-foot-3, 200 pounder has committed to the University of Alabama.

Diodati had some excellent coaches in his background with the Niagara Falls Falcons, Canisius Jr. Griffs, Great Lake and the Canadian Junior National Team with Mike McRae, Chris Gruarin, Ron Bernick, Adam Stern, Chris Robinson, and of course, his pop, Ryan Diodati.

Pop played shortstop and third base for the Niagara Purple Eagles earning the Kevin Mulkern Senior Athletic award given annually to the senior student-athlete who has the highest ideals of sportsmanship, competition and fair play in the spirit of Niagara in 1994.

* * *


Seeing Red again: Bill Byckowski (Georgetown, Ont.) was back at it in the 30th round selecting C-1B Ryan Leitch (Whitby, Ont.) from the Toronto Mets. Leitch has committed to the Marshall University Thundering Herd.

Leitch is an apple that didn’t fall far from the line drive, as his pop Rich Leitch is a respected coach and used to run ran the Salem University Tigers university program in Virginia.

Ryan earned all-tourney honours with the Langley Blaze at the 2018 WWBA World Championship in Jupiter, Fla.

* * *


Blue Jays go red: There is an old saying among scouts how red heads can’t hit ... like don’t draft a lefty who bats right. Blue Jays scout Matt Huck had never heard the story selecting OF Noah Myers (Wyoming, Ont.) in the 30th round from Wabash Valley College. Myers is like a lot of other draftees in that he his a top notch school to attend -- the South Carolina Gamecocks.

Myers played for the Sarnia Braves, Wyoming Wranglers and Great Lake Canadians. This spring with Wabash Valley he hit .397 with 18 doubles, a triple, eight homers and 60 RBIs. He had a 1.044 OPS in 59 games while going 77-for-78 on the base paths to lead the nation in stolen bases.

* * *

Photo: Amanda Fewer

Photo: Amanda Fewer

A great moment of the draft: We’ve asked and asked and asked. Who in the Blue Jays war room had the idea to draft RHP Braden Halladay, the son of Hall of Famer Roy Halladay in the 32nd round. It was No. 32 that the father wore around the SkyDome and Rogers Centre with a stately elegance. Maybe like Davey Keon wearing No. 14 at Maple Leaf Gardens or Jean Beliveau sporting No. 4 at the Montreal Forum. We never were able to get a concrete answer but well done.

Halladay thanked the Jays for the offer, in a classy manner — as his father would have — but he will attend Penn State.

* * *

Photo: Baseball Canada

Photo: Baseball Canada

Name games: Part of his last name is in the Hockey Hall of Fame, while the other you can easily find on baseball-reference. Scout Murray Zuk (Souris, Man.) San Diego Padres chose LHP Keegan Pulford-Thorpe in the 33rd round.

His great uncle is Hall of Famer Bobby Pulford who played 16 years in the NHL -- all but two with the Toronto Maple Leafs and the rest with the Los Angeles Kings scoring 281 goals with 362 assists in 1,079 games. En route to the Hall of Fame he was an executive with the Chicago Black Hawks.

Keegan’s pop is Paul Thorpe spent seven seasons in the Baltimore Orioles system with a 30-30 record, 59 saves and a 3.32 ERA. He walked 206 and fanned 319 in 436 innings. He made stops at rookie-class Bluefield, class-A Daytona Beach, class-A Newark, class-A Hagerstown, class-A Miami, double-A Charlotte and triple-A Rochester.

* * *


Big Little Man: Philadelphia Phillies scout Zach Friedman grabbed LHP Thomas Little (Lethbridge, Alta.) in the 33rd round from coach Les McTavish’s Vauxhall Academy Jets. Atop the mound Little stands 6-foot-9 and is a 195 pounder. He committed to pitch for the Oklahoma Enid Jets in the fall.

This season with Vauxhall, Little was 4-0 with a 0.69 ERA walking 27 and fanning 43 in 36 1/3 innings. Besides Little, Vauxhall had two players drafted LHP Adam Macko (Stony Plain, Alta.) in the seventh round to the Mariners and Jet alumni RHP Josh Burgmann (Namaimo, BC) was drafted in the fifth round, by the Cubs from University of Washington Huskies.

* * *


From the gap: The St. Louis Cardinals selected RHP Logan Hofmann (Muenster, Sask.) a 35th rounder from the Colby College Trojans. Hofmann has signed a Letter of Intent to attend Northwestern State University.

With Colby this spring he was 8-4 record and a 3.11 ERA in 17 appearances - including 15 starts, striking out 128 batters in 89 2/3 innings for an excellent, leading the staff wins, starts, innings pitched, ERA and strikeouts. He had five outings in which he fanned 10 or more including a season-high 14 in seven innings against New Mexico Military Institute. He helped Colby advance to the Central District Playoffs for the first time since 2013 earning All-Kansas Jayhawk Conference First Team honours.

* * *


Carrying on a family tradition: The Nationals jumped into Canadian waters selecting INF Trei Cruz in the 37th round from the Rice University Owls. He is the son of former Blue Jays outfielder Jose Cruz, Jr.

His father was a former 30/30 man with the Jays, while his grandfather, also named Jose Cruz hit .284 with 2,251 hits in 19 seasons. Playing shortstop, he hit .305, with six triples, nine home runs and 44 RBIs in 58 games. He had two or more hits in a game 20 times, including a career-high four hits in a game two different times against Rhode Island.

* * *


And what started with a Brown shall end with a Brown: The Nationals chose INF Jaden Brown (Mississauga, Ont.) in the 40th round from the Ontario Blue Jays. Brown has committed to the University of Kentucky Wildcats.

A graduate of the Mississauga North Tigers program, he considers former coach Lawrence Collymore and former Blue Jays OF Shannon Stewart as the two most influential people in his life. He earned preseason All American for Canada/Puerto Rico All Region 1st Team this year and a year ago was named to All Tournament Team at WWBA 2020 Grads or 16U National Championship as well as being the Top Prospect Team at National Showcase.