Elliott: Dawe, Gravel understand nationals tradition and T12
September 20, 2019
By Bob Elliott
Canadian Baseball Network
Tournament 12 is THE tournament for a high schooler to compete in nowadays.
Before that and even now the premier event for youngsters was the Canadian nationals or the Canada Cup.
There wasn’t a Tournament 12 in 2009 when Dayton Dawe (London, Ont.) was one of the best high school hitters/pitchers in the country. The London Badger pick up for the Ontario team tripled off the fence to bring in Brad Bedford with the lead run against the host Vaughan Vikings in the bantam national semi final. Then, Michael Clouthier (Guelph, Ont.) set down the final six hitters in order with four strikeouts for the 5-4 Ontario win.
Dawe hit .333 (4-for-12) with a double, triple and six RBIs, while also pitching a victory.
Dawe’s younger brother RHP Tanner Dawe (London, Ont.) of the Great Lake Canadians pitched two scoreless innings on Thursday as his Orange rallied to tie Maroon 4-4 at the Rogers Centre during T12.
Meanwhile, Vauxhall Jets Nick Gravel (Fall River, NS) ranged far to his right and then threw a strike to Vauxhall RHP Levi Abbott (Lethbridge, Alta.) covering first. He also roamed far into right field to made an over-the shoulder grab of a ball headed for the Bermuda Triangle.
There won’t be a winner of the T12 this year. After six years of declaring a champion, this year the event became a showcase event. No worries for Gravel and teammate RHP Tyler Boudreau (Middle Sackville, NS), also of Vauxhall, for they already have a title. Their Nova Scotia team edged Ontario 3-2 to win the province’s first-ever gold in the BIGS Seeds Canada Cup.
“They got the lead-off man on, then it was two fly balls and a strike out,” Gravel said. “Some guys went to the mound. I raced to hug our shortstop -- Noah Boutilier.” Boutilier had knocked in all three runs.
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We missed Tanner Dawe on the field and were about to call out the search dogs when we found No. 17 Orange at the concessions stand ordering the breakfast of champions: a bottle of water and an ice cream in an upside-down batting helmet.
I introduced myself and told Tanner I’d met him in 2009 watching big brother pitch. I’m not sure if he remembered or not ... he was seven. I asked if we could talk. He brought his ice cream over and sat in a seat. I told him it was OK to eat, but he set it on the floor rather than eat and talk.
Tanner remembers big brother going to pitch for the Badgers, the Ontario Terriers, the Ontario Youth Team, the Canadian Junior National Team and then the phone call. Dayton was drafted in the 15th round by the New York Yankees spending three seasons in the system before retiring. He now works with his father at Canada Glass.
“He tore his rotator cuff,” Tanner said. We remember Blue Jays general manager J.P. Ricciardi setting fixed dates for the return of Shaun Marcum (elbow) and Dustin McGowan (shoulder). Manager Cito Gaston disagreed after hearing someone mention possible return dates for a fifth day.
Gaston said, “The doctors are so good performing Tommy John surgeries now it’s like a bus time table. It may be late but only by about 10 minutes. But a shoulder? That’s a lot trickier.”
Now Dayton is into the coaching helping out at Great Lakes workouts. And he has helped Tanner.
“He’s taught me a lot, he is always has something to day and keeps telling me to keep my front shoulder closed,” Tanner said, whose actual pitching coach is Jon Fitzsimmons. And once in a while former 17-game winner with the Colorado Rockies, Jeff Francis, helps out.
Again Tanner was told it is OK to eat his ice cream rather than eating ice cream soup. Again he declines and says how much he has enjoyed Dayton helping out during bullpen sessions. Dayton was a 6-foot-2, 180 pounder, while Tanner is listed at 6-foot-2, 205.
“I thought his arm looked good,” said Francis. “He showed good intensity. He told me he had trouble with his off speed and I could see that. But he worked quick and looked like he felt comfortable. I knew Dayton when he turned pro. We used to throw and train together.”
The Rogers Centre auxiliary board show both the pitch speed and the exit velocity after every pitch. Did Tanner do a quick turnaround to see how hard he was throwing, like many were spotted doing?
“No, I didn’t look ... but I had some of the guys in the bullpen check it out,” Tanner said. “I was 86 MPH ... not too great. Dayton was 90-91 when he was in grade 12.”
Tanner did enjoy his time on the Rogers Centre mound saying it wasn’t “like the mound in Thorndale.”
“You know you come here to watch a game and you have no idea how much work goes into the mound,” Tanner said. “You don’t really see people working on it. But we left the one night after the last game and they had a whole bunch of people tending to both the mound and plate area.”
Again I told Tanner to go ahead and eat the ice cream. We were finished. Finally he shook hands and picked up his ice cream soup.
All of which proves that Kelly and Rick Dawe raised some polite boys, who can throw a strike.
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Gravel made seven trips to the nationals: two at 13U, two at 15U and three at 18U before the championship to Regina. He remembers at the 13Us Nova Scotia was whomped 18-2 by Quebec.
Why play the game when the best finish of seven trips to the nationals was a loss to BC in the quarter-finals at Dieppe, N.B? How do stay interested when your team gets “edged” 18-2.
“For the love of the game,” said Gravel.
The Nova Scotia team took the red eye back from Regina arriving in Halifax at 9 AM with roughly 100 fans and Baseball Nova Scotia there to greet them. How many had suffered 18-2 losses in their past. And oh the joy there must have been to knock off eight-time champion Ontario.
RHP Tyler Boudreau (Middle Sackville, NS) earned pitcher of the tourney in Regina. As for this showcase, which used to have eight teams representing eight different areas, it now has players from four or five different provinces on the same team.
“There wasn’t anyone from Prince Edward Island or Newfoundland invited,” Gravel said. “It just shows how the talent evolves year to year. I like this format, it just shows how many people were missing from Ontario and BC the old way.”
And at home?
“A lot of people are upset,” said Gravel. Nova Scotia had three players invited, while New Brunswick only two. Ontario led with 64 players followed by British Columbia with 26. Gravel spoke to recruiters from Bryan University and Howard College while in Toronto.
Nova Scotia went 6-1, with all the wins decided by two runs or less. In the gold medal game Duncan McLaughlin and Ethan McLellan combined to strikeout 14 Ontario hitters. The champs defeated another powerhouse Quebec 3-1 in the semifinal to advance to the final.
It capped a memorable season for Nova Scotia as OF Jake Sanford (Cole Harbour, N.S.) was selected second over-all among Canucks. The Western Kentucky Hilltopper was chosen in the third round and received a $597,000 signing bonus.
Gravel and Boudreau are trying to make sure 2019 was not a once in a lifetime season for their province.
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More Reds sets of eyes: Bill Byckowski (Georgetown, Ont.) has been scouting the T12 from his three-chaired office along the first base line. Byckowski is a cross checker so he has had John Ceprini and Brandon Marr with him. Ceprini will cover Eastern Canada and Marr will scout Western Canada.
The Reds also added former New York Yankees farmhand Chris Kemlo (Oshawa, Ont.) who pitched six seasons, coached the Toronto Mets and is now plugged in with the Prep Baseball Report.
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Looking good, feeling good: Scouts are talking about Northeast Baseball Pirates’ Matthew Grabmann (Dartmouth, NS) ... OF Owen Caissie (Burlington, Ont.) of the FieldHouse Pirates ... About OF David Calabrese (Maple, Ont.) of the Ontario Blue Jays .... About OF Darius Armorer (Whitby, Ont.) of the Ontario Blue Jays ... About ABC’s Joshua Jones (Blainville, Que.) ... About Mid-Island Pirates Connor Caskenette (Duncan, BC) ... About Ontario Terriers SS Elijah Hammill (Oakville, Ont.) ... About Tyrese Johnson (Calgary, Alta.) of the Okotoks Dawgs ... About Brendan Wilkinson (Milton, Ont.) of the Great Lake Canadians.
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90 and up class: Tri-City Giants RHP Calvin Ziegler (Heidelberg, Ont.) hit 93 MPH, but had a rough second and third innings. He is coming off an injury ... Langley Blaze RHP Theo Millas (Burnaby, BC) exceeded 90 ... Coquitlam Reds’ RHP Jack Seward (Port Moody, BC) was 91 MPH and Toronto Mets’ RHP Drew Howard (Whitby, Ont.) was 90 ... Vauxhall Jets’ RHP Maddux Mateychuk (Dominion City, Man.) surpassed 90 MPH.
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Pro scouts watching from major league teams: Anaheim Angels, Arizona Diamondbacks, Boston Red Sox, Chicago White Sox, Cincinnati Reds, Colorado Rockies, Detroit Tigers, Kansas City Royals, Miami Marlins, Milwaukee Brewers, Minnesota Twins, New York Mets, New York Yankees, Oakland A’s, Philadelphia Phillies, Pittsburgh Pirates, San Diego Padres, San Francisco Giants, Seattle Mariners, Texas Rangers and Toronto Blue Jays.
The Canadian Junior National Team will not be making its annual trip to Florida since it just returned from the World 18U in Korea, plus Canada’s senior team will soon leave for Premier 12. Hence the extra pro evaluators.
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Recruiters watching from four and two-year schools: Kentucky, Sacramento State, Gonzaga, St. John’s, Utah, Illinois, Illinois State, Northern Kentucky, Campbell, University of British Columbia, Iowa Western and Howard.