By Bob Elliott
Canadian Baseball Network
NORTH VANCOUVER, BC _ The question is asked time and again.
“Remember 10 years ago how pitching prospects outnumbered position players at Bureau Camps? Now, it’s the reverse ... how come?” a scout will ask in Alberta, Ontario or inside the Inside Performance winter showcase here as was the case earlier this month.
The answer to the question is about as easy as finding the proper answer to “how high is up?”
There were 25 pitchers and 28 hitters on hand for the showcase. Watching the 53 high schoolers throw off the mound and swing inside the cage were 24 evaluators and recruiters from 19 pro and college teams. And who had the best day? Well, we polled eight evaluators and the top three spots went to position players.
INF Jason Willow (Victoria, BC) of the Victoria Mariners, 1B Michael Stovman (Maple Ridge, BC) Langley Blaze and INF Rhys Cratty (Surrey, BC) also of the Blaze. Stovman also threw off the mound and he has a split camp on whether he’s best as a hitter of a position player, but he showed power Saturday at Joe Martin Stadium in Bellingham, Wash., when he hit a long home run. And was 88 MPH on the mound in 1 degree weather. Stovman has been compared to Rowan Wick, who started out as an outfielder and was converted to the mound.
Willow was named the No. 1 man by four scouts, while Cratty, Dearing, McDougall and Rhodes were each listed first once each.
Looking back ... a year ago three of the top five high schoolers were position players, led by C Andrew Yerzy (Toronto, Ont.) who went in the second round from the Toronto Mets to the Arizona Diamondbacks.
Four of the top five high schoolers selected in 2015, led by Josh Naylor (Mississauga, Ont.) of the Ontario Blue Jays, were position players.
Three of the top four high scoolers chosen in 2014, with Gareth Morgan (North York, Ont.) of the Ontario Blue Jays who went to the Seattle Mariners.
Four of the first six high schoolers chosen in 2013 led by Tyler O’Neill (Maple Ridge, BC) of the Langley Blaze chosen by the Mariners were high schoolers.
And the top ranked high schooler this year is INF Adam Hall (London, Ont.) of the Great Lake Canadians and next June Noah Naylor (Mississauga, Ont.) of the Ontario Blue Jays.
The top velocities:
RHP Cade Smith, Chilliwack Cougars 88-89
LHP Jack Decooman, North Shore Twins 86-88
RHP Tate Dearing, White Rock Tritons 86-88
RHP Kyle Gee, Langley Blaze 86-87
RHP Travis McDougal, Abbotsford Cardinals 86-87
RHP Robert Mackie, North Shore Twins 86-87
RHP Finn Chester, Victoria Mariners 85-87
RHP Michael Stovman, Langley Blaze 84-86
RHP Cortez D’Alessandro, North Shore Twins 84-85
RHP Gavin Pringle, Cowichan bantams 84
RHP Thomas Hemer, North Shore Twins 83-85
RHP Tyson Mcinnes, Cloverdale 82-83
RHP Liam Kruse, Victoria Mariners 82
LHP Joe Sinclair, North Shore Twins 81-83
LHP Colby Ring, Langley Blaze 81-83
RHP Jared Anderson, Victoria Mariners 81
RHP Ryan Beitel, Langley Blaze 80-81
RHP Madjik Mackenzie, Coquitlam Reds 80
LHP Justin Thorsteinson, North Delta Blue Jays 80
RHP Hayden Wilcox, Victoria Eagles 79-81
RHP Jacob Simms, Coquitlam Reds 78-79
RHP David Rhodes, Pacific Northwest Regional 2017 Royal/Seattle Select Threw a bullpen but we do not have a reading.
On hand: There were 19 scouts from 15 teams. The Seattle Mariners had three in Alex Ross, plus Trudith and Wayne Norton, the Toronto Blue Jays had two scouts in Jamie Lehman and Don Cowan, and the Kansas City Royals had Joe Ross and Cory Eckstein.
Doug Mathieson represented the Arizona Diamondbacks; while other scouts and their teams included Greg Hopkins, Chicago Cubs, Jamie Bodalay, Cincinnati Reds, Conor Glassey, Cleveland Indians, Dave Dangler, Detroit Tigers, Shawn Whalen, Milwaukee Brewers, Walt Burrows, Minnesota Twins, Claude Pelletier, New York Mets, Hilton Richardson, Philadelphia Phillies, Murray Zuk, San Diego Padres, Larry Casian, San Francisco Giants and Scott Ramsey, Washington Nationals.
Also evaluating were Greg Hamilton of the Canadian National Junior Team, Chris Pritchett and Shawn Bowman of the University of British Columbia, Cav Whitely of Douglas College, Kenneth Wilson of Central Washington University and former Baseball Canada president Ray Carter who will be inducted into the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame this June.
Remember the name: Justin Thorsteinson (Richmond) the youngest on hand was impressive. Tutored by pitching coach Shawn Hetherington, the former UBC Thunderbirds closer. The 6-foot-3 Thorsteinson pitches for the North Delta Blue Jays and is the 2020 to pop on the radar.
He already his an uncle who was drafted (Jason Thorsteinson, 46th round, 1991 Montreal Expos) and played two seasons) plus a major-league pal (Justin Morneau).
Jordan Thorsteinson who played at the 1987 nationals for coach Mike Kelly took his son Justin to see the Colorado Rockies and Morneau play during spring training. Morneau spotted the youngster wearing the No. 33 and came over for a chat and signed autographs.
On the same trip a Rockies employee spotted Justin in Rockies gear and asked if he wanted to be bat boy for the afternoon. Upon reaching the dugout Morneau looked at Thorsteinson and said “hey what are you doing here?”
Throwing strikes: Among the strike throwers were Tyson Gillies (Vancouver, BC) and OF Rene Tosoni (Coquitlam, BC).
Gillies split last season between the Kansas City T-Bones of the Independent American Association and the Sugar Land Skeeters of the Atlantic League. He hit .254 with nine doubles, five triples, four homers and 21 RBIs in 60 games and a .728 OPS.
Tosoni batted .299 in 94 games with 20 doubles, 12 triples, seven homers and 41 RBIs with an .847 OPS. Both were on the 2015 Pan Am gold medal winners. Tosoni is headed to Florida to join Canada for the WBC.
Lachlan Fontaine (North Vancouver, BC) helped out organizer Brooks McNevin in the smoothly run camp. Fontaine had eight doubles, two triples and three homers while knocking in 32 runs and batting .239 for the Quebec Capitales of the independent Can Am League. He had a .619 OPS.
McNevin was a fourth-round draft of the San Francisco Giants from the UBC Thunderbirds. He reached triple-A Fresno and spent seven years in the Giants system.
Top-ranked prospects for this year’s draft ... less than four months away
INF Jason Willow, Victoria Mariners.
RHP-1B Michael Stovman, Langley Blaze.
INF Rhys Cratty, Langley Blaze
RHP Cade Smith, Chilliwack Cougars
LHP Jack Decooman, North Shore Twins
3B-C Steven Moretto, North Shore Twins
RHP Tim Walters, North Shore Twins
Top ranked prospects for 2018 ... 16 months away
RHP Tate Dearing, White Rock Tritons
RHP Travis McDougall, Abbotsford Cardinals
OF Jayden Knight, Langley Blaze
RHP David Rhodes, Pacific Northwest Regional 2017 Royal/Seattle Select
LHP Colby Ring, Langley Blaze
OF Brett Bass, Abbotsford Cardinals
C Kayden Beauregard, Abbotsford Cardinals
3B Dylan Ohlsen, Abbotsford Cardinals
RHP Kyle Gee, Langley Blaze
RHP Finn Chester, Victoria Mariners
RHP Jared Anderson, Victoria Mariners
C Dion Wintjes, North Shore Twins
RHP Hayden Wilcox, Victoria Eagles
OF Andrew Weir, Victoria Eagles
The best for 2019 ... 28 months away
INF Daniel Martin, Langley Blaze
LHP Taisei Yahiro, Abbotsford Cardinals
SS Robert McKenzie, Coquitlam Reds.
And the top dog for 2020 ... 40 months away
LHP Justin Thorsteinson, North Delta Blue Jays