By Patrick Stothers
Canadian Baseball Network
TORONTO – The gravity of this week’s opportunity is not lost on Owen Harms.
A natural athlete who right now plays both infield and pitches, the Winnipeg native is in his second showing at Tournament 12 at the Rogers Centre.
Harms is showing his skill-set in front of big league scouts and college recruiters from around North America over four games (barring playoffs) and a full workout day on Friday.
“It’s nerve wracking because it’s a showcase and you have to perform your best, but at the same time, you’re excited,” said Harms, next to the first base dugout. “You’re in a big league stadium playing where the pros play.”
It’s no secret that the Vauxhall Baseball Academy member (one of 14 from the top-level Alberta school) can hit, as he went 3-for-4 in the opening game for Prairies Purple, and drove in a run in the 3-2 victory over Atlantic Maroon.
The Prairies squad didn’t fare as well against Quebec in their second contest, where Harms pitched two innings, struck out two batters, and gave up one run on two hits in a 5-1 loss.
“It’s always good to perform no matter what level you’re at, but especially here, getting a good start on the first day is always great,” said Harms after practice on day two.
These top college-eligible Canadian players are divided by region and face off against each other in multiple matches, over the course of four days.
It may seem intense to ask these teenagers to show up and get themselves noticed during a weekend of baseball, but officials point out they have all been carefully selected, and are certainly not here by accident.
“We use a continuous database of player names that we like and evaluate, and we try to collect a lot of data points, so we see these players of the course of a year, two years or three years in some cases,” said Jamie Lehman, Blue Jays’ supervisor of scouting for Canada.
“We’re trying to paint a full picture, so we’re trying to evaluate every aspect of a player, and these tests can just give us one extra little piece of information to figure out who they are going to be.”
Players take part in what is essentially a scouting combine on day two, including the 60-yard dash, vertical jump, and grip strength, while scouts watch the players throw and hit to evaluate swing and throwing ingredients.
The remaining games of the tournament take place Friday night, Saturday and Sunday, with the finals wrapping up on Sunday evening.