By Bob Elliott
Canadian Baseball Network
Each time we go to a tryout camp we ask the same question.
Maybe it is in person, or later by phone or email.
It doesn’t matter whether it was the old days --- like away back in 2016 -- when the Major League Scouting Bureau ran showcases coast to coast in Canada.
Or nowadays when facilities or teams run showcases for scouts.
The question is always the same: who were the best players in the building? It doesn’t matter the year.
Some scouts answer, some don’t.
This is the first time we ever received an e-mail response like this:
Unfortunately for the 29 other clubs there is only one Noah Naylor, the best player at the Athlete Matrix in Mississauga for the Ontario Blue Jays showcase.
A total of 11 scouts from 10 pro teams watched 55 players go through their paces, the majority of which were Ontario Blue Jays players, plus nine members of Team Ontario and the Ontario Nationals.
Noah Naylor (Mississauga) is the younger brother of 1B Josh Naylor, who was on hand to patiently watch the proceedings. Noah is not eligible until the 2018 draft, 16 months away.
Speedy OF Cooper Davis (Mississauga), a Vanderbilt commit, was the best of the 2017s on hand. They look forward to four months from now. The rest of the top five in the building were a pair of 2019s OF Dasan Brown (Hamilton) and INF Jaden Brown (Toronto), followed by OF Rashad Collymore (Mississauga), another 2017.
Yet Naylor 2.0 is one to watch. He swept all polls of those pro scouts and coaches who answered. He was a perfect 8-for-8 (and that’s counting the aforementioned ballot which we counted as one vote).
He could be the best catcher since ... way back in 2015 when Andrew Yerzy (Toronto, Ont.) of the Toronto Mets went in the second round (52nd over-all) to the Arizona Dimaondbacks and scout Doug Mathieson.
“It’s real close at same age,” said one scout, who saw both Yerzy and Naylor with the Canadian Junior National Team.
“Naylor may well pass Andy going forward as his body projects better for behind the plate and he has more arm strength. Naylor is a more complete hitter and more athletic, so he would project to be better defensively going forward.”
A year ago some liked Naylor better as an infielder instead of a catcher, but now it seems more like him behind the plate.
Brett Lawrie (Langley, BC), Justin Morneau (New Westminster, BC) and Joey Votto (Etobicoke, Ont.) were all drafted as catchers but did not stay at that position.
The highest drafted Canadian catchers besides those in past years are Kellin Deglan (Langley, BC), Chris Robinson (Dorchester, Ont.), Lars Davis (Grand Prairie, Alta.), Mike Nickeas (Vancouver, BC) and Yerzy.
Naylor had the top pop time (1.76) throwing 92 mph during his fielding evaluation.
OFs Cooper Davis (Mississauga), Rashad Collymore (Mississauga), Jakob Newton (Oakville) tied for top velocity at 92 mph, while OF Dasan Brown touched 90.
On hand: There were 11 scouts from 10 pro teams at the event. The Toronto Blue Jays had two scouts on hand in head Canadian scout Jamie Lehman and newly hired Adam Arnold.
Claude Pelletier was there representing the New York Mets, as well as Murray Zuk from the San Diego Padres, Denis Boucher, New York Yankees, Ryan Coe, Texas Rangers, Derek Bloomfield, Kansas City Royals, George Halim, Arizona Diamondbacks; Meyer Shemtov, Colorado Rockies, Jeremy Jayaweera, Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim and Frederick Rioux, Philadelphia Phillies,
Also on hand were Greg Hamilton of the Canadian National Junior Team and Program 15 evaluators.
Not exactly the same turnout when the MLB Scouting Bureau ran things each year, but that’s the loss of the pro teams who don’t invest in looking at Canadian talent. Already teams have added four scouts this year. Lehman, head of the Jays Canadian scouting, hired Jasmine Roy (Montreal, Que.) and Adam Arnold (St. Thomas, Ont.).
Meanwhile, Don Archer (Surrey, BC) hired Jeremy Jayaweera (Kitchener, Ont.) and Alex Agostino (Montreal, Que.) hired Frederick Rioux (Toronto, Ont.).
Strike Machine: Every day Eddie Largy (Mississauga, Ont.) threw batting practice for the whole showcase. He threw eight full baskets of baseballs, maybe 80-100 balls in each basket.
There were 36 hitters with 12 swings each ... that’s a night’s work. And when all was said and done someone else asked if he could hit.
“Sure, let me find someone to throw to you,” Shawn Travers said.
“I got him,” said Every day Eddie.
The Top Velocities
RHP Jared Evans, Bowmanville, Ontario Blue Jays 90 MPH
RHP Nathan Holmes, Mississauga, Ontario Blue Jays 90
RHP Andrew Wilkinson, Oakville, Ontario Blue Jays 90
RHP Diego Dominguez, Vaughan, Ontario Blue Jays 88
RHP Stephen Kinal, Terra Cotta, Ontario Blue Jays 88
RHP Jacob Kush, Guelph, Ontario Blue Jays 88
RHP Jack Liddell, Mississauga, Ontario Blue Jays 88
RHP Dimitri Stamatopoulos, Toronto, Ontario Blue Jays 87
Top-ranked prospects for this year’s draft ... three months away
OF Cooper Davis, Mississauga, Ontario Blue Jays
OF Rashad Collymore, Mississauga, Ontario Blue Jays
RHP Nathan Holmes, Mississauga, Ontario Blue Jays
OF Jakob Newton, Oakville, Ontario Blue Jays
3B Ryan Santos, Mississauga, Ontario Blue Jays
INF Owen Jansen, Oakville, Ontario Blue Jays
C David Mendham, Dorchester, Ontario Nationals
RHP Andrew Wilkinson, Oakville, Ontario Blue Jays
3B David McCabe, Thornhill, Team Ontario
INF Andrew Leggo, Waterloo, Ontario Blue Jays
RHP Jack Liddell, Mississauga, Ontario Blue Jays
Top ranked prospects for 2018 ... 15 months away
C Noah Naylor, Mississauga, Ontario Blue Jays
RHP Jared Evans, Bowmanville, Ontario Blue Jays
RHP Diego Dominguez, Vaughan, Ontario Blue Jays
RHP Dimitri Stamatopoulos, Toronto, Ontario Blue Jays
C Blake Buckle, Milton, Ontario Blue Jays
RHP Jacob Kush, Guelph, Ontario Blue Jays
RHP Kyle Lev, Mississauga, Ontario Blue Jays
The best for 2019 ... 27 months away
OF Dasan Brown Hamilton, Ontario Blue Jays
INF Jaden Brown Toronto, Ontario Blue Jays
RHP Lukas Barry, Mississauga, Ontario Blue Jays
RHP Dalton Brownlee, Innisfil, Ontario Blue Jays
And the top dog for 2020 ... 39 months away
RHP Stephen Kinal, Terra Cotta, Ontario Blue Jays 23