By Adam Morissette
OTTAWA- The 2018 Major League Baseball (MLB) First-Year Player Draft is just six months away where all 30 MLB clubs will restock their farm systems and make dreams come true for amateur players from Canada, Puerto Rico and the United States.
Two Canadians eligible for next year’s draft are getting plenty of interest from draft prognosticators in University of Kentucky outfielder Tristan Pompey and Junior National Team catcher/third baseman Noah Naylor.
Both players, who hail from Mississauga, were a part of MLB Pipeline’s Top 50 MLB Draft Prospects List and both are also a part of respective top prospects lists for college and high school players by Baseball America.
Pompey, a Junior National Team graduate from 2015, is listed by MLB Pipeline as the 29th best prospect for the 2018 draft while Baseball America has him as the ninth best college prospect among draft eligible players.
Naylor, who represented Canada in September at the WBSC U-18 Baseball World Cup, comes in at No. 47 on MLB Pipeline’s list and No. 22 on Baseball America's Top 100 High School prospects list.
Both players put themselves on the draft radar with strong 2017 campaigns where Pompey earned Third Team All-America honours after hitting .361 with the Wildcats followed by a summer with the Wareham Gateman in the prestigious Cape Cod League.
Naylor had a busy summer on the high school showcase circuit, first making the final round of the MLB High School Home Run Derby before participating in both the Under Armour and Perfect Game All-America contests where he was the only Canadian to do so. Finally, Naylor’s performance at the U-18 World Cup in Thunder Bay earned him All-Star team honours at third base.
Baseball bloodlines never hurt when it comes to projecting talent and Pompey and Naylor each have some to add to their overall packages. Tristan’s older brother, Dalton, is an outfielder in the Toronto Blue Jays organization having spent significant portions of his career in the big leagues, including playoff action.
Noah’s older brother, Josh, was a first-round pick (12th overall) of the Miami Marlins in 2015 and is now one of the top prospects in the San Diego Padres organization. Like their brothers, the older Pompey and Naylor are products of the Junior National Team program.
Tristan Pompey and Noah Naylor will be looking to keep the strong run of Canadian talent being scooped up on day one of the three-day MLB Draft next June. In 2014, the Seattle Mariners used a second round selection (74th overall) on outfielder Gareth Morgan (Toronto, ON) before Calgary’s Mike Soroka (28th overall, Atlanta Braves) joined Josh Naylor as first round picks one year later.
In 2016, right-handed pitcher Cal Quantrill (Port Hope, ON) went eighth overall to the San Diego Padres before Junior National Team catcher Andy Yerzy (Toronto, ON) went 52nd overall to the Arizona Diamondbacks. Last June, a pair of Canadian high schoolers went on day one in right-hander Landon Leach (37 overall, Minnesota Twins) and shortstop Adam Hall (60th overall, Baltimore Orioles).
If future projections mean anything, that trend could continue.