With the 17th pick of the 5th round (153rd overall) the Minnesota Twins selected high school right-hander Jordan Balazovic.
Hometown: Mississauga, Ontario
Teams: Ontario Blue Jays/DBacks Scout Team/Canadian Junior National Team
College Commitment: Auburn
Coaches: Mike Steed, Dan Bleiwas, Shawn Travers, Doug Mathieson, Greg Hamilton
Slot Money: $357,800
Signed For: $515,000
Scout: Walt Burrows
Pedigree: Grampa Joe Balazovic (Tyrone, Ont.) played two seasons in the Cleveland Indians system. An OF he was with the 1957 class-C Fargo-Moorhead Twins, where he hit .237 with 19 doubles, four triples, four homers and 34 RBIs in 102 games and the next year with the class-B Burlington Indians where he batted .241 with four doubles, two homers and 14 RBIs in 14 games.
The 5-foot-11, 186-pound Balazovic, 22, batted left and throws right. He hit the first pitch of the season for a home run at Burlington ... Balazovic was the first Canadian to play for the N.C. club since OF Don McLean was with 1951 Burlington Bees. McLean played six years in the Detroit Tigers and Pittsburgh Pirates systems.
Twitter Handle: @JBalazovic
Slot Money: $357,800
Fastball: 60 | Slider: 45 | Changeup: 50 | Control: 50 | Overall: 45
Every spring, a team of the top Canadian high school talent makes its rounds around Arizona and Florida, often playing against minor leaguers in extended spring camp. Invariably, a player or two from “North of the border” raises his stock with an outstanding performance in the warmer weather. This year, Balazovic was one of those players.
While still a bit raw, there’s a lot to like with this Auburn commit. At 6-foot-3, he’s not physically developed yet. There’s plenty of room to add strength and velocity. His arm works really well and fires fastballs up to 92 mph already, with heavy sink. He also has a good feel for his changeup. His breaking ball has a ways to go. Right now, it’s a slurvy slider kind of caught in between a curve and a slider, with three-quarter break and thrown in the 79-82 mph range. He stays in the strike zone more often than not.
A year ago, Mike Soroka was taken in the first round out of the Canadian high school ranks. The projectable Balazovic won’t come off the board that quickly, but his spring work has moved him firmly into top five round territory.
A year after a historic Canadian high school class, Balazovic is the top-ranked prep Canuck in this year’s class. The righthander has a lean, projectable frame with wide shoulders and a high waist.
Balazovic’s developmental trajectory is positive; early last summer he pitched with his fastball sitting at 84-88. By the fall, he was sitting 88-89 and bumping 90. This spring, he’s shown slightly improved velocity, touching as high as 93 and sitting comfortably at 89-90.
Balazovic has a polished changeup that he can locate at the knees with late fade and tumbling action. He throws a breaking ball with 11-to-5 shape in the mid-70s. Balazovic gets his core extended over his front side well and extends his glove hand high for extra deception. Scouts note how rare it is for him to be squared up.
Balazovic is committed to Auburn, but for the 2017 class; if he doesn’t get the bonus money he’s looking for, he’ll simply go to 13th grade, as Canada’s schools have, and try again next year. He has a head whack at release, but he has an otherwise clean delivery. Balazovic is slightly young for this year’s class, and won’t turn 18 until September.
Alexis Brudnicki _ Balazovic credits time with Ontario Blue Jays to draft position