Elliott: 2017 CBN Draft Blog; Day 1 (1-2)

By Bob Elliott
Canadian Baseball Network

We’re not sure how many years we have done this but it's always fun keeping track.

Tis as we say around Canadian Baseball Network headquarters “our Super Bowl week.” We have a bunch of people working to make sure you can read about the players selected as quickly as possible.

And that goes for someone from Victoria BC to Sydney Mines, NS and anywhere in between.

6:14 PM _ And the forescast is ...

 First let’s take a look at the Your Toronto Blue Jays. Baseball America guru John Manuel has the Jays selecting North Carolina SS Logan Warmoth, with the 22nd pick and Wake Forest 1B Gavin Sheets at 28th.

The name we heard most associated with the Blue Jays was Kentucky 1B Evan White. The Jays scout did a ton of work on him ... but the question is, will he make it to 22 or be scooped up sooner?

White is an unusual first baseman in that his weakest tool is his power ... he’s a plus runner and is away above average as a defensive first baseman. He’s a gap-to-gap hitter with maybe 15-homer a season projection in most parks. At the Rogers Centre, a scout guesses he could hit 20.

White wears No. 19 for his favourite player Cincinnati Reds 1B Joey Votto (Etobicoke, Ont.).

6:22 PM _ Mumblin' stumblin' ....

Thanks to Scott MacArthur for having me on to mumble on the Scott MacArthur Show with their host Scott MacArthur, starring Scott MacArthur this afternoon on TSN.

As we discussed this afternoon Toronto Mets RHP Landon Leach (Pickering, Ont.) should be the top Canadian and will go on Day 1, among the first 75 picks.

6:26 PM _ Read 'em up, while you wait ...

Some reading while you are waiting although it’s tough to turn away from Harold Reynolds’ touching piece on Liberty Greene, sister of Hunter Greene. 

Top Canucks year by year

Six-figure signing bonu$ for Canadians

Canadians selected in top 200 over-all through the years
 

6:42 PM _ Rounding up the usual suspects ....

Look who the Canadian contingent ran into on the draft floor (from left to right) inside Studio 42 at MLB Network head quarters in Secaucus, NJ: Claude Pelletier (Mets), Murray Cook (Tigers), Gord Ash (Brewers) and Denis Boucher (Yankees) ran into Felipe Alou (Giants), a member of the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame in St. Marys. _ Photo: Jim Leyland, Detroit Tigers.

And check out who took the picture. 

The one and only Jim Fregosi

The one and only Jim Fregosi

7:15 PM  _ We'll be missing you ... always ...

The late Jim Fregosi was upstairs smiling -- well maybe he was smirking -- when the Minnesota Twins selected high school SS Royce Lewis with the first overall pick. Fregosi played at Serra High School in San Mateo, Calif. just like Lewis.

Once we were writing a story on Barry Bonds during his home run chase and called Fregosi to ask about the long list from Serra High School. Besides Bonds, the school produced Gregg Jefferies, Chuck Lofgren and Dan Serafini; NFL stars Tom Brady and Lynn Swann; USC coach John Robinson; CFL Hall of Famer Tom Scott; and legendary scout Gary Hughes, now of the Boston Red Sox, who should be in the Hall of Fame.

“Is that it?” I asked Fregosi.

“Well, you are only forgetting best Serra athlete of them all,” Fregosi said.

Who’s that?

“Me!”

7:34 PM _ All roads do not lead to Canada ...

We’ve often been accused of latching onto to players and creating Canadian roots. Guilty. Why not? Jameson Taillon was born in Lakeland, Fla and grew up in The Woodlands, Tex, yet his parents said he was Canadian -- it was good enough for me. And a few years later he wore CANADA across his chest and held USA scoreless in his WBC start in Phoenix. 

The late Team Canada hoops coach Jack Donohue once told me “you’d claim anyone who flew over as a Canadian.” And wouldn't you if it would help your national team? “Darn right.”

Yet, we won’t go there when it comes to Brendan McKay. Each fall Doug Mathieson (Langley, BC) an Arizona Diamondbacks scout and former Langley Blaze founder, coach, general manager and everything else ... takes a team of players to Arizona to play college and extended pro teams. Much like the Canadian Junior National Team does.

Mathieson takes BC players, Ontario and Quebec players, those he has scouted in Alaska and Washington. Once in a while Diamondbacks scouts will send guys his way. Twice McKay played for the Blaze in Arizona twice and at Perfect Game in Jupiter. 

“He was a great kid, always focused and was a good example to our guys,” said Mathieson recalling McKay striking out nine Chicago Cubs rookie-class teams in four innings. He was a teammate of OF Gareth Morgan (North York, Ont.) in 2014 when scouts watched the top Canuck do damage to cars in the parking lot and the next year as well.

McKay, a two-way man for the Louisville Redbirds and winner of the John Olerud award, he went fourth overall to the Tampa Bay Rays. McKay didn’t look real excited when the Rays they had selected him as a first baseman -- not a pitcher, or not a two-way guy. 

And check out McKay’s Langley ties

 

7:49 PM _ We knew he was real good, but the man with the sweet swing was better than that ...

And while we were on the subject of John Olerud -- perhaps Pat Gillick’s best move next to the Robbie Alomar-Joe Carter trade -- we all know he threatened .400 in 1993, but how many knew he was voted the Pac-12 Player of the Century.

Olerud earned Pac-12 Player of the Year honors re-writing the WSU record books as both a pitcher and first baseman. In 1988, he became the only pitcher in NCAA history to win 15 games, hit 20 home runs going 15-0 (23 that year). He was named College Athlete of the Year by Baseball America. He still holds numerous WSU records, including career batting average at .434 and single season batting average at .464. On the mound, Olerud was 26-4 and posted a 3.17 ERA while throwing 241.1 innings over his three seasons. During his career he set two Pac-10 records and 10 Pac-10 North marks. In 1993, he became the first Jay to win a batting title, hitting .363, and became the ninth player since 1900 to collect 200 hits and walk 100 times. 

7:59 PM _ The original O show ...

Cameras caught former Blue Jays 2B Orlando Hudson at the draft table ... AND HE WAS TALKING!. Shock and horror. Am aghast.

Once or twice in spring training -- when the Jays were making a long trip -- I'd go to the minor league complex and do a story on a prospect. I arrived one day, bumped into Tim Wilken who told me I had 10 minutes inside the clubhouse before pre-game. I asked me to tell me the player in there who was can't miss and I had not heard of ... as yet.

He sent me to see Hudson, a 43rd round draft pick. Wilken predicted him making the majors as a third baseman. Coming outside Wilken asked how I did ... "well I only had 10 minutes, but he speaks so fast, it felt like 20."

Hudson would make an over the shoulder grab in centre, him going out, Vernon Wells coming in and yelling "Web gem! Web gem" the name of ESPN's highlights which concentrated on fielding plays. 

He was demoted for saying that then GM J.P. Ricciardi dressed like a pimp. Roy Halladay, a talented humor, but not real quick with the funny lines came to Hudson's defence saying "He's one of the best teammates I've ever had and remember -- I've been through the system twice."

Halladay was referring to after to making the majors manager Buck Martinez and GM Ash demoted him to Dunedin. 

He bounced back ... all the way to the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame later this month. 

8:23 PM: Don't want to say how good he is ... BUT ....

The Kansas City Royals select  Huntington Beach 1B Nick Pratto and former Colorado Rockies GM has the first "WOW!" moment of the MLB Network show.

"Nick reminds me of Todd Helton," said O'Dowd about his old first baseman. Many Hall of Fame voters can't wait to check the box next to Helton's name when he become eligible. 

8:48 PM _ I'm with him ...

As the camera zoomed in on the Yankees table Nick Swisher and stayed there ... Swisher pointed and mouthed "it's Denis Boucher."

8:50 PM _ White is right ... off the board ...

The Seattle Mariners selected 1B Evan White from the Kentucky Wildcats. Besides being a teammate of RP Zach Pop (Brampton, Ont.), OF Tristan Pompey (Mississauga, Ont.) and Kole Cottam, whose father is from Burlington, White was the one player that the Toronto Blue Jays concentrated on the most -- that we knew of ... of course. They will take down his name off the draft board and move on to the next.

A scout said that White’s power was his worst tool, but admitted “his power plays well enough for the Rogers Centre. He might be a 15 homer guys in a normal park, but he could get to 20 in Toronto.”

White is an excellent runner. On the 20-to-80 scale he’s a 60 as a first baseman and 60 as a base runner. Oddly he is a right-handed hitter and throws left. There are not many of those around -- good ones that is.

White returned from early groin and hamstring issues and terrorized opposing pitchers. He hit a team-high .373, making him the first since Josh Loggins in 1997-98 to lead the Wildcats in hitting in back-to-back seasons. White’s 24 doubles are the second-most in a single-season, while adding a career-high 10 home runs for a .627 slugging percentage.

Rickey Henderson hit right and batted left. Henderson’s base stealing effort began in middle school when a teacher promised 10 cents for each player who stole a base. Henderson was a natural left-handed hitter but when he got to Boise, Id. his rookie manager told him to forget about switch hitting.

There is something to ponder? How good would Henderson have been as a switch hitter or a left-handed hitter? 

9:26 PM _ And Your Toronto Blue Jays ...

The Blue Jays selected SS Logan Warmoth from North Carolina with their 22nd pick as the wise one, John Manuel of Baseball America called it hours ago. The 5-foot-11, 165 lbs. 

Warmoth was ranked 19th by Baseball America, 21st by Perfect Game Scouting Service and 27th by MLB Pipeline. He hit .336  with 19 doubles, five triples and 10 homers in 63 games. He went 18-for-21 stealing bases with a .958 OPS. His freshman year he played third, before moving to short in the spring of 2016.

Jays scout Chris Kline, who also scouted RHP Jeff Hoffman, a first rounder from East Carolina in 2014, spent a lot of time watching Warmoth. High-ranking scout Dana Brown also saw him. The slot bonus is $2,795,200 million. The Jays say Kline did a tremendous job getting to know the player's talent and makeup. Tony LaCava and scouting director Steve Sanders were involved as well as Russ Bove, Dean Decillis and regional scouts Tim Rooney.  

The last North Carolina SS the Jays selected? Russ Adams, chosen by former GM J.P. Ricciardi. Adams played in 286 games finished with a -0.0 WAR, behind 2004 pick LHP David Purcey of the University of Oklahoma, who was 0.1 among first rounders and ahead of 1993 pick LHP Mark Lukasiewicz, at -0.1.     

One scouting director liked Warmoth better than Adams, but "as a second baseman."  

Twice before have the Jays selected 22nd over-all and both times both times it worked out well.

In 1990 Bob Engle signed RHP Steve Karsay. The Jays dealt Karsay to the Oakland Athletics for Rickey Henderson in 1993 which helped them win a World Series over the Philadelphia Phillies and he pitched 11 years in the majors.

And in 2012, the Jays selected RHP Marcus Stroman from Duke.

Baseball America Scouting report on Pearson:

Ranked 81st: Pearson is the top prep position player out of Louisiana thanks to an above-average feel for hitting with improved power during his senior season with West Monroe (La.) High. There are questions about whether Pearson will be able to stick in center field due to concerns about his quickness and body type as a short outfielder who's added weight, but he's been compared to Mississippi State's Jake Mangum, with more power and worse speed and arm grades. Pearson has lengthened the finish of his swing this season after realizing he was bailing out to try and improve home-to-first times, and with that has come improved elevation and distance on the ball, helping him hit more home runs as a senior than his previous three seasons combined. Pearson is old for the class--he turns 19 on June 1--but he's got good makeup and his ability to hit and hit for in-game power could overwhelm concerns that his 55-grade run times will decline moving forward. What a team thinks about his future defensively will determine exactly where he goes, but Pearson is one of the better offensive prep outfielders in this class.

9:58 PM _ And dipping into the JUCO ranks ...

The Jays chose RHP Nate Pearson from the College of Central Florida Patrios with their second pick, 28th overall as compensation for Edwin Encarnacion leaving as a free agent.
        
The 6-foot-6, 240 pounder from Tampa was 5-2 in 13 starts walking 23 and striking out 118 in 81 innings. He was clocked at 100 MPH in his bullpen sessions. Pearson did have a screw inserted in his elbow in high school. 

The last JUCO player that the Blue Jays selected in the first round was Eastern Florida State College LHP Mark Lukasiewicz in 1993, who went 41st overall. His slot is $2,302,900 million.

Baseball America had him ranked 13th, Perfect Game had him 24th and MLB Pipeline ranked him 35th. Jays scout Matt Bishoff was credited by the Jays with getting to know the player's talent and makeup.  Sanders, LaCava all saw Pearson along with Russ Bove, Dean Decillis and regional scouts Paul Tinnell

Three times before the Jays had the 28th pick choosing 1B Tim Thompson a Winter Park, Fla. high schooler in 1978, who reached triple-A Syracuse, 1B Ken Kennard in 1980, a high schooler from Claremore Oak. who reached double-A Knoxville and SS Kevin Witt, a high schooler from Jacksonville who played 146 games in the majors, including 20 with the Jays.

Baseball America Scouting report on Pearson:

Ranked 81st: Pearson is the top prep position player out of Louisiana thanks to an above-average feel for hitting with improved power during his senior season with West Monroe (La.) High. There are questions about whether Pearson will be able to stick in center field due to concerns about his quickness and body type as a short outfielder who's added weight, but he's been compared to Mississippi State's Jake Mangum, with more power and worse speed and arm grades. Pearson has lengthened the finish of his swing this season after realizing he was bailing out to try and improve home-to-first times, and with that has come improved elevation and distance on the ball, helping him hit more home runs as a senior than his previous three seasons combined. Pearson is old for the class--he turns 19 on June 1--but he's got good makeup and his ability to hit and hit for in-game power could overwhelm concerns that his 55-grade run times will decline moving forward. What a team thinks about his future defensively will determine exactly where he goes, but Pearson is one of the better offensive prep outfielders in this class.

10:20 PM _ Top Canuck goes as forecasted ...

As the proceedings switch from the MLB Network to the MLB.com web site ... we heard former Minnesota Twins veteran Michael Cuddyer saying the word “Pickering.”

Humm baby. The Minnesota Twins and veteran scout Walt Burrows (Brentwood Bay, BC) grabbed the top Canadian RHP Landon Leach with the first round of the second pick, 37th over-all. The slot for Leach is $$1,846,100. Leach signed Friday, June 24 in Minneapolis after undergoing his physical for $1.4 million. It is the 13th lagrest bonus ever given a Canadian.

Like Hall, Leach sits on the all-time list between RHP Blake Hawksworth (North Vancouver, BC) of Bellevue Community College who received $1.475 million from the St. Louis Cardinals as a 28th rounder in 2001 and C Andrew Yerzy (Toronto, Ont.) of the Toronto Mets, who went to the Arizona Diamondbacks in the second round last year. 

Leach was listed 86th on Baseball America’s top prospect list, 101st on MLB Pipeline and 129th on Perfect Game’s top 500. Leach was like Lawrie in one aspect in that he had a strong trip to the Dominican Republic. He was the 15th highest Canadian ever drafted.  

There wasn’t any draft party as Leach’s parents wanted a signing party compared to a draft party where they could possibly jinx things. 

More on Landon Leach

10:50 PM _ And the second rated Canuck goes second ...

Adam Hall (London, Ont.) the Bermuda-born SS for the Great Lake Canadians, headed into the drafted ranked 100th by Baseball America, 116th according to MLB Pipeline and 130th by Perfect Game.

Hall was selected 60th overall by the Baltimore Orioles. The infielder also was strong in the Dominican, but the thing about Hall is that scouts had a three-year history on him built up. Hall played for coach Adam Stern with the Great Lake Canadians and the Canadian Junior National Team with Greg Hamilton. 

He was the 25th highest Canuck ever drafted. 

Hall’s signed Wednesday night at Camden Yards in Baltimore. He received a $1.3 Million bonus the 14th largest a Canadian has ever received in the history of the draft, which was above the slot money of $1,068,700. for the spot.

He nestles in on our all-time list between RHP Blake Hawksworth (North Vancouver, BC) of Bellevue Community College who received $1.475 million from the St. Louis Cardinals as a 28th rounder in 2001 and C Andrew Yerzy (Toronto, Ont.) of the Toronto Mets, who went to the Arizona Diamondbacks in the second round last year. 

More on Adam Hall

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11:02 PM _ Squatting for your Jays
And with their second-round pick the Jays selected C Hagen Danner, a high schooler from, Huntington Beach High. The 6-foot-2, 195 pounder has a slot of $1,043,200 attached to the 61st spot.  He signed June 23 for  $1.5 million.

He was voted the Orange County Register's high school athlete of the year. Former Los Angeles Rams quarterbback Vince Ferragamo made the presentation.

Baseball America Scouting Report

Ranked 61st: Danner has been one of the most decorated high school players in recent years. He starred on the 2011 Little League World Series championship team from California, played for one of the nation's top programs at Huntington Beach High and donned the red, white and blue for the 18U National Team for two summers. He's a legitimate two-way prospect, though most scouts prefer him on the mound. Behind the plate, Danner is a capable receiver and has handled top arms well throughout his amateur career. He has a plus arm behind the plate. He shows plus raw power from the right side, though scouts see him as being more of a slugger than a pure hitter; he lacks elite bat speed and shows a pull-heavy approach. On the mound, Danner shows above-average control of his fastball and curveball. He pitches routinely at 90-93 mph and can touch as high as 95. His curveball has plus potential, showing late 12-to-6 break and consistently tight spin. Danner flashes feel for his changeup. Scouts question the deception of his fastball because he lacks explosive arm speed and high school hitters seem to square up his fastball more than scouts would expect. Danner has battled through shoulder soreness and some scouts are fearful of how he'll hold up. Danner is committed to UCLA and could be an immediate impact player for the Bruins if he makes it to campus, though teams will be interested in picking him on the first day of the draft.

Final wrap ....

Canadians selected on Day 1: 2
By Team: Orioles 1, Twins 1.

By Province: Ontario 2.

A year ago:
Canadians selected on Day 1: 2

By Team: Diamondbacks 1, Padres 1.

By Province: Ontario 2.

Who is next?
Well it should be RHP Zach Pop (Brampton, Ont.) of the Kentucky Wildcats or OF Clayton Keyes (Okotoks, Alta.) of the Okotoks Dawgs.