By Bob Elliott
Canadian Baseball Network
Welcome to Day II and round III of the annual draft of high schoolers and collegians ...
1:03 PM A Draft room story to start with ...
Pre-draft organizational meetings can become very heated.
Scouts are always taught to believe in their guy, to fight for their guy.
And after haranguing on oh over 1,000 names on the board things can get a bit testy.
Mike Pesce was in the Blue Jays room fighting for a young outfielder with the UCONN Huskies. He pushed and pushed for his guy, a presented him to the group as a five-tool player leading into the 2008 draft.
Someone in the room shot back “ah, he’s like a lot of players from the Northeast. Wait until he gets up against the real talent from California, Texas and Florida ... he’ll melt like a snow flake.”
Well, the Jays did not select the UCONN player, the scout was replaced and that five-tool guy?
He wound up OK thanks.
Drafted 11th over all, he played all 162 games with the Houston Astros last year hitting 29 homers with 82 RBIs and an .815 OPS.
This season he’s hitting .274 with 17 homers, 40 RBIs and an .872 OPS.
His name is George Springer.
And Pesce, the man who wanted him to be a Jay, scouts for the Pittsburgh Pirates now.
1:18 PM _ Up to three and counting ...
We asked a few scouts if the Jays first-round pick Logan Warmoth is better than Russ Adams, their last first round pick from University of North Carolina.
The first three to respond have all answered yes, including one "YESSSSSSS!"
1:28 PM ... We get letters ...
Just had an email asking a few draft questions.
Probably easier to just search the Canadian Baseball Network site for our FAQ page.
1:29 PM _ The Master gets his man ...
Each year at the end of the draft, oh since for about 15 years I’d call Walt Burrows (Brentwood Bay, Ont.) former Canadian boss of the Major League Scouting Bureau. “How many?” In the early years -- heck even last year we found two Canadians after the draft ended -- so I’d always want to make sure my total was accurate.
Some years he would be missing one, other years it would be me.
Last year I called ... to say that 25 Canadians were selected ... and asked “how many you got?”
“Two,” said Burrows, “I got my two.”
Burrows was hired by Minnesota Twins GM Terry Ryan and selected RHP Jordan Balazovic (Mississauga, Ont.) from the Ontario Blue Jays in the fifth round and LHP Matt Jones (Whitby, Ont.) from the Toronto Mets in the 28th round.
And Burrows, who used to serve 30 masters and now only one, was first to pull the pin on Canada’s best RHP Landon Leach (Pickering, Ont.) of the Toronto Mets, coached by Chris Kemlo, the former New York Yankee farmhand.
We had heard that the San Diego Padres, Atlanta Braves and the Toronto Blue Jays had all shown interest and Leach had flown to Houston for a private workout for Astros evaluators, but instead it was the tight-lipped Burrows and Twins who grabbed Leach.
The next Buck Martinez?
The Jays used their third round pick to select C Riley Adams out of the University of San Diego, from Encinitas, Calif. 99th overall. He was signed June 19 by scout Jim Lentine for the set slot value of $542,400.
The 6-foot-4, 225 pounder, Adams was ranked 72nd by Baseball America, 73rd by MLB Pipeline and 74th by Perfect Game.
Baseball America Scouting Report:
72nd: Adams ranked No. 154 on the BA 500 out of high school and was drafted by the Cubs in the 37th round. He instead became a cornerstone player at USD, hitting in the middle of the lineup and starting at catcher since he was a freshman. Adams is a big-league bodied catcher at 6-foot-4, 225 pounds and uses his strength well on both sides of the ball. His raw arm strength grades as plus and earns an occasional 70 on the 20-to-80 scouting scale, while at the plate he possesses big power to all fields and enough feel to hit to get to it. He has had swing-and-miss issues to go along with his power production. Defensively Adams' hands, receiving and blocking are well below-average and need significant work. Some evaluators believe those skills can improve to be adequate in the context of everything else Adams provides, but others think he will eventually have to move positions, either to first base or an outfield corner. Regardless, Adams' size, power and pedigree will make him one of the top catchers off the board.
2:21 PM _ Once a Terp ... now a Blue Jay pick
The Jays went to the University of Maryland to chose SS Kevin Smith of East Greenbush, NY. Terps. Smith was signed June 19 by Jays scout Doug Witt. He signed for the assigned slot value of $405,100.
Smith hit .268 with 10 doubles, three triples, 13 homers and 48 homers in 54 games. He was 4-for-4 stealing bases and had an 885 OPS.
Slot money is $405,100.
Baseball America Scouting Report:
79th Coming out of high school, Smith was small and skinny. Scouts liked his glove actions and arm strength, but he needed to go to college to develop. Smith found instant success at Maryland, earning the starting shortstop job as a freshman and quickly developing a reputation for highlight-reel defensive plays. With the draft nearing, Smith's defense remains his defining characteristic. He has plus hands and body control and flashes plus arm strength, though some evaluators note that his arm has been inconsistent this spring. Offensively, Smith shows above-average bat speed and raw power. He batted .301 as a rising sophomore in the Cape Cod League last summer, giving evaluators hope that his pure batting had improved. Smith struggled early on this spring, casting further doubt on his ability to make contact and dropping him to the lower third of the Terrapins' order. His power remains ahead of his hitting ability. In a college shortstop class devoid of players likely to stick at the position, Smith should still be a high draft pick, in spite of his shaky offensive track record.
2:33 PM -- Missed it by that much.
Doug Mathieson, the Arizona Diamondbacks BC-based coach had hoped to select 3B Jonny Homza, form South Anchorage High going into the draft. Homza had accompanied Mathieson and Jamie Bodolay’s team to Arizona in the spring of 2016. The San Diego Padres scooped Hozma in the fifth round -- two picks ahead of Arizona’s turn.
Besides the trip to Arizona, Homza spent all of last season with the Blaze, including the PBL play joining and joined the team MLK tourney in January, the spring trip to Arizona, the Jupiter trip in Florida the Best of the West in Kamloops.
The Blaze haven’t had a player selected yet, but Brendan McKay, of Louisville, who went fourth over-all, and now Homza, who both wore Blaze uniforms, have been selected.
The Big Prairie Dawg
Chris Reitsma (Calgary, Alta.) is a top-ranked Canadian talent, who gave back to Baseball Canada in particular and coaching in general soon after he retired. He hooked up with the former Boston Red Sox scout Gary Rajsich, who drafted him in the first round in 1996 (34th over-all).
(When the Blue Jays hired all those scouts when Alex Anthopoulos took over whom was the best hire ... Rajsich was the answer.)
Rajsich became scouting director of the Orioles and Reitsma renewed the friendship in work mode, first an area scout and then as an evaluator of pitchers for the Orioles organization. Pitching may be his area of expertise, but like Chris Mears (Victoria, BC) who holds the same title with the Boston Red Sox, have both seen enough hitters to know who can hit and who can't.
Reitsma was the pitching coach for Greg Hamilton’s 2015 Canadian Junior National Team which travelled to Australia and then the Worlds 18U in Japan. He knew what he saw in Hall.
My favorite Hall story was from a showcase last year at Dorchester when he walked the first time up and walked next time, asked to stay in the box. He homered on next pitch. Once ran a 6.53 60, complained he had a bad start, went again and had a 6.5.
Reitsma and national cross-checkers Danny Haas and Matt Haas get credit for drafting Hall, 60th overall.
After working with RHP Mike Soroka (Calgary, Alta.) and seeing him go 28th over-all to the Atlanta Braves this is a better end to a scouting story for Reitsma.
3:02 He’s not really that big ...
The Jays took 2B Cullen Large from William & Mary. The six-foot, 175-pounder from Chesterfield, Va., Large was ranked 285th by Baseball America. He signed for the assigned slot value of $302,100
William & Mary is where Curtis Pride attended.
Of course we would be remiss no to go back to the 1960s when the football coach said after blowing a large half-time lead: “We played the first half like William and the second half like Mary.”
Baseball America Scouting report
285th A switch-hitting college middle infielder with a track record of success, Large lived up to expectations this season, helping the Tribe to a solid 31-win regular season. Listed at 6-foot, 175-pounds, he is a solid athlete whose calling card is his bat. Some scouts give him above-average raw power, and he has a chance to get to it because of his feel for hitting. He’s comfortable working deep counts, isn’t afraid to draw a walk and can drive balls to both gaps. He’s an above-average runner in workouts, and while it doesn’t always play on the bases, it could allow him to play the outfield and become a utility option. He’s a switch-hitter with sneaky pop from the left side. Large’s range and hands are fringy and he should become an an average defender at second.
In the sixth round, the Jays selected OF Brock Lundquist of Fountain Valley, Calif. from Long Beach State University Dirt Bags. Lundquist was signed by scout Joey Aversa on June 19.
Lundquist hit .277 with 13 doubles, five triples, four homers and 26 RBIs in 63 games.
The slot for 189th pick is $233,900 for the 6-foot, 210 pounder, yet the Jays only had to spend $175,000 to sign him.
Baseball America scouting report:
Ranked 391st: The Athletics drafted Lundquist in the 36th round out of high school, but he instead went to Long Beach State and became a three-year starter for the Dirtbags. Lundquist is physically well-put together and has raw power in his 6-foot, 210-pound frame, but has struggled to get to it consistently in games. He served as Beach's leadoff hitter rather than hitting in the middle of the order for much of the season, highlighting that inability. Lundquist has a good bat path and good bat speed, but his pitch recognition is below-average and he can get out on his front side. He is an average runner with an average arm and projects as a fringe-average to average defender in left field, with just enough arm to handle right.
The Blue Jays chose RHP Colton Laws, the ace of the University of North Carolina Charlotte 49ers in the seventh round. Laws was signed June 19 by scout Chhris Kline. He inked his contract for the assigned slot value of $183,300.
The Faith, NC native, went with a 1.82 ERA in 15 starts. Laws walked 13 and struck out 94 in 96 1/3 innings.
Baseball America Scouting Report
Laws was closing the season with a flourish, with 14 strikeouts in his final start in the Conference USA tournament. He's a redshirt sophomore who attended East Carolina in fall 2014 but transferred after a coaching change. He's athletic enough to have been a star basketball player in high school, scoring more than 1,200 points. Statistically, he dominated in 2017, ranking 16th nationally in ERA (1.87) and in the top 25 with 1.21 walks per nine innings. He's similar to Mariners farmhand Max Povse as a rangy 6-foot-8 starter who pounds the strike zone, getting ground balls and swings and misses with an 88-92 mph fastball that can touch higher. His slider and changeup have made progress in 2017, and while neither grades as above-average presently, he keeps both pitches down.
There is good timing and bad timing. It's not hard to tell which one RP Zach Pop (Brampton, Ont.) had. Pop was like a football quarterback driving to the end zone on the 10 yard-line maybe and the wind at his back when after2 2/3 innings against South Carolina he walked off the mound on April 29.
He had suffered a mild flexor sprain and did not return until the second game of Super Regional against Louisville, allowing a run-scoring triple, a four-pitch walk and hit a batter.
Heading into the draft he was ranked 95th by MLB Pipeline, 132nd by Perfect Game and 179th by Baseball America. He summered well on Cape Cod with the Wareham Gatemen prompting coach Jerry Weinstein of the Colorado Rockies to compare him to Justin Masterson.
Slot money is $182,200.
Houston native Kacy Clemens was chosen in the eighth round from the Texas Longhorns. Brian Johnston signed Clemens June 19. Clemens signed for $50,000, less than the $152,100 slot.
Clemens earned MVP offensive honours, leading the team in most every category. He led the Longhorns in batting average (.305), on-base percentage (.414), slugging percentage (.532), home runs (12), RBI (49), runs scored (48) walks (40), and hits (67). Starting all but one game for the Longhorns, the first baseman also stole 10 bases for Texas. With the bases loaded, he went 5-for-9 (.556) with two grand slams. He also added 20 game-tying or go-ahead RBI to go along with 20 two-out RBI on the year.
LHP Zach Logue of Cincinnati was selected in the ninth round from Kentucky, Pop’s teammate. He was signed on June 19 by Jays scout Nate Murrie. He signed for $125,000, less than the slot value of $139,000.
The six-foot, 165-pounder proves the old adage -- size doesn’t matter when you throw left-handed -- he went 7-5 with a 4.97 ERA in 18 games, including 15 starts.
He walked 25 and struck out 88 in 87 innings. Opposing hitters batted .266 against him.
Baseball America Scouting report
258th After an apprenticeship in Kentucky's bullpen, Logue became a reliable starter as a junior, posting a 7-5, 4.84 year, showing the ability to generate strikeouts with his slider, but also showing a propensity to give up hard contact when he caught too much of the plate. Scouts see him moving back to the bullpen as a pro, a role they saw him excel in last summer in the Cape Cod League. Logue's 87-90 mph fastball and fringe-average slider both might play up more in short stints as a matchup lefty.
A former centre fielder Daniel Procopio went in the 10th round to the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. He is not a large one, standing 5-foot-11 and a 185 pounder, yet as Felipe Alou always used to say “it’s not the size of the man, it’s the size of the heart within the man” which tells you how good a player will be.
Mostly Procopio played for coach Marc Picard, first on two Ontario Cup teams and then with the Windsor Selects. He was with Picard at the 2012 Canada Cup as Ontario won gold over Tyler O’Neill’s BC team, along with his teammates Daniel Bignall, Christian Botter, Brent Cleland, Matthew Glasmann, Adam Jafine, Zachary Lampreia, Jake Lumley, Adam Anderson and J. D. Osborne, who all went on to play college, plus future pros Malik Collymore and Sean Ratcliffe,
And in 2011, Cal Quantrill beat Saskatchewan in relief in the gold medal game in Moncton 3-2. Also on that team was Zach Pop. Future college players included Toby Handley, Jake Lumley, Alexandre Gagne, Johnny Caputo, Jake Marks, Zach Sardellitti, Michael Cloutier and Blake Weston, as well as future pros Drayton Dawe, Bruce Yari, Jacob Robson, Travis Seabrooke, Nathan DeSouza and Brett Siddall.
He started a Seminole State and then transferred to Niagara. He signed a contract accepting a $10,000 signing bonus, much less than the pick value of $134,900.
And in the 10th round the Jays chose RHP Justin Dillon, of Placerville, Calif. and the Cal State Sacramento Hornets. Dillon is 6-foot-3 and a 220-pounder is a senior selection. Dillon was signed JUne 19 by scout Darold Brown. . The Jaygave him a $5,000 bonus when the pick value was $131,800.
He was the Hornets’ workhorse going 5-8 with a 3.36 ERA in 19 games, making 17 starts. He walked 26 and averaged 8.65 strikeouts per nine innings with 108 in 112 1/3 innings. His slot bonus is $131,800.
What did all the Canucks go?
There were only four Canadians selected in the first 10 rounds and two days of the three-day draft. A year ago nine were selected. It is the least amount selected since way back in 2015 ... when three were chosen.
So why so few?
“Easy,” answered a scout, “they might have asked for tad too much, we didn't offer what they wanted or maybe they wanted to go to school ... nothing wrong with that. We'll see them in three years.
"I'm still with my original projection: 22."
Yet, this is not the end of anyone’s career. Highly-ranked players heading into the draft are headed to excellent schools with fine programs if they are not drafted the final day, which kicks off Wednesday at noon.
INF Jason Willow (Victoria, BC) of the Victoria Mariners has a scholarship to UC Santa Barbara, OF Cooper Davis (Mississauga, Ont.) of the Ontario Blue Jays has a spot at Vanderbilt, INF Dondrae Bremner (Toronto, Ont.) is committed to Cincinnati, INF Edouard Julien (Quebec City, Que.) of the Academy Baseball Canada has signed to go to Auburn University, RHP Cade Smith (Abbotsford, BC) of the Chilliwack Cougars is off to Hawaii, LHP Wesley Moore (Surrey, BC) of Vauxhall Academy has committed to Cal-State Northridge and LHP Jack DeCooman (North Vancouver, BC) of the North Shore Twins has Washington.
OF Clayton Keyes (Calgary, Alta.) of the Okotoks Dawgs can head to Central Arizona, RHP William Sierra (Montreal, Que.) is bound for the JUCO World Series champ Chipola Indians, RHP Michael Stovman (Maple Ridge, BC) of the Langley Blaze is off to Indian River State.
Canadians selected on Day 1: 2.
Canadians selected on Day 2: 2
By Team: Angels, Dodgers 1, Orioles 1, Twins 1.
By Province: Ontario 4.
A year ago:
Canadians selected on Day 1: 2
Canadians selected on Day 2: 7
By Team: Diamondbacks 2, Tigers 2, Astros Padres 1, Rangers 1, Reds 1, Twins 1.
By Province: Ontario 5, BC 2, Quebec 2.
Who is next?
Whomever wants to sign ... it’s like Justin Morneau (New Westminster, BC) always said “you don’t make your money on draft day, you make it in the big leagues, kids should get out and get into the system.”
Morneau received a $300,000 signing bonus ... but we think there is not a wrong decision if a player has an option between turning pro and go to school.
You can only play for a short time, you are going to need your education for a long, long time.