* Top Canuck heading into the June 2015 draft? It’s 1B-OF Josh Naylor (Mississauga, Ont.), left, of the Ontario Blue Jays … or it’s OF Demi Orimiloye (Orleans, Ont.) of the Ottawa-Nepean Canadians. (Photos: Michelle Prata, Larry Shred, Alexis Brudnicki). ….,
2016 Canadian draft list
Letters of Intent
By Bob Elliott
We’ve never had a No. 1 and a No. 1-A when it came to the top Canadian ever heading into the June draft.
We’re 30 weeks away from the June 8-10 draft of high schoolers and collegians yet it’s as close to a dead heat as we can remember.
OF-1B Josh Naylor (Mississauga, Ont.) of the Ontario Blue Jays and Demi Orimiloye (Orleans, Ont.) of the Ottawa-Nepean Canadians are No. 1 and 1A — or 1A and No. 1 — depending upon your viewpoint.
We asked eight scouting directors and four cross checkers to pick the top Canuck after the Perfect Game WWBA World Championship at Jupiter, Fla., the final big showcase of the fall.
And when we were done the verdict was? A tie.
We had to go to another evaluator to break the tie and the leader atop the Canadian Baseball Network draft list is:
Some comments and reviews …
“I”d still go with Demi … middle of field player,” said one experienced cross checker.
“Demi scuffled, but he was the best player on the field in Long Beach,” said an AL scouting director.
“Probably Naylor, but not by a lot,” said an NL scouting director. “Demi looked to be putting pressure on himself. Miles Gordon, the outfielder, is very interesting and gaining momentum.”
Perfect Game’s Todd Gold ranked five prospects at Jupiter and in second spot Brendan Rodgers (2015 SS, Mets Scout Team/Orlando Scorpions) was ..
Demi Orimoloye (2015 OF, Toronto Blue Jays Scout Team): Canada’s top prospect has been on the radar for some time now, though he had a rough landing in his initial foray onto the scene. As a raw underclassman playing up, Orimoloye struggled against the elite prospects of the 2014 draft class, both at the plate and in the outfield. But he learned from those hard lessons, and in the long run has become a better player for it.
The rapid development he has shown over the past year is remarkable. And combined with the impressive raw physical tools that his muscular and coordinated 6-foot-3 body possess makes him and early round draft prospect. He is a plus runner, frequently going home to first in 4.1-4.2 seconds (from the right side), and his routes and reads in the outfield have improved significantly. His swing is still a work in progress, and he has a tendency to sweep the barrel, though the overall swing has become significantly more fluid. In addition to the tools and swing refinement, Orimoloye sees the ball well out of the pitcher’s hand and has developed quality plate discipline. His strength allows him to generate plus bat speed and he is slowly beginning to tap into his plus raw power. While he’s still behind the development curve relative to his competition for the first round of the 2015 draft, his background and recent gains suggest that with time he could close that gap and live up to his immense potential. He has been a fun player to watch develop thus far. “Naylor, few hit the ball as consistently hard as he does,” said one evaluator. “I think that known commodity will win out come next June despite the fact that Orimiloye has the higher ceiling.”
“People feel safer about Naylor’s bat, but less about his athleticsm,” said one of the NL’s best.
Naylor, who plays for coach Dan Bleiwas, hit .181 (2-for-11) with two homers and six RBIs while walking three times and striking out once.
Orimiloye, who plays for coach Tanner Watson, hit .167 (2-for-12) with a double, an RBI, four walks, three strikeouts and three stolen bases.
How popular was Orimiloye after hitting .642 (9-for-14) at Area Codes with a triple, homer, seven RBIs and six stolen bases? After going to Arizona and Florida in the past with the Dbacks Langley Blaze Orimiloye was all set to play for the Dbacks again.
He told it would be best for him to play with the Toronto Blue Jays Scout Team under coach Matt O’Brien … along with RHP Matt Ianni (Ottawa, Ont.) of the Ottawa-Nepean Canadians, RHP Mike Soroka (Calgary, Alta.) of Jim Lawson’s PBF Redbirds and C Andrew Yerzy (Toronto, Ont.) of Ryan McBride’s Toronto Mets.
The Jays Scout Team played five games, the Blaze played nine, seven at the spring home of the St. Louis Cardinals and the Florida Marlins.
“I could go either way right now,” said one scout, when asked either Naylor or Orimiloye. “You know if he has a good spring it’s a three-way conversation … with Soroka in it.”
Soroka registered amongst the best velocities at Perfect Game when his fastball was clocked at 92 MPH, averaging 88 MPH.
And LHP Ryan Kellogg (Whitby, Ont.) from Rob andRich Butler’s Ontario Prospects is draft eligible at Arizona State.
One scout had a word of wisdom after OFGareth Morgan (Toronto, Ont.) received a $2 million US signing bonus from the Seattle Mariners when he went 73rd over-all in June.
“What we now worry about Canadian kids is if they are all going to ask for Morgan money.”
RHP Jameson Taillon (The Woodlands, Tex.) who earned at $6.5 million signijng bonus from the Pittsburgh Pirates and Loewen at $3.2 million have received larger signing bonuses on the all-time Canuck bonus list for Canucks.
Closer pair of Canucks: Now you might think that the twin towers from B.C. LHPAdam Loewen (Surrey, BC) who pitched and hit homers for coaches Dennis Springenatic and Ben Gasiorowski of the Walleye Chiefs went fourth over-all in North America and LHP Jeff Francis (North Delta, BC) of Terry McKaig’s University of British Columbia Thunderbirds was chosen five picks later in 2002.
The honor of the top two Canadians being selected is shared by the top pair from the 2003 and 2005 June drafts.
_ CChris Robinson (Dorchester, Ont.) of Mike Lumley’s London Badgers and the University of Illinois Illini and Nick Weglarz (Stevensville, Ont.) of Team Ontario were separated by four spots in the third round in 2005. Robinson went 90th over-all and Weglarz from Marc Picard’s program, 94th.
_ RHP Brooks McNiven (Vernon, BC) of UBC went 123rd over-all in the fourth round in 2003, to the San Franciso Giants, four spot ahead of 3B Jamie Romak (London, Ont.) London Badgers who went 127th to the Atlanta Braves.
The next closest would be the 1997 draft when SS Kevin Nicholson (Surrey, BC) of Stetson University went 27th over all to the San Diego Padres and OF Ntema Ndungidi (Montreal, Que.) Academie Baseball Canada was selected nine picks later by Wayne Norton of the Orioles.