By Adam Morissette
OTTAWA – It is hard to believe that nearly three years ago, 20 Canadian teenagers went on an unprecedented run at the IBAF 18U World Cup in Seoul, South Korea coming up just short in their quest for a world championship.
Looking back, the silver medal won at the event, after a 6-2 loss to the United States in the gold medal game, will be remembered as one of the finest performances in the history of the Junior National Team program.
Fifteen out of the 20 players on that roster graduated to either professional baseball or started their college careers, while the remaining players continued on with the program. In fact, one player, Josh Naylor, who was 15 back in 2012, will be wrapping up a four-year stint with the Junior National Team program in 2015.
The college season is almost two months old and several members of the 2012 squad are now major contributors to their school programs. For the players that went on to pro ball, they are currently in spring training and will begin their seasons shortly.
A look at some members of the 2012 JNT that are currently playing college ball and next week, weâll provide an update on those in pro ball.
RHP Christian Botnick (Brampton, Ont.) Central Arizona College
After a season at Howard (TX) College, Botnick transferred to Central Arizona College and is thriving in the Vaqueros bullpen. In 11 appearances (16.1 IP), Botnick has not allowed an earned run and has fanned 17 batters giving him an average of 9.37 strikeouts/game.
RHP Brock Dykxhoorn (Goderich, Ont.)
The tall right-hander attended West Virginia University in 2013 but transferred to Central Arizona College after the season. He established himself as a legitimate draft prospect with the Vaqueros going 9-4 with a 2.77 ERA over 14 starts. The Houston Astros took notice and used their sixth round selection in the â14 MLB Draft to nab Dykxhoorn. The 20 year-old signed immediately with the Astros after the draft and got his feet wet in pro ball with Greenville in the Appalachian League.
INF Kyle Hann (Oakville, Ont.) St. Johns River State College
After two seasons with Mississippi State, including a College World Series appearance in 2013, Hann transferred to St. Johns River State (FL) College where he has quickly become a key piece of the #1 ranked Junior College in the nation. The infielder ranks at or near the top of most offensive categories for the Vikings carrying a .350 average six doubles, three home runs and 25 RBI, while adding 16 stolen bases.
LHP Ryan Kellogg (Whitby, Ont.) Arizona State University
The 2011 Junior National Team MVP delivered one of the best performances in Junior National Team history during the 2012 18U World Cup blanking the United States over 8 2/3 innings as Canada stunned their neighbours to the south, 1-0 in a second round game. Kellogg then joined the ASU Sun Devils and quickly became a key piece of their rotation going 11-1 in his freshman season including a no-hitter against Oregon State before following up with an 8-3 record in his sophomore campaign. Now in his junior year, Kellogg looks to be putting the finishing touches on a storybook college career, as he is 5-0 to start the season. He is eligible for the 2015 MLB Draft.
RHP Jake Marks (Brights Grove, Ont) Maine University
Marks graduated from the Junior National Team program in 2012 and left for the University of Maine where he joined the Black Bears rotation going 4-0 in his freshman season. The right-hander and the Black Bears struggled in 2014 and havenât go to off to a good start this season accumulating an 8-14 record. Nonetheless, Marks is a reliable starter for the Black Bears and is one of six Canadians on their roster.
SS Daniel Pinero (Toronto, Ont.) University of Virginia
Pinero began his freshman season with the University of Virginia in 2014 and immediately became the Cavaliers starting shortstop helping the club to a College World Series appearance. This season he has started all 26 games for the #20 ranked Cavaliers and is hitting .304 with four home runs and 11 RBIâs out of the two-hole.
RHP Cal Quantrill (Port Hope, ON) Stanford University
Quantrill returned to the Junior National Team program in 2013 and pitched in the IBAF 18U World Cup in Taiwan before becoming the first Stanford Cardinal freshman since Mike Mussina to earn an opening day start. His first season with the Cardinal was one for the ages as he captured Pac-12 Freshman of the Year and became the ace of the staff. Quantrill won two out of his first three starts to open the 2015 season, but was shutdown after his third start and has since undergone Tommy John surgery that will ultimately force him to miss the remainder of the season.
OF Jacob Robson (Windsor, Ont.) Mississippi State University
Robson and teammate Kyle Hann joined the Bulldogs in 2013 and were with the club for their run to the College World Series later that season. After receiving a medical redshirt following the 2014 season, Robson has established himself as a key piece of the Mississippi State ball club leading the team in hitting (.380), runs (29) and stolen bases (15) through 30 games.
C Chris Shaw (Winnipeg, Man.) University of Oklahoma
After two productive seasons at Midland (TX) College, Shaw transferred to the University of Oklahoma and has started 26 games behind the plate for the Sooners. The âTop Catcherâ at the 2011 Baseball Canada Cup, Shaw is tied for second on the team with three homers and has driven in ten runs.
1B/OF Brett Siddall (Windsor, Ont.) Canisius (NY) College
Siddall has shown steady improvement through his three seasons at Canisius to the point where he is currently a centerpiece of the Golden Griffins offence. His five home runs leads the club and his 18 RBIs are good for third. Siddall is currently hitting .267 and has started all 27 games for the Golden Griffins.
1B/C Owen Spiwak (Mississauga, Ont.) Odessa College
Like Quantrill, Spiwak returned to the Junior National Team program in 2013 and played in his second straight IBAF 18U World Cup that year in Taiwan. He is currently spending the majority of his time at first base in his first season with Odessa (TX) College and is leading his new team in the Triple Crown categories with a .374 batting average, five home runs and 31 RBIs.