TORONTO – Tournament 12 crowned its fourth different champion in four years of the Toronto Blue Jays-hosted event on Monday night, and with Ontario Black’s 6-3 win over BC Orange, 17 Canadian Premier Baseball League players and two CPBL coaches were named winners at the tail end of the five-day event.
The Black squad didn’t allow an earned run in its final game, showing some depth from the pitching staff. Ontario had contributions up and down the lineup during the entire event, with Toronto Mets infielder Leo Markotic and fellow Met Adam Plouffe each notching two RBI in the championship and Tournament 12 MVP Adam Hall, a shortstop with the Great Lake Canadians, driving in one.
“It was fantastic,” said Pete Orr, former big leaguer and coach with Ontario Black. “It’s a great opportunity for all these young men to be seen, and on top of that it’s a good opportunity to play at Rogers Centre. I remember getting the opportunity to do it when I was 17 years old and it was one of the greatest things I did, being out here and being a Blue Jays fan, it’s great.”
Orr, a part of a coaching staff that included Chris Begg, Tanner Watson, and former major leaguers and GLC coaches Adam Stern and Chris Robinson, was incredibly proud of the way his players performed throughout the five days and their six games of the event.
“They all played great, they really did,” Orr said. “They really took advantage of an opportunity to get seen by some important people. There were some really important people here this week, and people who are going to be evaluating them, and for the most part they really took advantage of it.”
Hosted by the Blue Jays Baseball Academy and named for tournament commissioner Roberto Alomar – who presented each player with an autographed Alomar bat during a tour of the Blue Jays clubhouse when their run at the event came to an end – the fourth-annual showcase was an even bigger success than in previous years.
“It was great,” Tournament Operations Manager TJ Burton said. “The competition was better than ever. All the teams competed. I don’t think there was one team that was far and away better than everybody else. The Ontario team and the BC team were the two best teams, and they faced in the finals so it was a great tournament all around and the kids did a great job.”
Black middle infielder Hall – also Canada’s top high school prospect heading into next year’s draft – was named the MVP of the event after impressing in all of his six games. The Bermuda-born native of London, Ont., went 8-for-18 with a triple, three walks, eight stolen bases, seven runs scored and six driven in.
“Obviously that’s pretty special,” Hall said. “I’m going to have to give [last year’s winner and Hall’s former Team Canada teammate Carson] Perkins a tease, saying that I’m following in the footsteps of a great pitcher. But it’s pretty special to be able to do that in your last year, as well as to win the tournament.”
Though he didn’t display every tool he was hoping to showcase, Hall was happy with the way his four-year run at Tournament 12 ended, with his best experiences at the event bookending his four chances to perform on the big-league stage at Rogers Centre.
“I would have liked to show a little more power,” Team Canada’s shortstop said. “I thought I was going to have a little more difficulty hitting, just because when people start to get to know who you are and your name is out there, it’s the same as in MLB. You’re going to face tougher pitching, and they’re going to pitch you harder, especially with the 1-1 count…But it went how I would have liked it to go.
“It’s a nice finish to T12 for me. It’s definitely nice to make it to the finals for once, and then to get the championship. I would say my first year went really well, the second and third years were kind of not bad, and coming this year it was similar to the first one. So it’s nice to start it off and finish it well.”
Great Lake right-hander Griffin Hassall got the start for Ontario in the final and the 16-year-old hurler allowed just one hit and struck out three in his two innings of work. Southpaw Adam Tulloch, also 16, followed out of the bullpen and gave up three unearned runs on one hit with two walks, fanning one Orange batter.
A third 2018 draft prospect, 6-foot-7, 215-pound Ben Abram was most impressive in his outing on the Black side. The right-handed Canadian Junior National Team hurler allowed one hit and struck out five over three innings, using just 17 pitches to do so and throwing only strikes, also notching the championship win.
“Ben Abram really impressed me with his pitching in the last game,” Hall said. “I thought that was really impressive. He pitched really well and that’s nice to see for the junior team as well. I was very impressed with that. He was locating everything, that was good. I’m glad I didn’t have to face him.”
Abram shared a similar sentiment to that of his Team Canada teammate.
“No matter what team I’m on, anytime Adam Hall is on my team he impresses me,” the tall righty said. “I have seen him at his best and at his worst, but I have seen some amazing plays. He’s made some amazing plays for me. He always seems to find a way on base. I love having him on my team.”
In his first chance to check out what the tournament had to offer, after playing professionally for his last 16 seasons, Orr was excited at what the future holds for Canadian baseball, noting a few major standouts from his team throughout the event.
“[Ontario Blue Jays catcher and Canada’s top 2018 prospect Noah] Naylor behind the plate was real impressive, he really was,” Orr said. “And of course Adam Hall, but there were other guys too. I thought some guys had great at bats, Leo in the last game had some great at-bats, and [Ontario Blue Jays outfielder Rashad] Collymore had some great at-bats in the last couple of games.
“[GLC outfielder] Lucas Parente had a great tournament. Anytime you hit with a 1-1 count, it’s hard to think you’re doing well. But for me watching someone and trying to evaluate him, all his swings were great and he played amazing defence in centre field, so Parente stuck out for me as well.”
The country’s top prospects drew an even bigger crowd of professional scouts and college recruiters than ever before, with the tournament consistently growing in that department each year.
“It was huge this year,” Burton said of the evaluating turnout. “We doubled in schools for sure, and there were a lot of pro scouts given that we had guys like Adam Hall and Noah Naylor playing here, but that’s what builds the tournament. That’s what makes the tournament and that’s why we do the tournament, is so the kids can have an opportunity to be seen. So the more schools and scouts we can get here the better.”
The championship victory was just the icing on the cake at the end of a successful tournament for all of the players invited to attend.
“You have to understand what the big picture is,” Orr said of balancing the showcase with the competition. “When you’re an athlete, as these kids will learn, that’s what you always try to understand every time you step out on the field – the big picture. And the big picture of this is for them to be seen. Of course it’s great to win, but this is a showcase. It’s more about them having an opportunity to be seen, but at the same time it’s fun to win, and winning is something you can learn from.”