Three Canadian Premier Baseball League players were chosen in Major League Baseball’s first-year player draft this year, with Noah Naylor chosen in the first round, Eric Cerantola selected in the 30th round, and Denzel Clarke taken in the 36th round.
Naylor, an Ontario Blue Jays catcher and infielder, was taken by the Cleveland Indians with their first pick in the selection process, 29th overall. The selection made him the highest CPBL player ever chosen in the three-year history of the circuit. Committed to the Texas A & M Aggies, the slot value for the 29th overall pick is $2,332,700.
Ranking among the best high school players eligible for the draft throughout the months leading up to the event, the native of Mississauga and Team Canada mainstay was also the first player from the entire country taken in the 2018 process, and the only Canadian selected on the opening night of the draft.
“He’s really ready,” Baseball Canada’s director of national teams Greg Hamilton said of Naylor. “He plays the game with an ease to it, he doesn’t get too high and he doesn’t get too low…He plays very consistent and very determined and very level. There is a fire in there…
“He’s got everything that you’re looking for – he slows the game down offensively and defensively, he’s a special hitter, he’s a different hitter than his brother, but he’s going to be a really good hitter and a really good player.”
Cerantola, a right-hander in the Great Lake Canadians organization, was the highest-ranked Canadian high school pitching prospect entering the process, and with a strong commitment to Mississippi State University, the Oakville native was chosen with the 900th overall pick by the Tampa Bay Rays.
Clarke, an outfielder from the Toronto Mets organization, was chosen by the New York Mets with the 1,070th overall pick, just the 15th Canadian player selected in a year that would see only 19 players from north of the border chosen. The native of Pickering is committed to Cal State Northridge.
Among those selected, five players chosen are alumni of programs currently playing in the CPBL, though they all graduated from their respective programs before the league began. Toronto Mets grad Tristan Pompey was the second Canadian off the board, taken by the Miami Marlins in the third round out of the University of Kentucky. Ontario Blue Jays alum RJ Freure was taken in the sixth round by the Houston Astros out of the University of Pittsburgh. Great Lake Canadians grad Michael Brettell was chosen by the St. Louis Cardinals in the 15th round out of Central Michigan University.
Nick Trogrlic-Iverson, who was a member of the Fieldhouse Pirates organization before joining the Langley Blaze and then moving on to Central Arizona College, was also taken in the 15th round just two picks after Brettell, chosen by the Milwaukee Brewers. OBJ grad Ryan Rijo was taken in the 37th round by the Philadelphia Phillies out of New Mexico Junior College.
In the second season of the CPBL last year, Toronto Mets right-hander and native of Pickering, Ont., Landon Leach was the first Canuck off the board, selected with the first pick of the second round by the Minnesota Twins, 37th overall. The righty signed for $1,400,000 and is currently at extended spring training in Fort Myers, Florida.
Great Lake Canadians shortstop Adam Hall quickly followed Leach in the draft, when the Baltimore Orioles chose the Bermuda-born Londoner with the 60th overall pick, also in the second round. Hall is also currently at extended spring training, in Sarasota, after signing for $1,300,000.
Ontario Blue Jays outfielder and Mississauga’s own Cooper Davis was chosen by his hometown Toronto Blue Jays in the 25th round and was the 15th Canuck chosen, 759th overall. In the fall, Davis fulfilled his commitment to Vanderbilt University in Nashville and is currently headed to the super regional round of the College World Series with his team.
Dondrae Bremner, a Toronto native and shortstop in the Mets program, was selected by the Cincinnati Reds in the 31st round of the draft, 917th overall, as the 17th player from north of the border whose name was called. Bremner fulfilled his commitment to Cincinnati, where he just finished his freshman season.
The four CPBL players selected last year follows the inaugural season of the league, in which 12 Canadian high schoolers were chosen in the draft, and all six hailing from Ontario coming from the CPBL. Toronto Mets catcher Andrew Yerzy was the first one off the board in 2016, selected by the Diamondbacks in the second round, 52nd overall, and eventually signing for $1,214,100.
Ontario Blue Jays righty Jordan Balazovic was taken in the fifth round two years ago, 153rd overall, by Minnesota, eventually signing for $515,000. OBJ catcher Luke Van Rycheghem was chosen by Arizona in the 23rd round and signed for $100,000. Mets southpaw Matt Jones was taken by the Twins in the 28th round and signed for $70,000.
Great Lake right-hander Austin Shields was selected by the Pirates organization in the 33rd round of the 2016 draft and signed for $205,000 just before the deadline. His Canadians teammate and outfielder Jake Wilson was taken in the 39th round by the Red Sox, and opted to fulfill his commitment to Bowling Green State University, where he has already earned a number of accolades through his freshman and sophomore seasons.