Tag: Dondrae Bremner

Noah Naylor selected in the first round of the 2018 draft

Major League Baseball’s first-year player draft began on Monday night and with the 29th pick of the first round, the Cleveland Indians made Ontario Blue Jays catcher and infielder Noah Naylor the highest Canadian Premier Baseball League player taken in the selection process in its three-year history. 

Ranking among the best high school players eligible for the draft throughout the months leading up to the event – also committed to the Texas A & M Aggies – 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.” 

Naylor’s first-round selection follows the 2015 draft, when the Miami Marlins took his older brother Josh – also a graduate of the Ontario Blue Jays and Canadian Junior National Team programs – in the first round with the 12th pick. 

“I have been gifted with some amazing coaches and amazing players as teammates to play with, so I’m definitely going to miss that, whichever way I go,” the younger Naylor said during the off-season. “I’m going to take the time I have with them and make the most of it and play every day like it’s my last with these guys.”


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. 

Dondrae Bremner soaks in final junior trip before Cincinnati

Down to his last day with the Canadian Junior National Team, Dondrae Bremner is hoping to move onto his next step and head to the University of Cincinnati with a bronze medal in his back pocket.

Before joining the Bearcats, the 18-year-old infielder and the rest of his Team Canada teammates will take on Japan at the World Baseball Softball Confederation’s U18 World Cup, Bremner’s final matchup with the group. The bittersweet moment will signify the end of an era in which he’s made the most of every moment, and is extremely grateful for.

“It’s been a really good time,” the 31st-round draft pick of the Cincinnati Reds said. “I love all the guys. I’m really going to miss it, especially playing for my country. I feel like this opportunity has prepared me for both university, and if I do get drafted in my junior or senior year. I feel like it’s done a really good job of that…

“It’s weird thinking that I’m pretty much not going to play with any of these guys ever again. It’s been a blast. I’ve loved it. But it’s been a little sad these last couple of days, realizing that it’s almost over and I might not see them.”

Bremner’s final trip began with two immediate World Cup losses to Chinese Taipei and Korea at Port Arthur Stadium in Thunder Bay, leaving Team Canada in a hole it had to win its way out of. An epic ninth-inning comeback against Italy got the team started, and after rolling through Australia and Nicaragua, it was onto the super round, where it beat Japan and Cuba to secure a rematch against the Japanese squad for bronze on Sunday.

“We had a really good start, but we just couldn’t pull out the wins,” Bremner said. “But the intensity has gotten way better, and as a team we’re getting the job done. These last games have been really exciting…International baseball is exactly what Greg [Hamilton, Baseball Canada’s director of national teams] said it was going to be – high intensity, and we’ve pretty much got to be all in if we’re going to win.”

Hoping the crowd is on his team’s side on Sunday, the Toronto native believes the fans in Thunder Bay played a prominent role for the host nation early in the tournament, and in its most intense matchup, and will take all the help it can get as it fights for a medal.

“The crowd is amazing and that’s helped us,” Bremner said. “Some games, they haven’t been as intense as they were in the Italy game, but the crowd really helped us out in that game because they got us going…

“Against Italy, we played a good game. I felt like at the beginning we were putting too much pressure on ourselves and we weren’t doing what we needed to do. But towards the end, it got really intense, because we started playing the way we usually do, and we came back and pulled out a big win. This whole tournament has been a blast. I love it, especially playing for your country in front of your fans.”

Helping prepare Bremner for both his adventures with the Junior National Team as well as moving onto the American Athletic Conference has been the Toronto Mets program, where he has impressed with his development both on and off the field.

“Playing for the Mets really developed me, especially playing in the [Canadian Premier Baseball League],” the shortstop said. “We don’t usually see any arms that aren’t good; there are good arms coming at us every single game.

“Pretty much the talent here with the junior team, and in our league with the Mets, has been really good, and the coaches in the league have done a really good job of prepping me for what’s next.”

One of Bremner’s coaches over the years has been Chris Kemlo, who has seen firsthand the amount of progress the young player has made, and is excited for his next step, knowing that his ceiling is yet to be determined.

“At Cincinnati, he’s going to be someone who comes right in as a very athletic player with a lot of tools,” Kemlo said. “He’s nowhere near where he’s going to be when he leaves Cincinnati. There’s a lot of upside, and the biggest thing is the athleticism he brings. He’s got all the tools, but he has yet to reach his potential. There’s a lot more there.

“He’s come from being a skinny kid with little strength and lacking confidence…to somebody who wants the moment. He wants that at-bat with the game on the line, wants that ground ball with the game on the line, wants to be the guy. That’s the biggest thing. Obviously his body’s changed but his baseball IQ – forget all the tools – the way he approaches the game and the kind of person he is, those are the biggest changes.”

Beyond looking to get into game action with the bronze medal on the line on Sunday, Bremner is also excited to get the next step going once the World Cup comes to an end.

“I’m excited to go to school and get ready for the college life,” Bremner said. “Especially being down here, we go on two-week trips or three-week trips, it really preps you for being on your own and not with your parents. I feel like it’s done a really good job of that, so I won’t be scared or anything of university. I’m pretty much used to not being with my parents.”

Bremner is one of eight current or former Canadian Premier Baseball League players at the World Cup in Thunder Bay. He is joined by Mets teammates Landon Leach and Denzel Clarke, Ontario Blue Jays Noah Naylor and Harley Gollert, and Great Lake Canadians Eric Cerantola, Lucas Parente and Griffin Hassall.

Photo credit: WBSC/Christian Stewart

Four CPBL players selected in MLB’s first-year player draft

In the midst of the second Canadian Premier Baseball League season, the circuit found success on Major League Baseball’s first-year player draft board in yet another year.

In total, 20 players were chosen in the 2017 selection process from north of the border, including nine out of Canadian high schools, with four hailing from Ontario and every one of them representing a CPBL program.

Toronto Mets right-hander and native of Pickering, Landon Leach was the first Canuck off the board this year, the Texas commit selected with the first pick of the second round by the Minnesota Twins, 37th overall.

“The draft is exciting, but all spring I’ve been doing my best to go one trip at a time, not really thinking too much about the future,” Leach said. “I just wanted to do my best in every game that I pitched, and it’s definitely exciting.

“My whole family is excited about the future. It’s not a big family, but they’re all happy for me and they’re going to support me through anything…They’re happy for me and everything I’ve done already.”

Great Lake Canadians shortstop Adam Hall quickly followed Leach in the draft, when the Baltimore Orioles chose the Bermuda-born Londoner and Texas A&M commit with the 60th overall pick, also in the second round.

“I can bring a little bit of everything, whether that’s speed, defence, my arm, batting, power,” Hall said. “When I bring all of that to a game, that’s what impresses people. It’s not just one thing in particular that I’m going to impress someone with.”

Ontario Blue Jays outfielder and Mississauga’s own Cooper Davis was chosen by his hometown Toronto Blue Jays in the 25th round of this year’s draft. The 15th Canuck chosen during the selection process, taken 759th overall, Davis is committed to Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee. Dondrae Bremner, a Cincinnati commit from Toronto and shortstop in the Mets program, was selected by the Reds in the 31st round of the draft, 917th overall, as the 17th player from north of the border whose name was called.


The four CPBL players selected this year follows the inaugural season of the league, in which 12 Canadian high schoolers were chosen in the draft, with 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 before heading off to spend his season between the Arizona League and the Pioneer League.

“I’ve talked a lot with Andrew Yerzy, he’s one of my good buddies,” Leach said. “I worked out with him in the off-season as well, and I talked to him about how pro ball is and what it’s been like for him. He told me everything about it and what he liked about it. He said it’s obviously a grind, but he’s enjoying it at the same time, because he loves to play…

“He said it’s a big transition obviously because our trips are [to play pros] for two weeks, and you’re over there for eight months, so it’s definitely a big change in time, but honestly I feel like I’m ready. I know I’m ready for that.”

Ontario Blue Jays righty Jordan Balazovic was taken in the fifth round last year, 153rd overall, by Minnesota, eventually signing for $515,000 and spending his first professional season with the Gulf Coast League Twins, posting a 1.97 ERA over eight games and 32 innings before turning 18 years old.

OBJ catcher Luke Van Rycheghem was chosen by Arizona in the 23rd round and spent his first pro season in the AZL after signing for $100,000. Mets southpaw Matt Jones was taken by the Twins, and the 28th-round selection shared his rookie season with Balazovic in the GCL after he signed for $70,000.

Great Lake right-hander Austin Shields was selected by the Pirates organization in the 33rd round and got in just over six innings of work in the GCL after signing 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.


Several graduates of current CPBL programs were also taken in the 40 rounds of the draft from Monday to Wednesday. Former Ontario Blue Jays right-hander Zach Pop was selected in the seventh round by the Los Angeles Dodgers. The University of Kentucky flamethrower and native of Brampton was the third Canadian chosen, 220th overall.

Pop was followed by Daniel Procopio of Niagara University on the second day of the draft, taken in the 10th round with the 295th pick by the Los Angeles Angels. The Toronto-born right-handed pitcher spent some of his high school playing days with the Toronto Mets program. Fellow Mets grad and Toronto native Eric Senior was chosen in the 13th round – 403rd overall – by the Washington Nationals out of Midland College. J.D. Osborne, another former Mets player and a catcher from Whitby, was chosen out of the University of Tampa in the 22nd round, as the 659th pick in the draft.

Other high school players hailing from the Great White North chosen through the 40 rounds of the draft include Clayton Keyes, an outfielder from Calgary, Alberta, taken by the Diamondbacks in the 15th round; Abbotsford, BC’s Cade Smith, a right-hander chosen by the Twins in the 16th round; Jason Willow, a Victoria, BC native and shortstop, taken in the 24th round by the Orioles; Quebec City second baseman Edouard Julien, taken by the Phillies in the 37th round; and the Tigers 40th-round selection, second baseman Rhys Cratty from Langley, BC. All nine Canuck high schoolers chosen are members of the Canadian Junior National Team.

Canadian college players chosen throughout this year’s process include Jonathan Lacroix, a right fielder from Seminole State and native of Montreal, Quebec, selected by the Astros in the 12th round; Prince George, BC’s Jared Young, a second baseman at Old Dominion taken in the 15th round by the Cubs; left fielder Raphael Gladu of Trois-Rivieres, Quebec and Louisiana Tech, taken by the Mets in the 16th round; Sherwood Park, Alberta’s Tanner Kirwer of Niagara University, the centre fielder taken by the Blue Jays in the 20th round; Louis Boyd from North Vancouver, an Arizona shortstop, selected by the Mariners in the 24th round; Northwestern Ohio righty Kyle Thomas, a Mississauga native, chosen by the Tigers in the 30th round; and Jake Lumley, a product of Canisius College from Windsor, the second baseman taken by the Athletics in the 33rd round.

In addition, two players who were born in Canada but grew up elsewhere were selected in the draft. Right-hander Christian Lindsay-Young from Hamburg, New York was chosen by the Reds in the 21st round out of Niagara County Community College; and righty Jordan Scheftz from Irvine, California was taken in the 23rd round by the Indians out of Central Florida.

Dondrae Bremner represents Canadian community at PBR Super 60

McCOOK, Illinois –  Representing the Toronto Mets, the Canadian Premier Baseball League, the Canadian Junior National Team and Prep Baseball Report Ontario, Dondrae Bremner was the lone participant from north of the border at PBR’s prestigious Super 60 event in the Chicago area last Sunday.

The 17-year-old Mets and Team Canada shortstop stood out among the crowd of talented players hailing from across the 34 states and single province with PBR branches, impressing in front of many new sets of eyes, and some familiar ones.

“He certainly held his own,” said Nathan Rode, PBR’s national supervisor. “We’ve seen Dondrae, whether it was myself or others on our staff, several times, and he’s improved markedly each time out. Coming into an event like the Super 60, where pretty much everybody is a high-level draft prospect or high Division-I prospect, to even blend in is a good indication of the talent level. But he didn’t just blend in, he played well and showed good actions and a good swing, and certainly made a name for himself.”

Following in the footsteps of former Great Lake Canadians catcher Max Wright – currently a freshman at Indiana State – and Ontario Blue Jays backstop Luke Van Rycheghem – now a member of the Arizona Diamondbacks organization – who were both invited to last year’s event, Bremner became the third Canadian participant of the Super 60 showcase.

“I thought it would be a cool event and it looked interesting, and a lot of scouts come out here, so I figured it would be good,” the young infielder said. “This is probably one of the best showcases I’ve been to. They ran through everyone pretty quickly. There were only 60 guys to get through and not that many position players. I like how they went through their three different stations, checking our swing plane and then they had our exit velocities, and then they had live hitting. The whole thing was really well run.”

To warm up before taking batting practice swings, each of the position-playing participants at the event hit off a tee, utilizing Diamond Kinetics technology to take measurements throughout. With a device added to the end of the bat, Bluetooth-connected to a tablet, the players’ bat speed and swing plane were measured, with Bremner posting an 89-mile-an-hour exit velocity.

Impressing during the live-hitting portion of the day, showing quickness to the ball and making consistent, solid contact to all fields with ease, before displaying his agility and defensive prowess with a couple of extremely athletic plays on the infield, and after running a 6.78-second 60-yard dash, Bremner wasn’t completely satisfied with his performance but he was excited at the chance to get his season started in a big way.

“I really like the facility they have here, and they had a good turnout,” he said. “There were a lot of scouts, and all of the players here looked really good. My 60 time wasn’t my greatest, but when I was hitting I felt really good, and then my defensive work wasn’t my best. I haven’t thrown in a while and I haven’t done as much throwing as I should have. I should have prepared better for that.”

Just getting into the second month of his pre-season workouts with the Mets and not taking the field outside until his first trip of the year with the Junior National Team at the end of March, Bremner attempted to prepare for the showcase in Chicago by emphasizing the continued development of his speed, and is looking forward to when he can play in real games once again.

“When you’re at a showcase tournament, as opposed to something like this, you’re trying to show off how good of a teammate you can be, doing your job and getting that job done,” Bremner said. “But here you’re pretty much just showcasing your skills, like how hard the ball can come off your bat and how hard you can throw and how fast you can run…

“For this I tried to focus more on my speed game, because I know that’s a big part of coming to showcases and it’s not as big in games. So I pretty much just tried to focus more on my 60 time here.”

For PBR Ontario scouting director and head coach of the Toronto Mets 18U squad, Chris Kemlo, it has been exciting to watch the young player as Bremner has progressed throughout the years that they’ve known each other, becoming much more well-rounded as time has gone on.

“Bremner has improved in all areas of the game,” Kemlo said. “Offensively, defensively, the mental side, his baseball IQ and also physically, putting the time and effort in the weight room. He takes care of his academics, supports his teammates, and in general is a solid human being. He’s always had a feel for the game defensively, since I first met him.

“He’s had to put a little more focus on the offensive side, honing his swing, and understanding his approach at the plate and what works best for him. The key thing is that he has continued to develop every year, getting stronger and quicker, building his mental side, and understanding that you are going to experience failure…It’s been fun to watch him improve and grow as a player and person, and I’m pretty sure there is a lot more to come.”

Happily representing the Canadian baseball community on his own at the Super 60, Bremner didn’t think much about that fact until afterward, and was proud to be a pleasant surprise to some who are less familiar with the talent that the country north of the border consistently produces.

“I try to block it out, because that just puts more pressure on me,” he said. “But I do like that I was the only one representing Ontario down here, and I feel good about it…Some guys get surprised that I’m from Canada but pretty much everyone here is a good competitor and that’s what we were expecting, so it’s pretty much all the same level of competition here. There are guys who are impressed when they play against a team of Canadian guys and we can compete with them, but it shouldn’t be a surprise because we’re competitors.”

As the young shortstop continues to make a bigger named for himself among his peers, the Super 60 was just the opening of a big season for Bremner, who will begin his tour with Team Canada for spring training in Orlando in March, follow with another Orlando trip in April and then head to the Dominican Republic in May, with Mets games both in and outside of the CPBL in between.

Hopeful for the draft in June, Bremner has committed to the University of Cincinnati and could also be a part of the junior squad that will take on a slate of other nations at the WBSC U18 World Cup in Thunder Bay beyond his high school graduation.

“I’m excited for it,” Bremner said of heading into the final frontier. “I can’t wait. It’s pretty much been my whole desire my entire life is to get to this process, and either going through the draft or going to Cincinnati for school. I’ve been looking forward to this time pretty much my entire life and as long as I’ve been playing baseball.”

Mets make the right move in inaugural CPBL season

Excited at what the Canadian Premier Baseball League offered in its first year, the Toronto Mets are looking ahead to a season filled with even higher expectations, additions, and improvements to the already-successful program.

“It was definitely a great move for us,” Mets vice president of baseball operations Ryan McBride said of the joining the CPBL. “We were really happy with the league and certainly the quality of teams that are in our league. It made a big difference for not only us, but other teams in the league in our US tournaments.

“To be able to play strong competition every weekend made a huge difference for our players. When you make a change like that, parents have to be shown that it’s a good idea, and that was certainly proven as the course of the season went on. It was an excellent move for us.”

To follow up the positive changes the Toronto program saw throughout the inaugural season, the Mets continued to make progressions during the winter months, starting with upgrades and an expansion to Out of the Park Sports, the building they work out of.

“We added another 3,000 square feet to our facility,” McBride said. “That area is being utilized as more batting cages and mounds for our Mets players to give them more of an opportunity to get in, not only on their own but doing supervised stuff as well, just having more opportunity for them to train and get better.

“Because of that, we ended up moving our weight room upstairs, with brand new flooring and new equipment, so that’s made a big difference for us as well…it’s been good for us to expand. With the expansion and the new weight room, we’re up to almost 20,000 square feet in our facility and filling it up to have everything under one roof.”

The Mets continued their off-season program additions beyond the facility by bringing more teams into the fold for the second year of the CPBL.

“We added two new 15U teams this year that will play in the CPBL, so now we’re up to six teams,” Toronto’s VP of baseball operations said. “They’re getting into the full swing of their off-season training now, after the fall season ended around the end of October until the Christmas break. It was primarily strength and conditioning training that they did for those seven weeks, with some one-on-one baseball instruction but nothing too structured.

“Now we’re back up in full swing and position players are getting their work in, and all the pitchers are training under John Mariotti’s program, which we’re excited to see the benefits of. He’s our pitching coordinator, and his off-season program has been going in earnest since mid-November and is in full swing now as well.”

As spring approaches, the Mets have also made an off-the-field change, adding an exciting evening event at the Fontana Primavera Event Centre in Vaughan that will feature some high-profile guests, a five-course dinner, open bar, live entertainment, and silent auction, taking place on February 24.

“It’s our first-ever fundraiser, we’re calling it our MetBall Gala,” McBride said. “Events like this help us to keep our registration costs as low as we can, and it’s going to be an exciting event. [Hall of Fame second baseman Roberto] Alomar is going to be there, it’s going to be hosted by [TSN anchor] Rod Black, and [Baseball Canada’s national teams director] Greg Hamilton is going to be in attendance that night. It’s the first time we’ve ever done it and it’s got a lot of people excited to attend, and it’s something we’ll look to build on each and every year.”

Heading into the second CPBL season, McBride is eager to see what the future holds for the league as it builds on the success of the first year.

“There’s more excitement because there are no questions anymore,” he said. “At this time last year, the CPBL hadn’t played a game yet. Everyone was excited about it and expected good things, but now everything has been proven. Everyone is going into year two knowing exactly what to expect, knowing that each and every weekend you’re going to play against quality opponents, you’re going to see good pitching, you’re going to see good defence, you’re going to see good offence. The excitement will always be there based on the level of competition but this year the expectations are a little less of an unknown than they were this time last year.”

Beyond the upcoming CPBL season, the Mets have a number of players moving forward with college scholarship opportunities. Their accomplishments are something that McBride and his staff take a huge amount of pride in, and they can’t wait to keep following their players as they further their careers in the game.

“That’s the most rewarding thing,” McBride said. “That’s what we’re all here for. The greatest thing is seeing your guys go off and be successful at the next level, and then maybe having a chance to take your team down there and play against them as a part of a fall tour. Those times are great.

“Having them back in the facility over the Christmas break and seeing them work with some of the current players is probably the most rewarding thing in doing something like this. I know all of our coaches share in that and enjoy that. We’ve been fortunate with the Mets to have really quality athletes and people, and they’ve been very successful, finding scholarship opportunities or turning them into pro careers. We certainly expect more of it in the future, and have it continue to grow each and every year.”

Committed to playing post-secondary baseball after the CPBL season comes to an end are nine of the current Mets players. Dondrae Bremner is headed to the University of Cincinnati, Ben Brown to the University of Albany, Landon Leach to the University of Texas, Hayden Malenfant to Southeastern Community College in West Burlington, Iowa, Jonah Offman to Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Mitch Osborne to Polk Community College in Winter Haven, Florida, Kyle Smyth to the University of Charleston in West Virginia, Ben Teplin to the Indiana University of Pennsylvania, and Matt Turino to Jefferson College in Hillsboro, Missouri.

Blue Jays post-season run exciting for CPBL players

With the Blue Jays in the midst of a playoff run, and the Canadian Premier Baseball League programs winding down for the fall and heading into winter workouts, it is fitting that at least some of the attention of the circuit’s players is on Canada’s team and its presence in the postseason.

In Orlando with the Canadian Junior National Team, players from the Great Lake Canadians, Ontario Blue Jays and Toronto Mets programs offered their insights into what makes the Toronto Blue Jays so exciting as they head into the American League Championship Series against the Cleveland Indians, what they need to do to keep going, and who impresses them most.

The biggest impact the only team north of the border has seemed to have on the young players is in the amount of excitement its winning ways over the last two seasons has brought to the entire country, making baseball more popular and hopefully getting even more kids into the game.

“I’ve been a Jays fan my whole life and to finally see them make playoffs is really exciting for me personally,” said Adam Hall, a 17-year-old Great Lake shortstop from London. “It’s also great to see the country come together and the attendance numbers for Jays games skyrocket. I’m sure that their success is inspiring kids around the country to play baseball and become more involved, which is great for Canadian baseball.”

Added Cooper Davis, 17, an outfielder with the Ontario Blue Jays and Mississauga native: “It’s been most exciting to see the fans, the city, and the country getting so crazy for this team and making baseball so popular again.”

Said Landon Leach, a right-handed Toronto Mets hurler from Pickering, also 17: “The most exciting playoff moments from the last two years are the Blue Jays players really coming together to play as a team with good chemistry. It’s really showing with the big-run games and all the perfect-moment home runs they’ve had. Another thing is the passion that the Jays have brought to the city of Toronto, and the amount of people now following the playoffs.”

Of course, the teenaged players haven’t lost sight of the big-game moments, enjoying the excitement when Jose Bautista hit his seventh-inning, bat-flipping, go-ahead home run last year in the American League Division Series against the Texas Rangers, or when Edwin Encarnacion walked off the Baltimore Orioles in this season’s Wild Card game.

“The most exciting moments in the last two years are both the Bautista and [Edwin] Encarnacion home runs,” said Noah Naylor, 16-year-old catcher and infielder with the OBJ program, also from Mississauga. “Both were very exciting moments because they were altogether clutch, and both brought the crowds to their feet.”

Said Dondrae Bremner, a 17-year-old Mets middle infielder and Toronto native: “The most exciting moment to watch the Jays in playoffs over the past two years had to have been when Bautista hit that three-run home run to take the lead in Game 5 of the ALDS. Not only was it one of my favourite playoff moments, it has to be my most exciting MLB memory that I have ever witnessed.”

“The most exciting thing to watch with the Blue Jays is how clutch they are in big moments and how they can really rise up to the occasion,” added Lucas Parente, a GLC outfielder from Burlington, also 17.

While each of the Team Canada players has been impressed by what the Blue Jays have been able to do, they’ve been exceptionally motivated by a few members of the squad in particular, with a slight bias from each youngster according to the position they play.

“This may be obvious, but the player who most impresses me on the Blue Jays would have to be Josh Donaldson,” Bremner said. “Donaldson doesn’t only positively affect the team by bringing his stellar bat and his defence, but he also brings an intensity that most other players can’t. Donaldson has been a big part of the Blue Jays offence during this year, and would cause the Blue Jays to have a big hole in their offence if he wasn’t there.”

“Two players who impress me the most on the Blue Jays are [Russell] Martin and Donaldson,” added Naylor, who committed to the Texas A&M Aggies during his time in Orlando. “They both play with a lot of intensity and heart in each and every game.”

Hall shared a similar sentiment: “Josh Donaldson, because he is always so competitive and intense with what he does, and is always 100 per cent focused on whatever he is doing, no matter the situation. And Marco Estrada, because of how good he is with only two pitches, one of those being an 88 to 90 mile-per-hour fastball. He was never expected to make the big leagues but he kept working on his stuff and is now an all-star calibre player.”

Added Davis: “Kevin Pillar most impresses me because No. 1, he plays centre field like me, and No. 2, he impacts the game defensively and comes up with some huge hits at key times. Ezequiel Carrera too, another fielder who uses his speed to create offence and like Pillar, has impacted the outcome of some critical games.”

“The player who impresses me most is Ezequiel Carrera,” Parente echoed. “Because of how underrated he is, being on team with all these big-name players. He knows his role and does not try to be a superstar on that team.”

Said Leach: “Marcus Stroman, because of his passion for the game as well as his intensity during the game. He’s a very good role model for many kids and adults with his ‘Height Doesn’t Measure Heart’ trademark, that he represents well.”

And with the Championship Series set to begin at Progressive Field on Friday night, the young Canadian players believe they know what the Blue Jays need to do in order to continue their run at winning it all.

Said Bremner: “The Jays have been consistently swinging the bats well, and that’s what they need to do in order to get deeper into the post-season. With their dominant starting pitching so far and keeping their strong offense, they could have a really good chance at making it to the World Series.”

“What the Jays need to do to go further in the playoffs is keep putting up runs early in games,” Leach said. “They also need the bullpen to come in during tough situations and shut the door on the other teams to switch the momentum.”

Davis put it simply: “To make it further, they need a blessing from the baseball gods, and some more consistent offence.”

“The Jays need to hit,” added Hall. “They’re a team built around their offence, and although their starting pitching has been amazing this season, if they want a chance to make it all the way, they’ve got to swing the bats like everybody knows they can.”

Said Parente: “The Blue Jays need to stay simple with their game and not try to hit home runs every at-bat, like they did in the 10-1 win in Game 1 where they only had two home runs and all the other runs were produced by hitting line drives all over the field.”

Naylor added: “What they need to do to success in this post-season is trust in their ability and play with each other together, because the game becomes a lot easier and a lot more fun when a team plays together as a family rather then by themselves.”