Tag: Great Lake

Six CPBL players selected in 2019 MLB draft

Among the 25 Canadian players selected in this year’s draft — including 12 total high schoolers — all six players selected out of Ontario high schools are representatives of the Canadian Premier Baseball League, and were chosen from the Ontario Blue Jays, Great Lake Canadians and Toronto Mets organizations.

Dasan Brown was not only the first CPBL player off the draft board, but the first Canadian of the entire class, when the Toronto Blue Jays selected the speedy Ontario Blue Jays outfielder in the third round, with the 88th overall pick.

Brown is one of the fastest players in the 2019 Draft class — if not the fastest — with 70-grade speed according to MLB Pipeline, and 80-grade speed according to Baseball America, and the athletic outfielder has been consistently ranked as the best Canadian prospect this year. He should be a plus defender, and though there is much room for improvement at the plate, he was heavily scouted facing professional competition with Team Canada, giving an easy glimpse into his future.

“Dasan is a quick-twitch athletic outfielder who has the ability to change a game with the speed he plays at,” said OBJ 18U manager Joe Ellison. “His athleticism has been something we’ve seen since he was 15 years old, but his hard work has paid off in the cages to improve his ability to hit, and hit with power, over the last three years. He’s also the type of player who doesn’t shy away from leading a team both on and off the field.”

The second CPBL player selected in the draft was another Ontario Blue Jays player — also a representative of the Canadian Junior National Team — infielder TJ Schofield-Sam, who was taken by the Oakland Athletics in the 12th round, the 374th overall selection.

“TJ is easily one of the best hitters I’ve ever coached,” Ellison said. “He is a pure hitter, no matter the count, pitcher, field or score. TJ is going to give you a great at-bat, and come through in the most clutch situations. His approach is mature, well beyond his age, and he has incredible plate coverage and discipline.

“He is a quiet leader who takes his leadership onto the field and lets his performance lead the way.”

A third OBJ player came off the board in the 40th round with the 1203rd pick of the draft, when the Washington Nationals selected shortstop Jaden Brown, a Mississauga native who is committed to the University of Kentucky.

“Jaden is an incredible athlete, who is as physical as he is athletic,” Ellison said. “He brings explosive actions to everything that he does, and contributes to every team he’s a part of. He features plus power, plus speed, and plus arm strength from shortstop. He’s a leader both on and off the field, and continues to be one of the hardest-working players in our program.”

Owen Diodati, a 6-foot-3, 210-pound left-handed-hitting backstop from Niagara Falls became the third CPBL player taken off the draft board and the third Canadian selected by the Blue Jays when Toronto called the Great Lake Canadians catcher’s name in the 29th round, with the 867th overall pick.

“He’s been one of our hardest workers,” GLC director of baseball operations Chris Robinson said of Diodati. “He’s just the type of kid you don’t bet against. He’s a really mature kid on and off the field in terms of his approach to the game. Offensively, he’s got that professional approach already.

“I know there were some questions of whether he could catch, and I was impressed with how he went about that. He went and spent his entire off-season with a little bit of a chip on his shoulder to prove that he could catch, and it’s pretty cool today getting drafted as a catcher. That’s a cool thing for Owen because I know that’s something he believes in and he really wants to fulfill.”

Added Diodati: “The Blue Jays were one of the teams that really believed in me as a catcher and thought I could do well back there and stay behind the plate regardless of what the bat is and what usually happens to guys like me in pro baseball.

“That was something I talked to [Robinson] about from the very start – I wanted to catch. For them to believe in me and to draft me as a catcher, it’s definitely special. It speaks to the hard work I put it, but also drives me and fuels me to keep working, because I know it’s possible if I really want to do it.”

Two Toronto Mets players round out the total of CPBL representatives selected in the draft. Ryan Leitch, a 6-foot-2, 205-pound catcher from Whitby with a commitment to Marshall University was taken in the 29th round of the selection process by the Cincinnati Reds.

 

“Just being selected was the most exciting part of the draft, honestly,” the 17-year-old said. “Hearing my name being called was special. I’ve always dreamed about hearing, ‘Ryan Leitch, selected by a team,’ and then to hear it finally happen, it’s just surreal. I was at a loss for words when it happened.”

Leitch was followed by fellow Toronto Mets player Keegan Pulford-Thorpe, a 6-foot-4, 205-pound left-handed pitcher, committed to Central Florida University, who was taken by the San Diego Padres in the 33rd round.

“It was really exciting,” Pulford-Thorpe said. “I was actually just sitting down working on some homework, because I have an assignment due, and I got a call from an unknown number who I didn’t have a contact for. I didn’t really think much of it, so I picked it up and it was [Canadian scout] Murray Zuk from the Padres calling me, telling me I’d been drafted. Then I went on my phone and saw different messages from people, and it was an amazing feeling.”

Fourth CPBL season underway and thriving

The fourth season of the Canadian Premier Baseball League got off to another rain-hindered start, with postponements, rain delays, field issues, and the like, but most teams have finally had a chance to hit the field and take on their circuit opponents ahead of another successful summer, and the excitement is only building.

Just a couple of weeks away from Major League Baseball’s upcoming draft, the league’s 18U teams have all been on the field for at least two games apiece, with statistical leaders already emerging and names changing atop the leaderboard. While the same can be said at the 17U level, the highest number of games played so far are at the 16U age group, with the Great Lake Canadians leading the charge, with a 5-1 record.

As the league looks ahead to the bulk of the schedule, there’s no better time for a reminder of the alterations to the CPBL bylaws and changes made throughout the off-season. One change was the move to BBCOR bats at all levels, and another was the move to having no mercy rule at the three highest age groups. Player ejection and suspension rule updates are also outlined within the bylaws.

After last year’s five CPBL crowns were split between the Toronto Mets and GLC organizations, with the former winning championships at the 16U and 17U age groups, and the latter taking home the trophies at the 14U, 15U and 18U levels, every organization is excited to embrace what this season has to hold and fight for the 2019 titles.

Great Lake Canadians looking to build off of a successful CPBL campaign

Coming off of an incredibly successful season, with three Canadian Premier Baseball League championships and two tournament victories south of the border, the Great Lake Canadians organization is looking for much of the same and more as it heads into the fourth year of the circuit.

Taking the trophies for the second-straight year at the 14U, 15U and 18U levels of the CPBL, the Canadians added a 16U tournament win at the Kent State Invitational and an 18U victory at the Gene Bennett Classic, and all the while maintained the program’s focus on continued development and the progress of its players.

“It was a good year for us,” GLC director of baseball operations Chris Robinson said. “We were happy with how things went on and off the field. We continue to send guys off to school – some big schools and some good fits – and obviously on the field we had some success with three championships.

“We don’t ever really evaluate our success on winning championships but there’s something to be said for as you develop players, you want to develop the winning mentality. So we were really happy with how that went this year.”

Among the accomplishments of the program during the year, the highlight of last season for many of those involved with the organization was in seeing the success of the 18U squad and the season it was able to put together.

“We had some success down in the States, and throughout the league, we all talk collectively about how the league and the competition up here helps our success in the States,” Robinson said. “But we had a very, very special group of older guys this year. Not to take away from any of the other groups we’ve had but it was a very special group and a group that you might not see for a long time.

“It was the way they were wired, the way they went about their business, and obviously they were dominant on the field as well. So that for us was a real fun year, to watch those guys at the back end of their careers here with us, doing what they did.”

As the season came to an end, the Canadians planned their inaugural banquet – featuring ESPN and Toronto Blue Jays broadcaster Dan Shulman as the master of ceremonies, and with multiple big-league players including Pete Orr, Jamie Romak and GLC coaches Robinson and Adam Stern in attendance to honour the players – to open up the off-season before beginning another winter of development-focused training to gear up for the fourth CPBL season.

“Our first banquet was a success, and a really cool night as a staff to celebrate what the program has done,” Robinson said. “The off-season is status quo for us and it continues to be that way. We remind ourselves that there are no gimmicks, there’s no special pill, and it’s just a matter of continuing to develop players as we have in the past. That’s always at the forefront of our minds heading into any off-season.”

With another season about to get underway, Great Lake’s staff is excited for what the future holds and to see how the fourth year of the league unfolds on the field.

“I always like watching the kids develop from year to year,” Robinson said. “And now that we’ve been in it, we’ve seen our first group graduating college last year, and now you see the progression of kids over that course of the year.

“We have a really exciting group of 14U players this year, and we’ve always had good players at that younger level. This year, athletically it may be one of the more highly-anticipated groups we’ve ever had. We look forward to having athletes because we believe so strongly in what we do on the developmental side. So that will be a really fun group to get going and see how they progress, along with the rest of our teams and more familiar players.”

Great Lake also has a number of players committed to head to schools for the upcoming season, with Ryan Faragher off to Wabash Valley College, Noah Myers heading from Wabash to the University of South Carolina, Owen Diodati going to the University of Alabama, Tye Imeson off to Salem International University, Brian Zapp heading to Miami University and Eric Martin headed to Indiana State University.

CPBL to use BBCOR bats at all levels

As the Canadian Premier Baseball League prepares to head into its fourth year of play, the circuit would like to announce that as the nation’s top college development league, it will be using BBCOR bats at all levels of play, beginning in the 2019 season. 

BBCOR bats are utilized at every level of college baseball across the United States, and this exciting transition for the CPBL will better aid the transition for the league’s players as they prepare for the next level of their baseball careers. Not only will hitters be able to gain comfort in the use of aluminum bats, pitchers will have easier adjustments to the game at the next level, and it will aid in the defensive transition for all players heading to the next level. 

As the most progressive league in development for the future college baseball player, the CPBL  is proud to pioneer this transition. 

“We at the CPBL consider ourselves the leading US college development league in the province of Ontario,” said Rich Leitch, director of baseball for the Toronto Mets and a CPBL league executive. “The switch to BBCOR bats, coupled with the elite level of competition our league offers, will give our players another added advantage over our counterparts.

“Players will now be evaluated on a level playing field with their American competition, while at the same time providing the opportunity for our players to decrease the learning curve they may experience when arriving on campus as freshmen, by using the same equipment they will be using when competing in collegiate baseball.” 

This change will not only help the players in the CPBL as they move on, but it will add to the recruitment process for colleges. 

“The recent decision made by the CPBL to transition to BBCOR bats gives Canadian high school players a significant advantage when pursuing US schools,” said Indiana State University recruiting coordinator Jordan Tiegs. “Not only does this allow for them to be evaluated on the same level as American players throughout the recruiting process but this will also allow for players who do receive scholarships to be that much more prepared to compete on campus their first fall.”

Added Joey Hawkins, current assistant coach at St. Louis University and former Ontario Blue Jays and Missouri State University shortstop: “Switching to BBCOR will help hitters potentially find their offensive identity a little earlier and prepare them for a typical calendar year of work at an American college where you swing metal bats nine months out of the year. It will also help the pitchers learn how to attack and pitch to hitters with a BBCOR bat in their hands prior to heading to school.”

With the advantages provided by the use of BBCOR bats, the decision for the progressive league to transition was simple. 

“As much as I don’t like the sound, I believe going back to the aluminum bat at the high school level here in Canada is a common-sense move that needed to happen,” University of British Columbia head coach Chris Pritchett said. “Besides the obvious cost savings to families, the fact of the matter is that most of our athletes are developing their skillset to compete at the college level, where the aluminum bat is used. From a recruiting standpoint, it will also put both the Canadian hitters and pitchers on an even playing field with their American counterparts, who already use the aluminum bat at the high school level.”

Great Lake Canadians take 18U title for program’s third CPBL championship

After setting a new standard for the most experienced players in the Great Lake Canadians program, with the first-ever tournament win on American soil at the 18U level, and beyond becoming regular-season champions and finishing the year atop the Canadian Premier Baseball League leaderboard, the 18U squad’s season culminated with a championship victory at the highest level of the circuit. 

The Canadians cruised through the playoffs, with an early-round bye because of their position to finish the regular season, and won their way to a title, bringing the 18U trophy back to London after notching their final victory in Scarborough. 

“We got a bye for leading the regular season, so we ended up playing the Toronto Mets in the first game,” GLC 18U manager Adam Stern said. “We thought they were probably one of the tougher offensive clubs that we would face, and it was a good game. They had us late, and then we clawed a few runs. They had a good pitching performance, so they were one of the tougher opponents for us, and they’d had our number early in the season. 

“We won that game and then we played the Fieldhouse Pirates, and it was another good game and ended up being 1-0. It was well pitched on both sides, and that brought us through to the finals, where we would have to be beat twice [to ultimately lose the championship], and then Fieldhouse made their way through to the finals as well, so it was a good competition at the end.” 

With the success the Great Lake squad had found throughout the entire summer, expectations were set at a high bar for the team as it headed into the post-season. 

“I knew going into the season, and as a staff we knew, that we had a good group of guys out there that was built to win,” Stern said. “We had a [pitching] staff that was going to throw strikes, and we had a very well-mixed offensive group. So we had high expectations going in, and we knew that we had a lot of good baseball players on the team. But in the end, they had to go out there and perform, that’s the name of the game, and they did.” 

With the successful season in the rearview mirror, and after many goodbyes were shared among the players heading off to an array of colleges for the fall, the team’s manager had an incredible sense of pride in his players and the year they put together. 

“All along, this team has been a pleasure to coach,” Stern said. “These guys are a resilient group. They play well together, and whether it was pitching or offensive, but they picked each other up if one side wasn’t doing it. Really all year these guys competed. It is obviously a testament to them, the record they had – only losing seven games all year is not easy to do – and it speaks volumes to the quality of the kids on the field.” 

Great Lake’s 18U championship followed CPBL title victories for the organization’s 14U Red and 15U Red teams, after seeing all of the program’s seven teams make it into the semi-final round of league playoffs, and five of them moving into the finals.

“It was an exciting weekend,” Stern said. “Obviously we were up in Toronto not getting to see everything happening [in the other playoff series], but we get to work with these kids during the off-season, and we get to see them during the year, so you see a culmination of a lot of hard work and dedication from the players’ standpoint and the coaches’ standpoint. 

“We couldn’t be more proud of the group of players, and the teams that didn’t win it, they had their own successes. It’s a game that comes down to getting a big hit here or a big pitch there, but all seven teams performed at or above our expectations.” 

15U CPBL championship won by the Great Lake Canadians Red team

For the second straight Canadian Premier Baseball League season, the Great Lake Canadians secured the title at the 15U level, with the organization’s Red squad coming out on top in the championship in the circuit’s third year. 

By the final day of the 15U championship tournament, only two teams remained, and with the pools down to just the GLC Red and Black teams, it was certain that the Canadians would hold on for back-to-back wins. After the Black squad breezed through the early part of the final weekend, Red had to beat its counterpart twice in order to take home the trophy. 

“That was real tough,” GLC 15U Red manager Derek Bloomfield said. “Those kids are more physical than our team, as far as stature and strength, and they’ve got a few pieces on their team where it’s a threat with them every time. Riley Silva is the first one who comes to mind, and every time he comes to the plate, it’s a pressure situation for the opposition, and we felt that way. We felt that if we could keep him off the base paths, we could win a baseball game. It happened in two out of three games, and it’s unfortunate that he got hurt in the last game, but he did a great job up until that point.

“With our team, a few times in the year I had to give them a kick in the butt because there was no life on the bench, no energy, but they fought, they scratched and clawed when they needed to, and they showed well that way and over that last weekend, that’s for sure.” 

Bloomfield’s squad finished the regular season just behind the GLC Black squad in the standings, finishing two games back and in second place. After battling through the regular season, the team brought everything it had to the playoffs to find success and hoist the CPBL trophy.

“This was a young team,” GLC’s 15U Red manager said. “I knew there would probably be some growing pains, and the season kind of went how I thought it would go – we would have to battle on the mound and we would have to battle basically every single game, and if our pitching and defence held up and kept teams to a minimum, we had a shot in every game because these kids could hit a little bit. I don’t know if I’ve ever seen a 15-year-old team like them when they go on a run or get on a roll, but they can bang the ball around with the best of them at that age.” 

Incredibly excited at the outcome, Bloomfield and his team had a lot of fun throughout the playoff weekend, highlighted by a walk-off win against the Tri-City Giants in a tough battle early on. 

“I’m super proud of the team,” the manager said. “I’ve won championships before at other levels, and I’ve seen some good things happen, but to have a big walk-off win against Tri-City and to see exciting moments like that, I’m pretty proud of these kids. Sometimes at that age, you don’t really know what you’re getting into, but I’m really proud of the kids.” 

With an off-season of bragging rights on the line along with the CPBL championship trophy, the GLC Red squad was incredibly excited at the way the season ended, and Bloomfield couldn’t have been happier for them. 

“It was absolutely exciting,” he said. “I try to preach that to the 15-year-olds – to act like you’ve been there before, but you don’t want to hold them down. They’re kids, and it’s part of the game and it’s about having fun. I’m not real big on the hooting and hollering against the opposition, and things like that, but be as professional as you can at 15, have a lot of fun with it, and run with it. And they did.” 

Great Lake Canadians 14U Red squad wins CPBL championship at youngest level

At the youngest level of the Canadian Premier Baseball League, the circuit champions from the second season held on in the third year for back-to-back titles, with the Great Lake Canadians Red squad taking down the Ontario Astros in the final for a second straight 14U season victory. 

As the youngest team in the league, the GLC Red squad finished the third season of the CPBL atop the leaderboard with a 18-3 record and took its successes straight into the playoffs, recording four straight wins – against the Ontario Nationals, GLC Black, and then two against the Ontario Astros – to secure the title.

“The first game we started out kind of slow actually,” GLC 14U Red manager Brad McElroy said. “We scored four runs in four innings and then we added six in the fifth for a mercy, which saved our pitching. The next game we played Great Lake Black, which had just beat us in the [Grand Park] tournament for a big win…We had [Zach] Fishback doing what he did all year – he threw strikes, changed speeds and kept them scoreless – and we manufactured some runs. 

“The next game we played Team Ontario and the last time we played them, we lost against them in the GLC [Canada Day Classic] tournament, so it was a redemption game for us. We blew it open right at the start and just kept it going. The story of that game was [Nolan] McCrossin, who had two errors in the first two innings and it was a tie game and it was a little bit of a nail biter, and then we had the bases loaded and he came up, and first pitch he hit a grand slam. From then on, it was our game.

“In the final we got Team Ontario again and they were pretty depleted…Six or seven of our eight runs were all with two outs in that game, and we were able to win it. Pitching was great for us in the playoffs, the bats came alive, and we just clicked. It went well, and we limited the damage.” 

From the beginning of the off-season to the final weekend of the CPBL, McElroy got to see the evolution of his young players, and couldn’t be more excited for their futures. 

“I’m really proud of them,” the GLC 14U Red manager said. “It was a lot of hard work, and there were a lot of guys who stepped up and understood their roles, and went with it. Luke Beaton was our starting third baseman in the playoffs and he played good defence for us and put some balls in play to drive some runs in. 

“[Nolan] Caudle stepped up and was our starting second baseman. He was making plays for us throughout the year and he earned that spot. And then in the middle of the order, those were the guys. You get to them and if anybody else is on base, we’re scoring them. 

“So I was really happy with the team. We played well throughout the year, and they put it together in the playoffs and it worked. It’s a testament to the whole Great Lake coaching staff – the work everybody puts in, indoors, in practices, through the winter. You see the growth from these kids and they’re all green and coming from other organizations and they want to learn and really get the most out of it. You see the biggest improvements and it’s exciting.” 

The excitement was shared by the members of the young squad, who were clearly elated when the final out of the last game of the CPBL season was made and they had a chance to hoist their trophy and celebrate a successful finish to a fantastic year. 

“That’s why I love coaching this age,” McElroy said. “The kids are so coachable and have so much fun. They want to learn, they love baseball, and they play with smiles on their faces…At 14, they’re in the Great Lake program for the first year and they’re sponges. They want to soak everything up, and with our coaching staff having so many years of professional experience to pour into all these kids, it’s just outstanding. It’s pretty special.” 

Canadians 18U squad look to take regular-season success into playoffs

With playoffs about to start, the final weekend of the Canadian Premier Baseball League season set to begin, and victors of the regular season looking to try to keep their winning going into the post-season, the Great Lake Canadians 18U squad is hoping to do just that. 

The Great Lake organization felt it had a strong team as it began the CPBL season this summer, but the squad that finished with a 20-4 record, four games ahead of its closest competitor, and with just one loss in its last 10 games exceeded the high expectations it began with. 

“Coach [Kirk] Barclay and I had big expectations for these guys leading into the season,” GLC 18U manager Adam Stern said. “We thought that we had a perfect mix of guys on the mound, position players who are a little more dynamic, guys who could play multiple positions, we had speed, and we had defence. To be honest, as much as we expected from the pitching staff, they actually exceeded our expectations. Guys have really stepped up and they’ve been really competitive on the mound.” 

With all of its success, the Canadians 18U team also winning plenty of games south of the border throughout the year, the thing that most impressed its manager was the atmosphere the players created for themselves to play in. 

“These guys are a resilient group of players,” Stern said. “They never hit the panic button, and they play well together as a team. You’re starting to see a culmination of guys playing together for a few years and really coming together. These guys have gelled really well together, and it’s been one of those good team dynamics, and it’s been a real positive for this group.” 

Great Lake topped a regular-season leaderboard among six total teams, with the Fieldhouse Pirates not far behind with a 16-8 record, and the Ontario Blue Jays in third, finishing with 13 wins and 10 losses. 

“Any game in the CPBL, you’ve got to show up to play,” the Canadians skipper said. “We told our guys all the time that we were giving away a few wins here and there, which is what happens when you don’t finish the deal. You’ve got to come in ready to play all the teams. We had some rainouts early in the season, where we lost a few games too, but with this group there were never any big blowouts. They really had to step up on the mound, and our guys knew that any team could beat you on any day.” 

As they prepare to begin their quest for a playoff victory, the GLC 18U team understands that they have to continue to face and overcome the challenges that the league presents, and all of its players have their eyes on one last prize before they venture off to an array of fall destinations, and looking to seal the deal. 

“We’ve been in this spot before,” Stern said. “Where we’ve had a good team during the regular season and then we just didn’t piece it all together at the end. Obviously in the format the tournament is, you’ve got to be hot at the right time, and when it’s a double-elimination format, you could get upset at any time. Really, we preach that we’ve got to finish the deal here. You’ve got to grout, put the regular season on the back burner, and compete like it’s a tournament because if you lose two, you go home, and we’re not looking to do that.” 

GLC 15U Black squad tops division leaderboard with strong season

The Canadian Premier Baseball League season has officially come to an end, and as the regular-season champions are crowned for their accomplishments throughout the year, the Great Lake Canadians 15U Black squad is among those recognized, topping its division’s leaderboard with an 18-4 season. 

The regular-season champion team is among the best that 15U Black skipper Shane Davis has managed in the Great Lake organization, making the successful season even more enjoyable than it already was. 

“We have guys who throw a lot of strikes on the mound, compete pretty well, and they’re aggressive in the strike zone,” Davis said. “And then our defence is pretty solid. Last year, the team we had really struggled defensively early in the season, and got better as the season went on. 

“This team, basically right from the get-go was really solid defensively. This is the best outfield we’ve ever had, by far. Basically any ball that is hit to the outfield, you can just close your eyes and you know that it’s going to be caught. So it gives the pitchers a lot of confidence to be able to throw strikes and not worry about how hard the other team hits the ball.” 

Among the squad’s strengths, Davis was most impressed with the camaraderie it built along the way, and the confidence it had in its ability on the field day in and day out. 

“It was incredibly how well they got along,” the 15U manager said. “Most of our teams get along really well, but I find with this team not only do they get along really well, but it doesn’t cross the line into goofing around. They do a pretty good job of locking it in when they need to. That is impressive, and nothing really seems to faze them. 

“We could be down – not that this has happened too often – but we could be down by three runs in late innings and they find a way to just stay calm and find a way to come back, because we know we have the power to be able to come back when it come back to our offence. We can put a lot of runs up. So their confidence is impressive in general.” 

Finishing first in the standings among a total of eight teams in the 15U division, with the GLC 15U Red squad just behind them, and the Tri-City Giants team finishing in third place on the leaderboard, the Black team will look to take its successes and continue them into the post-season. 

“When we show up and decide we want to win, it pretty much happens,” Davis said. “This is probably the best overall team we’ve had, as far as defence, pitching and hitting. If everything takes care of itself, there are not too many teams that can compete with us day after day. We obviously will lose the odd game here and there, but when we decide we want to win, we can, and it’s a pretty impressive group that way.”