Tag: Jake Ervin

Third CPBL season off to a strong start

With almost three weeks in the books of the third Canadian Premier Baseball League season, the circuit is thriving.

Though the spring weather in southwestern Ontario can be unpredictable, the season has survived several early rainouts and has allowed everyone significant time on the field so far. With a balanced schedule and teams across the board, only one squad remains undefeated as we head into the final weekend of May, with the Toronto Mets 16U Orange team leading their division with a perfect win percentage and six victories.

At the 18U level, the Great Lake Canadians are atop the leaderboard, with the Toronto Mets and Fieldhouse Pirates not far behind. Ontario Blue Jays hitters Jake Ervin, Ethan Hammond and Noah Naylor are among the 18U average leaders, along with Ontario Nationals Alex Liem, Mitchell McKay and Simon Grinberg. Among the ERA leaders at the 18U level are Great Lake Canadians hurlers Brett Corbeth, Mike MacDougall and Ethan Seaver, and Nationals pitchers Nick LoStracco and Jaden Gruszka.

In the league’s 17U division – added to the fold this season – Great Lake also owns the top spot in the standings, with both Ontario Blue Jays squads – Steed and Travers – not far behind. Four 17U players have sent the ball out of the park this season, with OBJ hitters Arthur Kowara, Josh Golden and Blake Buckle, and GLC slugger Jackson Wahl leading the fold with one home run apiece. OBJ hurler Lukas Barry leads all 17U pitchers with an 0.47 ERA and 22 strikeouts so far this year.

The 16U leaderboard is led by the undefeated Toronto Mets Orange squad, with the Canadians and Blue Jays right on their tail. Mets slugger Cole Iantomasi leads all hitters across the entire circuit with a .737 average, and Great Lake right-hander Zach Jackson maintains his 0.00 ERA through the 11 innings he’s had on the mound.

At the 15U level, the GLC Red squad leads the division, with Great Lake’s Black team and the OBJ squad not far behind. The Blue Jays sit on top of the leaderboard at the youngest level of the circuit with Great Lake’s 14U Red team and the Ontario Astros right in the mix behind them.

The CPBL also saw 11 players selected to the Canadian Junior National Team for its current trip to the Dominican Republic, where Noah Naylor, Eric Cerantola, Denzel Clarke, Griffin Hassall, Blake Buckle, Keegan Pulford-Thorpe, TJ Schofield-Sam, Owen Diodati, Dasan Brown, Jaden Brown and Daniel Carinci are matching up against Dominican Summer League prospects.

With less than two weeks to go until Major League Baseball’s first-year player draft begins, several CPBL players have also been surrounded by some draft buzz of late. Among Baseball America’s top 500 draft prospects – in the latest rankings – are OBJ catcher and infielder Noah Naylor, GLC right-hander Eric Cerantola, and Mets outfielder Denzel Clarke. They are joined by three players at the collegiate level who have graduated from CPBL programs, with Kentucky outfielder Tristan Pompey an alum of the Mets, former OBJ hurler RJ Freure, currently at Pittsburgh, and Central Michigan’s Michael Brettell, a graduate of the GLC program.

Ontario Blue Jays excited for the summer ahead

Excited about what they’ve already been able to accomplish in the first two years of the Canadian Premier Baseball League – with championships at three levels – the Ontario Blue Jays are looking forward to much more of the same success they’ve found, and are hoping to improve as they move into their third year with the loop. 

“The CPBL has been everything that I expected it to be,” OBJ president and director of player development Sean Travers said. “The competition is good, and the playoff format has been cool, and it’s definitely provided everything that our program has been looking for.

“We have the best organizations in the province, and we go out and compete on the weekends. We’re trying to do a better job of showcases and stuff like that, and last year was tough just because of the weather, and we battled through that weather, but for us and our program, it’s getting us ready to go down and compete in the tournaments that we play in, in the States, and it does a really good job of that.” 

During the most recent off-season, the Blue Jays made some changes to their staff and programming, and are excited about how they’ve already seen the differences pay dividends. 

“We really took our strength and conditioning to another level this off-season,” Travers said. “We brought in a testing group to do some testing, and we got a new guy to do our programming, Ben Brewster. He’s out of Atlanta and he did the programming, and that seems to be going really well. We’ve had a good winter. 

“With our pitching program, we’ve seen the velocities all go up, and overall, our scout day was really good. Guys came out and their metrics were a lot better than they were going into the wintertime, so it showed that we had a good winter in the weight room, and a good winter of training, and now we’re just ready to get out and use it all on the field.” 

Travers believes the Blue Jays have a lot to look forward to in the upcoming months and can’t wait to get his players out on the field and see what happens as they move into the summer. 

“Obviously we’re excited for Noah [Naylor, Canada’s top high school position player heading into the spring] and what’s going on with him and hopefully his draft status in June,” Travers said. “We’re excited that we have seven guys playing for Team Canada right now, and we’re exited for them to continue to improve and hopefully help Canada qualify for the next world championship. 

“We’re excited about our college players who are signed and getting ready to go to school, and our summer for our 18-year-olds is a lot less travel now, and a lot more training and preparing for college, so we’re excited to see those guys go off into school. We’re excited to compete for a national championship – we’re taking three teams to the Marucci World Series in Baton Rouge, Louisiana at the end of July, so we’re excited about that, and then obviously we’re really excited to compete in the CPBL.” 

With Naylor in the spotlight for several seasons already, Travers and the rest of the organization are proud and excited to share in the steps he’s taken so far and follow along as he takes his next steps. 

“It’s been a long time, and probably the last four or five years have been kind of just waiting for this year,” Travers said of Naylor. “He’s always been a special player and a special kid, and nothing has changed. He works his butt off, he’s still a really humble and great kid, and it’s fun to watch him do all of these things. 

“I’m sure he feels pressure, but to be able to go out there with a smile on his face and compete and just be Noah, he hasn’t changed. I’ve known him for 10 or 11 years and he hasn’t changed at all; he’s the same Noah as when we started. He’s always been super confident but also super humble, and the hardest worker in the building.” 

With opportunities to continue their baseball careers while pursuing post-secondary education, the Ontario Blue Jays have12 committed to college for the 2018 season, with Jaden Brown committed to the University of Kentucky for the following year. 

Naylor is committed to Texas A&M, Chris Bowles to Clarendon College, Diego Dominguez and Dimitri Stamatopoulos are heading to Paris Junior College, Thomas Grilli to Panola College, Jacob Kush is committed to Northwest Florida State College, Kyle Kush to Canisius College, and Dawson Walters is heading to Eastern Oklahoma State College, with Jake Ervin, Ryan Santos, Tyler Small and Colton Tyler all committed to Northeastern Oklahoma A&M.