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.
Our first #CPBL player is off the board, with the @Indians selecting @NoahNaylor12 in the first round with the 29th pick! He officially becomes the highest @CPBLeague player taken in our three seasons! pic.twitter.com/6HHesaw6AR
— CPBL (@CPBLeague) June 5, 2018
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.”
— Ontario Blue Jays (@OntarioBlueJays) June 5, 2018
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.