Tag: Nationals

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.

Ontario Nationals ready for fourth CPBL season

Ahead of the fourth season of the Canadian Premier Baseball League, the Ontario Nationals are excited about what they have been able to accomplish in the circuit so far and are looking forward to striving for more.

After coming close to bringing home a trophy last year, the organization is hoping to build off of its successes and rack up the accolades over the course of this season.

“Last season was a step in the right direction,” Nationals director of baseball operations Jeremy Jayaweera said. “We had two teams play into the last day of the CPBL championships, with one of those teams being just one pitch away from clinching a championship. Our 18U team has a lot of returning players in their last year before heading to school, so being in their second year and knowing what to expect, I know this team will turn some heads.

“For our 15U and 16U squads, they are coming off strong seasons and are looking to take the next step. At our youngest level, 14U, we basically brought in a new crop of players – total athletes we know will be ready to compete day in and day out. The competition in this league is second to none and we will be ready come May.”

For the Nats, last year was highlighted by the improvements experienced at multiple levels, and the organization hopes that is a trend that will continue.

“Some notable moments from last year include out 15U and 16U teams playing on Sundays at huge events in the USA,” Jayaweera said. “Our 16U team fell short in two championship games against top teams in extras. Our 15U team really showed pride, and the development from year to year was amazing.

“When our 15U group was at the 14U level, they won three games; last year, they won over 20. They have something to prove this year and you can already see it in their off-season mentality. Watching our players grow from year to year is a feeling you cannot describe. The most impressive part is that from 14U to 18U, none of our players are satisfied – there is always more to give.”

With the winter well underway, the Nationals have made some off-season additions and changes to their regular programming and are looking forward to seeing the results when they are able to get out on the field.

“Our off-season started with weight training in October,” Jayaweera said. “We put them through vigorous training, which still continues. We have always been a great hitting organization from top to bottom – nothing changes there.

“The fielding and throwing programs are our main two focuses this off-season. With that, we have incorporated a Driveline program for our players to follow. It is still early but with consistent effort and training we believe we will take the next step this spring. We have also brought in a strength and pitching instructor Kurtis Robinson to help with our teams.”

Heading into the season and gearing up for CPBL play, the Nationals are excited to look forward to a new pre-season event and mix up their typical spring training routine for the year.

“We have also entered our 15U to 18U teams in the [Prep Baseball Report] Canada spring training showcase in Florida,” the program’s director of baseball operations said. “Having gone to play at Dodgertown for the previous three years, when we were invited to this event, we could not say no. With the exposure, practices, games, and a scout day, these players will have every opportunity to better themselves.

“After Florida, we will come back for a few weeks and gear up for the season. With some of the athletes we recruited and different programs we put in place this off-season, we can feel a different spark within the organization, which we hope continues into CPBL play.”

Beyond the season and with an eye on the future, the Nationals have right-hander Andrew Hazell heading to Mars Hill University, along with several alumni members of the organization making moves and changes for the fall.

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.”

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 Nationals look forward to the third year of the CPBL

With two years under their belts in the Canadian Premier Baseball League, the Ontario Nationals are excited for what the future holds, the growth of their program throughout another off-season, and they are eager to head into a new year in the circuit. 

Heading into the third season, Nationals director of baseball operations Jeremy Jayaweera has found a lot to like within the league and is happy that the program has aligned with a group of likeminded organizations within it. 

“We’ve really enjoyed the competition,” Jayaweera said. “Players coming from minor ball teams and playing in this league, they get better by playing, and especially against competition like the OBJ, Mets, GLC, it’s not easy…The coaches from every organization are high-end coaches and training staffs, and they are actually trying to help kids move onto the next level. 

“The end goal for these kids is to go play college baseball, to get an education and play baseball at the same time. What I really like about this league is we’re trying to help kids move on to where they’ll be successful. That’s where the league separates themselves the most.” 

Throughout the recent off-season, the Nationals made several changes within the program’s staff, and hopes that the work everyone added through the winter will make a difference when the players get out on the the field. 

“We added a new catching instructor Ben Tinklin, he played down south and went to school there, and played for the [Intercounty Baseball League] Panthers down here and has been around the game for a while,” Jayaweera said. “He’s finally settled back home in Kitchener, so we gave him an opportunity and he’s been running with it and we’ve seen a huge improvement with our catchers. 

“We hired Anita Nyp [as strength and conditioning coordinator], who works at PlayBall [Academy] where we have our indoor training. She ran the strength program for our players from 15U to 18U and we’ve seen a really big improvement. We saw a need last year and years’ past that we were lacking in that department and it’s something we’re really trying to improve on…

“We got an outfield coordinator too, Paul Ewart, who also coaches with Wilfrid Laurier in the fall. He’s coaching one of our 14U teams and he’s running the outfield coordination and he’s done a good job. He’s brought in a lot of drills to help the kids stay focused indoors and he’s a bright spot in the organization as well.” 

With five teams in the CPBL this summer, Jayaweera and the Nationals are very much looking forward to just getting out into the sunshine and on the field and seeing what their players can do.

“We’re most excited to play baseball,” the director of operations said. “Last year, we had terrible weather. We’re excited for the competition, and we just want the kids to play baseball, have fun, and see if what they’ve done indoors can translate to outdoors. A lot of the kids have done individualized training with their specific coaches and they’ve learned a lot this year in the off-season, what it takes to compete day in and day out and not just this year but moving forward. Hopefully they can take that stuff onto the field. Last year was bad with the weather, and hopefully we can kick off this season with the showcase. It will be good for the players and the league and hopefully we can play and get all the games in. We’re just excited for some baseball.” 

With the majority of their players returning to the program after this CPBL season, the Nats are ecstatic for those who have made and are in the midst of making their commitments to colleges south of the border, including Craig Carscadden who is heading to Frontier College, Jordan Bahnuk, going to Indian Hills Community College, and Nick Davies, going to Carleton University. 

Nationals look forward to the second year of the CPBL

With a year under their belts in the Canadian Premier Baseball League, the Ontario Nationals are excited for what the future holds, growing their program this off-season and eager to head into a new year in the circuit.

“The CPBL, in the first season, went great from an organizational standpoint and as well as a league,” said Jeremy Jayaweera, recruiting coordinator for the Nationals program and newly appointed associate scout for the Angels. “We were very happy with the competition. From Day 1 to the last weekend of the CPBL playoffs it was a battle.

“Our 15U team had some ups and downs last year, but at the end of the season were battling some of the great older 16U teams down to the wire. Our 16U squad struggled with injuries but managed to stick with it, and lost a nail-biter in the CPBL semi-finals. Our 18U team went above and beyond with minimal pitching. They were finalists at a tournament at the University of Michigan and were quarter-final bound in the CPBL, eventually losing in extras.

“We were very proud of the teams in our league, especially with the players moving on to college and even professional baseball. I’m sure this goes for every program in the league, but the level of competition in the CPBL amps up the work ethic that our players bring in each day and just shows that the CPBL is the real deal.”

The Nationals have made a number of additions throughout the winter months, increasing their number of teams and staff at multiple age groups, and expanding their footprint in the CPBL.

“We have added 11U, 12U, 13U and 14U teams this winter,” Jayaweera said. “Our 11U to 13U groups will be playing in their respective leagues trained by the Ontario Nationals staff and the 14U will play in the CPBL this upcoming season. We had a lot of players turn out to tryouts and requests to play. We sat down as a staff and decided that in order to build this program the right way for the future we have to start teaching at a young level. We are developing our young players through practice. We have come out with our Long-Term Development Plan that is facilitated by Baseball Canada. We are very happy with the results so far and each family’s dedication to our program.

“We have also added some coaches and instructors to our program. Jackson Martin, Nationals alumni who played four years at Eastern Michigan University has decided to coach with our 14U squad this season. Mitch Clarke, a 19th-round Reds draft pick in 2009 has also decided to help out with our pitchers, and coach with the 14U team. Aaron Hornostaj, a Giants draft pick, will be instructing with us during our winter workouts and hopefully able to help manage a team during the spring or summer.

“With these additions, we have brought experience, talent, and bright minds to help our players, to add to what we already have in the minds of Shawn Gillespie, Dan Mendham, and our other coaches who put in a tremendous amount of time to help these players. We know we will be ready come spring.”

Heading into the second CPBL season, just getting into their indoor baseball workouts on Saturday for the first time this year, Jayaweera and the Nationals are looking forward to continuing getting ready with some time in the sunshine down south after enjoying their pre-season tournament time so much last spring.

“We are going to Florida in March, once again to Vero Beach, Dodgertown,” the program’s recruiting coordinator said. “The organization had a blast last year, so we wanted to try it again. We are working out during the winter at Playball Academy Canada in Kitchener, Ontario and the players also go to Sport Specific Training Waterloo for strength and conditioning.”

Knowing what the CPBL has to offer, the Nationals program is excited and more prepared for the upcoming year, looking forward to bringing their best to the table among the best in the province and making consistent improvements along the way.

“Our expectations for the season for each team and each player is to improve each week,” Jayaweera said. “We are not worried about winning a championship or how many wins we can get in a single season. It is about the players, the development, and building success by doing the right things on and of the field.

“We know the competition can speak for itself in this league, which assures us that our players will be ready each weekend. We know we cannot focus on what other organizations are doing, we have to come together as a group and make sure our players are ready on May 1st. The Nationals have made heavy strides the past couple of years to change things up within the organization, and the hard work is paying off.”

With the majority of their players returning to the program after this CPBL season, the Nats are ecstatic for those who have made and are in the midst of making their commitments to colleges south of the border, knowing more will come as they get out on the field.

“We have had a couple of commitments this winter, with Carson Burns heading to Western Texas Community College and Rhys Cornell heading to Colby College in Kansas,” Jayaweera said. “Both guys have worked hard over the past couple years. Both really came into the picture last season with breakout stats. The organization could not be happier for both players and their families. We have a few more players who have not decided on schools yet and more than a handful of players who will be returning to the Nationals program in the fall of this year.”