Tag: Toronto Mets

Brando Leroux

Mets’ Brando Leroux Signs to Chipola College with Help From a Familiar Name

Brando Leroux, a 5-foot-7, 155-pound shortstop for the Toronto Mets, has established himself as one of the country’s top prospects heading into the spring.

The slick-fielding defender is coming off of a strong 2020 campaign, during which he committed to Chipola College. An opportunity that became possible in large part due to a former Toronto Blue Jays star.

Leroux caught the attention of Jose Bautista in Spring Training last March. After meeting and talking to Bautista during the Canadian Junior National Team trip, it became clear that Chipola was where Leroux wanted to go to school, and Bautista contacted the coach on his behalf to help make it happen.

“The main reason that I was attracted to Chipola College was Jose Bautista. During the Junior National Team tournament in Florida I was looking into different Junior Colleges to attend. I met Jose in Florida and he told me about his experience at Chipola College and how good of a school it was. I instantly knew that was the college I wanted to attend for next year,” said Leroux.

“I thought it was going to be an amazing opportunity to enhance my education and further my baseball career.”

Leroux became the latest member of a CPBL team to commit to Chipola College and the first since 2019 graduate Tyrell Schofield-Sam, who signed professionally with the Oakland Athletics. 

In limited action this past season, Leroux played well in league games. He showed the ability to hit good pitching while continuing to display his advanced defensive abilities. 

At the CPBL All-Star Showcase that took place at the end of September, Leroux did more of the same, going 4/8 with five walks. “My experience at CPBL was pretty good. I got to go to Dorchester and play three games to show and demonstrate my talent and why I should be there. I got to meet a lot of great ballplayers from different teams. Overall I think I did pretty well. I made a couple of nice plays in the infield, and I also hit pretty well,” said Leroux.

When asked how he would describe himself as a player, Leroux stated; “I am a very competitive individual, however, I am still a good team player. I am very focused on the field and give 100% every game. I am a switch hitter, very smooth on the infield, I can hit balls that are over 90MPH and I run the bases fast.”

“My goal for myself is to hopefully get drafted and to showcase my talent in the MLB,” said Leroux. “I am looking forward to growing as a person, and continuing to be the best version of myself and to push myself to achieve greatness.”

As the summer approaches, Leroux looks to pick up where he left off and position himself well ahead of the draft. Otherwise, he’ll head to Chipola College for the fall, an opportunity that came about thanks to a Canadian baseball icon.

Turner Spoljaric

Mets’ Turner Spoljaric Looks to Build on His 2020 Season

Turner Spoljaric, a right-hander for the Toronto Mets and one of the best pitchers in the province, finished the 2020 season strong and enters the new year with high expectations for himself come spring.

Spoljaric’s CPBL season concluded at the All-Star Showcase in September, in what was an impressive showing from the right-hander.

Spoljaric threw on the first day of the event, going three innings out of the pen. He was in full control, only allowing one hit and striking out a pair. 

“I pitched well at the showcase, I attacked hitters and was aggressive. I showed my pitchability, as well my ability to read hitters. I was a little inconsistent commanding my breaking ball but overall I showcased well,” said Spoljaric.

Spoljaric has added a couple of ticks on his fastball from last fall, first topping out at 90 earlier in the summer and touching 91 at the All-Star Showcase. Spoljaric attributed the velocity climb to a quality mechanical set. “I feel like I was mechanically sound with smooth, quick, whip action and hitting 91 was a byproduct of that,” he said. 

Soon after the event, he left for Jupiter to participate in the World Wood Bat Association World Championship as a member of the Toronto Blue Jays Scout Team. Another memorable experience for Spoljaric, “Playing for the Blue Jays in the WWBA was a tremendous experience. I’m thrilled to have had the opportunity to test myself against some of the best talent in North America, to see where I stack up,” he said. 

“It meant a lot to me to be a part of the Blue Jays team, an organization that has meaningful ties to my family. We also had an amazing coaching staff with a solid group of teammates and we got along great. Overall the whole trip was a ton of fun, something I’ll never forget.”

The young right-hander’s father is former Blue Jays left-hander Paul Spoljaric, the meaningful connection he’s alluding to. The elder Spoljaric is also a coach with his team, the Mets, and has been a significant influence in his baseball career. 

“The person who has made the biggest impact in my baseball career would undoubtedly be my dad. He has taught me everything I know about the game, and I’m fortunate enough to have the insight & guidance of other former big leaguers as well. I love to pick their brains and learn their philosophies about the game. I’m very grateful to have grown up around the diamond with my dad still playing competitively in my younger years. I was able to gain first-hand exposure that most kids don’t get the chance to have, something I’m truly thankful for,” said Spoljaric. 

A member of Team Ontario in the Canada Cup last summer and a two-time attendee of Tournament 12 at the Rogers Centre, Spoljaric looks to achieve a few more goals in the upcoming year. “My goals for myself would be to be committed by the end of the year, make the Canadian Junior National Team, work on a slider and be drafted in the 21′ draft,” he said.

“My hopes and expectations for next season would be to command 3+ pitches in any count and be sitting in the low 90’s.”

Spoljaric had a strong conclusion to his junior year, and looks to take another leap forward in 2021.

Denzel Clarke

Alumni Update: Denzel Clarke Enters His Junior Season at CSUN

Denzel Clarke’s baseball journey took him to California State University at Northridge in 2018, and after putting together a solid freshman year, and excelling in 15 games in the COVID-shortened 2020 season, he enters the 2021 year as one of the top prospects in the Big West Conference. 

Just recently, CSUN’s outfielder was ranked by D1Baseball as the 82nd overall prospect at the level. Flashback a few years earlier, and Clarke, then a member of the Toronto Mets, was one of the top prep prospects in the CPBL.

During his time with the Mets, Clarke established himself as one of the top players in the league and was high on the radar of scouts throughout the province.

He credits the organization in helping him develop as a player. “The Mets gave me a place to play and the opportunity to get better – all while surrounded by some great players, coaches, and most importantly, people. It helped me progress and gain experience as a baseball player, and for that, I’ll always be grateful,” he said.

In June of 2018, as Clarke’s time with the Mets was concluding, he heard his name called by the New York Mets in the MLB Draft, selected in the 36th round. However, CSUN was a natural fit for Clarke for a number of reasons, and with the support from those around him, the Pickering, Ont. native decided to head west. 

He noted, “the draft experience can be very hectic, however I was fortunate to have a great support system to help me and educate me through the process; with that I was able to grow and mature as a person. I picked CSUN because I was looking for schools that met my needs as a baseball player and as a person. I had a list of things that I required from a school during the process and CSUN met all the requirements.”

“It has been amazing playing in the competitive Big West Conference and you can truly see why California produces a lot of high quality baseball players.”

The former force in the CPBL adjusted well to the college baseball schedule, in part due to the similarities between the two leagues. “The structure of the [CPBL’s] playing schedule was designed to match that of a collegiate schedule; the midweek games, long weekends, and the travel almost precisely emulate what the college season is all about. Simply put, the structure of the CPBL is fantastic,” said Clarke.

Unfortunately, with California being hit hard by COVID, it has impacted scheduling of baseball activity for CSUN thus far. Instead, they’ve only been able to gather as a club through Zoom calls.

Despite the negative situation, Clarke sees the bright side and looks forward to the season. “It has not been the same being unable to practice and meet the new guys on the team, but we have to take what we can get right now. Our team gets our work in regardless of where we are, so when we reconvene in the Spring, I am excited to see how it all comes together.”

When Clarke and the Matadors get back onto the field, there will be scouts in attendance, watching closely as the former Mets outfielder looks to build on his 2020 season and carry that momentum into his junior campaign.

Organizational Spotlight: Resiliency was the Key for the Toronto Mets in 2020

During the 2020 year, the missed time tested the Toronto Mets’ resiliency; however, the organization’s players have come out stronger on the other side.

Vice President and Director of Baseball for the Mets, Rich Leitch, spoke about the toughness of the organization, stating, “for us as a program the highlights for our shortened season really centered around the resiliency of our players and staff. Coming out of the initial lockdown we were able to safely manage our return to play and we were able to offer many outside of the box solutions to continue with our development model.” 

“There was a significant time commitment from our players, families and staff, because of this our players were still able to demonstrate significant improvement under stressful situations.”

Due to the cancellation of the CPBL season and tournaments, the Mets’ focus this summer was purely on player development.

The advancement of the Mets’ pitching staff, in particular, was evident once they were able to take the field again as four of their arms participated in the CPBL All-Star Showcase in September. 

Leitch noted, “our pitching coordinator Jordan Prosper has done an outstanding job with our arms from 14U-18U. Pitchers like Turner Spoljaric, Will Droll and Zak Szabo have seen real improvements over the past 12 months, and Mitch Bratt will most likely go down as the most decorated pitcher in the history of the program.”

“From an offensive standpoint with the implementation of Blast Motion technologies it has given us insight into our offensive development and we are excited to see how it translates on the field in 2021.”

When they take the field this year, they will do so with at least 12 commits on their 18u team alone. Ethan Boisvert is headed to West Virginia Wesleyan College, Mitchell Bratt to Florida State University, Will Droll to the University of Pittsburgh and Jonah Feldstein to Ithaca College. While, Alex Scoular is off to Lake Michigan College, Brando Leroux to Chipola College, Johnny Stoddard to Pratt CC, and Adam Khan to the University of British Columbia. Furthermore, Lucas Bolin is committed to Lake Michigan College, Aaron Manias and Jacob Miller to Howard College and Caden Shapiro to Princeton University.

Meanwhile, during the offseason, the Mets officially completed the renovations of their new facility; Toronto Mets Performance Centre. The Performance Centre replaces Out of the Park Sports, where they trained for eight years. 

“TMPC gives us everything we need in one footprint with a more functional space, increased field area, a parents viewing area and infinitely more parking which makes it easier on our families,” said Leitch. “We are extremely excited to begin full practices at the new home of the Mets.”

For Leitch, he just hopes that the players are able to partake in a full season this year and allow their efforts to show on the field.

“In 2021 we are hoping for a complete and safe baseball season for our players. We were forced to adapt to a virtual training model for a portion of 2020 which is not ideal. We believe in our developmental model and we believe in the work ethic of our players, we feel that they’ve earned the right to compete this summer.”

GLC comes out on top of CPBL’s 16U division

When the winner was crowned at the 16U level of the Canadian Premier Baseball League for the 2019 season, the circuit saw a new champion, with the Great Lake Canadians taking the trophy.

From the beginning of the off-season last year, Great Lake’s 16U manager Jeff Helps saw flashes of what could be from his team, and hoped that they could put it all together so that he and the Canadians staff might see what their potential could do on the field.

“We had a good fall and you could start to see little glimpses of this group being pretty special, whether it was offensively or on the mound,” Helps said. “It started off early with a bang and the boys kept rolling all summer.

“They went down and had some tough games against some older teams in some of our US tournaments but they kept the ball rolling and especially for the championship tournament. It was one of those things where it was in our hands and the boys played good baseball.”

Great Lake started its postseason weekend with a win over the Ontario Astros, before taking on the Toronto Mets and Ontario Blue Jays to secure two more victories. In the final, the Canadians squared off against the Mets and took them down to secure the trophy.

“The most impressive thing about this group is probably the offence,” Helps said. “One through nine or 10, all the guys in the lineup that day. It was a pretty scary offence, and that showed in the last few games where we won by mercying the other teams. It was really electric, where one inning you’d all of a sudden see an extra-base hit, extra-base hit, homer, extra-base hit — it was a really explosive offence that was our staple for most of the year.”

Some of the players who joined Helps were winners before the year even began, with several securing the 15U championship with Great Lake during the 2018 season and others from the team that topped the regular-season standings last year, with a few new additions to round out the trophy-winning squad.

“There were a few from Derek [Bloomfield]’s team and some of that group of kids stayed together, but there were also a few from Shane [Davis]’s team as well,” Helps said. “It’s one of those things where you combine two really good teams and make them into one and usually you end up with a pretty special group, with the pieces we added from the outside as well.”

When the playoff weekend came to an end with the final win of the year for the championship squad, seeing his team hoist the trophy and celebrate was a special moment for Helps and the rest of the Great Lake staff.

“It was pretty cool,” Helps said. “It was one of those things where this group had the ability to do it, but you never know in the game of baseball. You can play whoever you want and sometimes you win, sometimes you lose. With this group though you knew they were smelling it. They were feeling it. It was pretty cool. These guys were so offensive and so explosive that they just took it down.”

The win at the 16U level for the Canadians was one of four championships the program won at the end of the 2019 season, with Great Lake also securing trophies at the 14U, 15U and 17U divisions, and the Ontario Blue Jays winning at the 18U level.

“It shows the strength as a whole, as an entire program,” Helps said. “And from top to bottom, the quality that these kids are performing at. It’s pretty cool as a whole, as a group, as a program, to see that success.

“It’s one of those things where you feel like you’re doing things the right way. Winning isn’t necessarily everything, but sometimes it’s a little feather in your cap where you’re doing things right and it’s being proven on the field.”

Canadians’ Red team takes title at 15U division of the CPBL

Heading into the postseason of the Canadian Premier Baseball League’s 15U level, the Great Lake Canadians were looking to repeat the success they’d had last year — seeing both their Red and Black teams in the championship final battling it out to see who might have bragging rights for another year.

As the 15U playoffs dwindled down to the circuit’s final two teams this season, Great Lake replicated that success, with the Canadians’ Red squad — led by manager Brendan Saville — taking down the Black team — led by last year’s championship manager Derek Bloomfield — to secure the trophy for the program.

“It was an awesome experience,” Saville said. “It was really cool because it was my first year managing, so obviously these guys had a special place in my heart and I was so ecstatic for them. Earlier in the season, we lost to GLC Black in our tournament by one run in the last inning, and it was a tough way to lose and everyone was a little heartbroken. It certainly left a bad taste in my mouth.

“So it was really nice to see all the guys rise to the occasion to play, to beat an outstanding baseball team coached by an outstanding manager in Derek. I was really excited for those guys. It was a really cool visceral experience of happiness and joy. It’s always exciting to watch a bunch of young guys have the opportunity to experience success on the baseball field who have been working really hard all year.”

When Saville got his first glimpse of the squad he would be at the helm of for the 2019 season, he was excited about the potential it had, but didn’t know how far it would come in such a short time together.

“I originally thought the team was made up of a lot of really sound baseball players and that we had an opportunity to do something with the talent we started with, we were just really young,” Saville said. “I thought it was going to take a lot of work in terms of being able to specifically beat the Black team.

“We didn’t have the same size or physical ability and physical talent they had, and we were going to have to play a lot of small ball throughout the season to be successful. As the season progressed, things continued to grow and we started to thrive on ourselves. We were able to really show up when we needed to, in big games, and played some really sound baseball, especially on the defensive end. That most likely won us the championship and got us to where we were.”

Great Lake began its playoff weekend against the Fieldhouse Pirates, before a win led to a matchup against the Tri-City Giants, which helped propel the squad further into the tournament in more ways than one.

“Tri-City had really taken it to us all year pretty much,” Saville said. “For some reason, we weren’t playing well against them. It was probably our biggest win of the season in terms of momentum, winning that game. It was a good all-around team effort win, riding on the momentum of Fieldhouse and battling and battling…

“We had only won once against Tri-City all season and they had been the team we just couldn’t figure out, so obviously we wanted our guys to create the opportunity to unlock the lock with the key.”

Among the qualities his squad brought to the table throughout the season, there was one that stood out the most for Saville.

“The biggest thing that we talked about all year was trying to make sure not to give up and to really keep the energy alive,” he said. “We may not have had the same energy levels for every game, but when it came to a big opportunity or a tournament, the guys really rose to the occasion and specifically they played as a unit and as a team.

“It’s rare to find a group of 15-year-olds that comes together and is cohesive enough to actually play as a team and put all egos aside to win. These guys definitely did that and it was really fun to coach them.”

The championship was one of four for the Canadians program among the five levels of the CPBL, also winning at the 14U, 16U and 17U age groups, with the Ontario Blue Jays taking home the trophy from the 18U division.

“It cements itself as one of the top development organizations in the country,” Saville said of Great Lake. “To play in a league like that and to be able to walk away with four out of five is unheard of. If that’s not domination, I don’t know what is. Chris [Robinson] and Adam [Stern] and Shane [Davis] and everyone have done a really good job of piecing the puzzle together and we’re all ecstatic to be a part of that organization.

“There’s a really big sense of pride in being part of something that is clearly working and does it the right way…and then seeing those kind of results happen. The organization is flourishing and it’s cool to be a part of something so great.”

Great Lake’s Black squad secures championship at CPBL’s 14U level

From the start of the season, Matt Bowden, the manager of the Great Lake Canadians 14U Black squad, believed that if his squad played to the best of its ability throughout the year, it could be poised to secure another championship at the youngest level of the Canadian Premier Baseball League.

“At the beginning of the year, I thought for sure we would be a good team, especially having a lot of guys who were returning at 14U within the program,” Bowden said. “Looking at our team from the start, I thought we would have the pitching to definitely get deep into tournaments and to keep us in a lot of games and that was definitely something that came through throughout the season for us.”

Great Lake’s 14U Black team performed on all sides of the ball during the year, helping the squad to the top of the regular season leaderboard before capturing the trophy to cap it off.

“Offensively, we improved throughout the year, put together a lot of good at-bats and really grinded out at-bats and were able to push runs across that way,” the Canadians manager said. “Defensively we were solid, made the plays that we needed to, and it allowed us to stay in games and eventually come out on top.”

In Great Lake’s first game of the 14U postseason, it took on the Ontario Nationals team, securing a victory before matching up against Team Ontario for its second win. For the Canadians’ third win of the playoff tournament and for the championship, they played the Fieldhouse Pirates in back-to-back games, beating them twice.

“In the semi-finals against Fieldhouse, Trevor Syer pitched probably one of the best 14U games I’ve seen in the last couple of years,” Bowden said. “He used three pitches and was able to mow down a good-hitting lineup. Our offence was steady throughout, a lot of good at-bats finding ways to cash runners when we had them in scoring position.

“In the last game against Fieldhouse again, it was a complete team effort. All 14 guys on the team found a way to get in and contribute. I was really impressed by Ashton Graff-Rowe at the top of our order. He’s always finding a way to set the tone and really kickstart our offence there for the guys in the middle to do some damage. The bottom of our order also grinded out good at-bats, finding ways to get on base to roll that lineup over to the top again.”

Sealing the deal in the last win of the season, the elation of Bowden’s team spread to its coaching staff and was enjoyable for all involved.

“It was awesome,” he said. “Throughout the year they experienced a lot of success and they hadn’t really been rewarded with the kind of championships they were looking for, so to come through at the end and see it come to fruition and finish out on top was awesome to see. The group really bonded well together and you could tell they wanted to win not only for themselves but for each other.”

Among the characteristics that most impressed the skipper of Great Lake’s 14U Black team, there were two things that really stood out as the season progressed.

“Our pitching was something that we definitely really leaned on,” Bowden said. “Our starters were really able to give us good innings, get deep into their starts and keep us in games that way. Whether our bats were on or they were struggling a little bit, we felt we could lean on our arms to keep us close and keep us in games.

“The other thing that at least toward the end of the year that started to show up a little bit was the hitters starting to play selfless baseball, finding ways to move runners over or cash runners when we needed them. They really bought into the team game and didn’t care as much about the individual accolades, which was nice to see.”

The championship at the 14U level was one of four trophies the Great Lake program secured among the five total CPBL championships, also winning at the 15U, 16U and 17U levels, with the Ontario Blue Jays coming out on top of the 18U division.

“It just cements that this is one of the top programs, not only for development but as a perennial program throughout the country and throughout the province that is here to compete, here to win,” Bowden said. “At the end of the day, those weekends where we had four of five championships really showed the strength that we have in our program.”

15U, 16U and 17U Canadian Premier Baseball League playoffs set to start

Following championships at the youngest and oldest levels of the Canadian Premier Baseball League, with the Ontario Blue Jays taking the 18U crown and the Great Lake Canadians Black 14U squad earning a trophy, the league will see its next winners crowned at the 15U, 16U and 17U levels at the end of this week and over the upcoming weekend.

The 17U event is set to begin on Thursday and run until Saturday, with Sunday to be utilized if a rain date is needed. All 17U games will take place between the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame in St. Marys and the Field of Dreams in Dorchester. Six teams will face a double-elimination format to see who will leave champions of the 2019 season after the Ontario Blue Jays Travers squad finished atop the regular season leaderboard.

The league’s 16U postseason play will take place over the same set of days, between Rivergrove Park in Mississauga and Stuart Burnett Field in Aurora, hosted by the Ontario Astros and the Ontario Blue Jays. At the 16U level, eight teams will battle through the double-elimination format to find a champion, after the Great Lake Canadians finished atop the standings at the end of the regular season.

At the 15U level, playoffs will begin on Wednesday and run through to Friday, with Saturday as an alternate date if necessary because of weather. Games will also be played at the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame as well as at the Field of Dreams, in addition to Citywide Sports Complex in London. The 15U champion will be crowned out of eight teams at the level, with the Great Lake Canadians Black squad coming out on top of the regular season standings.

As a reminder, the CPBL bylaws will be followed for all games. Matchups will be seven innings in length, and limited to two-and-a-half hours, with extra innings permitted within the time limitations. The higher seeded squad in the league standings will be the home team throughout the playoffs. The run rule remains in effect for the entire tournament.

If a game is tied as time expires, the international tie-breaker rule will come into effect. Each team will start their half of the inning with the previous two batters from the inning prior on first and second base with none out.

Games will run ahead of schedule when and wherever possible, and we wish the best of luck to all players and teams participating in the upcoming event.

14U Canadian Premier Baseball League playoffs set to get underway

As the summer continues and various age groups complete their seasons, the Canadian Premier Baseball League will see its next winner crowned at the 14U level.

The playoffs at the youngest age group in the circuit follow a win at the highest level of the CPBL by the Ontario Blue Jays, taking the 18U championship earlier this year.

Atop the 14U leaderboard to finish out the regular season sits the Great Lake Canadians Black squad, one that lost only three games all season long. Not far behind are two OBJ squads, with Collymore sitting at the No. 2 seed in the standings and Naylor in third place. All standings are based upon winning percentage, with ties taken into account.

The postseason for all 14U teams is set to begin this Thursday and finish on Saturday, with all games played between the Field of Dreams in Dorchester and the Rotary Field at the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame in St. Marys, hosted by the GLC organization. Eight teams will face a double-elimination format to see who will leave champions of the 2019 season. Sunday will be utilized as a rain date for any 14U games that may be postponed throughout the postseason.

As a reminder, the CPBL bylaws will be followed for all games. Matchups will be seven innings in length, and limited to two-and-a-half hours, with extra innings permitted within the time limitations. The higher seeded squad in the league standings will be the home team throughout the playoffs. The run rule remains in effect for the entire tournament.

If a game is tied as time expires, the international tie-breaker rule will come into effect. Each team will start their half of the inning with the previous two batters from the inning prior on first and second base with none out.

Games will run ahead of schedule when and wherever possible, and we wish the best of luck to all players and teams participating in the upcoming event.

Ontario Blue Jays secure 2019 18U Canadian Premier Baseball League title

The Canadian Premier Baseball League has a new champion at the 18U level, with the Ontario Blue Jays coming out on top in the fourth season of the circuit to capture the trophy at the highest level.

After a slow start to the year, the Blue Jays surged through the end of the season. They won their final eight games of the CPBL regular season and tore through the playoff weekend, defeating the Ontario Astros, Great Lake Canadians and Toronto Mets to seal the championship victory.

“It’s always been a good group,” OBJ 18U manager Joe Ellison said. “They did well at 17U and moving ahead to us at 18U, they had a good fall. We started rough — I don’t think that’s a surprise to anybody — we were 2-8 to start off the year, but they bought into what we were preaching all year and by the end of it, they came out the team they were supposed to be at the beginning. Sometimes it just takes a little bit longer to get going.”

The biggest factor in getting the team going — on its way to the league title — was the leadership it had and the way its players rallied around it.

“We have a lot of guys who have been in our program for five years, and some for even six years in the cases of Lukas Barry and Blake Buckle,” Ellison said. “It was guys like that who the team rallied around when we were struggling.

“Buckle had a team meeting and pulled everybody aside and got us going back in the right direction. That was one of the biggest parts of it, having those senior leadership guys to be able to say, ‘This is the way we do things, and this is not how it should be, and this is how it needs to be,’ and that’s how it got done.”

The Blue Jays earned their way to the winners’ circle after defeating the Astros and Canadians in their first two games of the postseason tournament. They then played back-to-back-to-back games against the Mets, defeating the Toronto squad in their first attempt, dropping the second, and securing the trophy with an 8-5 win.

“I couldn’t be more happy,” the 18U OBJ manager said. “A lot of hard work goes into these teams, especially at the 18U level, and the 18U program has been something that we’ve really wanted to improve on the last couple of years.

“Finally to have it win a championship and get back to where it should be is really exciting for our program, and exciting for myself, the players, and the whole coaching staff.”

As the season continues south of the border for the Blue Jays this summer, the organization couldn’t be more excited about the competition and calibre of play the CPBL provided throughout the year at the 18U level.

“It’s huge for us,” Ellison said. “The addition of metal bats this year made it a little more exciting, definitely more of an offensive league this year. It challenged our pitchers and our position players to be much better and to take care of the baseball.

“For us, our next stop is to Flint, Michigan for the Connie Mack World Series qualifier, and to go in on a high note and in a really good spot as a team, I’m excited.”

Winning the league championship was the icing on the cake for a Blue Jays’ squad that showed a no-quit attitude all year long, and was truly an entire team effort come to fruition on Sunday.

“I go back to the leadership guys, the guys who have been around the block, who I really leaned on  to help right the ship with our 18U program,” Ellison said. “They did that, and I really couldn’t be any more proud of those guys and the team as a whole. Everybody contributed something throughout the year.

“Obviously when you get off to the start we did, the wheels could have come off really easily, but the guys pulled together and everybody played a role. Even though they might not have been in the championship game on Sunday, everyone did something this year to help us win and to get to where we were to give us that opportunity.”