To wrap up my pre-draft coverage with Draft Day upon us, starting later tonight at 7:00PM with rounds one and two (while the Jays are playing, which sucks - seriously MLB, schedule a league wide offday on Draft night), I thought I'd highlight some Canadian content and connections since it's a particularly strong year for Canadian draft talent. The strength is three consensus top-100 high school players, two from Ontario and one from Alberta, but there's also solid talent in both the prep and college ranks that gives some really good depth to the class. And at the end, we'll touch on a few Blue Jay connections, some Canadian and some not.
High School Players
- Demi Orimoloye is a 6'4", 225 pound outfielder from the Ottawa area with a commitment to the University of Oregon if he doesn't sign. For the past year, he's been the consensus top Canadian, with late first round buzz at one point, but he's slipped a little bit in the last month. He's lauded for his overall athleticism, frequently described as being built like a linebacker. Orimoloye has strong raw power, but also has shown the ability to hit against good pitching during multiple trips scout in front of scouts, boosting his draft status. Defensively, he grades out with plus speed and a strong arm. Baseball America ranks him 41st, Perfect Game 49th, MLB.com 62nd, FanGraphs 75th (down from 36).
- Josh Naylor is a 6'1", 225 pound first baseman/DH from Mississauga, whose calling card is having some of the best raw power in the draft. In addition to being one of about 50 high schoolers invited to the Perfect Game All-American Classic at Petco Park, Naylor was the runner-up in the Junior Home Run Derby at last year's All-Star game. On the downside, his limited defensive tools limit him to the far right of the defensive spectrum, which will put a ton of pressure on his bat. In multiple ways, his profile reminds me of Rowdy Tellez back in 2013, when he was picked in the 30th round but signed for $850,000. That was late second round slot money, which is roughly were Naylor projects to be taken. MLB.com ranks him 659th, BA 61st, PG 65th and FanGraphs 73rd.
- Mike Soroka is a 6'4", 200 pound RHP from Calgary who has zoomed up draft boards in the last year, and recently committed to Cal. His fastball has been up to 94 this spring, which is up from even last fall when he topped out at 93 in the WWBA showcase in Jupiter. His secondaries (curveball and change-up) lag behind, but flash potential to be average or better MLB pitches. He's ranked 60th by MLB.com, 66th by FanGraphs, 75th by PG, and 90th by BA.
- Tristan Pompey is a name familiar to Blue Jays fans, and the 6'4" outfielder is said to be more advanced than brother Dalton at the time of the draft (though Dalton was one of the youngest players in the 2010 draft at just 17.5, whereas Tristan turned 18 in March). BA ranks him 238th.
- Other notable names are Miles Gordon, an outfielder from Oakville (ranked 187 by BA ,334th by PG); JF Garon, an outfielder from Laval (ranked 301 by BA); and Darren Shred, a catcher from Brampton (ranked 329 by BA and 265 by PG)
- Jeff Degano is a 6'4" LHP from Surray who had a monster junior season at Indiana State, posting a 2.36 ERA with 126 strikeouts and just 28 walks in 99 innings. After two years an Iowa community college, he transferred to Indiana State for 2013, but required Tommy John surgery after three starts and missed all of 2014. He can run his fastball up to 95, but sits more in the high 80s to low 90s with feel for a slurvy breaking ball and change-up. Degano is ranked 74th by Fangraphs, 83rd by BA, 94th by MLB.com and 138th by PG
- Ryan Kellogg, a 6'5" LHP from Whitby, was featured in yesterday's retrospective on unsigned Blue Jay picks, so head there for the details on him.
- Daniel Pinero is a sophomore-eligible shortstop from Toronto who is bound for the College World Series with the University of Virginia for the second straight year. He was drafted in the 20th round in 2013, and stepped right into lineup as a freshman due to excellent defensive tools, though struggled at the plate. He posted a much improved .300/.404/.417 line this year, but had some defensive lapses. It'll be interesting to see it he signs or returns to Virginia. He's ranked 261st by BA and 375th by PG.
- Cole Peragine is a senior catcher at Stony Brook who played on their improbable 2012 College World Series team as a freshman shortstop. He's ranked 350th by PG and 387 at BA, and could go in the top 10 rounds as an experienced senior sign.
Blue Jays Connections
- Casey Fletcher, son of Darrin, is finishing up his senior season at the University of Illinois, where he's played in the outfield the last two years after transferring from a junior college. He hit .326/.426/.411 this year, hitting in the middle of a team that dominated the Big 10 and won 27 straight games at one point.
- Levi Borders, son of Pat, is a catcher who finished his junior season at the University of South Florida with a much improved .291/.376/.487 line. He's draft eligible, but could return for his senior season alongside brother Luke who was a sophomore.
- Tyler Stieb, nephew of Dave, is a junior at Cal-State Fullerton (and will play in a win-or-go-home game later today to advance to the College World Series) who came on strong in his second year after transferring from junior college, hitting .307/.384/.376 while playing CF. He's draft eligible, but also may return for his senior season.
- Brett Siddall, son of broadcaster Joe, had a huge junior season at Canisius College in Buffalo, hitting .353/.399/.610 with 12 HR (up from three in 2014) and absolutely mashing a couple weeks ago in the MAAC conference tournament to help propel Canisius to the NCAA tournament. Also a candidate to return for his senior season.
- Not relevant to the 2015 draft, but Cal Quantrill underwent Tommy John surgery in March after a stellar freshman season put him on the radar as a potential top pick in 2016. It will be interesting to see what happens with him next year, as he should be just returning to health at draft time next year.