To finish up the MLB draft coverage, I wanted to look at and profile some of the more prominent draft-eligible Canadians. This doesn't relate directly to the Blue Jays of course, though pretty much every year they draft and sign Canadian players. Granted, I'm no Alexis Brudnicki with encyclopedic knowledge of all things Canadian baseball, but I did want to profile some of the higher profile Canadian content in the draft. There aren't any players expected to go in the first round this year, but multiple players who should be early tomorrow and could always sneak into the later picks tonight.
Leach is top ranked Canadian pitcher in the draft since Mike Soroka two years ago, who went 28th overall to Atlanta and is currently excelling in AA. Leach isn't quite that highly considered, and with a likely ceiling of somewhere in the second round tonight. His fastball is in the low-90s, with a decent curveball and feel for the change-up, giving him a profile of starting pitcher, especially at 6'4". MLB.com notes good sink on his fastball, with a low effort delivery, though perhaps some mechanical tweaks to be made. He doesn't turn 18 until July, so he should continue to fill out some as well.
When one thinks about Canadian position players, what jumps to mind is lefty hitting/right throwing sluggers like Joey Votto, Larry Walker, Justin Morneau or Corey Koskie (or even Freddie Freeman). What Canada has rarely produced are middle infielders, but the highest ranked Canadian position player in 2017 is a shortstop in Hall. His best tool is speed, and has a chance to stick at SS and if not should stay on the infield. MLB.com credits a good feel for hitting, but notes he needs to fill out. That could happen in pro ball if he's drafted earlier enough, or otherwise for a very strong program in Texas A&M currently bound for Omaha.
Pop turned down the Jays as a 23rd round pick in 2014 to go the University of Kentucky where he's flashed tantalizing potential but hasn't really put it all together. This season was his best, with a 3.48 ERA in 20.2 innings. For his collegiate career, he posted a 4.56 ERA in 75 innings, with a 51/40 K/BB ratio. His fastball runs into the high-90s, with a power slider that still needs work, but struggles consistently finding the strike zone. If all goes right, he could be a shutdown reliever, but there's significant risk.
Lloyd is only a sophomore, having transferred to Indiana from Iowa Western CC for 2017, but having already turned 21 he's draft eligible and it wouldn't be surprising if be got chosen and signed after the monster year he put up. At the plate, he hit .301/.393/.554 with 16 doubles and 11 home runs. On top of that, Lloyd posted a 2.23 ERA in 32.1 innings (20/6 K/BB) on the mound, at times serving as Indiana's closer.
Lloyd was profiled by Baseball America in late-March (middle entry)
A few others of note:
- SS Jason Willow of Langley, BC is ranked 200th by Perfect Game and 271st by Baseball America, so he could go tomorrow assuming a good enough offer to buy him out of going to UC Santa Barbara
- Clayton Keyes was drafted by the Blue Jays in the 17th round last year out of Bishop Carroll in Calgary as one of the youngest players in the draft at 17 years and 5 months. He didn't sign, and is again draft-eligible, ranked 311th by Baseball America and 338th by Perfect Game, putting him in similar territory to Willow, with a commitment to Washington State in the PAC-12.
- Ben Onyshko was drafted by the Brewers i the 16th round in 2014, but hasn't progressed in three years at Stetson, with a 4.71 ERA over 105 innings, 119 strikeouts against 72 walks as a spot starter and reliever.
- Some names of note from the Jr. National team that took on the Jays in March: OF Cooper Davis (ranked 368th by Baseball America, Vandy commit); IF Edouard Julien (ranked 451st by Baseball America, Auburn commit), IF Dondrae Bremner
One for next year: A name that should be familiar, Tristan Pompey was a known name in the 2015 draft, but wasn`t drafted high enough to sign, ultimately going in the 32st round to Minnesota. He has a solid freshman year the University of Kentucky (.233/.328/.440 in 178 PA) but emerged as a star in 2017 mashing .361/.464/.541 in the gauntlet of the SEC. The some swing-and-miss, but some good emerging power, and if Pompey follows up on this next Spring he should be a first rounder.