Leading up to the 2009 Baseball Canada Cup, fans in Kindersley were promised high-calibre ball from the country’s elite 17-and-under players.
The tournament lived up to the hype, providing five full days packed with excellent pitching, highlight-reel catches and powerful sluggers at Jerry S. Flanagan Complex.
Scouts from all 30 Major League Baseball teams made the trek to Kindersley to take in the action, and at the 2010 MLB First-Year Player Draft in June, their teams selected 11 players who featured at last year’s event.
Three of them were taken by the Toronto Blue Jays.
On top of that, Houston Astros 10th-round pick Evan Grills was pencilled in as Ontario’s ace lefty but missed the Canada Cup with an injury.
Another Ontario hurler, right-hander Joel Pierce, was the first Canada Cup participant to be selected. He was taken in the seventh round, 219th overall, by the Milwaukee Brewers. Pierce was a key cog in the Ontario pitching staff last year at only 16.
The Brewers grabbed another Canada Cup player in the 19th round, selecting British Columbia right fielder Roman Wick.
One of the biggest stories of last year’s tournament, Quebec righty Jonathan Paquet, went in the 22nd round to the Philadelphia Phillies.
The six-foot-four pitcher threw a complete game gem in last year’s semifinal win over Ontario. Six hours later, he entered the gold medal game in relief and shut down B.C.’s top hitters in a losing cause. He was named top pitcher of the tournament.
The player who got the most hype entering the 2009 Canada Cup, B.C. right-hander Steve McKinnon, was the fourth player to be taken. The Texas Rangers scooped up the winning pitcher from the gold medal game with the 976th overall pick in round 32.
Ontario shortstop Brandon Dailey, named the top defensive player in last year’s tournament, went in the 34th round to the Cincinnati Reds.
The diminutive Dailey was one of the most impressive players in Kindersley last August and also played for his province at the Canada Summer Games.
B.C.’s number two pitcher, righty Mike Ellis, was taken in the 35th round by the San Diego Padres.
One round later, the New York Mets opted for Quebec right-hander Jesen Therrien-Dygestil.
Scouts kept a watchful eye on Ontario lefty Brian Smith last summer and he was taken by the Chicago Cubs in the 40th round.
Ontario left fielder Philip Diedrick was the most impressive power hitter at last year’s tournament and he had the good fortune to be taken by the Blue Jays in the 45th round.
Ontario teProxy-Connection: keep-alive Cache-Control: max-age=0 mate Nick Studer, a catcher, was also grabbed by Canada’s team in the 48th round.
The Jays used their final pick, in the 50th round, on the tournament’s top catcher, Kelly Norris-Jones of B.C.
In total, last year’s squad from Ontario had five players drafted, followed by B.C. with four and Quebec with two.
With any luck, we will be watching another handful of future MLB draft picks this week.