OTTAWA- When MLB teams open Spring Training across Florida and Arizona at the end of February the Junior National Team will also head south for a Spring Training camp of their own, as part of the first ever National Team Alumni Week in St. Petersburg, Florida. The JNT will participate in a series of exhibition games in conjunction with St. Petersburg International Baseball which will see games played at historic Al Lang Stadium from February 26th- March 5th.
“We are extremely excited about this trip and the benefits it will bring not only to our Junior Team players but for the National Teams Program as well,” said Head Coach and Director of National Teams Greg Hamilton. “We are fortunate to partner with the City of St. Petersburg, St. Petersburg International Baseball and the Toronto Blue Jays in what promises to be an important aspect of our Junior National Team program going forward.”
Four players who participated in the 2010 World Junior Baseball Championship Justin Atkinson (Surrey, BC), Nicholas Pivetta (Victoria, BC), Tom Robson (Ladner, BC) and Jesen Dygestile-Therrien (Montreal, QC) are part of the 31-player roster.
Highlighting the schedule will be a game against a split-squad version of the Toronto Blue Jays on Friday March 4th. The JNT will face a ‘big-league’ test as members of the Blue Jays MLB club will be a part of the Jays roster. The game is the first in what hopes to be an annual occurrence between the Blue Jays and the JNT and also symbolizes the strength of the ever growing relationship between the Toronto Blue Jays Baseball Club and Baseball Canada.
“Having this game occur is a natural fit for the Toronto Blue Jays and Baseball Canada,” said Blue Jays GM Alex Anthopoulos. “The ability to assist in development of the elite Canadian baseball players is an opportunity we are thrilled to be a part of.”
March 4th will be declared ‘Canada Day’ by St. Petersburg Mayor Bill Foster to further enhance the All-Canadian match-up.
“The Canadian Junior National Team rounds out our inaugural spring schedule for 2011,” explained Mayor Foster. “I am extremely grateful to them, as well as the South Korean, Dutch, and Australian teams for seeing what St. Petersburg has to offer and for making a commitment to our international baseball program."
The remainder of the schedule will see the JNT face St. Petersburg Junior College, Beach State Independent, the Korea Nexen Heroes (a professional club from Korea) and a touring National Team from the Netherlands.
One of Florida’s first and most legendary venues for spring training, Al Lang Stadium, will host all games as St. Petersburg International Baseball is bringing baseball back to the stadium. The spring schedule is the first of a three-phase program that will include a summer and spring schedule on an annual basis.
For the players, the training camp will not only offer them the chance to represent their country while improving their skills but will also provide plenty of exposure, as several college and professional scouts will use the training camp as an opportunity for talent evaluation.
Note: The Spring Training Camp is an important step in the process as the JNT will attempt to qualify for the 2012 World Junior Baseball Championship (scheduled for Seoul, South Korea) at the Americas World Junior Qualification Tournament in Cartagena, Colombia from September 23rd - October 2nd, 2011. For more information on the JNT program please click here
St. Petersburg International Baseball