OTTAWA – Baseball Canada is pleased to announce the names of 25 athletes selected to represent Canada at the World Baseball Softball Confederation (WBSC) Baseball Americas Qualifier in Palm Beach and St. Lucie, Florida from May 31st to June 5th.
The winner of the eight-team tournament will earn a spot in the Tokyo 2020 Olympic baseball competition while the second and third place finishers will head to Mexico for the WBSC Baseball Final Qualifier (dates are to-be-confirmed) where the sixth and final nation to compete at the Olympics will be determined.
Ernie Whitt will be managing Canada for the 19th time in his career at the Americas qualifier with veteran coaches Denis Boucher, Tim Leiper, Paul Quantrill and Baseball Canada’s Director of National Teams Greg Hamilton on the coaching staff.
Whitt, who’s guided Canada to four Pan Am Games medals (two gold, one silver and one bronze), at all four World Baseball Classic events and the 2004 Athens Olympics, has an all-time coaching record of 71-36 with Team Canada in international competion.
He will oversee a roster at the Americas qualifier that includes former major leaguers Andrew Albers, John Axford, Chris Leroux, Scott Mathieson, Dustin Molleken and Scott Richmond with 12 players named to the roster (Michael Crouse, Wes Darvill, Tyson Gillies, Ryan Kellogg, Leroux, Jonathan Malo, Will McAffer, Molleken, Connor Panas, Richmond, Evan Rutckyj and Eric Wood) part of Canada’s silver medal winning squad at the 2019 Pan Am Games in Lima, Peru.
Also named to the roster is veteran catcher Kellin Deglan along with infielder Jesse Hodges who were both part of Canada’s Pan Am gold medal winning squad in 2015, while Daniel Pinero and Jacob Robson also bring international experience at the junior and senior levels.
“We have a lot of experience on this roster, players that are familiar with international baseball and know what tournament baseball is all about,” said Ernie Whitt. “Our team realizes what’s at stake at this event so we’re highly motivated to compete for ourselves, our teammates and most of all, for Canada.”
The national team last competed internationally in 2019 at the WBSC Premier12 in Korea earning a win over Cuba before falling to host Korea and Australia in opening round play.
“It’s been a long time since our players have played with a Canadian uniform on so we’re really looking forward to getting back on the field as a group and the intense competition that international baseball provides.”
All international baseball events were either cancelled or postponed in 2020 due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Players named to the roster who’ve competed internationally as part of Baseball Canada’s Junior National Team program in the past include Ben Onyshko, JD Osborne, Josue Peley and Travis Seabrooke while pitchers Trevor Brigden and Brendan McGuigan will be representing Canada for the first time in international play.
Canada will compete in Group B and face Colombia on May 31st before taking on Cuba on June 1st and Venezuela on June 2nd.
Group A consists of host USA along with the Dominican Republic, Nicaragua and Puerto Rico with the top two countries in each group advancing to the Super Round.
Teams will play two Super Round games with head-to-head contests from the opening round counting towards the Super Round standings.
The team with the best Super Round record will be declared the winner and become the fifth National Team to advance to the baseball tournament of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games, joining already qualified nations host Japan, South Korea, Mexico and Israel.
Canada will hold a brief training camp beginning May 25th where they will play the first of two contests with Team USA at Ballpark of the Palm Beaches before traveling to Holman Stadium in Vero Beach for the second match-up on May 26th.
Canada will then face the Ft. Lauderdale Stars on May 27th before holding team practices on the days leading up to the opening game against Colombia on May 31st.
Andrew Albers – North Battleford, SK
John Axford – Port Dover, ON
Trevor Brigden - North York, ON
Ryan Kellogg – Whitby, ON
Chris Leroux - Mississauga, ON
Scott Mathieson - Aldergrove, BC
Will McAffer - North Vancouver, BC
Brendan McGuigan – Austin, TX
Dustin Molleken - Regina, SK
Ben Onyshko – Winnipeg, MB
Scott Richmond - Vancouver, BC
Evan Rutckyj - Windsor, ON
Travis Seabrooke – Peterborough, ON
Kellin Deglan - Langley, BC
JD Osborne – Whitby, ON
Wes Darvill - Richmond, BC
Jesse Hodges – Victoria, BC
Jonathan Malo - Joliette, QC
Josue Peley – Montréal, QC
Daniel Pinero - Toronto, ON
Eric Wood - Oshawa, ON
Michael Crouse – Port Moody, BC
Tyson Gillies – Vancouver, BC
Connor Panas - Etobicoke, ON
Jacob Robson – Windsor, ON