Naylor, Orimoloye impressing at Tournament 12
Standouts in showcase at Rogers Centre displaying their talent, potential
TORONTO -- The Tournament 12 showcase at Rogers Centre is filled with Canada's best young baseball talent, but when it comes to those who are eligible for the 2015 First-Year Player Draft, there are two who have already separated themselves from the pack.
A big power bat in Josh Naylor and exceptional athlete in outfielder Demi Orimoloye are considered to be among the top rising baseball prospects in the country. Both are members of the prestigious Canadian Junior National Team, and scouts and coaches alike love both players' upside.
One scout described Naylor's power as special, and said there aren't many 16-year-olds who can put the ball into the second deck of a Major League stadium, which is what Naylor did during batting practice of Friday's workout session in advance of the four-day tournament. On Saturday, he became the second player in the tournament to hit one out in a game situation, crushing a two-run homer that went out to right field in a hurry.
"Josh is a very advanced high school hitter, performance-wise," said Greg Hamilton, the director of Baseball Canada's national teams. "He's going to barrel the ball a lot. His physical ability to hit is going to show a lot.
"He has big power and the ability to hurt you all over the ballpark, because there is dimension to his bat."
While those familiar with the 6-foot, 225-pounder believe his defense could stand to improve and that he needs to solidify a position, he's not simply a pull-hitting power hitter. Naylor is said to use all fields well, and he can drive the ball out of the park the other way, too. He also understands the potential limitations to his game and is not content with being labeled as a pure slugger.
"An area I want to improve is my defense and my speed," Naylor said. "I take pride in my defense and my speed, and I'm working every day towards getting better."
Orimoloye, meanwhile, is someone scouts dream about. One scout said the gifted 6-foot-4, 215-pounder is still a little raw but has an abundance of talent, which makes him a high-ceiling player.
When he first played with Hamilton's national team, Orimoloye admitted that he didn't have the greatest understanding of the game, saying he had no approach and tried to hit home runs every time he stepped to the plate.
"[Greg] has taught me how to stay through the ball and go up the middle, wait on the ball more, because I used to pull off," Orimoloye said.
Hamilton touted Orimoloye as someone who runs well for his size and has plus power in his bat.
"Demi is a special athlete," he said. "You don't see that combination of speed, athleticism, strength and power very often.
"The development curve is really significant. He is nowhere near realizing the potential he has athletically."
The pair appreciate their place among Canada's next wave of young talent -- they have been to showcases all over the world playing against the top players from other countries -- but they remain grounded.
Naylor and Orimoloye are both used to drawing attention and said they enjoy playing in front of scouts, which is a good thing considering how often that happens. Orimoloye's favorite players are Baltimore's Adam Jones and Mike Trout of the Angels, while Naylor's is Boston's David Ortiz.
Their goals are simple -- get to where those stars are.
"Just have to stay positive and never stop working," Naylor said. "I hope I make it one day."