Young Futures-Navy team excites at Tournament 12
TORONTO -- The Futures-Navy team at the Tournament 12 showcase at Rogers Centre may have been the youngest of 10 squads, but a number of players turned some heads during their four games.
Despite getting knocked out after losing both its Monday contests, the Futures team has nothing to hang its heads about. Players who have officially put themselves on the map include 14-year-olds Cooper Davis and Adam Hall, who play for former big leaguer Adam Stern's Great Lake Canadians elite team composed of players from Southwest Ontario.
Hall -- the youngest player on the Great Lakes team -- who had two triples in the tournament, and Davis picked the right time to make a good impression.
"They played their butts off out there," said an American League scout. "It has been fun to watch those young kids go out there and compete with the 19- and 20-year-olds."
Another Futures player who opened up some eyes was 16-year-old lefty Isaac Anesty, who had the top velocity of the day at 90 mph, despite having some control issues over his two innings of work. Bryce Dimitroff came close to hitting a homer for the Futures, one-hopping the wall in left field in a 5-1 loss to Ontario-Maroon. The Ontario squad clinched first place in Pool B with the victory and will play in Tuesday's semifinal.
Ontario was led by Tristan Clarke, who continued to impress with another strong showing at the plate, going 2-for-3 with a pair of RBIs. Big-time prospect Mitch Brigas, known for the potential in his bat, was given the start on the mound and went three innings, allowing one run on one hit with two strikeouts. Bigras was sitting in the low-80s with good armside run on his fastball, and while there are some who want to see the 6-foot-5, 185-pounder on the mound more, Greg Hamilton -- a coach of the Canadian Junior National Team -- said the upside in his bat is about as high as any prospect in Canada. Hamilton is also high on Bigras' ability in the field.
"It's the ease at which he plays the game defensively and it's the ease of swing that's going to generate power," Hamilton said. "He makes contact, he doesn't miss a ton."
The Futures also lost to Alberta-Red in the first game of the day, 8-0. Alberta received strong performances from starter Nolan Bumstead, who allowed a hit over three innings while striking out six, and slugger Wylie Johnston.
Johnston went 2-for-2 with a homer down the left-field line, and he drove in five runs.
The Prairies-Brown team, which was eliminated from advancing through to the next round on Sunday, ensured it wouldn't go home winless, dropping Quebec-White, 5-1, in its only contest of the day. Every team in the tournament recorded a victory following the Prairies win, and after British Columbia-Orange beat Maritimes-Grey, 2-0, it meant no team finished the first round undefeated.
Maritimes took a 3-0 record into the contest but was unable to solve British Columbia left-hander Bradley Smith, who allowed one hit over four innings while punching out seven. British Columbia didn't do much against the Maritimes pitching, either, and only recorded two hits -- one each from Toch Semlacher, who continued his strong tournament, and Mitch Robinson.
Codey Shrider started for the Maritimes and struck out six over two innings. The 21-year-old was overpowering and his fastball reached 88 mph. Despite the loss, the Maritimes will be playing in Tuesday's semifinal after going 3-1 in the first round of play. Some called the Maritimes' first-round success surprising, but the team appears to be using that as a source of motivation.
The Maritimes, an older team consisting of many college players, is not full of the high-upside players like the Ontario teams.
"I'm not surprised at how we played," said coach Mark Noel. "We knew our guys could play. Quality-wise, we are probably as good as anyone else; quantity-wise is where we lack."
Noel believes his team, which has become the feel-good story of the tournament, has enough arms left in the tank to win. The club will be shorthanded Tuesday, however, as two players -- including top player Evan Comeau -- have to go back to school, while others were scrambling to make last-minute travel changes. While Noel said the bunch is confident after sizing up the level of play, many didn't expect to stick around for this long. It cost a lot of money for the players from the Maritimes -- which consists of three Eastern Canadian provinces -- to travel to Toronto, but the team isn't complaining, as playing in big showcases is foreign to most of the players.
Following the Maritimes' loss, and after every team concluded its fourth game, the players got a tour of the Blue Jays' clubhouse and received baseball and life advice from alumni coaches Roberto Alomar, Devon White, Lloyd Moseby, Duane Ward and Sandy Alomar Sr. It was a nice touch, filled with moments of reflection, guidance and laughter.
"It was a great experience for everybody," Noel said.
In other action, Quebec-Blue strung together a six-run sixth inning to come from behind and drop Ontario Black, 6-5. The win made Quebec-Blue the favorites to join the Maritimes as the two teams from Pool A to advance to the next round. British Columbia (1-2) would have to rout Quebec-Blue (2-1) in an 8 a.m. ET game to advance due to a tie in the standings. Since Ontario-Green also finished with a 2-2 record after eliminating Ontario-Black, 10-8, in the last game of the day, the tiebreaker would come down to a plus-minus differential, and Quebec-Blue has a comfortable cushion in that regard.
Joining Ontario-Maroon out of Pool B will be the winner of the 10:30 a.m. ET game between Quebec-White and Alberta-Red.