London native selected in MLB draft, Toronto Blue Jays draft three
Two Canadians were selected on the first day of the MLB draft on Monday.
London native Adam Hall went 60th overall to the Baltimore Orioles. Hall went 23 picks after Pickering, Ont. native Landon Leach was selected by the Minnesota Twins with the first pick of the second round.
The 18-year-old Hall has been part of Canada’s junior national team program since was 15 and has represented Canada at the 2015 under-18 baseball World Cup in Osaka, Japan.
Hall has committed to play for Texas A&M University, it’s unclear if he will sign with the Orioles instead. Hall played with Leach when the two went on a Dominican Summer League tour.
They are both eligible to play for Canada at the under-18 baseball World Cup in Thunder Bay, Ont. in September.
The Toronto Blue Jays didn’t take any Canadians on Monday, but they were busy.
Canada’s only Major League team took shortstop Logan Warmoth 22nd overall with the first of their two first-round picks. Warmoth most recently played for the North Carolina Tar Heels.
Steve Sanders, Toronto’s director of amateur scouting, has followed Warmoth’s progress from a teenager who went undrafted out of high school three years ago to a top-ranked shortstop in the NCAA this season.
“Being with North Carolina we’ve seen a lot of him over the years,” Sanders said in a conference call on Monday following the conclusion of the first night of the draft. “He really took a step forward in a number of facets: hit for more power, on-base, made strides defensively. We’ve seen a steady progression of him since we started scouting him. He just continued to grow on us the more we watched him and he was a guy we were really hoping to have an opportunity for tonight.”
The Blue Jays, one of only three teams picking twice in the first round, also selected right-handed pitcher Nate Pearson from the College of Central Florida with the 28th pick — compensation from Cleveland after Edwin Encarnacion signed with the Indians as a free agent in the off-season — before choosing high school catcher Hagen Danner in the second round (61st overall).
Warmoth, a 21-year-old from Orlando, Fla., helped lead the No. 2 Tar Heels to a 49-14 record this season, batting .336 with 10 home runs through 63 games while Pearson, a six-foot-six, 245-pound 20-year-old from Tampa, Fla., also impressed in his sophomore year at junior college.
Pearson went 5-2 with a 1.56 earned-run average through 13 starts for the Patriots, striking out 118 over 81 innings to earn the Rawlings JUCO Pitcher of the Year honours from Perfect Game.
Danner is an 18-year-old from Huntington Beach, Calif., who also pitched with his high school team.
“We took three players from three different demographics, and not necessarily by design,” Sanders said. “Our goal going in was to take the best player available and that’s what we did — three very different players from very different backgrounds. Logan being a college shortstop in a big conference in the ACC, Nate a junior college pitcher from Florida whose stuff really trended upwards through the later part of the season. And Hagen who’s an exceptionally athletic high school player both as a pitcher and a catcher who we’re excited to send out as a catcher. Three very different profiles but again three players who we were excited to get in the spots we were able to get them.”
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Pearson, who’s committed to Louisiana State University for the upcoming school year, has reached triple-digit velocity with his fastball. He also has two breaking balls and is developing a change-up.
While he has a bit of injury history – he had to have a screw implanted in his pitching elbow in high school – Sanders says he sees Pearson’s potential in a rotation role.
“It’s really good stuff, special-type stuff across the board,” Sanders said of Pearon’s arsenal. “As a bigger guy with a good delivery we feel he has a great chance to start and that’s how we intent to send him out. We’re excited about what he brings to the table when he comes to the mound.”
As for Warmoth, Sanders says he likes him in his natural position in the middle of the infield, too.
“He’s got really good instincts, his hands work really well over there and he’s a smart baseball player,” Sanders said. “He’s an instinctual defender and we feel good about how his skills will translate to the pro level at shortstop.”
Former centre-fielder Lloyd Moseby was the Blue Jays’ representative in Seacaucus, N.J., where the draft was held.
The Minnesota Twins selected California high school shortstop Royce Lewis with the No. 1 pick. The Twins also selected the first Canadian of the draft, right-handed pitcher Landon Leach of Pickering, Ont., in the second round (37th overall).
The draft continues through Wednesday.
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