By Mason McRae
Throughout the history of the MLB draft, Canada typically has one or two highly regarded prospects per draft. Last year was one of the weaker classes for Canada, with Dasan Brown being the highest select Canadian going in the third round to the Jays. The year before, Bo Naylor represented well going to the Indians at the end of the first round. This year isn’t a strong class, but it has a much stronger group from the college side – which is very uncommon.
Canada’s track record isn’t remarkable but they’ve produced plenty of MLB impact players and while this year’s class has its ups-and-downs, it has a few players that could make it a fun class to look back at – So let’s take a look at them.
OF Cooper Davis, Vanderbilt
Davis is the first Canadian to start for Vanderbilt in its program’s history. Now, you don’t start for the best program in college baseball and become an anchor on its roster without having impressive skills. He was a vital part of a national championship win last season and played a critical role in getting on base for Austin Martin (projected top 5 pick in 2020) and J.J Bleday (4th overall pick in 2019). He’s a plus runner with a feel for the zone and a high instincts on the field & the basepath. He could end up with a similar scenario to Jays 2019 10th round pick – Phillip Clarke, a sophomore eligible catcher (Vanderbilt as well) who signed for 340k over the pick value.
LHP Justin Thorsteinson, Langley HS
The No. 1 prep player in the country title belongs to Justin Thorsteinson. The BC native was the ace for Canada’s WC team this summer – and while he struggled vs the US, he showed some great command and didn’t get help from his defense. His arm works in the high 80s to low 90s range, and has some great potential but his secondary pitches will need to improve in order for any team to spend the money needed to sign him away from Oregon State.
RHP Noah Skirrow, Liberty
The ace for one of the best rotations in the country last year. Skirrow is a low-90s righty who overpowers hitters and keeps them off balance with a 40 Changeup and a BB that complements his FB well. He’s a fringe day-three pick who with a velo increase could get day two looks but the secondary pitches need to improve and he needs to glove strike his BB more often.
OF Owen Caissie, Notre Dame HS
Canada’s No. 1 prep hitter goes to the Michigan commit, Owen Caissie. He wowed at T12 in front of plenty of scouts and showed off an impressive power tool with loud contact and a firm feel to hit. The defense will come along with his athletic build and lean body. He’s an interesting prospect who took a big step forward this summer.
LHP Connor O’Halloran, St. Martin’s HS
While O’Halloran is proclaimed the No. 1 arm in the country, I think otherwise. He’s got a repeatable and fluent delivery that works, but with an arm in the high-80s range. A velo increase is the only way he takes over Thorsteinson’s spot on top. It’s worth noting that Canada’s two best prep arms are lefties, and spoiler – there’s another one coming up,
SS Austin Gomm, Port Credit HS
With three (hitters) ‘19 draftees on the 2019 WC roster for Canada, it’s fitting that Auston Gomm was the one who impressed the most. He was flashy on defense and even ended up on the All-Tournament team. Against the 59th player in the ‘20 draft – Ben Hernandez – he went 2-4 with a hard single into right and another single up the middle. He lacks any gamepower, but the swing is efficient and he hits it hard enough to think some added muscle can make him a starting SS with a 45 bat. He has some off-the-field problems that could hinder his draft status though.
LHP Caden Griffin, John McCrae HS
The third and final LHP on the list, Caden has had some injuries and is down to 86-88 but his arm is whippy and the body is athletic. He’s got a lot to prove this upcoming spring and he’s been a highly touted Canadian arm for quite some time. If he can stay healthy and get into the low-90s, a lottery pick at the end of Day 3 to the Jays could make sense.
C Raphael Pelletier, Ecole Edouard-Montpetit HS
The final prospect to watch for the 2020 class is a Quebecois catcher who plays for Academiè Baseball Canada. He was the starting catcher for the Canadian national team thanks to his advanced catch-and-throw skills that cope with a 55 arm. His bat is a work-in-progress, the TCU commit’s glove will make him a formidable catcher, and if he can show some growth at the plate he can get a late day three nod.
Just Missed the list: OF David Calabrese, SS Bryce Arnold, RHP Evan Chenier.