Top Ten Canadian Prospects

Many of last year’s top ten Canadian prospects graduated to the major leagues last year. The top four prospects, Vladimir Guerrero Jr, Mike Soroka, Tyler O’Neil and Josh Naylor all had impacts on their major league teams and are no longer considered rookies. Cal Quantrill, the number 6 prospect also pitched enough major league innings to no longer qualify for this top ten list. That leaves the pickings for this current top ten list very slim, with just three returners. There is no sure fire major leaguer among this list. It is possible we could have missed a player who lived in Canada long enough as a youth to qualify, but if we learn of him we’ll add him to the list for next year, like Abraham Toro..

1. Abraham Toro 3B (Astros) - Last year he did not make this list because we were not aware he was born in Canada. He may have been rated seventh on the list if we had known his origins last year. This year he was voted by Canadian baseball as the top Canadian player, which gave us a hint to look him up. He has some good offensive tools, hitting .306 in AA and then .424 in a 16 game AAA debut, which got him a promotion to Houston. He has Alex Bregman in his way at third, and his bat may not carry enough power to start at a corner infield spot. He did hit 19 homeruns last year, including two in the major leagues, so the power could be developing. Defensively he is a average to below average, so that will hinder him in his quest to start a third if his bat doesn’t develop. His best bet would be to earn a job as a bench player, perhaps playing some second base and left field.

2. Bo Naylor C (Indians) - He is the younger brother of Josh and possibly the best bet to win regular major league time. Josh weighs in at over 250 while Bo is a more svelte 190. The Indians drafted him in the first round of the 2018 draft. His bat shows decent gap power with 18 doubles and 10 triples and there was enough power to carry 11 balls over the fence. The 10 triples tells you he has decent speed for a catcher, more than his brother Bo who is trying to make it as an outfielder. His arm is strong and his defensive tools are strong enough to stay behind the plate. Next year he should see time in High A.

3. Adam Hall SS (Orioles) - Adam is more a defensive shortstop. The Orioles drafted him in the second round of the 2017 draft. His one big attribute is his speed which allowed him to steal 22 bases in 2018 and 33 in 2019. His bat has also been decent the last two years, hitting just a few points shy of .300 both years. The power is limited with slugging averages less than .400 and as he rises up the ranks those numbers could decrease. His best bet may be to make it as a utility player if the bat does not improve. His defense will play.

4. Jordan Balazovic RHP (Twins) - The Twins waited until the fifth round in 2016 to draft Jordan. His first two seasons did not light any fires to draw the scouts attention, but last year he had a breakout season, striking out more than 12 hitters per nine innings between Low A and High A. He also limited the opposition to a .193 average. The fastball sits in the low to mid 90s and he complements it with a quality slider and change. Next year will be key when he will face more advanced AA hitters.

5. Dasan Brown OF (Blue Jays) - Dasan was the first Canadian selected in the 2019 draft, the Blue Jays grabbing him in the third round. Speed and the ability to cover centerfield will be his game. His bat does not show a lot of power now, but he was one of the youngest players selected in the draft so it could develop as he matures. He has excellent bat speed. With his speed defensively he should cover a lot of ground in centerfield. Last year he hit just .222 in 14 Rookie league games. He may have to start the season in extended spring, get a few games of Rookie league ball in him and with success move on up to Low A.

6. Otto Lopez SS/2B (Blue Jays) - Otto was born in the Dominican Republic but his parents moved to Canada when he was young. He got his start playing ball in Canada before his dad moved him down to the Dominican where he felt he could get a better opportunity to be seen by major league scouts. The Blue Jays signed him for $60,000. Not much was thought of him until he hit .324 in Low A, winning the Midwest League batting title. Lopez is not flashy for shortstop so his best bet would be at second base or in a utility role.

7. Tristan Pompey OF (Marlins) - The younger brother of Dalton. Dalton may have the more impressive tools but injuries hurt his major league development time. Tristan was selected in the third round of the 2018 draft, much earlier than his brother Dalton who had to wait until the 16th round in 2010. Tristan has above average speed, but his arm is short and will limit him to left field. At 6′4″ he could develop some power in the bat to fit in left field. Last year he started the season in extended spring training, got a late callup and struggled with a .194 average in the Florida State League. His .271 slugging with no homeruns needs to improve.

8. Brandon Markland RHP (Royals) - Brandon was a player who never got drafted after a high school or college (Bryan College) career. It was only after he pitched in the Coastal Plain Independent League that he got some interest in a team from Australia, the Auckland Tuatara, who are actually a team from New Zealand that plays in the ABL. The Royals found his mid-90s fastball there getting Australian hitters out with ease. In his first season stateside he finished with a 0.46 ERA, getting lots of ground ball outs and limiting the opposition to a .162 average. He is probably destined for the bullpen because of his control issues and ability to only throw two quality two (fastball and slider). At 23 years of age he might have been a bit old for Low A.

9. Andy Yerzy 1b/C (Diamondbacks) - Yerzy was a second round pick of the Diamondbacks in 2016. Last year Andy split his time between catching and first base. His tools to stay behind the plate are limited. While he has a little bit of pop, his bat may not have enough to stay at first base. He struggled at High A, hitting just .104 in 33 games, resulting in a demotion back to Low A. He did hit six homeruns in Low A but his .220 average was 70 points lower than his 2018 average. The 2020 season will be a critical season where he needs to replicate the slugging numbers he put up in 2017 and 2018.

10. Adam Macko LHP (Mariners) - He was born in Slovakia and just missed making the European list. The Mariners drafted him in the seventh round of the 2019 draft. The other choice for this slot would be Demi Orimoloye, who is blessed with tools but has trouble making contact. Adam studied pitching in Slovakia by watching YouTube videos of David Price and Justin Verlander. He moved to Ireland where he played for a Little League team ironically named the Mariners and then moved to Alberta, Canada. He doesn’t throw hard, with a fastball that sits in the high 80s, but he relies on his breaking pitches and command to retire hitters. In Rookie ball he struck out 31 hitters in 21 innings and limited the opposition to a .224 average. As he climbs up the minor league ladder he will find better hitters who have the ability to hit breaking pitches if he lacks the command to throw them where they can’t be hit.

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