Quick Hits: Canadian JNT Catchers


Chris Kemlo
PBR Ontario Director of Scouting

 

As Canada prepares for its first game at the Pan Am Qualifier in Panama, we take a look at the somewhat unique position they’re in when it comes to the options they have when selecting their man behind the plate.

With 4 different players who are all versatile defenders where they can play an assortment of positions on the diamond, it allows for different looks, late game substitutions and the ability to be flexible and present different options game in and game out.

The two veterans who return from the professional ranks in Noah Naylor, 1st rd. pick of the Cleveland Indians and Laron Smith, a 25th rd. selection of the Minnesota Twins, both can play anywhere on the infield and not lose a step while Smith has transitioned to being a catcher after he saw a fair amount of his time at second base and third. Rest assure that both will be in the lineup one way or another as their offensive talents will be in the heart of the order for Team C.

The other two prospects are not too shabby either as Alabama commit Owen Diodati and TCU commit Raphael Pelletier round out the options for the Canadian squad. Diodati, another impactful left-handed bat to the lineup also has been seen at first base and left field during his time with the JNT and Pelletier, who made his first JNT appearance in October, arguably was one of the top defenders this year at the Future Games in Indianapolis and has shown the ability to receive at a high caliber and control the game and his staff.

This group of catchers are sure to be a major plus over the course of these qualifiers and we are sure that this will allow Canada to be strategic, keeps their offensive bats in the lineup without losing a step on the defensive end. Below we highlight Canada’s catching crop with some quick notes and a few highlights of this talented group.

Canadian Junior National Team - Catchers

Noah Naylor C / SS / St. Joan of Arc, ON / 2018

Report: Naylor, depending on how Canada wants to match up can be a leader basically anywhere on the field, that is the kind of calming presence he brings, along with the tool set we’ve seen so many times. The bat is the big tool but he can not only control, but shut down the running game of the opposition. Expect to see and hear Naylor a lot over the next week, as he can be counted on to make a positive impact on both sides of the ball.

LaRon Smith SS / RHP / Okotoks Dawgs Academy, AB / 2018

Report: Smith was a infielder for the majority of his high school career but was selected by the Twins in the 25th round and with that came shin guards, facemask and a much bigger glove. The arm strength has always been an asset and tool to go along with confidence and softness with his hands. That’s translated over to behind the dish with reports that Smith has taking strides and not sure will see much of Smith this week, he’s had enough time to get comfortable and is a reliable option for the coaching staff.

 


Owen Diodati C / A.N. Myer , ON / 2019

Report: Diodati has been on fire with the bat and he has seen time at first and the outfield this summer, with the higher percentage of his time has been behind the dish. His bat is sure to be in the lineup and if you needed to make a late inning switch, the Alabama commit has shown he can be a corner guy if the need is to keep the bat in the lineup as the focus.

Raphael Pelletier C / SS / Edouard-Montpetit, QC / 2020

Report: Pelletier had a whirlwind of a summer with heavy travel, a commitment to TCU at the Future Games, club team victoires with ABC and now looking to make his mark with the Junior National Team. He’s agile, can sink into his hips while you can see the pride he takes in hsi catch and throw, not to forget about his quickness and ability to block balls and keep runners from taking extra bags. The bat is behind the other three, but Pelletier can come into games and be reliable defensively and his character suggests he wants to be in there at crunch time being able to get the job done.

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