Ontario Insider: Team Canada 18u World Championship Preview



By Chris Kemlo and PBR Staff
Ontario Scouting Director

Ontario Insider: Team Canada 18u World Championship Preview

Tonight the 20 man roster of the 18u Canadian Junior National Team will begin their trek towards a gold medal on home soil in Thunder Bay Ontario.

The roster is compiled of 2017 and 2018 grad from across the country and will compete over the next 10 days against international competition of: Japan, Australia, U.S.A., Chinese Taipei, Mexico, Korea, Nicaragua, Cuba, Netherlands, South Africa and Italy. Canada’s pool consists of Australia, Korea, Chinese Taipei, Nicaragua and Italy.

9 players from Ontario make up just under half of the roster, with 5 players from British Columbia, 4 out of Quebec, and one each from Alberta and Manitoba round out the 20 man roster.

We highlight some of the players on this roster and take a look at what to expect from the Canadians as they has many different ways to create offense, as well pick it and pitch it defensively.

The Staff

The Canadians have 10 players who can take the hill, with one being two way prospect Michael Stovman from BC, who is off to Indian River  junior college after the Worlds is over. Stovman will see action at first and potentially on the mound. A power threat at the plate and a serviceable arm on the mound, he can play a big role for this team.

Landon LeachA big addition will be right-hander Landon Leach, who is back from his first taste of professional baseball as he was selected and signed by the Minnesota Twins, 37th overall as the first pick in the second round. Talk has been that Leach will be on a pitch count set by the Twins, but his presence, along with his 96 mph heater will surely be a plus for the team.

Others who look to play a key role will be lefty Harley Gollert  from Ontario. The Austin Peay commit is a strike thrower, three pitch guy who keeps hitters off balance and fills the zone. He is one of three lefties with Wesley Moore and Jack DeCooman, who are both from BC. DeCooman is off to Washington in the fall while Moore is committed to Cal State Northridge.

A key arm that could step up for Canada is recently committed 2018 grad Eric Cerantola. The 6-foot-5 right-hander was dominant in 4 innings of work vs. Australia in exhibition action last week His fastball touching 93 mph while his sharp, overhand curveball was getting swings and misses. When he has the feel for his breaking ball and is pounding the zone, Cerantola can hold just about any offence in check. The Mississippi State commit should play a big role if Canada has success on the mound.

The other Ontario pitchers are Ben Abram, Griffin Hassall. Abram is a commit of the Sooners from Oklahoma while Hassall is currently uncommitted and ranked as the 4th best arm in the 2018 class. They are both strike throwers who use all their pitches and rely on working ahead and keeping hitters off balance.

Position Players

A team with speed, a good mix of left and right-handed bats, and some juice from both sides of the plate, Canada will have many ways to produce offensively.

Noah NaylorA combination of Noah Naylor, Clayton Keyes, and Jason Willow will look to lead the offense for Canada, with guys like Stovman and catchers Archer Brookman and Victor Cerny adding some pop. Naylor, the consensus top prospect in Canada for 2018 hit in the 3 hole leading up to Thunder Bay, and also added versatility as he played third base quite a bit this past week in Ajax during exhibition games. The athletic Naylor also catches, but with second round pick Adam Hall not being cleared to play, this allows for Naylor to possibly see time in the infield and open up a spot for Brookman or Cerny to start behind the plate.

Guys like Stovman, Brookman and Cerny all can hit the ball out of the park. Stovman did so multiple times leading into Thunder Bay, and is a left-handed bat who can change the score or outcome in one swing of the bat, especially with runners on.

Keyes will be the starting centre-fielder, and hit anywhere between 2-4 in the order. An elite athlete with a mix of speed and power, he will be a presence in the lineup as the Alberta native is a very talented athlete and a very toolsy prospect. He was selected by the Arizona Diamondbacks in the 15th round.

Edouard Julien is a switch hitting infielder from Quebec who is off to Auburn this fall. Julien has been finding barrels this past week, and is a speedy middle infielder who provides a spark at the top of the order while providing solid defence up the middle. His partner at short is will either be Willow, or Ontario native and Cincinnati commit Dondrae Bremner. Both have seen time at short, the outfield, while Bremner will even play first base for the national team at times. Both are athletes with speed, while Willow will provide more power from the right side of the plate.

Along with Keyes in the outfield will be two uncommitted Ontario 2018 grads; Lucas Parente and Denzel Clarke. Both are athletic with speed and can steal bases, and both are true centre fielders for their club teams at home. The newest member to the outfield corpse is Marc-Antoine Lebreux. Another speedy outfielder who hails from Quebec, he brings arm strength and speed, with a chance to add another left-handed bat to the roster.

This is an athletic roster and will be a team who will rely on their speed both offensively and defensively. The pitching staff throws strikes and can throw their secondary stuff for strikes, while guys like Naylor, Keyes, Stovman and Willow can provide the long ball.

This event is a once in a lifetime opportunity for these players, and the chance to do so on home soil makes it extra special for this Canadian squad. Like any tournament winner, they typically have strong pitching, solid defense and timely hitting. This group of young men have the tools and talent to do something special here in Ontario. We wish them all the best over the next ten days and look forward to following along.

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