The Rode Show: Canadians Head South

By Nathan Rode
National Supervisor

The first edition of The Rode Show kicks off Sunday in Florida, but Florida prospects won’t be the first players seen. Canada’s Junior National Team is wisely headed south this weekend to practice and play games against mostly professional teams. PBR Ontario’s Chris Kemlo wrote up some players to keep an eye on for recruiting purposes, but I’ll be down there with a heavy focus on the upcoming draft and Team Canada certainly has its share of prospects this year.

Sunday’s game will be special because Team Canada is taking on the Toronto Blue Jays. LHP Jeff Francis, a native of British Columbia, will be on the mound for Toronto and RHP Mike Soroka (Bishop Carroll HS, AB) will start opposite of him. Soroka has a good frame at 6-foot-4, 195 pounds and enjoyed a breakout performance at the World Wood Bat Championship in October. He pitched at 88-91 mph with downhill plane and life that day while also showing a swing-and-miss slider at 77-79. His changeup was 80-81 with fade. His arm is loose and the ball comes out of his hand easily. A California recruit, Soroka faces a good test in going against professional hitters. Plenty of scouts are likely to keep a close eye on him while he’s in Florida.

There are several hitters that scouts will be following for Team Canada too. OF Demi Orimoloye (St. Matthew HS, ON) went off at the Area Code Games last August and passes the eye test with his athletic frame at 6-foot-4, 225 pounds. Orimoloye has some rawness to his game, but tremendous upside as well with speed, strength and power. 1B Josh Naylor (St. Joan of Arc HS, ON) has some of the biggest power in the 2015 draft class thanks to excellent bat speed and strength. He and Orimoloye will likely anchor the middle of Team Canada’s lineup. Not to be overlooked are OFs Miles Gordon (St. Ignatius of Loyola HS, ON) and Tristan Pompey (Jean Vanier Catholic SS, ON). Gordon has good speed, running a 6.51-second 60. He tracks the ball well in the outfield and has smooth actions. He’s a line-drive hitter, but shows some pop. Pompey’s older brother, Dalton, plays for the Blue Jays and had a breakout season last year. The younger Pompey remains uncommitted, but can run a 6.59-second 60 and is a switch-hitter. He’s more natural from the left side and is raw, but should garner some of his own pro interest thanks to his bloodlines and tools.

If the schedule allows me to get back to the Tampa area, OF Nic Hamilton (Lockport HS, NY) is there with the Great Lakes Canadians since he doesn’t play spring ball for his high school. Hamilton is an excellent athlete with raw tools and blazing speed. He can run the 60 in 6.37 seconds, but needs to gain experience for his tools to develop.

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