The inaugural Tournament 12 hosted by the Toronto Blue Jays at Rogers Centre gave amateurs a rare opportunity to play in a major league ballpark, tour the Toronto clubhouse, and hear a big league announcer say your name while you watch it appear on the big screens.
One prospect in particular made the most of the opportunity.
Righthander Andrew Case, a New Brunswick native entering his second year at Lethbridge Community College, came to Tournament 12 with few expectations but came away with a professional contract. The Blue Jays inked the 20-year-old after he turned in two dominant pitching performances.
“Tournament 12 has changed our whole family’s lives,” Jade McDermott, Andrew’s father, said.
Case joined a class of Canadian amateurs at the tournament that attracted 28 pro scouts from 24 organizations and 25 college recruiters. While many of his fellow participants viewed Tournament 12 as a potential launching point of their baseball careers, Case was simply looking for a shot at the next level.
He was giving it “one last kick at the can,” his father said.
Case blew the can away. He turned in a seven-inning complete game no-hitter with 13 strikeouts in the semi-finals. Case struck out six over two innings earlier in the tournament.
He drew interest from the Brewers and A’s before Case decided to sign with the home-country Blue Jays. He becomes the first player since Matt Stairs to sign out of the province of New Brunswick.
“Sorry for getting a little emotional,” McDermott said. “But no one from New Brunswick ever plays professional baseball and he might have a shot.”
Case sat 88-90 mph and touched 92.
“Andrew is a special competitor,” said Blue Jays scout Jamie Lehman, who signed Case. “His ability to attack hitters with a feel for three pitches, in a big game, is impressive. I really think he knows his strengths, knows how to work hitters, and is going to have success in our system as a result.”
While the hurler opened the eyes of many at Rogers Centre, the 6-foot-2, 190-pound righthander’s coach at the Prairie Baseball Academy has seen his potential since their first encounter.
“He just needed a couple more years to develop,” Hubka said. “I guess you could call that a late bloomer, but all kids don’t develop at the same time. Andrew, when we got him in our program last year he just needed to go find out what a weight room was and learn a little bit about conditioning and throwing programs. He’s done a great job with that and the results are finally starting to show for him. We’re proud of him with the work ethic that he has on a baseball field.”