The Toronto Blue Jays will host the Tournament 12, an innovative, first-of-its-kind showcase tournament, at the Rogers Centre from September 20-24. The Tournament 12, presented by New Era, will showcase the best Canadian amateur talent with college eligibility, with representation from the 2014-2017 high school classes and a handful of the top college players in Canada.
“The creation of Tournament 12 is a first for amateur baseball in Canada,” Blue Jays senior vice president of business operations Stephen Brooks said. “It is an opportunity to showcase the elite baseball talent that exists in our country.”
Scouts find that laying eyes on all the top Canadians is a tough task due to the large geographic footprint of the country and the travel schedule of Canadian National Team. But the Tournament 12 will have 99 of the top 100 high school players in the country, according to a scout.
The Blue Jays Baseball Academy collaborated with the Blue Jays scouting department, Baseball Canada and the Major League Baseball Scouting Bureau to select the players for the event.
Ten of the teams will represent Canadian provinces. Ontario, which produced 2010 National League MVP Joey Votto, Hall of Fame righthander Fergie Jerkins and Russell Martin, will have three teams. Quebec, where Phillippe Aumont and Eric Gagne came from, will have two. Three provinces, British Columbia–which produced Larry Walker, Justin Morneau and Brett Lawrie–Alberta and Atlantic Canada, will have a team. Manitoba and Saskatchewan will combine to form a team. The Major League Scouting Bureau will have a team with players from many provinces.
The event is named the Tournament 12 to honor Blue Jays special assistant Roberto Alomar, who wore the number 12 during his Hall of Fame career, during which he won 10 Gold Gloves. Alomar will serve as the commissioner of the event and will be aided by his father, Sandy Alomar Sr. At least seven former big leaguers will serve as coaches for the event, in addition to former Canadian National Team members, including Adam Stern and Scott Thorman.
The first day of the event will be an evaluation day and will include the 60-yard dash, batting practice, infield/outfield and the vertical leap. Six games will be played daily for the next three days. The final day will have a playoff of the top teams to determine a tournament champion. Every team is guaranteed at least four games in the Rogers Centre.
The 2014 and 2015 Canadian classes look strong. Six-foot-4, 210-pound outfielder Gareth Morgan headlines the 2014 class. Morgan, who has a large frame with strength throughout, is a physical specimen with a pro body as a 17-year-old. He is the youngest player to ever attend the Under Armour All-America game, doing so at 15. Morgan has plus raw power and can put on a show in batting practice. He finished second in home runs at the IBAF World Cup that concluded last week, hitting two in six games and 26 plate appearances. Six-foot-4, 185-pound lefthander Kurtis Horne, a member of Team Canada with a long, lean and projectable build, pitched in Florida during the team’s spring schedule earlier this year, showing a mid-80s fastball that touched 87 and feel for a changeup.
2015 could be one of the best draft classes Canada has had in years. Lefthanded-hitting first baseman Josh Naylor showed precocious feel to hit during the trip to Florida last spring. As a 15-year-old sophomore against minor league pitchers, Naylor, a line-drive hitting machine, squared up velocity and made more consistent hard contact than any other player. Just as impressive, Naylor rarely swung and missed against competition four and five years his senior. Naylor hit a total of 15 home runs, including a 453-foot shot with aluminum, over three rounds at Marlins Park to win the 2012 Underclassmen Power Showcase. The 5-foot-10, 205-pound Naylor has a strong, durable build and hit .333 in 30 plate appearances at the World Cup with three doubles and just as many walks (three) as strikeouts.
Toolsy outfielder Demi Orimoloye is the type of player scouts dream on. Orimoloye has a high ceiling with a big 6-foot-4, 214-pound frame, above-average speed and rare athleticism.
Those are the headlining players, but other players will emerge and put themselves on the prospect map and follow lists.
With such a high concentration of talent in one place, the event is expected to be well attended within the scouting community. Most major league teams are expected to have a presence at the event and dozens of college programs will also attend.