With the Olympics two months away, Team Canada announced its Olympic team, a roster that includes three upper echelon prospects.
The most advanced player and perhaps the best prospect is Mariners center fielder Michael Saunders, who is currently with Triple-A Tacoma. The 21-year-old Saunders began the season with Double-A West Tenn, but a .290/.375/.484 performance in 248 at-bats earned him a promotion to Tacoma, where he is batting .275/.351/.490 in 51 at-bats through 14 games. With his tools and stellar results this year, Saunders has a chance to finish the season as the top prospect in the Mariners organization.
"Once you put on your country's jersey with your country's name across the chest is something pretty special, especially when you're going to be playing in the Olympics," Saunders said earlier in the season before the official roster announcement. "It's the top international baseball competition. It's just really exciting and it's taking a sense of pride out there. You could go 0-for any day, and if you're helping your nation win, it doesn't matter. It's something that's really special to be able to put on a jersey with your country's name across the chest."
Indians left fielder Nick Weglarz, another prospect in the midst of an outstanding season, has shown an excellent handle of the strike zone with a strong power stroke out of a 6-foot-3, 245-pound frame. Weglarz, 20, is batting .271/.395/.444 in 295 at-bats for high Class A Kinston.
The youngest player on the Canadian team is 18-year-old Brett Lawrie, a first-round draft pick in June who went 16th overall to the Brewers. Lawrie, a catcher from British Columbia, has 70 power on the 20-80 scouting scale, quick wrists and impressive overall athleticism.
One notable prospect omission is Mariners righthander Phillipe Aumont, the team's first-round pick in 2007 now with low Class A Wisconson. Aumont, 19, hasn't pitched since June 7 due to an elbow problem.
Team Canada's roster also features 35-year-old Stubby Clapp, a staple on the Canadian national teams for years who is now a hitting coach for Lexington, the Astros' low Class A affiliate. Other media outlets originally reported that the Astros had turned down Clapp's request to leave Lexington to play for the Olympic team, but the team apparently reversed its stance soon thereafter.
Canada qualified for the Olympics in March at the final Olympic qualifying tournament along with Taiwan and South Korea. The United States, Cuba, the Netherlands, Japan and host China will be the other teams in attendance. The US roster is expected to be announced next week.
|TEAM CANADA OLYMPIC ROSTER|
|David Corrente||C||24||Blue Jays|
|Scott Richmond||RHP||28||Blue Jays|
|Jimmy Van Ostrand||1B/OF||23||Astros|