Scouting Reports: Canada
Each of the past few years, Canada has made a nice contribution to the draft. Going back to 2002, when Jeff Francis, Scott Mathieson and Adam Loewen came out of British Columbia (and Canadian Russ Martin signed with the Dodgers after one year of junior college in Florida), the country has seen more players filter through the draft and make their presence known in professional baseball.
While 2002 was viewed as a landmark year for Canucks in the draft, 2007 should be the nation's best ever. This draft is arguably the decade's strongest in terms of depth and upside of high school talent overall, and Canada's contribution is noteworthy.
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For the first time since 1997, when outfielder Ntema Ndungidi was drafted 36th overall by the Orioles, Quebec has a frontline prospect in righthander Phillippe Aumont. He won't be taken as highly as Loewen or Francis were, but he was considered a lock to go in the first round and was the flag barer of this year's Canadian class.
A handful of Canadians who have gone on to four-year colleges have also played their way into consideration for the top five rounds, including righthander Trystan Magnuson of Louisville, righthander Chris Kissock of Lewis-Clark (Idaho) State and catcher Lars Davis of Illinois.
Phillippe Aumont, rhp, Ecole Du Versant, Gatineau,
2. Kyle Lotzkar, rhp, South Delta SS, Delta, B.C.
3. Evan Hilldenbrant, rhp, Abbotsford (B.C.) HS
4. Cameron Gray, rhp, Silverthorn Collegiate HS, Toronto
5. Michael Mutcheson, ss, Morden (Manitoba) Collegiate Institute
6. Jordan Wideman, c, Streetsville SS, Mississauga, Ont.
7. Guillaume Leduc, rhp, Academie du Baseball Canada, Montreal
8. Leslie Williams, rhp/of, Birchmount Park Collegiate Institute, Scarborough, Ont.
9. Colin Buckborough, rhp, Stamford Collegiate HS, Niagara Falls, Ont.
10. Kyle Benoit, rhp, Bramton, Ont.
11. Mitch Hodge, rhp, University of British Columbia
12. Daniel Reid, of, Nasonworth, N.B.
13. Travis Nevakshonoff, rhp, Castlegaar, B.C.
14. Ryan Williams, rhp, University of Lethbridge
2. Kyle Lotzkar, rhp (National rank:
|1. Phillippe Aumont,
rhp (National rank:
Ecole Du Versant, Gatineau, Quebec. Class:
Report: Canada's national baseball program is well
organized, and it is beginning to bear more fruit. The physically
imposing Aumont--6-foot-7 and 225 pounds--is the country's best
prospect since Adam Loewen. Aumont made a name for himself when he
appeared in a high school all-star game in Cape Cod and the East Coast
Showcase last summer. He made an impressive showing against the Tigers'
extended spring training squad in April, touching 96 mph from a low
three-quarters arm slot that can be devastating for righthanded
hitters. Aumont flashes an occasionally plus slider at 80-82, though
his arm slot makes it difficult for him to stay on top of the pitch.
His velocity has vacillated during the spring, and his mechanics are
raw, but he's athletic and has pitched well in front of a handful of
scouting directors and should be drafted among the top 20 picks. Aumont
now lives with guardians, and while he is reluctant to discuss his
parents or his past with the media, he has been forthcoming with teams
that are interested in him as a potential
South Delta SS, Delta, B.C. Class:
It's an unprecedented year for talent in Canada,
and Lotzkar has established himself as the consensus second-best
Canadian prospect behind Phillippe Aumont. He played on a club team
coached by Doug Mathieson, the father of Phillies righthander Scott.
Lotzkar, 17, developed physically at the perfect time, adding 15 pounds
of muscle and two inches between last summer and this spring. His
fastball sits near 91 mph, touching 94. His arm action is loose and
clean, though he doesn't repeat his delivery and remains unrefined as a
pitcher. His command is erratic. His breaking ball has improved, while
his changeup is below-average. Lotzkar turned in an impressive showing
in Florida in front of a throng of scouts in April, and because he's
projectable and has shown feel for two potentially plus pitches, he's a
candidate to be taken in the supplemental
round.Prospects To See Across The Great White North
If Evan Hilldenbrant's
delivery was a little more fluid, he'd be worth mentioning in a similar vein as Lotzkar. At 6-foot-2, 185 pounds, he has a wiry, projectable frame and his arm works well. His delivery lacks tempo, however, and while he'll show a plus fastball and a curveball with some definition, he probably profiles best in the bullpen because of his difficulty throwing strikes. Hilldenbrant's fastball sits in the high 80s, touching 91 mph, and his curveball has tight rotation at 78-81 mph. He's pitched well enough in front of the right audience to be taken as high as the sixth round.
Righthander Guillaume Leduc
is a second French Canadian who could be taken inside the top 10 rounds. The 6-foot-4, 190-pounder is older than most of his fellow countrymen, at 19, and has flashed a fastball up to 88 mph and can spin a good curveball at 70-74. Most of the major flaws in his delivery are correctable, and because of his size and strength he creates enough leverage to help his stuff play up.
Ontario is home of more than five players who could be picked in the top 12 rounds this year. And one of the province's top prospects is strong-bodied catcher Jordan Wideman
. Wideman got plenty of exposure on the Blue Jays travel team and in two showings at the East Coast Showcase. His tools simply don't grade out exceptionally, despite his experienced approach to all phases of the game. His catch-and-throw skills are his best asset, as his feet work well behind the plate and he can log sub-2.0-second pop times from home to second in game action. He showed off his defensive upside by throwing out two runners in Team Canada's exhibition against the Twins' Rookie-level Dominican League club. Wideman's offensive tools are well behind his defensive prowess. He has well-below-average power and is a 30 hitter on the 20-80 scale.
Six-foot-5 righthander Colin Buckborough
is one of the nation's more interesting second-tier prospects. He projects to pitch with average fastball velocity, as he's thrown in the 87-89 mph range this spring, and most clubs seem content to wait to see how he develops in college. He has a below-average curveball and slider, but can place his pitches up, down, in and out of the strike zone. Buckborough would benefit by showing more assertiveness in his approach and demeanor on the mound.Cam Gray
has good present stuff without much projection. At 6-feet, 180 pounds, he has a compact, fluid delivery and gets good movement on his mid-80s fastball.Cameron Robulack
is a strong, physical, 6-foot-3 first baseman with a feel for hitting and the makings of average power. He has committed to Nebraska, and should wind up in school where he could develop into a middle-of-the-order run producer for the Cornhuskers.
Two-way talent Leslie Williams
is Canada's most athletic prospect this year. His swing mechanics are fair, but he shows solid-average bat speed and a willingness to release the bat head through the zone, leading some scouts to project him to hit for above-average power. He's a below-average runner with plus arm strength--he has been up to 90 mph off the bump.
Perhaps the sleeper of the class could be infielder Michael Mutcheson
from Manitoba. He can keep his hands inside the ball well and is a plus runner, though he doesn't repeat his swing and lacks much present feel for hitting.