State Report: Canada




THIS YEAR'S CROP
***** One for the books
**** Banner year
*** Solid, not spectacular
** Not up to par
* Nothing to see here
It's a down year in Canada. While lefthander Jake Eliopoulos at least gives the country a player in the predraft Top 200, he's not likely to continue the streak of Canadians in the first round, which was at two after righthander Phillippe Aumont (11th overall, Mariners) in 2007 and second baseman Brett Lawrie (16th overall, Brewers) in 2008. Even the nation's usual hotbeds didn't turn up many interesting prospecs this year, and one scout said British Columbia is as bad as he's ever seen it.

NATIONAL TOP 200 PROSPECTS

1. Jake Eliopoulos, lhp, Sacred Heart Catholic HS, Newmarket, Ont. (National Rank: 117)

OTHER PROSPECTS OF NOTE

2. Steven Inch, rhp, Vauxhall Academy, Edmonton
3. Adam Nelubowich, of, Vauxhall Academy, Edmonton
4. Mike Monster, rhp, Kelowna (B.C.) Christian HS
5. Brandon Kaye, rhp, Douglas (B.C.) CC
6. Paul Barton, rhp, Kwalikum SS, Qualicum Beach, B.C.
7. Jerome Werniuk, rhp, McNeil HS, Toronto
8. Brandon Petite, rhp, Vauxhall Academy, Edmonton
9. Wes Darvill, ss, Brookswood SS, Langley, B.C.
10. Jonathan Paquet, rhp, Cardinal Roy SS, Quebec City, Quebec
11. Francois Lafreniere, rhp, Ahuntsic College, Montreal
12. Jon Syrnyk, of, U of British Columbia
13. Jeff Gibbs, rhp, Birchmount Park Collegiate Institute, Toronto
14. Jeff Hunt, 3b, St. Benedict Catholic SS, Cambridge, Ont.
15. Colin Kleven, rhp, R.E. Mountain SS, Langley, B.C.
16. Jay Johnson, lhp, Lethbridge (Alberta) CC
17. Mark Hardy, lhp, British Columbia

SCOUTING REPORTS

JAKE ELIOPOULOS, LHP, SACRED HEART CATHOLIC HS, LaSALLE, ONT.

It's a down year in general for Canada. Unlike the past two years, there won't be a first-rounder from the Great White North, but Eliopoulos will likely be the highest-drafted player from Ontario since Scott Thorman was a first-round pick in 2000. Jim Eliopoulos, a catcher on the 1984 Canadian Olympic team, adopted Jake from Croatia as a baby. At 6-foot-3 and 170 pounds, Eliopoulos is long and lean with room for projection. He's also young in a lot of regards, which scouts like. He looks young in the face, leading them to believe he'll fill out and add velocity and, being from Canada, he doesn't have the mileage on his arm that a similar pitcher in California or Florida might have. Eliopoulos' fastball currently sits in the 88-91 mph range with good life and movement. His mechanics are easy and clean and he also throws a curveball with some late depth and a changeup that is above-average for a high school pitcher. While nothing really jumps out about Eliopoulos, he's a complete package.

Look North For Pitching Projects

Righthander Steven Inch came on strong as the draft drew closer and is Canada's second-best prospect. The 6-foot-4, 195-pounder throws in the mid- to upper 80s and really knows how to pitch. He fills up the strike zone, has a feel for a breaking ball and does everything effortlessly. He's committed to Kentucky and could be a tough sign.

Another player who drew late interest after a good showing for a Canadian junior team playing against professional players in Florida is lefthanded-hitting outfielder Adam Nelubowich. The 6-foot-2, 175-pounder showed he can handle good velocity consistently with a wood bat. He's still growing into his power potential. With a frame that compares to fellow Canadian Michael Saunders, Nelubowich has room to fill out and add about 15 pounds of muscle.

With one of the best names in the draft, righthander Mike Monster is the best high school player in a down year for British Columbia. The 6-foot-3, 205-pounder has good size and arm strength, but has been inconsistent. And because he has a December birthday, he was too old to play for the Canadian junior team and got less exposure than other Canadian prospects. Monster doesn't come from the traditional hotbed around Vancouver, he's from Kelowna, about 200 miles northeast. There's some effort to his delivery and he doesn't approach the game with a starter's mentality. He comes hard after hitter and needs to learn to pace himself. He throws an 89-92 mph, heavy fastball, but he has the size and arm speed that lead scouts to believe there's more there, especially from such an inexperienced arm.

Righthander Brandon Kaye is a raw 6-foot-4 215-pounder in his first full year of pitching. That's surprising, considering his half-brother is Blue Jays righthander Scott Richmond. He threw just 11 innings during his high school career, and as a junior-college freshman last year spent most of his time at first base. So the team that drafts him will be getting a fresh arm. His delivery is a little slow, but he has sound mechanics and pounds the strike zone. His fastball is 88-91 mph with room to grow, and he mixes in a slider that needs work. He still needs to develop a changeup.

Righthander Paul Barton has a projectable, 6-foot-2, 180-pound frame. His fastball is a little short at 87-88 mph, but his arm works well and he shows the makings of three pitches. He's inconsistent and just needs more repetitions.

Jerome Werniuk is a hulking 6-foot-6, 220-pound righthander. Because of his size, he has difficulty repeating his delivery and his fastball is just average right now. If it all clicks for him he has a chance to be special.

Righthander Brandon Petite has good size and a fastball that sits around 88-90 mph. The 6-foot-3, 195-pounder complements it with a good slider and should be a late-round selection.

Like many Canadian position players, shortstop Wes Darvill bats lefthanded and throws righthanded. Because he's already 6-foot-3 and 175 pounds, he may have to move off shortstop, and he has the arm to play third base. He has the bat speed to catch up to velocity, but at this point he doesn't have the strength in his wrists and forearms to do anything with it yet. He plays the game hard and could benefit from spending a year or two in college.

The University of British Columbia had a good season, reaching NAIA regional play, and the Thunderbirds have a few players who could get drafted. Senior center fielder Jon Syrnyk increased his power this season and set a school record with 28 stolen bases. Lefthander Mark Hardy has a below-average fastball but is deceptive, throws strikes with some movement and has a good feel for pitching.

Righthander Jeff Gibbs has an athletic, 6-foot-4, 180-pound frame, with room to fill out. The Toronto native has good arm speed, but his breaking ball is a little loopy and his secondary stuff needs work. If he doesn't sign, he's headed to Maine next year.

Third baseman Jeff Hunt is 6-foot-2 and 185 pounds. He has good strength and an above-average arm, but has been inconsistent. Hunt is hard on himself, and while some players need to go to college to fill out, he'd be better served by going out and playing every day.

Righthander Jonathan Paquet stands 6-foot-4 and 185 pounds. He has an effortless delivery and pitches at 87-88 mph presently, but should add velocity as he fills out.

Righthander Francois Lafreniere is 6-foot-5 and 190 pounds and should fill out and get even stronger. He was a 34th-round selection by the Giants last year and has a fastball in the mid- to high 80s with sink and late life. His arm works well and he has the makings of a curveball with bite.

Lefthander Jay Johnson pitches for the Prairie Baseball Academy, which requires its players to take classes at Lethbridge (Alberta) CC. Johnson pitches at 89-91 mph and has been up to 93, but has a history of being injured. He is committed to Texas Tech.

Righthander Colin Kleven has a great body at 6-foot-5 and 195 pounds, but mechanically he's all over the place. He can throw 90 mph and projects for more, and likely needs another year of junior college to learn how to control his body and become more refined.