State Report: Canada

Some players to watch, but no obvious stars




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THIS YEAR'S CROP
***** One for the books
**** Banner year
*** Solid, not spectacular
** Not up to par
* Nothing to see here
Rating compares this year's group to what a state typically produces, not to other states
As is typically the case, most of the top high school players in the country spend their spring and summer playing with the Canadian Junior National Team. It makes for a convenient situation for scouts, who get to see the best players in the country together, playing with wood bats against quality competition at minor league spring training complexes and in the Dominican Republic.

While this year is just average for the country that gave rise to Baseball America (born in British Columbia in 1981) and Justin Bieber, a nice group of pitchers has shown promise for next year, and the junior team already has a promising member of the 2014 draft class in outfielder Gareth Morgan.

NATIONAL TOP 200 PROSPECTS

None

OTHER PROSPECTS OF NOTE

1. Thomas Robson, rhp, Delta (B.C.) SS
2. Vaughn Covington, rhp, Killarney SS, Vancouver, B.C.
3. Dustin Houle, 3b/c, Langley (B.C.) SS
4. Justin Atkinson, ss, North Surrey (B.C.) SS
5. Cory Scammell, of, St. Francis Xavier HS, Edmonton
6. Skylar Janisse, rhp, St. Thomas of Villanova SS, LaSalle, Ont.
7. Roberto Suppa, rhp, St. Thomas Aquinas SS, West London, Ont.
8. Jesen Dygestile-Therrien, rhp, Ahuntsic (Que.) JC
9. Chandler McLaren, of, Douglas (B.C.) JC
10. Adam Paulencu, rhp, Vancouver Island (B.C.) Baseball Institute
11. Justin Marra, c, Power HS, Toronto
12. Jonathan Jones, 3b, Academie Baseball Canada, Montreal
13. Jalen Harris, 3b, Lambrick Park SS, Victoria, B.C.
14. Jovan Ewusie, ss, Tupper SS, Vancouver, B.C.
15. Jake Hansen, lhp, Walshe HS, Fort Macleod, Alberta
16. Ethan Elias, rhp, Grand Trunk HS, Evansburg, Alberta
17. Blake Carruthers, of, British Columbia
18. Phil Diedrick, of, No School
19. Eric Brown, rhp, British Columbia
20. Jake Eliopoulos, lhp, No School

SCOUTING REPORTS

This year's top prospect in Canada is righthander Thomas Robson, who has a big frame at 6-foot-4 and 210 pounds. Robson's fastball sits in the 88-91 mph range, and he has touched 93, and it's not difficult to envision him adding a couple of ticks because of his frame, his age (17) and how easy his arm works. Robson also shows a good feel for the strike zone, moves the ball around well and has a good understanding of how to pitch. He can spin a curveball and shows feel for a changeup. Robson is committed to Central Arizona JC but could go as high as the fifth round.

The X factor for Canada is righthander Vaughn Covington, who didn't pitch for the junior national team this year because he had Tommy John surgery in September. When healthy, Covington showed a power arm and sat 90-92 mph with reports that he had touched 96. Covington has a strong, 6-foot-5 frame and his curveball showed promise as well. He has resumed throwing but won't get back on a mound until after the signing deadline. Covington is being heavily recruited by American junior colleges, or he could opt to remain in Canada and just work out for teams leading up to next year's draft. A team willing to take a risk on Covington could get a bargain if he regains his pre-surgery form.

Canada's best position prospect is third baseman Dustin Houle, who has an average body at 6-foot-1 and 185 pounds. He has a compact, line-drive swing from the right side of the plate and has shown he can catch up to quality velocity. He sometimes has a little bit of a bat wrap, and scouts question whether he'll be able to hit enough to stay at the hot corner. Some would like to convert Houle to catcher because of his soft hands, strong arm and dirtbag mentality. Houle is also one of the youngest players in this year's high school class, as he won't turn 18 until November.

Shortstop Justin Atkinson has a profile similar to that of Carter Bell, who played for the junior national team a few years ago and is now at Oregon State. Atkinson shows plenty of arm strength at shortstop and makes all the plays with sure hands and good footwork, but he's a little slow-footed and doesn't have enough range to stay there at the professional level. At 6-foot-2 and 205 pounds, Atkinson has strength, but scouts have to project on his power and he may not have enough pop for third base. Atkinson is committed to Central Arizona JC.

Righthander Roberto Suppa has good size at 6-foot-5 and 225 pounds. He shows heavy sink with his 90-91 mph fastball, but will be tough to pry away from his commitment to Cornell.

Outfielder Cory Scammell is a physical 6-foot-5 and 205 pounds, but he doesn't run well and his arm is just average, so all his value will lie in his bat. He has strength and shows flashes of loft power with his lefthanded swing; he just needs more experience.

Skylar Janisse is a 6-foot-5, 206-pound righthander who played in the Under Armour All-American game last summer. His fastball is in the mid- to high 80s right now, but his arm works well and he's a great competitor on the mound. Janisse shows good feel for a changeup and his breaking ball is inconsistent. If Janisse doesn't sign, he is committed to Oakland.

Some scouts may be turned off by the fact that catcher Justin Marra is just 5-foot-11 and 180 pounds. He receives well and has a strong arm, regularly flashing above-average pop times down to second base. A lefthanded hitter, Marra has also shown the ability this spring to hit quality pitching.

The college prospects are never quite as exciting in Canada, and that's the case again this year. The most interesting is righthander Jesen Dygestile-Therrien, who was drafted last year in the 36th round by the Mets but did not sign. He was still young enough this year to play with the junior national team and showed a loose, easy arm and a fastball in the 88-90 mph range. He is committed to Howard (Texas) JC for next year.

Outfielder Chandler McLaren was a 29th-round pick out of high school by the Brewers in 2009. He's a lefthanded hitter with a big, 6-foot-4, 215-pound frame, but hasn't yet shown the power scouts hoped to see out of him.

Righthander Adam Paulencu can run his fastball up to 92 mph with good movement. Outfielder Blake Carruthers has a nice all-round package of tools and needs to show better consistency. Outfielder Phil Diedrick was drafted last year in the 45th round by the Blue Jays. He has shown some promise as a hitter, but is a man without a position and left Bossier Parish (La.) CC this year to return home.

Lefthander Jake Eliopoulos was a second-round pick of the Blue Jays in 2009 out of high school in Ontario, but it has been all downhill since then. Eliopoulos chose not to sign and went to Chipola (Fla.) JC last year, but he posted an 8.44 ERA and left the team before the season ended. He fell to the 15th round, where the Dodgers took him, and again didn't sign. He headed to St. Petersburg (Fla.) JC for 2011, but left school without playing a game. He has been working out for teams on his own. He has surely burned bridges with a lot of teams, but as a lefthander who has shown quality stuff in the past—89-91 mph fastball, curveball and changeup—he may get one more chance at pro ball.