Jake Eliopoulos, Former Blue Jays Draftee, Dead at 21

Jake Eliopoulos, a former Under Armour All-American and 2009 second-round pick of the Blue Jays, died Monday at the age of 21.

Eliopoulos was born in the Ukraine and adopted by Canadian parents Jim and Lea Eliopoulos. His father Jim played for Canada’s 1984 Olympic baseball team, and Jake Eliopoulos looked to have a bright future after a strong performance in the 2008 Under Armour Game at Wrigley Field in Chicago. One of the highlights of his performance came with a strikeout of Donavan Tate.

"It was an awesome experience," Eliopolous said that day. "It was my first showcase like this, and I wanted to do my best. I was a little nervous, but I think I did well to settle down."

The following June, Tate was the third overall pick and signed with the Padres for $6.25 million. Eliopoulos went in the second round but negotiations with the Blue Jays went awry, and he wound up attending Chipola (Fla.) JC, which has had success with other Canadians such as Russell Martin and Adam Loewen. However, Eliopoulos faltered. His velocity fell off, he went 1-2, 8.44, and he left the program at midseason.

Nevertheless, the Dodgers drafted Eliopoulos in the 15th round in 2010, and after attending St. Petersburg (Fla.) JC but not playing there in 2011, he worked out for teams on his own and was drafted again, by the Blue Jays, in the 43rd round. However, Eliopoulos never signed a pro contract.

The obituary for Eliopoulos (available here) states that his funeral will be held Monday in Toronto at a Greek Orthodox church. Orthodox tradition is to wait until after Easter for funerals, and Sunday is Eastern Orthodox Easter.