Canada’s impact on the draft may never again approach 2002, when
lefthanders Adam Loewen (Orioles, fourth overall pick) and Jeff Francis
(Rockies, ninth) were both among the first 10 players drafted. But the
country continues to produce 40-45 picks a year, and the prospects for
Canadians brightened in mid-May when Congress voted to increase the supply
of visas used by minor league baseball players, which will allow Canadians
to begin playing immediately. (National ranking in parentheses)
Potential First-Round Picks
Potential Second-Fifth Round Picks
1. Nick Weglarz (136), 1b, Lakeshore Catholic HS, Stevensville,
Others Of Note
2. Ivan Rusova, rhp, Oasis Alternative HS, Toronto
3. Brad Cuthbertson, rhp, Lethbridge (Alta.) CC
4. Jonathan Forest, rhp, U. of British Columbia
5. Josue Peley, ss, Edouard Montpetit HS, Montreal
6. Mark James, rhp, Sinclair HS, Whitby, Ontario
7. Adam Campbell, of, U. of British Columbia
8. Aric Van Gaalen, lhp, Lethbridge (Alta.) CC
9. Lars Davis, c, Lethbridge (Alta.) CC
10. Matt Jones, lhp, Guilford HS, Surrey, B.C.
11. Marcel Champagnie, ss, Brother Andre HS, Bolton, Ontario
12. Mike Wilson, lhp, Pine Ridge HS, Pickering, Ontario
13. Justin Worby, c, Georgetown District HS, Acton, Ontario
14. Terrence Dayleg, ss, North Surrey HS, Surrey, B.C.
15. Denver Wynn, rhp, Valleyview HS, Kamloops, B.C.
16. Jeff Cowan, ss, Birchmount Park HS, Scarborough, Ontario
17. Craig Bate, lhp, St. Joseph’s HS, St. Thomas, Ontario
18. Andrew Mallory, rhp, Brookswood HS, Langley, B.C.
19. Jared Picchiottino, 3b, Newmarket, Ontario
20. Brad Ashman, lhp, U. of British Columbia
1. NICK WEGLARZ, 1b (National rank: 136) School: Lakeshore Catholic HS. Hometown: Stevensville, Ontario. B-T: L-L. Ht.: 6-3. Wt.:
215. Birthdate: Dec. 16, 1987. College Commitment: High Point. Scouting Report: The Braves drafted Canadian Scott Thorman
with the 30th pick in 2000 because of his tremendous power potential,
and the 6-foot-3, 215-pound Weglarz is the best power-hitting prospect
Canada has produced since. He has long arms and generates good bat speed
and leverage but has mechanical issues that will need to be corrected.
Weglarz’ bat will have to carry him because he’s a below-average runner
and limited to first base, though he’s mobile around the bag and his arm
plays well enough to allow him to play in the outfield on occasion. Scouts
got their best chance to see him this spring when he made trips to Florida
with Canada’s junior national team and the Montreal-based ABC academy.
He was not overly impressive the first time through but showcased his
raw power the second time. He was also a member of Canada’s junior national
squad that trekked to the Dominican Republic for a series of exhibition
games in mid-May. Weglarz is one of the youngest players in this year’s
draft. There is no clear consensus where he’ll be drafted, but he should
go somewhere between rounds three and five. He’s the only Canadian attending
school north of the border projected to go that early.
OTHERS TO WATCH
(Numbers in parentheses indicate rank in Canada)
Lots Of Projects In Canada
Unlike Weglarz, a fellow Ontario high school product who has committed
to Oklahoma State, RHP Ivan Rusova (2) has no Division
I options. He’s also almost two years older. Rusova is slightly built
at 6-foot-1 and 178 pounds, but has excellent arm speed from a three-quarters
slot and can generate fastballs up to 93 mph, though he’s more commonly
in the 90-91 range. He suffers from command issues and tends to slow
down his arm to throw strikes.
RHP Mark James (6) is a third Ontario high school
product with expectations of being drafted in the first 10 rounds. He
pitched well on the junior national team’s spring trip to Florida and
was the top prospect at a workout for elite Canadians staged in mid-May
by the Major League Scouting Bureau. James doesn’t throw much harder
than 86-87 mph, but he has an athletic body and is projectable. His
mid-70s curveball has good bite and rotation, and his changeup has a
chance to be an average pitch.
SS Marcel Champagnie (11) was a lightly regarded prospect
at the time he attended a Perfect Game USA showcase in Iowa in late
April, but he dazzled scouts. He showed lightning-quick actions and
an excellent arm at shortstop, along with 6.4-second speed in the 60-yard
dash and surprising hitting ability. Canadian scouts remain skeptical.
RHP Brad Cuthbertson (3) and LHP Aric Van
Gaalen (8) attended junior colleges in the U.S. in 2004, before
transferring back home to Canada to attend the Prairie Baseball Academy,
based at Lethbridge (Alberta) Community College. The 5-foot-11 Cuthbertson,
a transfer from Midland (Texas) Junior College, is a bulldog on the
mound. His fastball routinely registers 92-93 mph and he maintains his
velocity deep into games, though he must learn to keep the pitch down
more consistently. He is just learning to throw a slider. The 6-foot-6
Van Gaalen, a transfer from St. Petersburg (Fla.) Junior College, was
drafted by the Blue Jays in the 16th round in 2002 and the 37th round
in 2003 before being passed over a year ago. A sinking fastball from
84-88 mph is his best pitch.
C Lars Davis (9), a third Lethbridge CC product, was
drafted by the Devil Rays in 2003. He has an above-average arm, good
catch-and-throw skills and above-average power potential, but has holes
in his swing. He has committed to Illinois and is in line to replace
Canadian Chris Robinson behind the plate for the Illini.
Six-foot-3, 220-pound RHP Jonathan Forest (4), a well-traveled
product of St. Hubert, Quebec, ended up at the University of British
Columbia after spending two years in Florida at Miami-Dade Community
College and Chipola Junior College. He’s had trouble throwing strikes,
but his fastball has generally ranged from 90 to 92, and touched 95.