1. Reggie LaPlante, rhp, Ahuntsic College, Montreal
It's an average year for Canadian talent, but relaxed visa rules will allow big league clubs to sign more Canadian players. Canadians will still require visas, but no longer will those visas count against the quota for all clubs except the Blue Jays and Expos . . . RHP Reggie Laplante is a prospective fourth- to seventh-rounder. At 19, he is a late bloomer. He was drafted out of high school in 1997 but went to Florida's Indian River Junior College as a freshman, didn't pitch much and returned to Quebec to play for the Montreal-based ABC (Academie du Baseball Canada). Scouts saw a new pitcher when the ABC traveled to Florida this spring. Laplante had a 90-mph fastball and nasty slider. He finally has hit his stride--not unusual for Canadians, who generally need extra time to accumulate innings and at-bats because of the shorter playing season . . . Six-foot-4, 200-pound C Justin Morneau is an outstanding lefthanded-hitting prospect who hit .498 with 34 home runs last year while playing nearly 100 games in summer ball and with Canada's national youth team. His catching skills are marginal . . . RHP Brad Rogers has ideal size and throws as hard as to 90 mph but has little feel for his other pitches . . . Like Laplante, RHP Alex Groleau plays for the ABC in Montreal. He was drafted in the 41st round last year by the hometown Expos and has improved to become an aggressive, durable pitcher capable of pitching at 90 mph.
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