Toronto showcase tourney taps into local talent
This may be a defining weekend for 160 baseball players.
Tournament 12 will be held at the Rogers Centre, featuring the top 120 players under 18 years of age, with 14 as the lower age limit.
The tournament, run by the Blue Jays Academy, is the culmination of tryout camps attended by more than 700 players. Four local players — catcher Ryan Faragher, infielders Tye Imeson and Cameron Sanderson and pitcher Erik Tyler —and three coaches will be involved.
The tournament is a major event for players to be seen by college, university and professional scouts. Numerous players from this tournament have gone on to university and professional careers and to represent Canada in international play.
Brock Kjeldgaard, Chris Robinson and Adam Stern are the three coaches headed to the tournament. They operate the Great Lake Canadians organization playing out of Centrefield Sports in London. Their organization will have 12 players at the tournament.
“It’s a hand-selected group put together by the Blue Jays scouting staff, identifying coast to coast the best players so they can play in a tournament against each other,” Stern said. “It’s a great tournament and one that’s earmarked by the Blue Jays.
“It’s the most high-profile event in this country as far as Canadian kids and the exposure it provides. With the amount of kids that touch Tournament 12, you see all the drafted kids have come through this, the majority of kids that are scholarships have come through it. Not all the kids that deserve to be at the tournament can be selected so that gives you a look at the talent that is there.”
Former Blue Jay second baseman Roberto Alomar is tournament commissioner, with help from his father Sandy. Also working the tournament are Blue Jays alumni Paul Quantrill, Tanyon Sturtze, Devon White, Lloyd Moseby and Duane Ward. The tournament is made up of eight teams, from British Columbia, Alberta, the Prairies, two teams from Ontario, Quebec, Atlantic and Futures. Each team has 20 players.
“You are usually looking at, and I can speak to this with the kids we’ve sent off, most of these kids go on to play collegiate baseball at least, and some go on to play pro baseball,” Stern said. “This is a high quality tournament.”
Some players as young as 14 will be at the tournament because the it is geared to finding not only potential professional players but also outstanding young players.
The tournament parameters say evaluators are looking for players who have the ability to play baseball at the next level, whether professional, U.S. college or junior college. There is a “strong emphasis on recognizing the potential top players in each class and exposing them to the showcase as early as possible.”