Toronto show­case tour­ney taps into lo­cal tal­ent

The London Free Press - - SPORTS - MOR­RIS DALLA COSTA THE LON­DON FREE PRESS BOS­TON NEW YORK BAL­TI­MORE TAMPA BAY TORONTO CLEVE­LAND MIN­NESOTA KANSAS CITY DETROIT CHICAGO HOUS­TON LOS AN­GE­LES SEAT­TLE TEXAS OAK­LAND

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.”

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