The Junior National Team and Major League Baseball Prospect League put on quite a show for an abundance of scouts and personnel as both teams plays to an exciting 7-7 tie in the Dominican Republic on Thursday.
“I was pleased overall with our game tonight,” said Head Coach Greg Hamilton. “We threw the ball well and swung the bats. For the most part we put on a strong performance.”
Pregame festivities included spirited batting practice and infield/outfield work from both sides. The MLB Prospect League features players from the Dominican Republic who are eligible to sign with Major League clubs on or after July 2nd, while Junior National Team players are making last minute impressions on evaluators prior to next week’s First Year Player Draft.
“There was a lot of energy in the park tonight which was great for our guys to experience and a great way to end our trip,” explained Hamilton. “I think tonight was important for our program and important for our guys to compete against the top players down here and realize that they belong.”
As they have all week, the juniors produced early as Jacob Robson (Windsor, ON) reached on an infield single and stole second base before coming around to score. Robson scored after Mitchell Triolo (Scarborough, ON) singled to right field and on the throw back to the infield Triolo got held up between first and second base allowing Robson to scamper home.
Robson keyed the Juniors offence from the leadoff position as he went 3-for-4 on the night with two runs scored and a RBI.
Juniors starter Ryan Kellogg (Whitby, ON) got into trouble with one out in the home half of the first when he walked a batter and allowed a single and double to put the Prospects in front 2-1 after one.
Kellogg came back strong in the bottom of the second and finished going two innings giving up two runs on three hits and a walk, while striking out five batters.
Kellogg gave way to Cal Quantrill (Port Hope, ON) who was extremely efficient in two innings of work as he recorded six straight outs on three fly-outs, two ground-outs and a strikeout.
The juniors exploded for four runs in the top of the fifth to jump in front 4-2. Daniel Pinero (Toronto, ON) walked and Owen Spiwak (Mississauga, ON) singled to right before a wild-pitch allowed both runners to move up. Jesse Hodges (Victoria, BC) then doubled down the left field line to score Pinero and the go ahead run scored when Jordan Schulz hit a RBI ground out to second base.
Still in the fifth, Jacob Robson doubled to left field that saw the fielder’s playing shallow. Robson’s double one-hopped the wall in left and Hodges scored easily. Robson later scored from third base on a sacrifice-fly to right field off the bat of Nathan DeSouza (Milton, ON).
Dayton Dawe continued right where Quantrill left-off a struck out five and got a ground ball out to retire six straight batters in the fifth and sixth innings.
After Dawe’s dominant performance Brock Dykxhoorn (Goderich, ON) came on for the seventh inning and allowed an unearned run which came on a fielder’s choice with a runner on third.
The juniors responded in a big way in the top of the eight as Kyle Hann (Oakville, ON) led off with a single and scored after a two and one base throwing errors were committed on the same play. Then, with one-out Gareth Morgan (Toronto, ON) continued his impressive week in the Dominican Republic as he blasted a solo home run over the wall in left field for his third long ball of the week.
“You’re looking for progression with young players and I thought Gareth had an outstanding week,” added Hamilton. “He’s learning to stay off breaking balls which is important for a power hitter.”
Dykxhoorn allowed a single in the eighth before striking out two batters and handed the ball over to Christian Botnick (Brampton, ON). Botnick allowed three walks and two hits and didn’t get much help from his defence who committed two errors which led to MLB Prospect League scoring four runs to tie the game.
Logan Seifrit (Spruce Grove, AB) game in from the bullpen to strike out the final batter in the eighth before doing an excellent job of shutting the Prospects down in the ninth to end the game in a tie.
Seifrit struck out two more batters in the ninth which was part of seventeen on the night for the Juniors pitching staff.
The tie wraps up the Dominican Summer League Camp where the juniors compiled a 4-5-3 record and played twelve games in eight days.
“I was happy with the week,” said Hamilton. “It’s a grind, but that what we wanted. We wanted a lot of at-bats and different situations.
“Guys game down here being out of their comfort zone and competed well.”
Earlier in the day, the juniors dropped a 5-2 decision the Los Angeles Angels Dominican Prospects in San Pedro de Macoris. The Angels broke a 1-1 tie in the fifth with four runs and the juniors could only muster a single run in each of the fifth and ninth innings. Jesse Hodges led the Juniors attack by going 2-for-4 with one RBI. Juniors starter Fernando Fernandez (Montréal, QC) threw four innings and gave up one run on two hits and one walk, while striking out two batters.
Canada’s Junior team will now focus their attention on the IBAF 18U World Championship in Seoul, South Korea August 30th-September8th. There will be a Final Camp and exhibition series from August 15th-27th in Toronto and Trieste, Italy where the final 20-man roster will be selected for the world championship.