Courtesy of Alexis Brudnicki & MLB.com.
TORONTO — Nearing the tail end of a whirlwind year of tournaments, showcases, games, and trips across the continent, Jaden Brown is excited for just one other thing.
“I’m excited to just keep playing,” Brown said. “After each game, I just want to play more. After winning the championships in Louisiana [at the Marucci World Series] and in Houston [at the Future Stars Series], there’s just the excitement of playing and spending time with teammates that you’ll remember forever. I just want to play more and more every day.”
The next place the 16-year-old shortstop will get a chance to play is at Tournament 12, where he will take the field at Rogers Centre for his third straight year.
“I was really nervous the first time I came to T12,” Brown said. “I just didn’t want to mess up. I know there are multiple games, but I was really trying hard to do better. I was striking out and stuff like that, and I was hanging my head and thinking it was horrible and I was doing poorly. But at the end of the day, it’s not really about that.
“It’s more about your attitude and how you show yourself on the field. Scouts realize you’re young, and you’ll grow into it. So if I could give advice to players coming in for the first time, it would be to not try too hard. Last year was easier, because I was already there and I already knew how it would go, so I just went out and did my thing. And it’s still exciting for this year, because this is going to be my last year and I just want to have fun with it.”
For Brown, the prestigious event follows a season that started with the Canadian Junior National Team in Orlando, West Palm Beach and the Dominican Republic, continued with the Ontario Blue Jays in Georgia, Texas and Louisiana, and then took him to Alabama for the East Coast Pro showcase before finishing in San Diego at PETCO Park for the Perfect Game All-American Classic.
Following a long line of Canadian players who attended similar events and are now working their way through the professional ranks of the game, the native of Mississauga, Ontario, has found added motivation through seeing their success.
“Watching other guys who have been where I am and are moving on is sort of like seeing a dream becoming a reality,” Brown said. “I remember playing with Noah [Naylor, the 29th overall pick in the 2018 Draft] when I was 12 years old and watching him do all the things he does. And I saw him playing in the Perfect Game All-American Classic, and then I’m doing the same thing.
“I’m trying to do what he and his brother [Josh Naylor, the 12th pick in the 2015 Draft] did, and Gareth Morgan and Adam Hall [second-round picks in the 2014 and 2017 Drafts, respectively], I’m trying to follow the path they’re on now. It’s motivating.”
Committed to the University of Kentucky, Brown’s sights are ultimately set on one day making it to the Major Leagues and finding success at the highest level. So far, he believes that his time with the Canadian Junior National Team and the Ontario Blue Jays program have helped get him ready for whatever might lay ahead.
“Team Canada has helped prepare me for what’s next, because every morning you have to get up at six, get in a van, drive to the field, take ground balls, batting practice, lunch, and then play a game or two,” Brown said. “They tell us it’s just like the Minor Leagues, and I feel like that’s prepared me a lot, because I’ve talked to Minor Leaguers and they say they get up in the morning and take ground balls and it’s all kind of similar.
“And [Ontario Blue Jays director of player development] Sean Travers has always been telling me to take a hundred ground balls every day, to help me get on the same page with the workload of a Major Leaguer. It’s all helping me get better.”
While Brown looks forward to another chance at T12 to continue improving and working once again with the Toronto Blue Jays alumni who lend their time to the event, the young infielder has another former player in his back pocket to rely on as well.
“My dad [Courtney] is pretty close with Shannon Stewart,” Brown said. “He used to train with him when he was younger and running track, and Shannon is the reason my dad got me into baseball. … It’s awesome, because I can talk to him about hitting and my swing. It was similar to his when I was younger, and even now I keep my hands back like he does.
“Some guys like to load their hands, and I like to keep my hands in the same spot, and he taught me that. … He’s a really big part of my life, from talking about the Major Leagues and the Draft, and he’s always there to talk to me about his experiences.”
And as the year continues, with the Ontario Blue Jays fall trip to play college programs across the United States following Tournament 12, and then a chance to continue with Team Canada at the U18 Pan American championship in Panama in November, Brown keeps adding to his own list of experiences to share.