Courtesy of Alexis Brudnicki and cpblbaseball.ca.
With the third Canadian Premier Baseball League season in the books, the calibre of competition continues to grow and accomplishments within the circuit continue to gain the utmost significance.
After a tight race for the top of the leaderboard at the newly-implemented 17U level in its inaugural year, the Ontario Blue Jays squad led by manager Mike Steed edged out the rest with a 19-7 season, just one game ahead of its closest opponent – and organizational counterpart, the Ontario Blue Jays 17U team led by Sean Travers – and is recognized as the regular-season champion of its division.
“Basically what led to our success was our starting pitching, led by Lukas Barry and Brandon Deans,” Steed said. “Those two guys anchored the staff for the whole year, and we had a bunch of guys who just pulled their weight.
“And with that, it just let our offence have the chance to relax a little bit, and hitters like Blake Buckle, Ashton Feijo, Arthur Kowara, and David Coleman, who travelled with us in the fall and are a little bit more mature, it allowed them to do their thing.”
Among an array of impressive numbers from the squad across the board, the skipper of the Blue Jays believes the season was highlighted by some of the moments it had at the plate.
“They’re young, they’re physical, and the most impressive thing was what they did offensively,” Steed said. “As well as we pitched it, we put a lot of pressure on some of the teams and the games we won, we got out early, and in between, we had a good combination of speed and power. The kids utilized that to the best of their ability.”
Spending a busy summer back and forth between the CPBL and across the border at a number of tournaments, Steed was excited to see the competition in the league continue to grow and help his team get better along the way. Just beyond the OBJ Travers team, not far behind in the standings at 16-6, was the Great Lake Canadians 17U team, finishing the regular season with a 15-8-1 record.
“Overall, the competition was good,” he said. “We had great series against Great Lake, and all our games were good. They took us in the four-game series but in the midweek games, we took them from them, which was great. And then the Toronto Mets Blue was another good series.
“The league allowed us to do what we needed to do as a team. Obviously at this age, winning the leagues are great for teams and players, but they also needed to keep playing and keep working on some things and it allowed them to do that.”
Currently on the road in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, Steed’s squad has a busy schedule remaining before it wraps up for the summer and looks ahead to another year.
“We’re [at] the Marucci World Series, which we are affiliated with through the Founders Club,” Steed said. “We have opening ceremonies Wednesday, and then Thursday we start tournament play with some great competition. We open up with CBG out of California, and then the Dallas Tigers, and then we finish with the East Coast Sox out of Mississippi. So it’s going to be a very good test.”
Helping the Blue Jays prepare for that test was the successful season they had in the CPBL, and they can’t wait to see what more is in store for the future of the league.
“There are quality players through every organization,” Steed said. “Whether its’ a guy on the mound that we’re facing that day, or the middle of the order for most clubs, it’s a good test for our guys leading up to come down and playing some of the better, competitive teams in the States. It prepared us in a great way.”