The Ontario Blue Jays are proud to announce that seven former OBJ players have been selected to play in the 2017 World Baseball Classic this Spring.
Six former players will be representing Canada as they compete at Marlins Park in Miami, Florida.
Catcher George Kottaras of Markham, Ontario will lead the way behind the dish. Kottaras split time during the 2016 season between the Sacramento River Cats (San Francisco Giants AAA affiliate) and the Gwinnett Braves (Atlanta Braves AAA affiliate). Kottaras has spent 13 years in professional baseball and has spent time in the big leagues with Boston, Milwaukee, Oakland, Kansas City, Toronto, St. Louis, and Cleveland.
Second Baseman Pete Orr of Newmarket, Ontario will be joining the Canadian middle infield for the WBC. Orr’s professional career began in 2000 after being signed by the Atlanta Braves as a free agent. During his 15 year career he spent time with Atlanta, Washington, and Philadelphia which included 8 seasons in the MLB with each of those teams. Pete Orr retired from professional baseball at the conclusion of the 2015 season. Orr looks to bring some of the Gold Medal magic from Canada’s recent Pan American Games victory.
First Baseman Josh Naylor of Mississauga, Ontario will be putting on the red and white for the first time at the World Baseball Classic but has been a mainstay at the National Junior level since he was 14 years old. Naylor was selected 12th Overall in the 2015 MLB First-Year Players Draft by the Miami Marlins. After two seasons in the minor leagues, Naylor has a combined batting average of .275 while hitting 13 HRs with 91 RBIs. Naylor recently was traded from the Marlins to the San Diego Padres in exchange for the hard throwing Andrew Cashner. Naylor finished the 2016 season with the Lake Elsinore Storm (Padres A-Advanced affiliate).
Shortstop Daniel Pinero of Toronto, Ontario will be joining fellow former OBJ Peter Orr in the Canadian middle infield. Pinero was drafted by the Detroit Tigers in the 2015 MLB First-Year Players Draft. Prior to professional baseball Pinero was a three year starter at the University of Virginia. While at Virginia, Pinero and his Cavalier teammates won the NCAA College World Series in Omaha, Nebraska. Pinero played in every game for the Cavaliers and is best know in Virginia for his highlight reel defensive plays. Pinero finished the 2016 season with the Connecticut Tigers (Tigers A-Short Season affiliate).
Third Baseman Eric Wood of Brooklin, Ontario will be joining the infield for Team Canada. Wood finished the 2016 season with the Altoona Curve (Pittsburgh Pirates AA-affiliate) hitting .249 with 16 HRs and 50 RBIs. Wood will be attending the Pittsburgh Pirates Big League Spring Training as a non-roster invitee. Wood was drafted out of Blinn College in the 6th Round by the Pittsburgh Pirates in 2012.
Catcher Mike Reeves of Peterborough, Ontario will join fellow backstop George Kottaras on Team Canada as they will handle the catching responsibilities for the tournament. This will Reeves’ first time donning the red and white for Team Canada. Reeves spent the 2016 season with the Dunedin Blue Jays (Toronto Blue Jays A-Advanced affiliate) hitting 3 HRs and driving in 16 RBIs while throwing out 30% of base stealers. Prior to being drafted by the Toronto Blue Jays, Reeves was a four-year starter at Florida Gulf Coast University.
The last former Ontario Blue Jays player added to a World Baseball Classic roster is Right-Handed Pitcher Jordan Romano of Markham, Ontario who was added to Team Italy. Romano was selected by the Toronto Blue Jays in the 10th Round in 2014 after attending Oral Roberts University in Tulsa, Oklahoma. The hard throwing Romano spent the 2014 in the GCL before undergoing Tommy John Surgery. He returned to the mound for the 2016 season which he spent playing for the Lansing Lugnuts (Blue Jays A-Full Season affiliate). In Lansing, Romano posted a 2.11 ERA over 72 and 2/3 innings while striking out 72 batters.
Canada will begin play against the Dominican Republic at 7:30pm on March 9th at Marlins Park. While, Italy will begin play against Mexico at 9:00pm on March 9th at Estadio Charros de Jalisco in Mexico.