18 OBJ Named to CBN Most Influential List

Bob Elliott and his crew of writers, scouts, coaches, players, and everyone else he has an email address for (which has to be quiet large) comes together to release the annual CBN Influential List.  Each year, the list becomes longer, more detailed and with additional funny bits and pieces about those listed which Bob delivers in surprise fashion for his readers.  As always, the Ontario Blue Jays are well represented throughout with former players and coaches alike getting recognition for their efforts to better the game of baseball not only in Ontario but on a national stage.  Congratulations to those listed as apart of the CBN Most Influential List.

By Bob Elliott (courtesy of the Canadian Baseball Network)

35. Josh and Noah Naylor - San Diego Padres/Cleveland Indians Prospect

Josh is off the prospect list because he arrived in the majors May 24 -- DHing at Rogers Centre in a 6-3 win over Toronto. The next night he had three hits as the Padres thumped the Jays 19-4. Playing right field, he doubled off Edwin Jackson in the first and had two more singles. Josh had 15 doubles, eight homers and 32 RBIs with a .719 OPS in 94 games.

C Noah is regarded as the No. 3 prospect in the Indians organization by Baseball America and No. 5 by MLB Pipeline. This season at class-A Lake County he hit .243 with 18 doubles, 10 triples, 11 homers and 65 RBIs to go with a .734 OPS in 107 games. He turns 20 next month and will spend this season at class-A Lynchburg. Jeff and Jordan Zimmerman (Kelowna, BC) pitched against each other in 1999, what year will the Mississauga brother face each other? The pair earned $4,828,138 in signing bonuses.

50. Jamie Lehman - Regional Crosschecker (West Coast) for the Toronto Blue Jays

It is not up to Lehman (Brampton, Ont.) to personally sign players anymore. He is too busy examining all the talent in his rich area. The scouts he supervises landed a bunch of players: Kory Lafreniere signed third rounder Dasan Brown (Oakville, Ont.) of the Ontario Blue Jays for $797,500 and 26th rounder OF Jean-Christophe Masson (Ancienne-Lorette, Que.), an ABC grad for $297,500. Scout Randy Kramer signed 26th rounder INF Cameron Eden from California for $222,500. Ryan Fox grabbed 18th rounder LHP Brandon Eisert of Oregon State for $125,000, while Jim Lentine signed 23rd rounder RHP Anders Tolhurst from Grossmont JC for $125,000 and Darold Brown grabbed 28th rounder RHP Gabriel Ponce of Arizona Western JC for $75,000. A Lehman signee for $5,000 from Arizona -- 10th rounder Cal Stevenson (.288, 15 doubles, five triples, five homers, 59 RBIs and .772 at class-A Dunedin and class-A Fayetteville) was traded to Astros as part of Aaron Sanchez and Joe Biagini package for Fisher.

51. Scott Thorman - Minor League Manager with the Kansas City Royals

The class-A Wilmington Blue Rocks were down 2-1 after losing the first game in Fayetteville. The outlook did not look for the Mudville Nine as Game 4 and if necessary Game 5 would be played at the home of the Woodpeckers. No problem for manager Scott Thorman (Cambridge, Ont.) and his club. Justin Cox worked six scoreless in a 2-0 win tie series. Then former Jays second round pick (unsigned in 2015) Brady Singer did the same for a 2-0 win in the championship final. Thorman (Cambridge, Ont.) a former first-rounder has a way of developing prospects. According to Baseball America he had seven of the Royals top 10 prospects: No. 2 Daniel Lynch 22 (5-2, 3.10 with 23 walks and 77 strikeouts in 78 1/3 innings), No. 3 Jackson Kowar 22 (5-3, 3.53 with 22 walks and 66 whiffs in 74 innings), No. 4 Singer (5-2, 1.87, 13 walks, 53 strikeouts in 57 2/3 innings), No. 5 OF Kyle Isbel 22 (.216, five, 23, .643), No. 8 Kyle Bubic 21 (7-4, 2.30, 27 walks, 110 whiffs in 101 2/3 innings), No. 9 Cox 22 (3-3, 2.77, with 16 walks and 52 whiffs in 55 1/3 innings) and No. 10 Nick Pratto 20 (.191, seven, 49, .588). He is expected to manage double-A Northwest Arkansas Naturals in the double-A Texas League in 2020, as he looks to improve on his five-season record of 298-255 (.539) and move players up the ladder. His son Robbie Thorman is a former South Atlantic League bat boy of the year.

79. Adam Stern - Director of Player Development with the Great Lake Canadians

Stern (London, Ont.) and Chris Robinson (Dorchester, Ont.) keep churning out players headed to NCAA Division I schools. To name a few Tyler Hinrikus (Kitchener, Ont.) to Ball State, Brian Zapp (Waterloo, Ont.) Miami of Ohio, Owen Diodati (Niagara Falls, Ont.) Alabama, OF Noah Myers (Wyoming, Ont.), University of South Carolina, Eric Martin (Kitchener, Ont.) Indiana State University, RHP Garner Spoljaric (Lisle, Ont.) Stetson University. Besides former major leaguers Stern and Robinson, the Canadians have a number of ex-pros helping out with instruction, many of them former London Badgers: Brock Kjeldgaard (London, Ont.), Jeff Helps (Wyoming, Ont.), Shane Davis (Belmont, Ont.), Jon Fitzsimmons (London, Ont.), Derek Bloomfield (Strathroy, Ont.), Brad McElroy (London, Ont.), Jamie Romak (London, Ont.) and Larry Balkwill (Chatham, Ont.). Robinson and Fitsimmons have added to Alexis Brudnicki’s wonderful website, one of the best in the country. The teams won the CPBL championships at the 14U, 15U, 16U and 17U levels last summer.

80. Matt Higginson - Area Scout for the Oakland Athletics

Heading into this draft 29 of the 30 major-league clubs had signed a Canadian player to a six-figure bonus. The only team not to was Oakland, which concentrates on college players (and there is only one college program, UBC, in Canada). That all changed this summer when Higginson (Grimsby, Ont.) drafted and signed Tyler Schofield-Sam (Brampton, Ont.) from the Ontario Blue Jays in the 12th round and went away above slot to give him a $320,000 signing bonus. Schofield-Sam’s father, Frankie Sam, came to Canada from Saint Vincent and the Grenadines.

83. Joe Ellison - Director of Baseball Operations & 18U Head Coach with OBJ

Former Mississauga Southwest Twin and Mississauga North Tiger, Ellison took over for Sean Travers as Ellison is the head of operations for owners Stephanie and Joe Wilkinson. In June of 2019, OF Dasan Brown (Oakville, Ont.) was the top Canadian pick giving the Ontario Blue Jays the top pick in the country for the fifth time in the past eight years. The others were C Noah Naylor (Mississauga, Ont.) a first rounder in 2018, 1B Josh Naylor (Mississauga, Ont.) was a first rounder in 2015, OF Gareth Morgan (North York, Ont.) was a second rounder in 2014, 3B Eric Wood (Pickering, Ont.) an Ontario Blue Jays grad was sixth rounder in 2012. Kyle DeGrace reports to Ellison (Mississauga, Ont.) and Greg Byron reports to Mike Steed who reports to Ellison. The Ontario Blue Jays will have a new addition come August when former Abbotsford Cardinals coach Corey Eckstein (Abbotsford, BC) arrives. Ellison learned pitching mechanics from two of the best Remo Cardinale (Thornill, Ont.) and Steed.

106. Mike Steed - Manager for the Thunder Bay Border Cats & Pitching Coordinator with OBJ

If you see a pitcher with a high leg kick chances are Steed (Beamsville, Ont.) worked with him. He is with the Ontario Blue Jays and come summer will manage Thunder Bay Border Cats of the Northwoods summer college league. Steed signed a three-year contract. He returns to Thunder Bay after serving as the Border Cats manager in 2010 and 2011 and as the team’s pitching coach in 2009. He has served with the Ontario Blue Jays as a head coach, pitching coach/instructor and college placement coordinator. And in his spare time he was a part-time scout with the Reds organization. He replaces Eric Vasquez, who guided the Cats to a 24-47 record in 2019. Thunder Bay team president hopes that Steed will be able to bring in talent saying, “Mike has tremendous ties and connections throughout the college game in the US and also has a solid recruiting list of Canadian talent through his work with the Ontario Blue Jays program and his connections with Baseball Canada.”

109. Shawn Hill - Area Scout with the New York Yankees

Hill is a pro scout for the 26-time World Series champions, working under director of pro scouting Dan Giese. Hill (Mississauga, Ont.) was drafted by Alex Agostina in the sixth round in 2000. Only four Canadians have played for both the Expos and the Jays. The Yankees have two in Denis Boucher and Hill. Will the Yankees hire Rob Ducey (Cambridge, Ont.) next time he is available and Matt Stairs (Fredericton, NB) former Padres hitting coach.

Honourable Mentions

Sean Bignall - former OBJ 16U Head Coach

Francis Cubos - OBJ 15U Head Coach

Kyle DeGrace - OBJ 16U Head Coach

Guido Dell'Unto - OBJ 14U Head Coach

Lino Feijo - OBJ 14U Head Coach

"Every Day" Eddie Largy - former OBJ 17U Head Coach

Damon Topolie - Toronto Maple Leafs Manager & OBJ Catching Instructor

Stephanie & Joe Wilkinson - Owners

To check out the entire list of Canadian Baseball's Most Influential People,CLICK HERE.