Steed headlines, six Ontario Blue Jays in CBN Top 100

Bob Elliott and his crew of writers, scouts, coaches, players, and everyone else he has an email address for (which has to be quite 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)

14. Jordan Romano (Markham, Ont.) Blue Jays (35).

The list of Blue Jays relievers who blew saves in 2021 include: Tim Mayza and Trevor Richards three each, Tayler Saucedo two, Travis Bergen, Ryan Borucki, Anthony Castro, Tyler Chatwood, A.J. Cole, Rafael Dolis, Carl Edwards, Brad Hand, Joakim Soria and Romano one each ... 18 in all. Romano’s lone blown save came April 8 against the Los Angeles Angels when he took over for Trent Thornton with one out after Dexter Fowler singled. Fowler stole second, Romano retired David Fletcher on a grounder, but gave up singles to future MVP Shohei Ohtani and three-time MVP Mike Trout.

After that he was ROMANO-MATIC, as the Blue Jays Romano segment of the game notes reads. He recorded a career-high 23 consecutive saves to finish seventh in the AL with a 95.8% save mark. He finished second in the majors behind only Brewers Josh Hader (97.1%). He tied Ken Giles (23-for-24 in 2019) for the best in team history and his current streak of 23 consecutive is the third longest in team history behind Tom Henke (25) and Casey Janssen (24). Romano had a 2.14 ERA, seventh best among AL relievers while his 85 strikeouts were eighth most and his 33.6% K rate ranked ninth.

The former Ontario Blue Jay was coached by Dan Bleiwas and Dino Roumel.

55. The Naylors, Josh and Bo, Guardians (48).

Ball players never want to be on a lowlight package and fortunately we have not seen RF Josh Naylor’s collision with 2B Ernie Clement. The pair collided in the fourth inning on June 27 at Target Field on a bloop single by Jorge Polanco.  Josh had multiple fibula fractures and ligament damage leading to surgeries on his foot and ankle July 2 at Cleveland Clinic. He began rehabbing in Arizona in mid-September. In his 69 games with Cleveland in 2021, Josh batted .253 with 13 doubles, seven homers, 21 RBIs and a .700 OPS. At the time of the injury, he was 10-for-28 (.357) in his previous nine games with a double, two homers and five RBIs, starting 50 games in right and 11 at first.

Bo is sixth on MLB Pipeline and seventh on Baseball America’s list of Cleveland’s best prospects. After the 2020 season was wiped out, he hit .188 in 2021 with 13 doubles, a triple, 10 homers, 44 RBIs and a .612 OPS in 87 games at double-A Akron. Josh went 12th overall in 2015 getting a $2.2 million bonus from the Marlins, while Bo went 29th in 2018 earning $2,578,137 from Cleveland.

61. Jamie Lehman, California scout, Blue Jays (49).

Lehman did the crosschecking on the Jays third round pick in 2021, LHP Ricky Tiedemann, from Golden West College Rustlers. Tiedemann 19, was given a $644,800 signing bonus. In instructional ball, he was clocked at 95-98 MPH. For the Rustlers, he was 2-1 with a save, a 3.55 ERA and 60 strikeouts in 38 innings.

Lehman won’t be scouting Cali schools next year as the Jays have promoted him from one of the top three amateur ball hotbeds to cross-check Florida. He is replacing Matt Bishoff, credited with pushing to draft high school SS Bo Bichette. Bishoff has been hired as an international crosschecker with the Angels. So, Lehman is moving from You can say from the area of the John Wayne Airport in Irvine, Calif. to Sarasota Bradenton International airport. Next stop Texas?

76. Corey Eckstein and Mike Steed, Ontario Blue Jays.

While a lot of elite organizations were strapped for diamond time due to the pandemic, the Ontario Blue Jays were able to pivot around the COVID restrictions and offer something from a developmental and exposure standpoint. Steed and Eckstein, recently named president and director of player development, headed south to Florida for a five-week trip. 

Stephanie Wilkinson, director of administration and GM Joey Ellison gave the green light for a pair of students to create a documentary for social media to shed light on the trip. The incoming class has two players from Ottawa, two from Nova Scotia, plus one each from PEI, Quebec, Saskatchewan and one player from Japan.

Steed, the Blue Jays’ college placement advisor, was busy with Sam White (Aurora, Ont.) heading to University of Virginia, Kansai Sugimoto (Mississauga, Ont.) Yavapai, Liam Watt (Burlington, Ont.) LSU-Eunice, Quinn Tavares (Mississauga, Ont.) and Corey Morro (Cheltenham, Ont.) both to Eastern Oklahoma, Andrew MacNeil (Georgetown, Ont.) and Wil Yamka (Oakville, Ont.) Cloud County, Alex Ellert (White City, Sask.) Colby, James Wilson (Toronto, Ont.) Walters State, Manny Alberto (Aurora, Ont.) McLennan, Dylan Shepherd (Barrie, Ont.) Highland and Jackson Somerville (Burlington, Ont.) Jefferson. 

They won in the Perfect Game Summer Select Championship with a 9-1 victory over Puerto Rico as White doubled, singled and knocked in four, while Morro doubled and knocked in two runs. Steed, or High Socks as he is known, was supposed to manage Thunder Bay in the Northwoods League in 2022. The league cited ongoing uncertainties regarding vaccinations and requirements for COVID-19 testing at the border as the reasons to not include Thunder Bay in the schedule.  

Honourable Mentions

To Be Announced..