Wednesday, March 07, 2012
Canadian Juniors to face Blue Jays on March 13th
Press Release Baseball Canada
Wednesday, February 29, 2012
OTTAWA-For the second consecutive year, the Junior National Team will play a split-squad version of the Toronto Blue Jays at Al Lang Stadium in St. Petersburg, Florida. The game will take place on March 13th (1:05pm ET start) on what will be declared ‘Canada Day’ by the City of St. Petersburg.
The day promises to be more than just a baseball game as Baseball Canada and the Toronto Blue Jays partner for a great day of Canadian baseball.
“The relationship with the Toronto Blue Jays is tremendously important to Baseball Canada,” said Junior National Team Head Coach and Director of National Teams Greg Hamilton. “The Blue Jays have been great supporters of our National Teams program for a long time, so the chance for both organizations to play this game is truly something special.”
The inaugural match-up in 2011 saw the Blue Jays field a team that included JNT graduates Adam Loewen (Surrey, BC), Brett Lawrie (Langley, BC), Marcus Knecht (Toronto, ON) and Michael Crouse (Port Moody, BC), while big-leaguers and former Blue Jays Aaron Hill and John McDonald were also on hand.
“Having this game occur is a natural fit for the Toronto Blue Jays and Baseball Canada,” said Blue Jays GM Alex Anthopoulos. “The ability to assist in development of the elite Canadian baseball players is an opportunity we are thrilled to be a part of.”
Returning player Gareth Morgan (Toronto, ON) had the opportunity to face the Blue Jays last year and is looking forward to doing so again in two weeks.
“It was a great experience not only playing against them, but also meeting them before the game,” explained Morgan. “Playing in the game was an experience I will remember for the rest of my life.”
Last year, Morgan and the rest of the Juniors paid close attention from behind home plate as the Blue Jays took batting practice and did infield/outfield work. They also had the chance to interact with the pros and gain some perspective on what it takes to play professional baseball.
“Knowing that they were in the same situation I was, when they were younger inspires me to keep working hard,” added Morgan. “It makes me believe in the dream that with time, experience and a lot of work, one day I could be where they are.”
Ryan Kellogg (Whitby, ON) will start against the Blue Jays on March 13th and is thrilled with the opportunity to face professional hitters and face a team he grew up cheering for.
“I am very excited to face big-league hitters for the first time,” he said. “It will be a challenging yet fulfilling experience to play against a team of that calibre.”
“It means a lot to me to be given the opportunity to pitch in such a special game especially since I grew up with the Jays basically just down the road (from Whitby).”
The Blue Jays line-up is loaded with great offensive players including Lawrie and two-time American League homerun champ Jose Bautista. Kellogg would relish the opportunity to face either one of these players and knows that he would need to be calculated in his approach.
“If I get to pitch against Bautista or Lawrie in the game I would be a little more cautious about (my) pitch selection. I would still go after them just like any other hitter but I would probably give them more off-speed pitches and definitely not leave anything up in the zone.”
Facing the Blue Jays will be a surreal experience for right-handed pitcher Cal Quantrill (Port Hope, ON) who’s the son of former Blue Jay, Paul. Paul played six of his fourteen big-league seasons in a Blue Jays uniform where young Cal was a regular in the Blue Jays clubhouse.
"I remember shagging batting practice and begging my dad to let me come to the ballpark early,” said Cal. “I always wanted to pitch with that uniform on, but for now, pitching against them will have to do.”
Cal is scheduled to throw two innings against the Blue Jays on March 13th.
The Spring Training trip to St. Petersburg runs from March 4th-14th and will feature games against minor league prospects from the Philadelphia Phillies and Baltimore Orioles along with games against defending IBAF World Cup champions, the Netherlands and St. Petersburg Junior College.
The trip is an important event as the JNT prepares for the 2012 IBAF 18U World Baseball Championship in Seoul, South Korea from August 30th-September 8th.