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Tournaments  | Story  | 7/31/2022

CPBL Prospects All Star Game Scout Notes

Brian Sakowski      Cade Schares     
Photo: Myles Naylor (Perfect Game)
On a gorgeous day in Dorchester, Ontario, the best 2023-2024 players in the province gathered to take part in the annual Canadian Premier Baseball League All Star Game. The league consists of the very best club teams in the province, and of those teams, roughly 30 position players and 20 pitchers were chosen to compete this weekend. We’ll see the younger guys in the Futures Game portion of the event later on, but this recap is strictly for the Prospects portion.

BJ (Brodie) Peart (2023, Markham, Ontario) won MVP of the Prospects Game, going 5-for-5 with a double, triple, and two walks en route to a perfect 7-7 in terms of being on base. Peart is a long, lean, broad-shouldered middle infielder with lots of projection to his build. He took a good BP earlier, showing the ability to use the whole field on a line then also showing he can turn and burn pull-side, and there’s quite a bit of power projection here overall. In game action, the hits were to all fields, including a triple to center field and a double down the oppo line. There’s obviously a knack for the barrel here, and as Peart continues to fill out his frame, it’s really easy to envision his profile featuring substantial power.

Another player who was in the running for MVP of the day was Tyson Kaufman (2023, Drumbo, Ontario), who really caught my eye more or less from the get-go. Kaufman has good length and athleticism to his build, with projection remaining on the body, and his mix of present offensive impact along with that projection gives him legitimate power upside. It’s a whippy bat, with good brakes on the front side and above-average bat speed, highlighted by real impact out front when he’s square. He hit a line drive missile of a bomb pull-side, a 2-iron stinger type of home run that got out in a hurry, holding it’s line the whole way out. Kaufman is a good overall athlete who looks comfortable in the infield, but regardless of future position, his left-handed offensive tools stand way out. Kaufman is also a right-handed pitcher, and jumped on the mound for an inning late in the day, punching out two and running his fastball up to 86 mph.

Parker Burgess (2023, Toronto Mets) got the start for Team White and while the command needs to continue developing, it’s easy to see the upside here. Burgess is long and lean at 6-foot-4, 205 pounds with more room to fill, and features good arm speed to go along with that body projection, giving him a substantial velocity ceiling. He worked up to 91 mph with the fastball, settling into the 88-90 mph range for the most part, and the pitch features above-average raw spin at times. He’s difficult to square up when he’s in command, as evidenced by a three-pitch sequence that saw him go fastball in for strike one, changeup away for strike two, and fastball away for strike three versus a left-handed hitter. Every pitch projects, with the aforementioned changeup thrown around 80 mph with good fade and arm speed replication, and while the curveball isn’t well-commanded yet, it’s a big snapper with 2700+ rpm at times, and it has the shape, spin and bite to be a true bat-misser in the future. Burgess is committed to Illinois.

The loudest BP round of the early part of the day belonged to Keegan O’Hearn (2023, Oshawa, Ontario), an extremely physical left-handed hitting outfielder who also moonlights as a lefty arm. O’Hearn is 6-foot-5, 210 pounds with lots of strength to his frame, and he possesses legitimate plus raw power from the left side of the plate. He showed above-average bat speed consistently during BP and into game play, getting the barrel out front with his lower half beneath him and consistent leverage, allowing that strength to play to its max and showing mammoth pop to the pull side. He left the yard during game play as well, an absolutely monster shot to right field that may have cleared the pond and landed in the farm, and he took consistently solid at-bats throughout the day, walking a couple times in addition to that bomb. His power upside may be unmatched in the province. O’Hearn also possesses some intriguing upside on the mound, as he reached 90 mph from the left side with huge angle to the plate from an extended slot.

A player we’ve seen a fair bit already is Myles Naylor (2023, Mississauga, Ontario), including just last week at PG National, and he had a solid showing overall in this outing, Naylor is a strongly-built right-handed hitting infielder, and he made plays on both sides of the ball yesterday. A shortstop by trade, Naylor stood out more at third base in the game portion of the event, showing range to both sides and advanced feel for working the backhand, making several long, difficult throws in a single inning from the hot corner. It’s a solid-average arm with plenty of carry and projects to the left side of the infield regardless of where, giving him a strong defensive profile to pair with his already-strong offensive profile. There’s pull-side power to his game as well as good foundations of a strong hit tool, with a whole-field approach that he executes well as well as legitimate power to the pull-side that he’s still growing into. Naylor is committed to Texas Tech.

Brodey Bitove (2023, Toronto, Ontario) was a guy who stood out to me during batting practice, as a lean, athletic left-handed hitting outfielder. The BP stood out for the power to the biggest part of the ballpark, even at a lean 175-180 pounds, with a whippy barrel from the left side that consistently produced loud results in the pregame BP. I was excited to see if that power translated to the game, and while there was some swing-and-miss in game play, Bitove still drove a double deep to straightaway center field, a shot that will be an easy bomb once he adds more strength to his frame. It’s an intriguing lefty bat with potential center field projection defensively.

Another arm that jumped out to me was Zev Salsberg (2024, Ontario Royals). Salsberg, a slenderly-built and projectable right-hander, is one of the few 2024s we saw yesterday, and his feel for pitching along with the body projection stands out. He’s not overpowering in terms of velocity, peaking at 86 mph and sitting in the 83-86 mph range, but it’s a very deceptive release with legitimate command for this age, dotting up his fastball to both sides of the plate at will and with good life on the pitch. He mixed in a slider in the mid-70s with tilt and projectable bite, and was comfortable turning over a changeup, again, with command of the offering. Projectable, deceptive starter with an established 3-pitch mix and command of the whole arsenal? Count me in as interested.

Keaton Cottam (2023, Burlington, Ontario) stood out throughout the day for his defensive abilities behind the plate, both in terms of blocking as well as his throwing abilities. Cottam is a solid-sized backstop at 6-foot-2, 180 pounds with more room to fill out, and he’s athletic behind the plate in terms of his lateral movements and blocking tools, showing the makings of a high-level defensive catcher. He can throw it too, with mostly solid-average arm strength but consistent accuracy s well as the athleticism necessary to really get off a quick release. He threw out several runners during game play, with in-game pop times ranging from 1.94 to 2.08, sitting mostly in the 2.1 range as far as his pre-inning throw downs.

I liked the BP that Evan Gunn (2023, Oshawa, Ontario) took before the game, consistently improving the impact and contact quality round-to-round as he warmed up, showing solid-average bat speed from the left side of the plate with twitch to his hands and very good rotational acceleration in the swing. He gets the barrel out front consistently from the left side of the plate, and there’s a good bit of power to his game as well, both pull-side and straightaway. He hit a bomb in game to the pull-side, a high-lofted 7-iron that carried out, and was on base a ton as the day wore on via multiple walks and HBPs. A middle infielder by trade the left-handed hitting tools stood out to me and he looks like a D1 guy at the next level off of this brief look.

Noah Konings (2023, Brampton, Ontario) was another of the potential MVP candidates given how he swung the bat in-game, picking up 4 hits including a double as well as 3 RBI, and he was on base 5 times including a HBP. It’s a pretty consistent barrel here for the right-handed hitting Konings, he showed that in BP with a professional style, barrels-to-all-fields type of performance there, and showed the pop in game with a launched double to center field. He’s a solid athlete who plays the outfield and could potentially play center field at the college level, with good hitting tools to round out the profile.

The consistency of the at-bats and overall approach of Ashton Graff-Rowe (2023, Waterloo, Ontario) stood out to me throughout the day on Saturday. Graff-Rowe is a 6-foot, 170-pound right-handed bat who can play both the outfield and the infield at a high level, and showed top-of-the-order hitting tools in this look. He’s a tough at-bat, more than willing to draw walks and use his speed on the basepaths, and to put it very succinctly, he doesn’t swing at balls. He wants to work counts in his favor and does so successfully, taking consistently good AB’s throughout the day, finishing 1-for-3 with multiple walks and stolen bases. He uses the whole field well with solid-average bat speed, capable of spraying hard liners all around the yard, and plays with a hard-nosed mentality that, when coupled with his toolset, screams leadoff hitter at the collegiate level.

Alex Kean (2023, Woodstock, Ontario) is a recent commit to Morehead State and seriously looks like a steal, having grown into his 6-4/220 frame and possessing some of the more impactful left-handed pop in the province right now. He’s strong and physical with a lot of lift to his swing, and while he’s still refining the consistency of his timer, he took consistently competitive at-bats and the strength stands way out. He doubled in his first at-bat and picked up 2 RBI in the process, and moves pretty well for a guy his size as well. The left-handed power is the draw here, and he was absolutely losing balls in BP. The game swings are still merging with the BP swings at this point in time, but it’s coming, and it’s going to be even more explosive as he continues to mature as a hitter. He’s fun to watch.

Other guys who stood out overall include Nate King (2023, Lindsay, Ontario), who moved well behind the plate and popped a 2.00 in game to nail a runner as well as lifted a triple to dead center field that was well struck; Connor Gaitens (2023, Great Lake Canadians), a physical right-handed hitting catcher who took one of the louder BP rounds of the day before the game, showing huge power to the pull-side; Camden Sanders (2023, London, Ontario), who has big projection on a still-wiry frame with notable present pull-side pop already and who walked a couple times and killed an L5 in game; and Lucas Alberti (2023, Toronto, Ontario), who has good hitting tools with a clean stroke, consistent contact ability, and more strength than his frame might indicate, who took both a good BP round and had consistently quality at-bats in game.

-Brian Sakowski

Jack Pineau (2023, Thunder Bay, Ontario) is an intriguing uncommitted arm who should be on the radar of college recruiters for the rest of this summer and into the fall. Standing at a long and lean 6-foot-2, 180 pounds, Pineau oozes projection and has a true starter profile. He ran his fastball up to 89 mph in this look, utilizing a clean and repeatable operation with excellent arm speed. In addition to the fastball, he featured a big, 12-6 curveball in the low 70’s with depth and significant downer action. He also pulled the string on a few changeups, which proved to be an effective change of pace for him. Pineau certainly has a high ceiling, and as the command and stuff continue to develop, he could see himself in as a weekend starter at the next level.

Griffin Howell (2023, Ontario) showed some interesting ingredients on the bump, and it’s no surprise that Nebraska had made the trip up north to secure his commitment. The right-hander has a sturdy 6-foot-1, 205-pound frame with present strength, and he utilizes a short and compact arm action with plenty of arm speed to project on. Perhaps what was most interesting about Howell was the significant movement on his fastball, which he comfortably got up to 87 mph. The pitch was consistently thrown at over 2200 RPMs and featured heavy sink and run to it. His fastball already has legit swing-and-miss traits, and as he continues to develop his command, he could prove to be an asset for the Huskers’ pitching staff down the road.

Matthew Marsh (2023, Havelock, Ontario) put together a quality pair of innings in this look, sitting mid-80s and running it up to 87 mph from the left side. There is good physical projection in the 6-foot-1, 194-pound frame, and he already has feel for a big, sweeping breaker in the low-70s. The Niagra commit throws with good intent, and he has an effective two pitch mix, especially when the off-speed can be throw to both sides of the plate.

Tate Carey (2024, Windsor, Ontario) was one of the more notable prospects of the day, as the rising junior is quite young for his class with a June 2006 birthday. Despite the significant age gap, Carey was far from outmatched, and he certainly stood out in a big way, running his fastball up to 89 mph. The live-armed right-hander is a strong and physical prospect at 6-foot, 180 pounds, and there is a lot to like about the overall package. The fastball plays well at the top of the zone, and he is not afraid to challenge opposing hitters with it. The secondaries are still a work in progress at this point, but he garnered multiple swings and misses with just the heater. Carey will be a name to follow very closely from Ontario over the next couple of years.

Speaking of high upside, we would be remiss not to mention Lachlan Harrison (2024, Mississauga, Ontario), who really made a name for himself in this one. There is plenty of projection to dream upon in the 6-foot-4, 195-pound frame, and he already runs it up to 87 mph from the left side. Harrison sat comfortably in the mid-80s and showed natural cutting action on his fastball. He paired it with a short slider in the high-70s and that he commanded well. The arm path is clean and fluid, and he certainly looks the part of a future 90+ mph arm. Left-handed pitchers are always in high demand, and when they project as well as Harrison, they usually generate quite the buzz and find their four-year home sooner, rather than later.

Mac Robertson (2023, Oshawa, Ontario) looked quite polished during his outing, displaying a quality three-pitch mix and real starter potential. The right-hander stands at a big and physical 6-foot-2, 210 pounds, and he utilized a clean and up-tempo delivery that he repeated well. He topped out at 88 mph and spun the ball extremely well, routinely delivering 2300+ RPMs on the fastball, and 2700+ RPMs on the curveball. His fastball really jumps out of the hand and tends to play up due to the spin rate. Both of his secondaries were impressive and had legit swing and miss potential, as he killed spin on the changeup and flashed a sharp breaker with late bite. Robertson already has a lot of pieces to like, and it will be fun to see his development moving forward.

Seth Ainsworth (2024, Ontario) wasted no time once he took the hill, as he tossed a dominant and efficient inning. Ainsworth was not afraid to challenge opposing hitters, coming right at them with a fastball that reached 88 mph. The heater showed explosive life out of the hand and really played up due to its ride through the zone. The curveball was also fun to watch, showing tight, 11-5 shape with depth and late downer action. Ainsworth generated a few swings and misses in the three batters he faced, and he will no doubt continue that trend moving forward.

Jack Tiessen (2024, Ontario) is a good projection-type arm who has a high ceiling. The first thing that stands out is his long and lanky 6-foot-4, 180-pound frame that has plenty of room to fill. He showed good pitchability during his outing, displaying command of his secondaries and a fastball that lived 82-83 mph with significant arm-side run that will certainly miss bats. Tiessen has a lot of pieces to like and project on moving forward, and he will be an intriguing follow over the next few years.

Frank-Anthony Caietta (2023, Bradford, Ontario) is a big-bodied right-hander, standing at 6-foot-4, 220 pounds, who provided a quick and efficient inning near the end of the game. He utilizes a long and offline arm action with curl in the back, and he ran it up to 86 mph from a high release. As he continues to consistently repeat his release height and create a downhill angle on the fastball, Caietta will be an interesting follow who is sure to see further velocity development moving forward.

Standing at a long and lanky 6-foot-6, 188 pounds, Julian Robertson (2024, Aurora, Ontario) might have some of the highest upside in the league on the hill. The physical projection is quite obvious, but there is much more to him than just that. The delivery is loose and easy, and there is real whip to the arm, which lends itself well to further velocity development. The overall operation and arm action were very clean and mechanically sound. He lived in the low 80s and topped out at 85 mph in this look, but there is much more to be unlocked down the road. His curveball was also an impressive pitch, showing sharp/late vertical bite and proving to be a legit swing and miss pitch. The pieces are already there, and as he continues to grow into his body and learn how to utilize all that length effectively, he will be a fun one to watch into the future.

-Cade Schares