Jul 8, 2023 1:29 AM
Hillsboro, OR. Brent Lavallee really loves his players, but the Vancouver-based Canadian coach only wants them on his team for a while, not for long.
“Basically, in a year, or when the time is right—everyone follows a different progression and a different path,” he tells visitors on a sunny Friday afternoon at Rune Tonkin Field, before A 10-7 win over the Hillsboro Hoops later that night left them 47-31. “It’s not at all bittersweet when they get promoted. We love to see them go. It’s our job. Our job is to develop and win baseball games. And this group we had this year did a great job of both. The player development is top notch and the competition is there too” so it was It’s so much fun we can’t wait to see more vacations and not to come back. »
Already, the Toronto Blue Jays affiliate has sent starters Chad Dallas and Trenton Wallace, high-octane relievers Conor Cook, Mason Fluharty and TJ Brock, and linebackers Riley Terrata and Reynier Nunez to the New Hampshire double.
The growing influx of talent didn’t stop the Canadiens from emerging in the Northwest League, as they clinched the title in the first half with a 5-1 victory over Hobbs on June 18, which also secured a spot in the MVPs. – ding dong. Five consecutive championships in the fall.
A roster of interesting prospects — players Josh Kacevic and Kid Doughty, linebackers Alan Ruden and Dassin Brown, rookies Adam McCoy and Dayan Santos, including rookie reliever-turned player Devereaux Harrison — helped secure the wins.
In a system that generally tends to focus on and reward individual performance, they are determined to be a team. Several of them made the playoffs with a lower-profile Dunedin Blue Jays last year and are set to battle for the title again with the Canadiens this summer.
“I think that’s really important,” said Rhoden, a left-handed third-round pick before the summer. “We’re real teammates and that doesn’t always happen in professional football. You hear stories, sometimes they’re very individual and that’s the truth. Our group is very close. It’s fun playing for each other and we really hope they do well. And we’ve got a lot of that this year.” With a lot of good players. It was really fun. »
Kacevic, a talented defenseman who was a second-round draft pick a year ago and described as a big league ready with the gauntlet in the moment as his high-contact bat develops, notes that the core group “goes into programs before that and how to” be a winning baseball player instead of just Presentation football player. ».
“There are different things required to win baseball games that don’t necessarily show up in storefronts or things like that,” he added. “And I think this team does a lot of those things very well — moving the runners, marking the runners, things like that. It was so much fun to start playing with them last year, to get that winning base in Dunedin and bring it here and hopefully keep the organization going.” “. “.
An example of this is often seen on TV at the Canadiens club before games, when they see Vladimir Guerrero Jr., Beau Pechet, Cavan Biggio, Danny Jansen, Santiago Espinal and Jordan Romano play for the Blue Jays, having climbed up the system together.
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“We see how they won together and overcame this together,” said Lavallee. “It’s what these guys want and going back to last year in Dunedin, they made a playoff push in the second half, we made a playoff push in the second half, so it was like they were expecting this. Hopefully that continues to grow as they climb to Double-A and the big leagues.” As Blue Jays employees, that’s what we hope. »
The Blue Jays, as an organization, needs this to happen because a series of now lucrative deals in recent years have diluted what was once one of the majors’ best farming systems. Sunday’s draft is an important opportunity to replenish the talent base, but they’ll also need some development gains to help them in the process as well.
Harrison, a 22-year-old right-hander who was selected in the ninth round from Cal State University Long Beach last year, could be one of those.
He didn’t start pitching until his freshman year of high school, ruled out games while playing the field, and only made two starts in college when he was very close. But on May 21, when the Canadiens were in dire straits after striking out Dallas and Wallace, he started and threw five slap-ball innings with six hits and has been in the rotation ever since, striking out 33-for-36 innings pitched with a 1.23 ERA in seven starts.
The Blue Jays debated starting later this year, but he literally took the ball and ran with it, hitting runs, each with a shutdown mentality.
“I started both games in college on Friday because the Friday guy got hurt, but I never really thought about starting,” Harrison said. “I don’t care when I have the ball. I don’t care if it’s in the first round, the ninth round, the fifth round. I just like to go out there and compete, my best against their best. It doesn’t matter the round, it doesn’t matter the result, whatever happens. I I just want the ball and competition.
Mako, born in Slovakia and raised in Alberta, who acquired Eric Swanson from Seattle as part of the deal with Teoskar Hernandez, has a potential profile, but his appearance will also be important.
While his numbers aren’t perfect yet—6.04 ERA and 1,520 WHIP in 12 starts—he also scored 50.2 points, third more than he threw last year between Low A Everett and Peoria in the Arizona Fall League. .
Mako is happy with that and the way he is recovering physically after every start, without the pain that has plagued him in recent seasons, while learning to trust process over results as club metrics tell him he has far exceeded his numbers.
At the same time, he also enjoyed performing regularly in Vancouver while finding his place in a new company.
“It’s one of the most fun teams I’ve been in,” Mako said. “It was something I wasn’t worried about, but leaving the Mariners, I had a really good connection with the guys there and it was all very familiar. Moving to an unknown institution I was a little worried but once I got to the Blue Jays everything just clicked into place.” “So I have a lot of fun playing with them and Nat Bailey was my favorite place to play even before I became Canadian, so to be in that stadium, to be home, to have the fans behind us and the way we were playing, it’s just amazing. »
It will take years to determine how much will eventually make it to the major leagues. This could be the start of another wave of talent that will eventually help rejuvenate the existing heart and soul of the Blue Jays. Or maybe this is just a great season for a franchise that deserves a karmic reward after being forced to spend the 2021 season calling Hillsboro home due to pandemic border restrictions.
Either way, the Canadiens are a fun team to watch.
“We’re all cheering each other on,” Harrison said. “There isn’t a single person in this team who doesn’t want someone to succeed because they want to stand out. We all have our moments of glory this season and we’ve all had our bad moments, but the team is always there for you, you can tell by our record. A decisive first half. A great first.” But why don’t you win the second half too, you know?