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There are many memorable parts of taking in a Vancouver Canadians baseball game. Pound for pound, it’s probably the most enjoyable sports experience available to spectators in Vancouver.It’s also something of an anomaly, as one of the things you’re not likely to remember in the days that follow is the exact score. So while it hasn’t hurt that the Vancouver Canadians have been one of the best teams in Short-Season Single-A recently, including winning last year’s championship, the success of the club hasn’t been essential in bringing fans through the gates of Nat Bailey Stadium. (Though the extra revenue playoff games permit is nothing to sniff at, obviously.)But once Canadians fans’ butts are in seats, their hands cradling three-foot-long hot dogs and peach Hey Y’alls, it helps to know that the players they’re watching could one day be playing their trade with on the pro stage.After all, everyone knows at least one old dude who loves to drone on about the time he saw Sammy Sosa knock a dinger at the Nat. These days, much of the minor league team’s advertising efforts and materials focuses on current Blue Jays who spent time in Vancouver, like Kevin Pillar, Aaron Sanchez and Marcus Stroman (just don’t ask him about it).Here are some current and recent Canadians who could follow their paths.
Age: 21Position: PitcherCurrent team: Dunedin Blue Jays (Single-A Advanced)Career with the Canadians: Seven games, 2017Pearson is fourth on Toronto’s prospect list, according to mlb.com, and Canadians’ fans know exactly why. The 6’6 Odessa, Florida native started throwing for the C’s at this time last year, and the team rode his arm down the stretch run.In the seven games he started, Pearson gave up five hits. Not runs. Hits. In one particularly dominant August performance he threw 60 pitches and didn’t allow a hit in four innings while striking out five batters.His time up in Dunedin so far this year? Not the best. He got hurt in his first game after breaking his ulna (a long bone in the forearm—hey you actually learned something useful from a sports article!) on a nasty comebacker.http://twitter.com/JasonAtTheGame/status/993689420695003136Despite the setback, analysts still think Pearson and his nasty, high-90s fastball will find himself in Toronto eventually.
Age: 22Position: ShortstopCurrent team: Dunedin Blue JaysCareer with the Canadians: 39 games, 2017Another member of the Canadians’ championship run last year (and there are some more on the way), Warmoth doesn’t just have a cool name. He’s also a solid all-around ball player who was drafted in the first round of the 2017 draft by the Blue Jays.Currently fifth on MLB’s Jays prospect list, Warmoth is exceptional in that he doesn’t have a particular strength—or weakness. The Orlando native’s game is all about consistency, a trait adored more in baseball and its marathon schedule more than any other sports.Last year in Vancouver, that meant a sparkling .306 batting average, good for best on the team among batters who had more than 40 plate appearances.This year has been a bit of a learning process for Warmoth, as he’s batted only .232 at the next level. But he’s still stealing bases and is usually penciled in near the top of Dunedin’s lineup, both of which are good signs.
Age: 22Position: CatcherCurrent team: Dunedin Blue JaysCareer with the Canadians: 52 games, 2017Yet another player who starred for the C’s during their run to the championship last year and has found himself, well, trying to find himself, at the next level.He finished second on the Canadians in RBIs, home runs and batting average last year, routinely coming through as one of the team’s best hitters. He was also great in the field, only committing two errors during 34 appearances behind the plate.His time in Dunedin has been an adjustment, as his .216 batting average is among the lowest on the team. He does lead the squad in doubles, however.He’s currently rated as the Jays’ 16th best prospect, according to MLB, good for third among Toronto catchers.There’s no word on whether he’s continued to deploy Blink 182’s “All The Small Things” as his walk-up song in Dunedin, like he did in Vancouver.
Age: 23Position: Second baseCurrent team: New Hampshire Fisher Cats (Double-A)Career with the Canadians: 53 games, 2016Biggio has the pedigree, as his father Craig was enshrined into Major League Baseball’s Hall of Fame in 2015. Cavan has the cooler name and is two inches and 15 pounds bigger than his dad, but he has his work cut out for him if he’s going to put together a 20-year career in the bigs.So far, so good. The younger Biggo hit well and stole bases for the Canadians, and he’s continued that trend up in Double-A, as he leads the Fisher Cats (what is that exactly?) in RBIs.Biggio is rated as the Jays’ 19th-best prospect by MLB and he can play any base, improving his chances of moving up in Toronto’s system.
Age: 21Position: Right fieldCurrent team: Vancouver Canadians (Single-A Short Season)Career with the Canadians: 26 games (and counting), 2018The only player on the list presently on the Canadians, Conine is also the only young man who appears here and not on MLB’s list of Jays prospects.Much of that probably has to do with the fact that Conine hasn’t yet risen up the minor league chain. But rest assured, Vancouver fans who have taken in games this year have noticed Conine.Tied for the team lead in home runs and doubles, Toronto’s second-round pick in the 2018 draft has been one of the most productive hitters on the Canadians. He also has the bloodline, given that his father Jeff was nicknamed Mr. Marlin for his eight years spent with Miami’s major league franchise.It would be a surprise if Conine doesn’t make the leap to one of Toronto’s other minor league clubs next year.So next time you take in a Canadians game this summer remember to brag heartily about the time you saw Griffin Conine smash a dinger at the Nat.