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Vancouver Canadians Media Day

I’m a bit late to the party, but still wanted to get a few thoughts down regarding the release of the Canadians roster at Wednesday’s media day prior to tonight’s season opener. I have to admit, I went into media day a bit wide eyed, it being my first rodeo, so some of the questions I wanted to ask got missed. Turns out there is no order to a media scrum. I kept waiting for my turn to ask a question. As I quickly learned, being polite will get you no where. That being said, I did manage to corner one of my boyhood heroes after his group interview for a one on one chat. Definitely the highlight of the day, and quite possibly the highlight of the season.

Firstly, the roster. The handout I was given on Wednesday is still quite a bit short of what will eventually be the final roster, as only twenty-five players flew north from Florida. This includes thirteen pitchers and twelve positions players. Of those twelve positions players, I only have three listed as outfielders. That will get the C’s through the first weekend, but you expect re-enforcements to arrive for the home opener.

Let’s take a quick look at my first impressions:

Surprises: Of the seven infielders who arrived, I have three listed as first basemen. Bit of an odd mix. Reading Elliot Pap’s article, White Rock born Justin Atkinson, drafted as a shortstop, is pencilled in as the starting first basemen. That seemingly leaves Ontario native Shaun Valeriote and Jordan Leyland on the outside looking in (one will DH am sure) as both have only ever played first base in their pro careers. For the rest of the infield, i’ll speculate a bit. Two guys who had interesting 2012’s should battle it out for the second base job. Andy Fermin played last year in Lansing after staying in extended all spring, so this is may be seen as a demotion for the twenty-three year old. His career as a pro has been a bit of a yo-yo, going from the New York Penn League (Northwest equivalent) to the App, up to Lansing, and now back to Vancouver. His competition will be Jorge Vega-Rosado who went in the opposite direction to Andy last year. After starting the season in Lansing, he was demoted to the GCL, and then promoted at beginning of July to Bluefield.

If I have the second base job right, then that leaves Jason Leblebijian to play third. We saw Jason for the bulk of last summer at the Nat before he was promoted to Lansing, missing the C’s playoff run. This year, after spending April in extended, he was sent to the Dunedin Blue Jays where he served as an infield back-up, only getting into seven games. I really wanted to speak to the Illinois native about his odd calendar year on Wednesday but couldn’t hunt him down.

Finally, we have bonus baby Dickie Thon Jr at short. After being drafted in the 5th round of the 2010 draft and signing a well over slot bonus, Thon Jr shot up many a prospect list. Unfortunately, his first two seasons of pro ball have burst the bubble somewhat. If you are inclined to read a lot into extended spring training stats (I’m not) it seems he has had a good spring. For prospect junkies such as myself, he is still on the edge of our radar so am happy to have him in Vancouver and will be very interested to see how he fares.

The reason I put the infield under a surprise heading is just that I didn’t expect to see Leblebijian or Atkinson. Am happy Justin gets to play in front of his friends and family, but he really doesn’t show enough pop to be a first basemen. I think the infield, as is, stands could be very fluid, with possibly only Dickie Thon playing the whole season in Vancouver.

Disappointments: I really expected to see at least D.J. Davis roaming the Nat’s outfield and possibly even Anthony Alford. It could still come together, and if you read the extended article I linked above, Davis did struggle this spring, so I guess not really a surprise. It’s not that Ian Parmley and Ronnie Melendez are bad players, we just know what they bring to the table. I had predicted an outfield of Nico Taylor, Davis, and Alford. Only got one of three. Not a bad day at the dish, but……

Will be focusing on Nico when at the Nat.

I didn’t really expect to see some of the younger pitchers like Matt Smoral and Alberto Tirado, not yet anyway, so not overly disappointed with them not being on the plane north.

All in all, the roster is a bit disappointing prospect wise. But that is exactly what I said last year and look what happened. There’s still more names to be added, and a few different story-lines to be followed (see below). The best thing the C’s can do is win the first half title, guaranteeing them a playoff berth and a stream of late season call-ups to bolster the squad.

With Markus Brisker in Vancouver and Matthew Johnson on the way, the Canadians will have two pitchers who were once position players. Not sure how many other minor league teams can lay claim to that.

And finally, a boyhood hero of mine was at the Nat. I got a chance to talk to him for five minutes or so about his Hall of Fame candidacy. What a thrill. Tim Raines = Legend.

Tim Raines holds court at the Nat (photo by Charlie Caskey)

Tim Raines holds court at the Nat (photo by Charlie Caskey)

(As an addendum, Rob Fai tweeted tonight’s roster after this was written. Seems Vega-Rosado gets the nod at 2nd tonight. Rest of the nine as expected)


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