An Overview of Every Canadian Selected During the 2023 MLB Draft
Photo credit:Michigan Photography
2 months ago
Regarded as one of the deepest draft classes in recent memory, the 2023 MLB Draft did not disappoint, with numerous potential first overall picks on the board and of course, the added chaos of players being picked above projected slot or falling the draft added to the flair, with each team adding some significant prospect depth to their organizations.
For the Blue Jays, the club had 19 picks in the draft (no second-round selection as compensation for signing Chris Bassitt this past offseason) and the highlight was selecting prep infielder Arjun Nimmala with their first pick at 20th overall, with the Tampa, Florida product ranking high on numerous draft sites heading into the festivities. Overall, the Jays selected four prepsters and 15 post-secondary affiliated players, drafting 10 pitchers, five outfielders, three infielders, and one catcher when all was said and done after 20 rounds. While not every player may sign with the club, there are a lot of interesting names in the mix and it will be fascinating to watch how things shake up over the summer.
As well, the Blue Jays drafted two Canadian-born players, Connor O’Halloran (Mississauga, Ont.) and Sam Shaw (Victoria, B.C.), with these two making up part of the nine Canucks who heard their names called during the draft.
Myles Naylor (3B) – Oakland Athletics
Round 1 – 39th Overall
The highest-ranked Canadian heading into the draft via MLB Pipeline (#59), the Oakland Athletics used their Competitive Balance Round A pick on the Mississauga, Ont. product, Myles Naylor. Naylor, whose older brothers are both on the Cleveland Guardians and were also first-round selections, will likely be turning pro rather than honouring his commitment to Texas Tech.
Batting from the right side, the Ontario Blue Jays’ product impressed at the MLB Draft Combine and has been a staple on the Canadian Junior National team, going 8 for 17 at the U18 World tournament with a 1.177 OPS. Naylor also impressed at the Canadian Future’s Showcase last summer, taking home the home run derby honours. A middle infielder by trade, the youngest Naylor brother will likely find himself at the hot corner moving forward, but only time will tell. Unfortunately for Guardians fans, the club wasn’t able to add a third brother into the mix.
The slot value for this pick is $2.20 million.
Matt Duffy (RHP) – Boston Red Sox
Round 4 – 115th Overall
A product of the Great Lakes Canadians and the Fieldhouse Pirates, right-hander Matt Duffy was the first Canadian pitcher taken off the board, selected by the Boston Red Sox in the fourth round.
Spending the past three years with the Canisius Golden Griffins, Duffy has been a rotation staple over the past two seasons, authoring a 3.81 and a 4.13 ERA respectively. This past spring, the Burlington, Ont. native posted a 13.3 K/9 with 119 total strikeouts, earning the Metro Atlantic Conference Pitcher of the Year honour and setting the program’s all-time strikeout record with 273 K’s. The 21-year-old also impressed in the Cape Cod League, earning a 1.88 ERA through three starts with the Bourne Braves.
The slot value for this pick is $580,200.
Connor O’Halloran (LHP) – Toronto Blue Jays
Round 5 – 157th Overall
The second Canadian pitcher selected in the draft and the first Canuck heading to the Blue Jays is southpaw Connor O’Halloran, who has spent the past three seasons at the University of Michigan. While he struggled in his first year in the Wolverines bullpen, O’Halloran found a groove in his sophomore campaign, where he put together a 5.44 ERA through 19 outings in the Big 10 Conference.
His junior season continued to trend in the right direction, as the former Ontario Terriers pitcher amassed a 4.11 ERA through 17 outings with 110 strikeouts and a 1.126 WHIP, with the Mississauga, Ont. product earning the Big 10 Pitcher of the Year Award and Big 10 First Team honours as well.
The slot value for this pick is $385,000.
Sam Shaw (OF) – Toronto Blue Jays
Round 9 – 274th Overall
The second Canadian selected by the Blue Jays, Sam Shaw put himself on the map by impressing with the Victoria Eagles, the Canadian Junior National Team, and at TNXL Academy, where the smooth-swinging outfielder put on a clinic at the plate. Shaw also participated in the MLB Draft Combine, where he furthered his resume with a strong performance at the combine and in-game action.
“Sam had a very joyous attitude while playing and always had a smile on his face,” said Brian Martinez, owner of TNXL Academy, speaking to Blue Jays Nation. “I could tell he just enjoyed playing the game and being competitive… One of the most memorable moments (involving Sam) was in the NAA tournament when he hit a laser over the right field fence to increase the lead late in the game. He told me the inning before he was going to do it too.”
Standing at 5’10”, Shaw had a commitment to Xavier but will be foregoing the opportunity to turn pro, as the lefty-batter was the first Jays player to sign following the draft, landing a $285,000 signing bonus (slot at $175,900).
“The draft was a crazy experience up until my name was called by the Blue Jays,” said Shaw to Blue Jays Nation. “I really wanted to be a Jay it’s been my dream since I was a kid to get drafted and I’m glad it all worked out.”
Avery Owusu-Asiedu (OF) – Philadelphia Phillies
Round 9 – 283th Overall
Born in Saskatoon, Sask., Avery Owusu-Asiedu was the first Canadian selected by a National League team and the Philadelphia Phillies will be getting a collegiate outfielder who has some solid pop from the right side of the plate.
With the ability to play all three outfield positions, Owusu-Asiedu collected 27 home runs and 104 RBIs during his time at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville, finishing his college career with a .821 OPS. The slot value for the pick is $172,700.
Matt Wilkinson – (LHP) – Cleveland Guardians
Round 10 – 308th Overall
Hailing from White Rock, B.C., southpaw Matt Wilkinson turned a solid two years at Central Arizona into a draft pick with the Guardians late on Day #2. The left-hander dominated with the Vaqueros, owning a K/9 over 14 in both 2022 and 2023 while earning a 1.87 and a 1.07 ERA respectively, taking home the JUCO Pitcher of the Year Award for such a strong season. This summer, he also suited up in the Cape Cod League, pitching in two games for the Chatham Anglers, striking out ten through nine innings.
Wilkinson had a commitment to Arizona State prior to the draft, so it will be interesting to see if the former Okotoks Dawgs alum will turn pro or decide to head to a different state program to try and improve his draft odds. The slot value for this pick is $165,300.
Pier-Olivier Boucher (OF) – Atlanta Braves
Round 10 – 309th Overall
Directly following the Guardians in the tenth round was the Atlanta Braves, who also selected a Canadian in Pier-Olivier Boucher, an outfielder with Southern Illinois.
With the Salukis, the righty-batter authored a collective .331 average across two seasons with 24 home runs and 76 RBIs. The Saint-Joseph-de-Bauce, Que. product also collected a .582 SLG during his time at SIU while also amassing a .961 fielding percentage in the outfield with 19 stolen bases, a team-high.
A senior, Boucher spent the 2020 and 2021 seasons at Indian Hills Community College and was a product of the Charlesbourg Alouettes, being the first Quebec-born player selected in the 2023 MLB Draft. The slot value for this pick is $164,800.
Brady Cerkownyk (C) – Detroit Tigers
Round 15 – 440th Overall
The only Canadian catcher selected this year, Etobicoke, Ont., Brady Cerkownyk turned a freshman season with Connors State College and a quick trip with the Frederick Keys in the MLB Draft League into a 15th-round selection courtesy of the Detroit Tigers.
With the Cowboys, Cerkownyk posted a .470 average with 27 home runs and 107 RBIs and led the team and all of JUCO in numerous offensive categories, including OPS at 1.530. Behind the plate, Cerkownyk made just one error and threw out 75% of all base stealers. During his tenure with the Keys, the righty-batter posted a .243 average with a .680 OPS through 11 games, going 1 for 2 in the MLB Prospect Game.
Cerkownyk would become the first Canadian of the draft to put pen to paper, inking a $450,000 bonus from the Tigers.
Jérémy Pilon (LHP) – Tampa Bay Rays
Round 18 – 543th Overall
The last Canadian selected in the 2023 MLB Draft and a name known to Blue Jays fans is Valleyfield, Que. product Jérémy Pilon, drafted by the Tampa Bay Rays in the 18th round.
Suiting up for the Academy Baseball Canada and the Canadian Junior National team over the past few years, this is Pilon’s second time through the draft, as the lefty-pitcher was drafted by the Blue Jays in the 18th round last year as well but decided not to sign. An injury limited him to just one outing with the National team this past year and with a commitment to Alabama for the fall, it will be interesting to see if Pilon decides to turn pro or whether he decides to go to post-secondary instead.
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