Canadians to Watch Amongst the Top 25 Programs in Division I Baseball this season

Tyson Shushkewich
1 year ago
As the college baseball season is right around the corner for many teams across the United States, there are tons of Canadians represented across numerous Division I, II, and III programs and in JUCO ball from coast to coast.
Using the D1 Baseball preseason rankings, let’s look at the Canadian players present on the rosters of the Top 25 teams in Division I baseball programs heading into the 2023 season. I utilized the Canadian Baseball Network’s Canadians intent page for assistance in making this list as well as going to each program’s roster. Some players listed below may not be on the official roster at the time of writing but have committed to the program.

Micah Bucknam – Lousiana State University (#2)

Born in New Zealand, Micah Bucknam grew up in Abbotsford, British Columbia and was a Canadian Junior National team member. Those Blue Jays fans who follow the MLB Draft will likely remember Bucknam’s name, as he was drafted by the club in the 16th round of the 2021 MLB Draft but chose not to sign. At the time, he had a commitment to the University of Washington but he reclassified for the 2022 MLB Draft and also committed to LSU, with Bucknam spending the 2022 season in the MLB Draft League.
With the Trenton Thunder, Bucknam made five starts and posted a 1.59 ERA through 17.0 innings, allowing just eight hits and one earned run while striking out 15 batters. He joins a highly-ranked Tigers roster as a freshman for his first official season in college baseball.

Evan O’Toole – Oklahoma State University (#9)

A product of Bridgewater, Nova Scotia, Evan O’Toole took his talents to Alberta and joined the Vauxhall Jets (boasting Blue Jays alums Adam Macko and Damiano Palmegiani). After his time at Vauxhall, O’Toole joined Iowa Western Community College in the NCJAA, spending the past three seasons with the Rivers and authoring a collective 3.17 ERA through 31 games (13 as a starter). Through 93.2 innings, O’Toole posted a 9.22 K/9 while allowing just one home run.
He joins the Cowboys as a Junior and will likely be working out of the bullpen for the ninth-ranked OSU squad.

David Mendham – OSU (#9)

Beginning in 2019, David Mendham spent two seasons with Connors State College, helping the squad make the JUCO World Series during his freshman season. He was also named the College Baseball Player of the Year by the Canadian Baseball Network for the 2020 campaign. For the 2021 season, Mendham joined South Carolina and put up a solid campaign with the Gamecocks, posting a .243/.320/.381 slash line with five home runs to the tune of a .701 OPS while playing at first base, sporting a .993 fielding percentage on the right side of the diamond.
For the 2022 season, Mendham transferred to Oklahoma State University and was outstanding during his first year in the Big 12 Conference, authoring a .276/.385/.498 slash line with 11 home runs, 45 RBI, and 37 walks with a .882 OPS. He is classified as a senior for the 2023 season and is one name to watch on the draft tracker channels later this season.

Ben Abram – OSU (#9)

Another product of the Canadian Junior National program, Ben Abram spent four years with the University of Oklahoma dating back to 2018, posting a 5.39 ERA through 54 outings (14 starts). Prior to his time with the Sooners, Abram was also drafted by the San Diego Padres in the 37th round of the 2018 MLB Draft, but he choose to honour his commitment to Oklahoma instead.
For the 2023 season, Abram will be suiting up for Oklahoma State and joins Mendham and O’Toole on the Cowboys, being one of the more experienced players on the roster as a senior on the roster.

Antoine Jean – University of Alabama (#20)

Hailing from Montreal, Quebec, southpaw Antoine Jean is entering his fifth season with the University of Alabama. A 17th-round draft pick by the Minnesota Twins in the 2019 MLB Draft, Jean decided to honour his commitment to the Crimson Tide and is now a senior on the squad. Since joining Alabama, Jean has amassed a 3.51 ERA through 22 outings (16 starts) while striking out batters at a 7.1 K/9 while posting a 1.364 WHIP.
He missed some time in 2021 and 2022 due to injury but Jean will be one pitcher to watch in D1 baseball this year as he looks to be one of the more established players on the pitching staff.

Owen Diodati – University of Oregon (#25)

Hailing from Niagara Falls, Ontario, Owen Diodati made a huge impression during his time with the Canadian Junior National program and eventually committed to the University of Alabama for the 2020 season, deciding to not sign with the Blue Jays after they drafted him in the 29th round of the 2019 MLB Draft.
Through three seasons with the Crimson Tide, Diodati amassed a .247/.351/.470 slash line with 25 home runs, 89 RBI, and a .820 OPS through 413 at-bats. Defensively, Diodati worked primarily in the corner outfield spots, posting a .978 fielding percentage with one error and three outfield assists.
For the 2023 season, Diodati transferred to the University of Oregon, deciding to head out west to join the Ducks, “When I went into the portal, they (Oregon) blew me away through their recruiting process. They had a whole game plan in mind for me if I decided to go there. The coaching staff was unbelievable from a recruiting standpoint and the culture within the program has been outstanding since I arrived on campus. Everything I was told during the process has come true and there have been no surprises. This team has a chance to be really good this year.”

Turner Spoljaric – University of Oregon (#25)

The last name may sound familiar to Blue Jays fans, as Turner Spoljaric’s father Paul spent four seasons with the Jays while also suiting up for Canada in the 2004 Summer Olympics as well as playing in the Intercounty Baseball League with the Toronto Maple Leafs and the Barrie Baycats. His son Turner is now making a name for himself in D1 baseball, committing to the Ducks to continue his baseball career.
A product of the Canadian Junior National program and the MLB Draft League, Spoljaric’s first foray against players roughly three years older than him saw him post an 8.50 ERA through 8 outings (five starts) with the West Virginia Black Bears last year, holding the walks to a 2.5 BB/9 while striking out opponents at a 7.0 K/9 clip. He joins a talented Ducks roster that will be looking to go far this year, with Spoljaric looking to contribute wherever necessary with his new team.


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