Tougher for Canucks

BOB ELLIOTT -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 7:48 AM ET

The good news about baseball's new Basic Agreement is that the industry will be free of lockouts and strikes until the end of the 2011 season.

The bad news -- if you are an aspiring, perspiring Canadian player -- is that the new agreement likely makes it tougher for Canucks to be drafted.

Under the new plan, Aug. 15 is the drop-dead date for signing a pro contract for everyone except college seniors.

Previously, clubs would use the final half of the draft to select draft-and-follows. Teams would have a player's rights for the next 50 weeks before they could either re-sign him or he would re-enter the draft.

Now, instead of 50 weeks, the window has been shortened to roughly six weeks. No one knows for sure what Year 1 will bring, but of nine scouts and scouting directors polled, eight predicted fewer Canadians will be drafted in June.

Players drafted in June will no longer be able to better their bargaining position at a junior college and sign in May, such as Adam Loewen, of Surrey, B.C., who signed with the Orioles for a $3.2- million US bonus in 2003. Loewen would have made out fine even if he didn't sign with the O's.

But what about Markham's George Kottaras, a 20th- rounder signed by San Diego in 2003, or lefty Jordan Zimmerman, of Carsland, Alta., a 32nd-round pick, signed by Seattle. Both received a $300,000 bonus.

"The Aug. 15 deadline would not affect a guy like Russell Martin, who we took in the 17th," said Logan White of the Dodgers. "But draft-and-follows selected in the final 25 to 30 rounds may have a tougher time getting drafted."

In 2006, 38 Canadians were drafted, 10 in the first 25 rounds. Could we see the 2007 draft total fall to somewhere in the 10-to-15 range? Anything is possible.

"If a player wasn't a prospect in June, what makes him a prospect in August? says one AL scout. "On the other hand, there could be haste with teams making quick, improper decisions due to this new deadline."

The draft remains at 50 rounds per team, yet many scouts expect to see clubs pass once organizational needs are filled.

The deadline won't affect 6-foot-8 righty Phillipe Aumont, of Gatineau, Que., expected to go in the top two rounds.

MOVING AROUND

The New York Mets signed Brampton infielder Tyler Johnstone, who hit .332 with 76 hits last spring for the Auburn Tigers. The Ontario Blue Jays grad had 10 doubles, a triple, a homer and 29 RBIs in 56 games ... Lefty David Davidson of Thorold was elevated to the Pittsburgh Pirates 40-man roster. The former Team Ontario star had a 2.31 ERA at double-A Altoona, 2.16 at single-A Lynchburg and 1.93 at single-A Hickory in stops this year ... Tim Hallgren is the new scouting director of the Dodgers. His father, also named Tim, was the first B.C. born player to make a 40-man roster of a big-league team, the Boston Braves in 1953. Tim, 47, has been with the Dodgers three years after serving 17 years scouting for the Texas Rangers.

Sympathies

Gone but not forgotten after a good ride is Bob (Flakey) Johnstone who passed away in Toronto and was buried last weekend in Fenelon Falls.

Johnstone, 61, was the Nolan Ryan of his era. When he signed with the Mets in 1965 he was compared to another rookie -- Ryan.

Johnstone pitched for Leaside and then the Toronto Maple Leafs, playing with Alfie Payne, Buck Reed, Jim Liness and Brian McRobie from 1970-72.

As McRobie used to say: "If Flakey had the ball, you knew you would win, and so did the other team."


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