Guelph's Garton makes grade

BOB ELLIOTT, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 9:56 AM ET

Josh Garton made the rounds.

He hit a ball out of Camden Yards in Baltimore before Orioles scouts.

He was at the Rogers Centre for a private Blue Jays workout in front of cross-checkers.

He went to workouts for the Cleveland Indians, Philadelphia Phillies, Kansas City Royals, Atlanta Braves, Chicago White Sox and Florida Marlins.

He turned down invites from the Seattle Mariners, the San Francisco Giants and the Cincinnati Reds because of scheduling conflicts.

Yet, in the end the outing which pushed the outfielder over the top was a workout at his old stomping grounds -- historic Hastings Park in Guelph.

Cincinnati scout Bill Byckowski arranged for Garton to take batting practice after the Brantford Red Sox-Guelph Royals Intercounty game.

"I travel all over and get picked by a team that came to see me, how about that?" Garton said after the Reds selected Garton, the Volunteer State College slugger, in the 12th round on Day 2 of the annual draft of high schoolers and collegians.

A total of 17 Canadians were taken yesterday.

Byckowski had Georgetown Eagles coach Scott Van de Valk throw batting practice to Garton, while Van de Valk's bantams chased down balls that remained in the park.

The worldly Garton saved his best hacks for home where he played third base for Van de Valk's Guelph Silvercreeks.

As Garton did at Camden Yards, the Guelph native lit it up with six drives leaving the deepest portion of Hastings in right centre, well over 400 feet from the plate

"Scott has been with me for quite a while," Garton said. "He finally threw some strikes."

While most draft hopefuls follow the draft on the internet, Garton spent the day driving around, getting impatient with the process.

"The Braves took my friend Chris Lovett from our conference, I phoned to congratulate him and we heard the Reds call my name," Garton said. "Mom went into a complete panic calling people. She didn't know who to call first."

At Volunteer State, Garton hit .408 with 20 homers and 48 RBIs.

"Joe Katuska, our area scout in Tennessee, did the work, we just wanted one more look," Byckowski said. "Josh showed plus power in Guelph. He showed average speed and has an average arm. He reminds me of a left-handed hitting Jason Bay and we got him 10 rounds earlier."

Bay, of Trail, B.C., the current Boston Red Sox left fielder, was drafted in the 22nd round by the Montreal Expos in 2000.

Garton also played for Danny Thompson's Intercounty Terriers, who had three 2009 members selected: Cambridge's Jeff Hunt by the Los Angeles Dodgers (15th round), Kitchener lefty Mitch Clarke (19th) to the Reds and Guelph outfielder Chandler McLaren (29th) to the Milwaukee Brewers.

National junior team shortstop Wes Darvill of Langley, B.C., was the first Canadian taken yesterday. He was chosen in the fifth round by the Chicago Cubs. Former Blue Jays scouting director Tim Wilken, now with the Cubs, saw Darvill go 3-for-3, including a triple and two steals, against Cubs minor-leaguers when the Langley Blaze were in Arizona in March.

The Philadelphia Phillies then grabbed Edmonton right-hander Steven Inch of Vauxhall Academy in the sixth round. Inch has signed a letter of intent to the University of Kentucky.

With Inch, 197th overall and Darvill, plus James Paxton (37th) of Ladner, B.C., and Jake Eliopoulos of Newmarket, Ont. -- both of whom went to Paul Beeston's Blue Jays on Day 1 Tuesday -- there were four Canadians in the first 200 picks. That made 2009 the third-best for top-end talent since Canucks became eligible for the MLB draft in 1991.

The deepest draft was 2007 with six Canucks in the top 200, led by Phillippe Aumont chosen 11th. There were five in 2001, topped by Adam Stern picked at No. 105. This draft equalled 1997 and 2002 for Canucks in the top 200.

The draft continues today via conference call until the 50th and final round is over.


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