TORONTO - On a spring Florida morning in April, the palm trees were gently swaying.
It looked as if the trees were dodging baseballs launched by North York’s Gareth Morgan at the Bobby Mattick Training Complex in Dunedin.
Morgan was in Dunedin last week with the rest of the Canadian junior national team to play the Blue Jays’ extended spring team.
“They were on the back right field of the four (baseball) diamond cloverleaf and he put on a show,” said one talent evaluator, who was on hand.
Said another scout: “He must have hit 10 balls out into the trees.”
We wrote about Morgan impressing last September as one of the youngest players at the Mizuno Camp at the Rogers Centre.
Success on the Florida stage is a much larger leap for Morgan, who was playing for the North York bantams on Labour Day.
The 6-foot-3, 195-pounder is in Grade 9, while most of his Team Canada teammates are either in Grades 11 or 12. Their opposition during the spring was first-, second- and third-year minor-league pros at extended spring.
On the final day of camp, he doubled off a 91-m.p.h fastball against the Houston Astros.
“From where I was sitting, I could see into the Canadian dugout and all the kids would stand to watch his at-bat,” said another amateur scout.
One scout asked if the printed roster sheet was wrong.
Under Grade, the numbers for each player were 12, 12, 12, 11, 12 until reaching Morgan and his 9.
Right-hander Tom Robson of Ladner, B.C., remains the top Canadian — 108th on Perfect Game Scouting Service’s top 110 collegians and high schoolers in North America — and right-hander Skylar Janisse of Maidstone remains the top Ontario player heading into the June 6-8 draft.
Morgan has to wait until the 2014 draft.
Next week, the invitation-only Major League Scouting Bureau camps take place in London and Etobicoke.
Hall of Fame scout Jim Ridley passed away in November of 2008, after working for the Blue Jays from 1977 until 2003 when he joined the Minnesota Twins. Outfielder Rene Tosoni of Port Coquitlam, B.C., who made his debut with the Twins last week was a Ridley signing.
Brad Drury and Matt Davidson got the Ontario Premier League started combining on a no-hitter as the Ontario Blue Jays 17-unders beat the Ontario Terriers 3-2. Coach Jamie Pogue’s team won the second game of the doubleheader in extras by the same score, thanks to Daniel Peake going 4-for-4 with two singles, a double and a triple.
Oakville lefty Taylor Brattan of the West Alabama Lions wound up with a no decision in 6-3 loss to No. 1- ranked West Florida Ospreys to conclude the college season. Brattan pitched six innings, allowed one run and struck out four ... Teammate Brian Simone earned Gulf South Conference honours for a third time. The Amherstburg, Ont., outfielder was named to the first team with a .359 average, 18 doubles and 40 RBIs.
Big Men on Campus
Scarborough’s Les Williams pitched the Northeastern Huskies to 5-3 win over the William & Mary Tribe. The righty worked eight innings allowing three runs, fanning 10 for his fourth win of the year ... Newmarket’s Daniel Telford hit a walk-off single as the South Dakota State Jackrabbits scored a 7-6 victory over Oakland Golden Grizzlies ... Brampton’s Joe Ferriera gave the Mayville State Comets a win over the Dickinson State Blue Hawks to win the Dakota Conference regular-season title, hitting a three-run homer, two days after a go-ahead two-run double ... Thornhill’s Jason Rubinstein pitched a complete game, four-hit shutout as the Niagara Thunderwolves beat Finger Lakes.
Mississauga’s Cory Pappel has a 5.69 ERA for the Cornell Big Red after a loss to the Princeton Tigers. Pappel has struck out 35 and walked 29 in 551/3 innings, while opponents are hitting .272. A long way from a horrible season. Yet he has not received any support and is 0-9 in 10 starts.