TORONTO – After three days of showcasing their talents in-game, Day 5 of the Canadian Futures Showcase offered a more fun-spirited atmosphere.
First on the agenda, the home run derby.
The contest began with eight competitors and a rack of aluminum bats to give a little extra pop of power to the youngsters’ swings.
Only four batters were able to send more than one home run over the Rogers Centre’s new outfield walls, Team Black’s Gianluca Montanaro just squeezing into the final four with two homers.
The star of the first round was undoubtedly Team Grey’s Esteban Dessureault. The Quebec native found his timing almost immediately, sending eight balls into the outfield stands.
Team Royal’s Aidan George was in pole position in the first round until Dessureault stepped up, George finishing with six.
Finishing in third place among the final four, Innisfail, Alta. native Nathan Flewelling with five home runs.
In the championship round, the 16 year old one-upped his first-round score with six convincing shots over the wall.
That number proved to be just enough as Dessureault and Montanaro tied for second with five, George struggling with just two.
While Dessureault finished with the highest total of any batter, hitting a combined 13, it was the Albertan who got the blue, leather belt.
After several photo-ops and lots of celebrations and smiles with his new friends, Flewelling spoke in an interview with me on his performance and the experience.
With well over 100 prospects participating in the Showcase, selecting just one MVP was never going to be easy.
There was solid pitching, excellent fielding, and, obviously, fantastic hitting displayed across all three gamedays.
But after helping his team to a 2-1 record with 9-for-11 hitting, uncommitted Albertan Simon Baker took home the prize.
Baker was hoping to prove himself further in the Prospects Game, but after being hit by a pitch in his upper body, he was forced out of the game during his first at-bat.
The Team Royal centre-fielder had already proven enough, however, finishing his last full game with a triple and three RBI’s.
Standing at 6-foot-4 and listed as 195 pounds., it’s hard to think the 2006-born Cochrane, Alta. native will be uncommitted for much longer.
An easygoing youngster, this was his second Canadian Futures Showcase experience, participating in last year’s event in Ottawa.
While being a “veteran” of it, the MVP was quick to tell me in an interview that Rogers Centre gave this Showcase a much different feeling.