The first Canadian selected in the 2019 Major League Baseball draft was picked by the country’s lone big-league team.
The Toronto Blue Jays took Oakville, Ont., outfielder Dasan Brown in the third round (88th overall) of the three-day draft on Tuesday. Brown, 17, has played for the junior national team and has a commitment to Texas A&M University.
“He has centre-field speed and his speed plays,” said Greg Hamilton, Baseball Canada’s national teams director. “It does impact the game. Some guys have speed but it doesn’t necessarily impact the game the way you’d like it too.
“His speed impacts the game defensively and it impacts the game offensively.”
Brown was selected early on the second day of the draft. He joined the Canadian juniors in October 2017 and competed in the Dominican Summer League tour last month.
The six-foot 185-pound Brown, who attends Abbey Park High School in Oakville, helped Canada win a bronze medal at the COPABE U18 Pan Am Championships last fall in Panama.
“He was a kid coming into our final camp that was going to have to push for a roster spot,” Hamilton said. “He made the team and it just kind of seemed from there that he just elevated in terms of his confidence and his belief in his ability to compete at the level we were doing it at, and to compete against pro players as he moved into the spring.
“A lot of that comes with the ability to hit. In our game if you’re a position player and you struggle to hit, it’s a really difficult challenge to play with confidence. He started to have success with the bat.”
Brown plays with the amateur Ontario Blue Jays and has appeared at the Toronto Blue Jays’ Tournament 12 showcase for top college-eligible players.
Ranked No. 103 on MLB’s 2019 prospect watch, Brown’s bio trumpeted his close to ”top-of-the-scale speed” but noted he needed to add strength and has had trouble impacting the ball at times.
It also said he would be appealing for teams looking for premium athleticism and a ton of ceiling, with the last line suggesting patience could lead to a big reward.
“It might take some time, but the payoff could be huge,” it read.
In addition to his junior national team experience, Hamilton estimates Brown has played 65-70 pro games against instructional league players, extended pro players and Dominican summer league players.
He also impressed in the Blue Jays’ split-squad game last March, Hamilton said.
“I think he knows he belongs,” he said. “I think he can certainly impact the game at the pro level and I think he has shown that he can.”
The New York Yankees took the second Canadian player later in the third round, grabbing Western Kentucky University outfielder Jake Sanford of Dartmouth, N.S., with the 105th pick.
The San Diego Padres took right-hander Matthew Brash of Kingston, Ont., in the fourth round (No. 113) and the Chicago Cubs selected right-hander Josh Burgmann of Nanaimo, B.C., in the fifth round (No. 162).
No Canadians were selected on the first day of the draft for the first time since 2012.