OTTAWA- With the Major League Baseball season well underway, the minor league season is set to take off throughout the United States over the next few days.
Over 100 Canadians played in the minor leagues in 2013 which means there will be several players to keep an eye during the 2014 season.
Throughout the season, baseball.ca will profile some of the Canadians chasing their big league dreams down on the farm.
Today, we feature four players who have jumped up a level on the minor league ladder to start the 2014 season.
OF Mike Crouse (Port Moody, BC) – New Hampshire Fisher Cats (AA)
Originally drafted by the Toronto Blue Jays in 2008, Mike Crouse will begin the 2014 season with Double-A New Hampshire after two seasons with the Dunedin Blue Jays in the Florida State League. Since belting 14 home runs and swiping 38 bases with Low-A Lansing in 2011, Crouse has yet to replicate these numbers through two seasons in Dunedin. But if this past off-season is any indicator, the 2011 Pan Am Games gold medalist is set for a turnaround after spending the winter with Canberra of the Australian Baseball League. It was in Australia that the 23 year-old hit .289 with 8 home runs, 23 RBI and 11 stolen bases in only 39 games. With a only a short time to rest after returning from Australia and the start of Spring Training, Crouse will be looking to carry over his success from ‘Down Under’ into the season with the Fisher Cats.
RHP Jesen Dygestile-Therrien (Montreal, QC) – Lakewood BlueClaws (Low A)
After two seasons in the Gulf Coast League, Jesen Dygestile-Therrien is ready for his first, full-season assignment which will come in the South Atlantic League with the Lakewood BlueClaws of the Philadelphia Phillies organization. A member of both the 2010 and 2011 Junior National Teams, Dygestile-Therrien is coming into his own with a fastball that reaches the mid 90’s along with an improving repertoire of off-speed offerings. The 2011 draft pick of the Phillies spends his off-seasons in Montreal where he sometimes works with former All-Star catcher Russell Martin of the Pittsburgh Pirates.
SS Sean Jamieson (Kitchener, ON) - Mobile BayBears (AA)
The Arizona Diamondbacks rewarded Sean Jamieson for his solid 2013 campaign by inviting him to big-league Spring Training in 2014 and are now challenging him with an assignment to Double-A. The former Canisius College star hit .287 with 11 homers and 53 RBI for High-A Visalia in 2013 and will look to achieve that same success with Mobile in the Southern League. Jamieson was originally drafted by the Oakland A’s in 2011, but was acquired by the Diamondbacks in an August 2012 trade for big-leaguer Stephen Drew. The 2012 World Baseball Classic Qualifier member is also a threat on the base-paths by evidence of his 30 steals during the 2012 season.
OF Tyler O’Neill (Maple Ridge, BC) – Clinton LumberKings (Low A)
For the majority of draft picks, their first full season in professional baseball is spent in extended spring training with a short season assignment coming later in the year. This won’t be the case for the highest Canadian high schooler taken in the 2013 draft, as Tyler O’Neill will begin the season with Clinton of the Midwest League. A third round draft pick of the Seattle Mariners, O’Neill was a force for Canada at last years IBAF 18U World Cup where he led the tournament with three home runs and was named to the events All-Star team. At the 2014 Baseball Canada National Teams Awards Banquet and Fundraiser, he took home Junior National Team MVP honours. His calling card is his bat and it will be put to the test in 2014 as he will be one of the Midwest League’s youngest players.