Josh Naylor, Canadian 1B, drafted 12th overall by Miami Marlins

The Miami Marlins on Monday night drafted first baseman Josh Naylor of Mississauga, Ont., 12th overall. The six-foot-one, 225-pounder is considered to have big power potential, perhaps the best in the draft of annual high-schoolers and collegians.

Highest selection for position player from Canada

Josh Naylor of Mississauga, Ont., was drafted 12th overall by the Miami Marlins on Monday night. Last July, he competed in the Junior Home Run Derby as part of the major league all-star festivities in Minnesota, losing 7-4 in a two-round showdown against Luken Baker of Texas. (File Photo courtesy Baseball Canada)

Josh Naylor now has two favourite major league teams.

A lifelong fan of fellow first baseman David Ortiz and the Boston Red Sox, the 17-year-old from Mississauga, Ont., was drafted 12th overall by the Miami Marlins on Monday night, becoming the highest selection for a Canadian position player.

Former Toronto Blue Jays third baseman Brett Lawrie was the previous highest Canadian selection at No. 16 in 2008.

Only three Canadians — Jeff Francis of North Delta, B.C. (ninth overall in 2002), Adam Loewen of Surrey, B.C. (fourth overall in 2002) and Jameson Taillon, who grew up in Texas but holds dual citizenship (second overall in 2010) — have been selected earlier than Naylor, and each was drafted as a pitcher.

"The moment that I heard my name was a moment that I'll never forget," Naylor said in a statement released by Baseball Canada. "I'm just happy that the Marlins picked me and that I got to live the experience with my family."

The Atlanta Braves selected Calgary high school pitcher Mike Soroka 28th overall, one pick ahead of Toronto, which chose Missouri State right-hander Jon Harris.

"It's very special to be one of the top Canadians taken in the draft," said Soroka. "I have worked very hard throughout my career and I'm excited for what the future holds."

With their second-round selection, the Blue Jays chose high school right-hander Brady Singer of Florida. In the second round, the New York Yankees chose Indiana State left-hander Jeff Degano of Surrey, B.C., 57th overall.

The Marlins, who have some great young talent on the major league roster including Giancarlo Stanton, Marcell Ozuna and Christian Yelich, obviously believe in the power potential of the six-foot-one, 225-pound Naylor, a left-handed hitter who is also the highest player to be drafted out of the junior national program since pitcher Phillippe Aumont of Gatineau, Que., went 11th overall to Seattle in 2007.

During the Canadian junior national team's recent tour of Dominican Summer Leagues, Naylor led the club with five home runs

Current Blue Jays outfield prospect Dalton Pompey, who also hails from Mississauga, chimed in after Naylor was drafted.

Last year, the high school senior from St. Joan of Arc Catholic Secondary School in Mississauga gained some fame during the Major League Baseball all-star game in Minnesota, where he hit four homers in the Junior Home Run Derby in a two-round loss to Luken Baker, a catcher/right-handed pitcher from Oak Ridge High School in Conroe, Tex.

"When you're looking for a hitter, you'd  be hard-pressed to find a better one on the planet in high school," Greg Hamilton, Baseball Canada's director of national teams, told Sportsnet.

Naylor was a 2014 Under Armour and Perfect Game All-American.

"It's my 20th year coaching and he's the best power hitter I've ever seen in Canada … period," Dan Bleiwas, who formerly ran the amateur Ontario Blue Jays program, told The Toronto Sun recently.

Compared to Fielder

Naylor is compared by scouts to five-foot-11, 275-pound Prince Fielder of the Texas Rangers.

He's in his fourth year with the national program after joining as a 15-year-old in 2012 at the IBAF under-18 World Cup in Seoul, South Korea, where Naylor helped Canada win a silver medal.

At 15, he also competed in the 2012 International Power Showcase High School Home Run Derby.

Soroka joined the junior national team in 2013 and like Naylor helped Canada win a bronze medal at the 2014 COPABE under-18 Pan American Championship. Last month, he threw 13 scoreless innings against the Dominican squads.

Toronto drafted Harris out of high school in 2012 but he chose to go to college instead.

"[2012] was one of those years where I was six-foot, 160 pounds coming out of high school — I knew I wasn't that high quality a guy like I was this year," Harris said on a conference call from St. Louis. "It was a tough decision but I felt like Missouri State was the place for me in order to get better and get to where I am now today, the 29th overall pick and Toronto again."

Degano, 22, went 8-3 in 15 starts this season at Indiana State with a 2.36 earned-run average, 128 strikeouts and just 28 walks in 99 innings.

"Degano is a left-hander with a low-to-mid 90s fastball and a good breaking ball," said Yankees vice president of domestic amateur scouting Damon Oppenheimer. "He throws a lot of strikes and has a quality athletic body."

With files from The Canadian Press


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