Baseball

Baseball Canada announces 25-man roster for Olympic qualifier

Baseball Canada announced its 25-man roster for the upcoming World Baseball Softball Confederation (WBSC) Baseball Americas Qualifier taking place in Palm Beach and St. Lucie, Fla., beginning on May 31. Canada will face Colombia in its opener.

8-team tournament starts May 31 in Florida, with chance to qualify for Tokyo Games

Pitcher Scott Mathieson is one of 25 players on Canada's roster heading into the upcoming WBSC Baseball Americas Qualifier. (Chung Sung-Jun/Getty Images)

Baseball Canada has announced its 25-man roster for the upcoming World Baseball Softball Confederation (WBSC) Baseball Americas Qualifier taking place in Palm Beach and St. Lucie, Fla., from May 31 to June 5.

The tournament will serve as an opportunity to qualify for the Tokyo Olympics with the winner of the eight-team tournament guaranteed a spot in the Games.

The second and third place teams will go to Mexico for the WBSC Final Qualifier, where they will compete for the final spot at the Olympics.

Led by veteran manager Ernie Whitt, the Canadian roster will feature a mix of former major leaguers, including Andrew Albers, John Axford, Chris Leroux, Scott Mathieson, Dustin Molleken and Scott Richmond, as well as 12 players from Canada's silver medal-winning team at the 2019 Pan Am Games in Lima, Peru.

"We have a lot of experience on this roster, players that are familiar with international baseball and know what tournament baseball is all about," Whitt said. "Our team realizes what's at stake at this event so we're highly motivated to compete for ourselves, our teammates and most of all, for Canada."

Canada's last international competition was in 2019 at the WBSC Premier12 in Korea, earning a win over Cuba before falling to host Korea and Australia in opening round play. Every international baseball event was either cancelled or postponed in 2020 due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

"It's been a long time since our players have played with a Canadian uniform on so we're really looking forward to getting back on the field as a group and the intense competition that international baseball provides," Whitt said.

Canada will compete in Group B and face Colombia in its opener before taking on Cuba on June 1st and Venezuela on June 2nd.

Four teams have already qualified for Tokyo

Teams will play two Super Round games with head-to-head contests from the opening round counting towards the Super Round standings. The team with the best Super Round record will be the winner of the tournament and the fifth country to qualify for the Tokyo Olympics, joining already qualified nations host Japan, South Korea, Mexico and Israel.

Canada will hold a brief training camp prior to the tournament on May 25th, where they will play the first of two contests with Team USA at Ballpark of the Palm Beaches before traveling to Holman Stadium in Vero Beach for the second match-up on May 26th.

Canada will then face the Fort Lauderdale Stars on May 27th before holding team practices on the days leading up to the opening game against Colombia on May 31st.

Roster

Pitchers

Andrew Albers (North Battleford, Sask.), John Axford (Port Dover, Ont.), Trevor Brigden (North York, Ont.), Ryan Kellogg (Whitby, Ont.), Chris Leroux (Mississauga, Ont.), Scott Mathieson (Aldergrove, B.C.), Will McAffer (North Vancouver, B.C.), Brendan McGuigan (Austin, Tex.), Dustin Molleken (Regina), Ben Onyshko (Winnipeg), Scott Richmond (Vancouver), Evan Rutckyj (Windsor, Ont.), Travis Seabrooke (Peterborough, Ont.)

Catchers

Kellin Deglan (Langley, B.C.), JD Osborne (Whitby, Ont.) 

Infielders

Wes Darvill (Richmond, B.C.), Jesse Hodges (Victoria), Jonathan Malo (Joliette, Que.), Josue Peley (Montréal), Daniel Pinero (Toronto), Eric Wood (Oshawa, Ont.)

Outfielders

Michael Crouse (Port Moody, B.C.), Tyson Gillies (Vancouver), Connor Panas (Etobicoke, Ont.), Jacob Robson (Windsor, Ont.)

WATCH | CBC Sports Explains: The Olympic Flame:

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