Cochrane ball player Simon Baker was named MVP of the Toronto Blue Jays' Canadian Future Showcase that wrapped up on Sept. 23 at the Rogers Centre.
The other top prize of the showcase also returned to Alberta. Nathan Flewelling, of Innisfail, hit eleven home runs – six in his final round – to win the home run derby.
Baker, 17, was awarded the honour before the opening pitch of the showcase's all-star game. He wasn't forewarned but had a hunched.
"I had a decent idea from coaches and other players that it might happen, but it still surprised me a little bit. It was still awesome."
Before that, the uncommitted prospect played for Team Royal, one of the six teams formed by the top 168 Canadian prospects, in a tournament-style format from Sept. 19 to 22.
In Team Royal's final game, the centre fielder's three RBI afternoon propelled Team Royal to a 6-4 win over Team Navy. It was a rematch of the previous day's game between the two teams, which was won by Team Navy, 7-3.
Game in, game out, Baker says he hits the field to play his best version of baseball, and in that particular game it worked out just fine.
Team Royal finished up the tournament with a record of two wins, one draw, and a loss.
It's the second time Baker has been selected to play in the showcase. He appeared in Ottawa last year and believes this time around he had a much stronger performance.
The showcase is about developing Canadian talent, but it's also a scouting opportunity for post-secondary institutions and major league ball clubs.
Baker aspires to play at the post-secondary level in the States.
"Certainly, MVP helps, but my performance at the showcase will help the most."
He did speak to a few scouts but hasn't made any commitments at this point.
"I haven't decided on where I want to go yet, but I'm starting to narrow down a little bit more."
"I'm technically eligible for the next (MLB) draft, but that's unlikely, and I'd rather pursue my college dreams."
He says he has the option of taking a gap year to continue training in Calgary with the Webber Academy, and then go to college the year after.
He speaks highly of the academy.
"The coaches there, and the organization helped me get places. They care a lot about my development, and I couldn't be more thankful to them."
Baker also thanks the Blue Jays organization for a great experience at the showcase.
"I loved the social aspect of it, meeting guys from across the country, playing on one team together, and the coaches were amazing. It was super fun to play for them."
Playing on the Blue Jays home field was also a treat.
"I grew up watching the Blue Jays games on TV, and I loved playing in the Rogers Centre."
Baker is scheduled to be in the Dominican Republic from Oct. 11-22 to train with the junior national team. It will be his third camp with the Canadian team.
Baker is in grade 12 at Cochrane High and is looking forward to his final basketball season with the Cobras.
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