(Scotiabank Field at Nat Bailey Stadium - Vancouver, B.C.) - A crazy three days of hope and possibility is right around the corner for 1,200+ big league hopefuls as the Major League Baseball First Year Player Draft is in less than two weeks, starting on Monday, June 3rd.
Since 2000, when the Canadians made the change to short-season single-A, the team and the whole Northwest League has been the first stepping-stone for many players on their routes to the big leagues. Fans from Vancouver have followed players as they make their way up the rankings but they started to pay more attention to prospects when the C's became the Toronto Blue Jays affiliate in 2010. With this move, Blue Jays fans have been able to pay attention to the big league team, as well as learn about the newest up-and-coming players in the system. This upcoming draft will actually be the 10th since the Canadians became a Blue Jays affiliate.
Here's a list of the most successful Blue Jays draft pick from each draft class, who has made a stop in Vancouver along their career:
2010 - Aaron Sanchez/Noah Syndergaard
The 2010 draft might be one of the best in Blue Jays history as they took all-star pitchers Aaron Sanchez and Noah Syndergaard. Both taken as compensation draft picks (Sanchez 34th overall, Syndergaard 38th), both have gone on to have very good Major League careers. The two pitchers were both drafted and signed out of their hometown high schools. Sanchez has been with the Toronto organization for his whole career while the Jays traded Syndergaard to the New York Mets in December 2012 for pitcher R.A. Dickey.
Since making his Major League debut on July 23rd, 2014, Sanchez has recorded a 32-23 record with a 3.48 ERA. From Barstow, California, the right-hander was an all-star in 2016, finished 7th in American League Cy Young (Pitcher of the Year) voting and won the ERA title, finishing the season with a 3.00 ERA. He has struggled a bit with finger injuries over the past couple seasons but so far in 2019 is 3-4 with a 3.79 ERA.
Noah Syndergaard, or Thor as fans call him has been very good for the Mets since making his Major League debut on May 12th, 2015. Through his five-year career, the big right-hander sports a 40-26 record with a 3.11 ERA. His most effective weapon is his 100+ mile per hour fastball with running movement on it. The Mansfield, Texas native is also 3-4 on the season in 2019.
Both Sanchez and Syndergaard played for the Canadians in 2011. Sanchez went 0-1 with a 4.53 ERA in three games for the C's while Syndergaard went 1-2 with a 2.00 ERA in four starts.
2011 - Kevin Pillar
Maybe one of the best stories in Blue Jays recent history, Kevin Pillar was the Blue Jays 32nd round draft pick in 2011 and fought and clawed his way to the Big Leagues. Before being drafted, Pillar played four seasons at Cal State Dominguez Hills (NCAA - Div. 2). Over the four years, he hit .367 with 74 doubles, 14 home runs and 154 RBIs. He is only one of seven players to make it to the Major Leagues from Cal State Dominguez Hills.
The outfielder soared through the Blue Jays system as he made his Major League debut on August 14th, 2013. Since then, Pillar has been a main stay in the show. "Superman" as he's known was a Blue Jay his whole career until this season when he was traded to the San Francisco Giants one week into the 2019 season.
Pillar joined the C's in time to help them win the Northwest League Championship in 2011.
2012 - Marcus Stroman
Drafted in the first round, 22nd overall by the Blue Jays, Marcus Stroman has made quite the career in Toronto. Before getting the call from the Blue Jays, Stroman spent three years at Duke University (NCAA - Div. 1), going 15-13 with a 3.27 ERA. After getting drafted, the 5'8" right-hander made quick work of his time in the minor leagues as he made his Major League debut on May 4th, 2014. Since then, Stroman has put together a very good career, as he's currently 43-40 with a 3.81 ERA.
During Spring Training in 2015, Stroman tore his ACL in his knee and it was announced he would be out for the full season. But he was persistent he was going to be back in that same season. While rehabbing, Stroman finished his degree at Duke University and came back on September 12th. Down the stretch, he went 4-0 with a 1.67 ERA in the month. He was also a huge part of the Blue Jays playoff run that season.
Stroman is 2-6 so far in 2019 but has a great 2.61 ERA. After getting drafted in 2012, Stroman made seven appearances for the Canadians that year, finishing 1-0 with a 3.18 ERA.
2013 - Tim Mayza
Tim Mayza spent one season at Millersville University of Pennsylvania (NCAA - Div. 2) where he made 15 starts and went 11-3 with a 1.55 ERA. He is the only player ever to be drafted from Millersville University. After that season, the Blue Jays drafted him in the 12th round in 2013.
For some players, it takes longer to make it to the Big Leagues than others. After four years and stops at every level of the Blue Jays organization, Mayza made his way to the big leagues on August 15th, 2017. Since then, he has become a fixture in the Blue Jays bullpen. Through almost two full seasons, the left-hander is 3-0 with a 4.17 ERA.
Mayza pitched for the Canadians in 2014. In 12 games, he finished 2-3 with a 6.75 ERA.
2014 - Lane Thomas
Lane Thomas was the Toronto Blue Jays 5th round draft pick in 2014 out of Bearden High School in Knoxville, Tennessee. As an 18-year old, Thomas split time with the Blue Jays two rookie ball teams in the Gulf Coast and Bluefield in 2014. After a successful first season, Thomas spent the majority of 2015 with the Canadians, hitting just .225 with five home runs and 33 RBIs in 43 games.
Thomas only got as high as Advanced Single-A in Dunedin for the Blue Jays before the organization traded him to the St. Louis Cardinals on July 2nd, 2017. The second baseman turned outfielder has been working his way up through the higher levels of the Cardinals organization and made his Major League Debut earlier this year on April 17th. Thomas, currently back down at Triple-A had success in eight appearances for the Cardinals this year as he hit .400 with a home run and four RBIs.
2015 - Travis Bergen
Left-handed pitcher Travis Bergen was drafted in the 7th round of the 2015 MLB Player draft by the Toronto Blue Jays. Before getting drafted, Travis spent three years at Kennesaw State University (NCAA - Div .1) where he finished 16-9 with a 3.10 ERA. While in the Toronto organization, Bergen spent a lot of his time in Vancouver as he pitched for the C's in 2015, '16 and '17. In those three seasons, he went 3-0 with a 1.62 ERA. As more of a veteran at the time, he was a big help during the C's 2017 playoff run.
After years in the Blue Jays minor league system and battling various injuries, the San Francisco Giants selected him from the Rule 5 Draft this past December. In 2019, he's 2-0 with a 4.24 ERA in 18 appearances out of the Giants bullpen.
2016 - Cavan Biggio
The Biggio name might sound familiar. That's because Cavan Biggio is the son of former Houston Astro great Craig Biggio. The Blue Jays took Cavan in the 5th round of the 2016 MLB Player Draft. Biggio was drafted out of Notre Dame University (NCAA - Div. 1) where over three seasons he hit .272 with 15 home runs and 70 RBIs in 167 games.
The second baseman-turned utility man has been making his way up the Blue Jays rankings nicely and he's emerged as one of the organization's current top prospects. Biggio has spent this season at Triple-A Buffalo so far and is hitting .306 with seven doubles, six home runs and 26 RBIs.
After the 2016 draft, the Blue Jays sent Biggio to play the 2016 season for the Canadians where .282 with 21 RBIs in 53 games.
2017 - Nate Pearson
Big Nate Pearson might be the most exciting prospect in Vancouver Canadians short-season history. The Blue Jays first round, 28th overall draft pick in 2017 has been everything and more in his young minor league career. In one year (2017) at the College of Central Florida (Junior College), Pearson went 5-2 with a 1.56 ERA and 118 strikeouts. With his electric arm and 100 mile per hour fastball, Pearson and the Blue Jays was a match made in heaven. He easily has the biggest arm in the organization since Noah Syndergaard.
After being drafted, Pearson came to Vancouver and took the Northwest League by storm in his limited innings. In seven starts for the C's, Pearson didn't record a win or a loss but had a minuscule 0.95 ERA and struck out 24 batters in 19 innings.
After battling an injury in 2018, Pearson has come back with a vengeance in 2019 as between Advanced-A Dunedin and Double-A New Hampshire. The right-hander is 3-0 with a 1.41 ERA. He's collected 52 strikeouts in 32 innings pitched.
Pearson is currently the Blue Jays top pitching prospect, 3rd overall prospect in the Blue Jays system and 57th overall prospect in all of baseball.
2018 - Vinny Capra
Infielder Vinny Capra was taken in the 20th round by the Blue Jays in 2018 and has shot up the ranks of the organization. Drafted out of the University of Richmond (NCAA - Div. 1) in Virginia, Capra hit .341 with 27 doubles, nine home runs and 60 RBIs in two seasons.
After the draft, the Melbourne, Florida native started in Vancouver. Capra suited up in 39 games for the C's, hitting .235 with 10 doubles, two home runs and 18 RBIs. In August, he moved a level up to the Single-A Lansing Lugnuts where he hit .266 in 25 games.
With his solid bat and stellar defensive play, Capra has spent 2019 with the Double-A New Hampshire Fisher Cats. In 33 games, he's hitting .282 with five doubles, a home run and 12 RBIs.
For the upcoming draft that starts on June 3rd, the Toronto Blue Jays first round draft choice is 11th overall. This is the third time they've held the 11th selection. In 2010, the Blue Jays took pitcher Deck McGuire 11th overall and in 2014 they took catcher Max Pentecost. McGuire made the Big Leagues for the Blue Jays in 2018 but is currently pitching for the Samsung Lions of the Korean Baseball League. Pentecost recently retired, never making the big league level.
The 2019 MLB First Year Player Draft starts on Monday, June 3rd and finishes on Wednesday, June 5th down in Secaucus, New Jersey.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.