Blue Jays add talent from Baseball Canada

Blue Jays add talent from Baseball Canada

TORONTO -- It was another impressive season for the Baseball Canada program with 25 Canadians selected in this year's Draft, and the Blue Jays came away with three of them.

Outfielder Clayton Keyes was the first Canadian selected by the Blue Jays when he was taken in the 17th round. Toronto went on to pick right-hander Brayden Bouchey (33rd round, 1,002 overall) and right-hander Carter Loewen (40th round, 1,212 overall).

Keyes and Loewen were members of the Canadian Junior National Team that travels to various international events around the world and plays Major League organizations during Spring Training. The experience helps showcase the nation's talent to scouts around the game, and as usual, it piqued the interest of the Blue Jays.

"One of the best things they do is travel around and the competition that they're facing is extended programs, or Major League programs or college programs," Blue Jays director of amateur scouting Brian Parker said. "The track record of players getting drafted or going to college on scholarships speaks for itself. ... It's a great team to follow and keep track of."

The 25 Canadians selected in this year's Draft is down slightly from 2015, when 30 players were picked. Canadians were not eligible for the Draft until 1991, but since then, the all-time high came in 2002, when 48 were taken.

From a Blue Jays perspective, Keyes is the standout on the list of Toronto recruits. He played center field for the Junior Nationals, and while he's still very raw offensively -- with a high number of strikeouts -- there also appears to be a lot of power potential in his bat.

The 17-year-old from Calgary was ranked the 41st overall high school outfield prospect by Perfect Game, but he does have a commitment to Washington State, which he could forgo by deciding to sign and turn pro instead.

"He's an athletic kid. He might have been one of the youngest players in the Draft," Parker said. "He has strength and he has athleticism. I think it's a guy that has some risk, but he also has upside because of his age and the profile that he brings.

"It's a potential two-way profile that's really young. We'll see what we can do over the next few weeks with him, but this is a guy that our scout had some interest in."

Loewen is not related to fellow Canadian and longtime Major Leaguer Adam Loewen. Carter Loewen has some experience as both an infielder and a pitcher, but the Blue Jays are going to use him exclusively from the mound and see how he develops under a clearly defined role.

Bouchey went 5-3 with a 3.73 ERA in 13 games for the University of Louisiana at Monroe. He struck out 72 over 70 innings of work and is originally from White Rock, British Columbia.

"There is no better feeling than what I feel right now," Bouchey said in a statement. "Being drafted by the team I grew up watching and cheering for is the most amazing opportunity ever. I cannot wait to start my career with the Blue Jays, a world-class organization.

"I am still in shock that this dream has come true, but there is more to come. I have a long journey ahead of me and I cannot wait to get started."

Gregor Chisholm has covered the Blue Jays for since 2011. Follow him on Twitter @gregorMLB and Facebook, and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.