February 22, 2023
By Kevin Glew
Cooperstowners in Canada
Dust off those Baseball Canada caps.
For the first time in six years, the World Baseball Classic will take place.
Canada will compete in Pool C against the United States, Mexico, Colombia and Great Britain in Phoenix, Ariz. The Canuck squad will open the tournament against Great Britain on March 12, prior to battling the United States, Colombia and Mexico on consecutive days thereafter.
The first round will be a round-robin with the top two teams from each pool advancing to an eight-team single elimination bracket.
Toronto Blue Jays legendary catcher and Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame inductee Ernie Whitt will manage Canada in the event for the fifth time.
Canada, along with the other participating countries, announced their 30-man roster on February 9.
This is my first Canada World Baseball Classic preview that will look at the roster.
Let’s start with the catchers, who will not only be able to draw wisdom from Whitt, but also longtime big league receiver Russell Martin (Montreal, Que.) who will be part of the Canadian coaching staff.
Bo Naylor (Mississauga, Ont.)
A Junior National Team grad, Bo Naylor, the younger brother of Josh, was promoted to the Cleveland Guardians’ roster on October 1, 2022 and proceeded to appear in five major league games. The left-handed hitting backstop was also on the club’s postseason roster. Before his big-league call-up, the 23-year-old catcher, a first round pick of the Guardians in 2018, batted .263 with a .392 on-base percentage, while belting 21 home runs and stealing 20 bases, in 118 games between double-A and triple-A. For his efforts, Baseball America named him the Guardians’ Minor League Player of the Year and he was named to the International League All-Star Team. Naylor is likely see the lion’s share of the catching duties for Canada.
Kellin Deglan (Langley, B.C.)
Selected in the first round (22nd overall) by the Texas Rangers in the 2010 MLB draft, this Junior National Team alum was the highest Canadian chosen that year. The Canuck receiver has played 11 pro seasons in the Rangers, New York Yankees and Toronto Blue Jays’ organizations. Now 30, Deglan has spent the bulk of the last two campaigns with the Blue Jays’ triple-A Buffalo Bisons. In total, he has belted 84 home runs in 738 games in the affiliated minor league ranks. The 6-foot-2, 215-pound backstop played for the Junior National Team in 2009 and 2010 and has since suited up for the senior squad on multiple occasions, including as the starting catcher on the 2015 Pan Am Games gold medal-winning squad and playing every inning behind the plate for Canada in the Americas Olympic Qualifier in the spring of 2021.
Andy Yerzy (North York, Ont.)
Like Naylor and Deglan, Yerzy is a Junior National Team grad. He joined the junior squad in 2013 and later suited up for them at the 2015 U18 World Cup. The 6-foot-3, 215-pound slugger was chosen in the second round of the 2016 MLB draft by the Arizona Diamondbacks. Yerzy, 24, has played parts of six seasons with the D-Backs, rising as high as double-A. Initially, during his pro career, he was used exclusively as a catcher but in recent years, he is seeing more action at first base. In total, in six minor league campaigns, he has socked 61 home runs in 438 games. Yerzy previously suited up for Canada’s Senior National Team in the 2019 Pan Am Games qualifier and at the 2019 Premier12 Tournament.
My next Canada World Baseball Classic preview will look at the team’s infielders.