Lost in Cincinnati's recent resurgence in Latin America and the minor league farm system itself is the decision-- first in 2002-- to focus on Canadian players in the draft. Since then, Canadian players have burst onto the national scene. Players such as Justin Morneau and Russell Martin have shown Canadian bats are good bets to succeed and are almost as good as the greatest Canadian Slugger of All Time, Larry Walker. Recent draftees like Brett Lawrie only enhance Canada's position as an almost untapped resource of solid hitters.
Partial list of recent Canadian hitters:
• Jason Bay
• Russell Martin
• Justin Morneau
• Joey Votto
Canadian pitchers, OTOH, seem to find an excess of injuries on their way to major league success. Keep an eye on Kyle Lotzkar, then, as he travels through the Red system. He's already got a bum wing. Might it be a good time to deal? And, whither Evan Hillenbrandt? Really nice peripherals, but he may make a nice second arm in a deal sooner rather than later.
Partial List of recent Canadian pitchers:
• Érik Bédard
• Jesse Crain
• Ryan Dempster
• Jeff Francis
• Éric Gagné
• Rich Harden
• Shawn Hill
2009 Canadian draft eligibles include 3B Nick Cuckovich, a quick, hard-hitting 3B. He’s young (17) and likely to gain more power as he develops. For now, he profiles as an above average fielder with a cannon for an arm and a line drive swing. May want to think about him as the 09 draft nears.
As far as pitchers go, a couple of them-- Jake Eliopoulis and Mike Monster-- look promising. He's a southpaw with two good off-speed pitches and a fastball that could take off (as Canadian kids often do).