Hoping to land the next Joey Votto or Brett Lawrie, Major League Baseball teams selected 17 Canadian-born players during the third and final day of the first-year player draft.
That brings the total to 26 Canadians chosen in the draft, down from 33 last year.
The Toronto Blue Jays did their part, snapping up four Canadian prospects.
Shane Dawson, an 18-year-old left-handed pitcher from Drayton Valley, Alta., who is attending Lethbridge Community College, was taken by the Blue Jays in the 17th round, the 535th player selected overall.
“We think he’s got a chance to be real good,” Andrew Tinnish, Toronto’s director of amateur scouting, said.
The Blue Jays also selected Nathan De Souza of Milton, Ont., a 17-year-old high school outfielder, in the 26th round, and college infielder Shaun Valeriote from Guelph, Ont., in the 39th round.
When you include junior national team player Ryan Kellogg from Whitby, Ont., a left-handed pitcher who went in the 12th round on Tuesday, four of Toronto’s 44 picks were Canadian.
“We feel, at this point anyway, pretty excited about the players that we took,” Tinnish said. “Obviously time will tell.
“We felt like we were able to add some quality athletes to the organization, some quality arms. And now the process begins trying to get these players in Blue Jays uniforms.”
The Blue Jays have until July 13 to try to sign their draft picks, including D.J. Davis, their first-round pick (17th overall), a speedy high school outfielder from Mississippi.
Including Kellogg and De Souza, a total of 16 players selected are either current or former members of the Canadian junior team. Also chosen were Brock Dykxhoorn, 17, a 6-foot-8, 225-pound, right-handed pitcher from Goderich, Ont., who was taken in the 20th round by the Cincinnati Reds; and left-handed pitcher Fernando Fernandez-Beltran, 18, of Montreal, chosen in the 27th round by the Philadelphia Phillies.
The other members of the junior team who were drafted were pitcher Jake Marks of Brights Grove, Ont., (New York Mets, 28th round); first baseman Bryan Saucedo of Toronto (Milwaukee Brewers, 29th round); outfielder Jacob Robson of Windsor, Ont., (San Diego Padres, 30th round); pitcher Logan Seifrit of Spruce Grove, Alta.; pitcher Christian Botnick of Brampton, Ont., (Chicago Cubs, 34th round); Winnipeg catcher Chris Shaw (Brewers, 38th round).
The junior team will participate at the world championship in Seoul at the end of August.
Other Canadians drafted were outfielder Julien Service of Whitby, Ont., (Baltimore Orioles, 21st round); infielder Keaton Briscoe from Vancouver (Boston Red Sox, 24th round); pitcher Adam Paulencu of Sherwood Park, Alta. (Colorado Rockies, 26th round); pitcher Jasvir Rakkar of Brampton, Ont., (Chicago Cubs, 26th round); outfielder Damion Smith of Windsor, Ont., (Arizona Diamondbacks, 27th round); and Toronto third baseman Derek Jones (Milwaukee, 39th round).
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