Looking Forward to the 2021 Season
*This article is not written by the Ontario Nationals organization. It was reposted from the CPBL twitter page*
The Ontario Nationals look forward to their sixth year in the Canadian Premier Baseball League, encouraged by the continuous progress and excited about the new additions to the organization.
Team President Jeremy Jayaweera expects bigger and better things from his organization, particularly the 18u group. “The team is 95% homegrown talent from the age of 15 which is something really special to us. This team has pretty much been together since 15u. They continue to improve every season. They have always been at the top of the league since 15u, and heading into their final season with the Nationals we expect nothing less. There are a lot of veterans and experience on this team that will aid them in big situations come 2021,” he said.
The 18u club includes a dozen 2021 grads who have already found schools, with more to follow. While for Jayaweera, he hopes the final year for these players in a Nats uniform is advantageous for them moving forward. “As usual, we hope they finish off their Nationals career on a high note as they prepare for the next step of their careers.”
Aside from the 18u club, the Nationals have five other teams through the 14-18u levels and a staff in place that Jayaweera believes is very capable of teaching the players within the organization. “We have a lot of young players that are eager to begin development with us which fits perfectly with what we are trying to do with the program,” Jayaweera said.
The Nationals have added a haul of new coaches; Mark Johnston, Dan Mendham, Todd Stronks, BJ York and Jason Borghese, Jake English, Chris Iltshishin. Bringing back former Nats players Andy Leader, Tyler Foslett, Mike Mueller, Rhys Cornell and Aidan Armitage as well. While they also hired Trevor Nyp as a Player Development Consultant. Joining program staples Ben Tinklin, Aaron McKay, Paul Grasby, Will Brooks, Zarley Cina and Jackson Martin.
From a training standpoint, the Nationals have brought in new technology. Adding Blast Motion, Rapsodo and HitTrax as “just another recruiting tool to help our players realize their potential and reach their goals.” And as a staff, Jayaweera stated; “we are motivated, dedicated and just happy we get to train every week.”
The first marquee event for the Nationals in the upcoming season is scheduled in March. “We are still scheduled to hit Florida for spring training at the [Prep Baseball Report] event. We have also set up some other pretty big events for our players to participate in,” Jayaweera said.
Due to COVID, the 2020 season was shortened; however, the time spent outside was very beneficial to not only the current players but the graduating class.
“In essence, I am just glad those guys got time to play and prepare before heading down south to school. They were exhibition games but we did not treat them that way. With everything going on in the world; the biggest highlight was playing baseball,” said Jayaweera said. “I was just happy for our players and staff in general. After a winter of hard work, all the obstacles we had to overcome, we showed up every weekend and competed.”
Jayaweera added, “It is hard to put into words what being on the ball diamond meant to everyone. As an organization we were proud to be able to accomplish what we did.”
The Nationals look to “prove” what they are capable of doing as they get set to embark on what they hope is an exciting 2021 campaign.