Canadian Baseball Network: 2015 All-Canadian college team

A fan waves a Canadian flag. (Chris Young/CP)

Once all the numbers were gathered the Canadian Baseball Network ballot process skidded to a halt.

When it came time to slot the names and their numbers — thanks to the yeomen work of J.P. Molinaro and Mike Chewpoy — there was suddenly a question.

What to do with Connor Panas?

Should he be listed among the outfielders?

Or should he be at third base?

Or maybe even first base where he spent some of the season.

A source close the Canisius College Golden Griff stats sheet had Panas pegged as spending more time at third base than any other position.

Whatever the pre-ballot considerations, the 45 voters had zero problems with Panas once the ballots went out.

Panas received 33 first-place ballots to earn Canadian Baseball Network Canadian college player of the year honours, the best of the 850 Canadians playing the majority of their college schedules south of the border. He had three more first than C Chris Robinson (Uxbridge, Ont.) of Morehead State.

The Canisius junior also was voted the CBN First Team third baseman.

Panas helped the Griffs win the Metro Atlantic Conference for coach Mike McRae and advance to the NCAA field of 64.

He hit .372 with 17 doubles, seven triples, 11 homers and 68 RBIs in 64 games. He was 19-for-23 stealing bases and had a 1.104 OPS.

Panas earned MAAC Student-Athlete of the Year honours in a vote of the league’s sports information directors. He also won this award after the 2014 academic year, is the third male in conference history to earn the honour in back-to-back years.

Panas, a 2015 American Baseball Coaches Association/Rawlings NCAA Division I All-America Third-Team choice, the 2015 MAAC Championship MVP and an All-MAAC First-Team selection, led the conference in five different offensive categories and he became the second player in program history to earn MAAC Championship MVP accolades after he hit .500 (13-for-26) with three extra-base hits and 12 RBIs in six games during the conference tournament.

He became the first in program history to hit a home run in an NCAA Tournament game when he went yard in the top of the first against No. 8 Missouri State. Panas earned his undergraduate degree in physical and health education with a 3.80 grade point average. A three-time MAAC All-Academic honouee, Panas became the second player in program history to earn CoSIDA Capital One Academic All-America status in back-to-back years, earning first-team honours in 2015.

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The previous Canadian Baseball Network Player of the Year winners through the years include the likes of …

  • 2B-OF Craig-St. Louis (Gatineau, Que.) Seminole State Trojans.
  • LHP Ryan Kellogg (Whitby, Ont.) of the Arizona State Sun Devils.
  • 2B Maxx Tissenbaum (Toronto, Ont.) of the Stony Brook Seawolves in 2012.
  • OF Chase Larsson (Vancouver, BC), of the Cameron Aggies in 2011.
  • OF Marcus Knecht (North York, Ont.) of the Connors State College Cowboys in 2010.
  • 3B Jesse Sawyer (Calgary, Alta.) of the South Dakota State Jackrabbits in 2009.
  • DH Mike Gosse (Pitt Meadows, BC) of the Oklahoma Sooners in 2008.
  • 1B Kevin Atkinson (Surrey, BC) of the New Mexico Jr. College Thunderbirds in 2007.
  • OF Jon Baksh (Mississauga, Ont.) of the Florida Tech Panthers in 2006.
  • 1B Karl Amonite (Woodslee, Ont.) of the Auburn Tigers in 2005.
  • OF Charlie MacFarlane (Lantzville, BC) of the Cumberland Bulldogs in 2004.
  • C Aaron McRae (Delta, BC) of the LSU-Shreveport Pilots in 2003.
  • OF Ryan Kenning (North Vancouver, BC) of the New Mexico State Aggies and RP-SS Jesse Crain (Toronto, Ont.) of the Houston Cougars, who shared honours in 2002.
  • LHP Jeff Francis (North Delta, BC) of British Columbia Thunderbirds in 2001.
  • And OF Ben Emond (Farnham, Que.) of Texas Longhorns, in 2000, our inaugural year.

The 68 RBI Panas had were the second most of the Canadians playing south of the border — Morehead State catcher Chris Robinson led with 69, while Panas had two more than Billy Germaine of Southern Arkansas.

* * *

Our voters included … 14 coaches, from elite programs to colleges on both sides of the border; 11 writers (seven from the Canadian Baseball Network, two from Rogers Sportsnet) and nine scouts, seven suits (executives, front-office staff), two broadcasters and one former player.

Our electorate came from seven different provinces and six states. Voting was done on a 5-3-1 basis.

And as usual IF you failed to turn in your ballot you have lost your right to complain.

* * *


Left-hander: Jeff Degano (Surrey, BC) Indiana State Sycamores

How good was Degano this season? Well, only 56 players in North America were taken ahead of him in June.

The lefty went in the second round of the draft as the 57th overall pick to the New York Yankees. Degano was 8-3 record with a 2.36 ERA in 15 starts for Indiana State, the 10th lowest single season ERA in ISU history. He tied a school record striking out 126 hitters in his 99 innings pitched and held opponents to a .216 batting average.

Degano’s career ERA of 2.84 is the lowest of all-time at ISU among qualified pitchers. He had six 10-plus strike out games in his career, tying him for second most all-time.

In 2013, Degano started three games for Indiana State before suffering a season-ending arm injury as went 0-1 with an 8.31 ERA, pitching 8 2/3innings.

Before that he pitched two seasons at Marshalltown making 16 starts, going 8-5 with a 3.80 ERA fanning 98 in 71 career innings. Degano led in strikeouts among Canucks, 11 more than Connor Lillis-White of UBC. Degano was dead even with Lillis-White with 99 innings, 16 behind Arizona State’s Ryan Kellogg.

Degano, who played with the White Rock Tritons and coaches Brent Swanson, Darcy Sidhoo and Adam Ladouceur, earned Canadian Baseball Network Honorable Mention in 2011.

Right-hander: Alex Webb (Surrey, BC) UBC Thunderbirds

Webb finished the year 10-3 record, a 2.15 ERA over 88 innings. He gave up 69 hits and 22 walks while recording 97 strikeouts. His 10 wins this season were the fourth-most in a single campaign by a UBC pitcher.

He recorded wins over Oregon Tech (twice), Concordia-Portland (twice), Thompson Rivers, Redlands, Simpson, Idaho, Corban and Northwestern Ohio.

Webb was named the NAIA West Group Pitcher of the Year in the 2015 and earned a place on the Capital Academic All-America® College Division Baseball Team as chosen by the College Sports Information Directors of America (CoSIDA). He has a cumulative GPA of 3.64.

Webb pitched for coach Russ Smithson and the White Rock Tritons.

Reliever: Curtis Taylor (Port Coquitlam, BC) UBC Thunderbirds

Taylor, 4-2, had a team-best ERA of 1.02 and ranked fifth overall in the NAIA with 12 saves. He pitched 53 innings, giving up 27 hits and six earned runs. Taylor struck out 51 batters and walked 13.

Taylor earned a place on the NAIA Baseball All-America Honourable Mention team last spring, one of 34 players to garner the recognition.

Opponents batted .153 against Taylor, who won both starts he made. He was the lone relief pitcher named to the All-NAIA West team.

In the NAIA West Grouping championships, Taylor picked up two wins and a save in three appearances over four days. In the second grouping championship game, he threw four scoreless in relief to propel UBC to the league title.

Taylor pitched for the Coquitlam Reds and coaches Bill Green and Shawn Bowman.

Catcher: Chris Robinson (Uxbridge, Ont.) Morehead State Eagles

Robinson helped the Eagles to the OVC Tournament title, their first since 1993, and MSU’s first NCAA Regional appearance since 1983. He ranked second nationally in hits (99) and runs (78), third in total bases (161), sixth in RBIs (69) and doubles (25) and eighth in batting average (.402).

He established the school single-season record for hits and owned a .654 slugging percentage and a .472 on-base mark. Robinson drove in five runs in a game twice and was 5-for-5 with four runs and four RBIs in a victory over SIUE. He also hit for the cycle against Murray State. Robinson led the OVC with 20 multi-RBI games this season and was second in the league with 28 multi-hit contests.

The Ohio Valley Conference Player of the Year paced the OVC in average, hits, runs and total bases, while ranking third in doubles and RBIs. Not to be confused with C Chris Robinson (London, Ont.) who attended Illinois, honours were not at a shortage for this Robinson: Louisville Slugger/Collegiate Baseball First-Team All-American, a Second-Team All-American by the National Collegiate Baseball Writer’s Association and a Second-Team All-American by the American Baseball Coaches Association/Rawlings.

Robinson had the fifth highest average among Canucks behind David Schlosser (.425) of Bard, J.P. Rousseau (.420) of New Mexico Jr. College, Kevin Czarnecki (.415) of Fort Hayes and Bill Steven (.407) of UVA-Wise.

After playing for Danny Thompson and Marc Picard with Team Ontario, Robinson earned Canadian Baseball Network Honourable Mention honours in 2013-14 and Third Team honours in 2012 when he was at Louisburg College.

First base: INF David Marcus (Whitby, Ont.) California University of Pennsylvania Vulcans

The Vulcans cleanup hitter, tied the single-season school record with 15 homers and broke the single-season school mark of 62 RBIs. He also set career bests with a .391 average (61-for-156) and a .769 slugging mark, which was over a 300-point improvement from his sophomore campaign. Marcus also scored 41 runs while hitting cleanup in all but four games his season.

He received All-PSAC West honours for a second consecutive year after garnering second-team accolades as a DH in 2014, American Baseball Coaches Association (ABCA)/Rawlings all-region-teams Second Team honours.

His summer might have been better than his spring as Marcus was selected both the Mike Schmidt Player of the Year and the Roland Hemond Pro Prospect of the Year in the Prospect League.

Playing with the Butler BlueSox he led the league and set a franchise record with 11 homers while driving in 49 runs. He finished fourth with a .363 average (81-for-223), led with 18 doubles, 30 extra-base hits, 134 total bases and a .601 slugging percentage.

Marcus was fifth in RBIs among Canadians behind Chris Robinson (69) Morehead State, Connor Panas (68) Canisius, Billy Germaine (66) Southern Arkansas and Brett Siddall (63) Canisius.

Marcus, who played with the Toronto Mets and coaches Ryan McBride and Rich Leitch, earned Canadian Baseball Network Honourable Mention in 2013-14.

Second base: Chris Thibideau (Dartmouth, NS) Midland Chapparals

The big bat from the Maritimes had 13 doubles, a triple, 13 homers and 52 RBIs for the Chaps. He finished with an .988 OPS, while hitting .340.

In his two years at Midland he hit 27 homers combined … so does that make him the biggest bopper from Nova Scotia since Darren Doucette, who played three seasons in the St. Louis Cardinals system (1992-94) and continued to punish pitchers in senior ball?

At Midland, he hit .323 as a freshman and .340 as a sophomore as his 14 home runs as a freshman were tied for the second most in the country. That season earned First Team WJCAC honours in 2014.

Thibideau, who spent three years playing for coach Les McTavish’s Vauxhall Academy and was named 2013 Jet of the Year, he earned Canadian Baseball Network First Team honours in 2014.

Third base: Connor Panas (Toronto Ont.) Canisius Golden Griffins

For the season, he posted a .632 slugging percentage, a .472 on-base mark and he ended the year fifth in the MAAC with 19 stolen bases on 24 attempts.

Panas was chosen in the ninth round (272nd overall) by the Toronto Blue Jays scout Jamie Lehman, making him the highest draft pick for the Canisius program since 1994. He played for the Vancouver Canadians in the Class-A Northwest League.

One of four MAAC Student-Athletes of the Year in Canisius’ history, Panas joins with former Iona cross country/track runners Richard Kiplagat (2004-05 and 2005-06) and Mitch Goose (2011-12 and 2012-13) as the only male student-athletes to win the award in back-to-back years since the honor was started in 2001-02.

Panas joins with former Canisius ball player Sean Jamieson (2010-11) as the school’s two-time MAAC Male Student-Athlete of the Year award winners.

Panas, who played with the Toronto Mets and coaches Ryan McBride and Rich Leitch, earned Canadian Baseball Network First Team honours in 2014 and Honorable Mention 2012-13.

Shortstop: Daniel Pinero (Toronto, Ont.) Virginia Cavillers

The knock on Pinero going into the season was the way his scouts questioned his mobility at short and they were unsure he had enough power to survive playing the corner. So, he went out and hit six homers after hitting none his freshman season.

On the season he batted .308 with eight doubles, a triple and 29 RBIs with an .828 OPS stealing nine bases in 11 tries. He led the team in steals and sacrifice bunts (14).

He was durable as a Clydesdale playing in 67 of 68 games — his streak of 82 consecutive starts at stop snapped April 22 after being hit in the chin with a pitch. Pinero had the go-ahead, two-out, two-run single in eighth inning of win over Richmond, was 3-for-3 and matched career reaching five times in win at Notre Dame and recorded career-high four hits, including home run, in win over Pitt. He homered and drove in career-high four runs against Georgia Tech in ACC tourney.

At the College World Series in Omaha he hit .391 (9-for-23) scoring four runs with .462 OBP (team highs). Pinero went 3-for-4 with three stolen bases in CWS opener, was 5-for-10 in UVa’s three games against Florida.

He earned a spot on All-College World Series Team, was named Second-Team All-ACC and was named to Brooks Wallace Award Watch List (nation’s top SS).

Pinero, who played for coach Dan Bleiwas and the Ontario Blue Jays, was awarded with Canadian Baseball Network 2014 Second Team honours.

Outfield: Tristan Graham (North Vancouver, BC) Northeast Texas Eagles, Brett Siddall (Windsor, Ont.) Canisius Griffs and Billy Germaine (Aldergrove, BC, Southern Arkansas Muleriders

Graham batted .431 with 12 doubles, two triples, 13 homers and 47 RBIs with an 1.137 OPS. He was tied for third in homers by Canucks with Midland’s Chris Thibideau, two behind David Marcus of Cal-Pennsylvania and one back of Columbia State’s Julian Johnson.

He had seven three-hit games: with a run-scoring double in an 11-3 win against Cedar Valley, doubled, homered and knocked in six runs in a 12-0 win over Pratt, tripled, hit two homer and knocked in five runs in a 14-12 triumph against at Grayson, homered three times and knocked in eight runs in a 14-3 win against Navarro, doubled, homered and knocked in a pair of runs in an 8-7 loss to Panola, doubled and drove in a pair of runs in a 12-6 win against Bossier Parish and had three hits including a double in a 8-7 loss to San Jacinto.

Selected in the 22nd round he signed with the Baltimore Orioles.

Graham is a graduate of the North Shore Twins and coach John Haar.

Siddall batted .341 with 23 doubles, a triple and 12 homers, knocking in 47 runs for coach Mike McRae’s Griffs. He had a .980 OPS.

In his best statistical season Siddall slugged .590, an on-base percentage of .390 and stole six bases on seven attempts. In the team’s 8-7 win over top-seeded Rider in the MAAC championship, his eighth-inning grand slam helped push the Griffs to an elimination game victory, and he closed out the MAAC’s postseason tournament by batting .440 (11-for-25) with five doubles, a home run, six runs scored and eight RBIs in six contests.

Siddall posted career numbers of a .339 average (182-for-537), 42 doubles, six triples and 16 home runs, including a career-high 12 in 2015.

He ranked in the top-five in the MAAC in five different offensive categories, and he was the MAAC’s leader in doubles and homers this season. His 24 extra-base hits in 2015 ranks first in school history for a single-season and he ends the regular season tied for 10th nationally in doubles.

The honours rolled in: MAAC Player of the Year, All-MAAC First-Team selection, American Baseball Coaches Association Division I Northeast All-Region First-Team and American Baseball Coaches Association (ABCA)/Rawlings NCAA Division I All-America Third-Team honours.

Siddall who played for Windsor Selects coaches Chris Soulliere and Joe Siddall, earned Canadian Baseball Network Honourable Mention honours in 2013 and was a CBN Second Team in 2014.

Germaine hit .338 with 17 doubles, two triples, 12 homers and 66 RBIs with a 1,046 OPS.

Sitting in the heart of the Mulerider lineup with 67 hits and a team-leading .420 on-base percentage. The power hitter finished the regular season in the top five in seven offensive categories in the Great American Conference including sacrifice flies (first), RBIs (second), home runs (second), total bases (second), runs scored (second), walks (second) and slugging percentage (fourth).

The Hill Junior College transfer was third among Canucks with 66 three behind Morehead State’s Chris Robinson and two behind Connor Panas of Canisisus.

Germine played for the Langley Blaze and coaches Jamie Bodaly and Doug Mathieson.

DH: Conner Stevenson (Keswick, Ont.) of the Connors State Cowboys

Stevenson batted .314 with 10 doubles and 10 homers knocking in 48 runs in 46 games. He had a .966 OPS.

He homered and knocked in three runs in a 23-0 walk over against Bacone, knocked in a pair in a 7-4 win over Mineral Area, hit a solo homer in a 3-2 loss to Lake Land, went deep knocking in three runs in a 12-7 loss to Ellsworth, knocked in three in an 8-6 win against Iowa Central, plated three in an 18-10 win against Coffeyville, again drove home three in an 8-0 win against Southwestern Christian, plated four in a 12-4 win over Rose State and hit two solo shots in a 14-7 win against Northern Oklahoma Enid. He had such a good year he transferred to Indiana Tech.

Stevenson played for the Ontario Blue Jays and coach Danny Bleiwas.

By Bob Elliott

This article originally appeared at the Canadian Baseball Network. Click here for detailed results including second and third teams.

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