CBN: Canadians among best 2014 draft names

Zach Pop delivers a pitch (Adam Morissette/Baseball Canada)

By Alexis Brudnicki

Finally, draft week is here.

High school and draft-eligible college players everywhere are excited and anxious, scouts are more tired than they are at any other time of the year, and plenty of rankings and analyses have been floating around in order to help fans make their best guesses at whom every single team might select.

So, for those not already drowning in that analysis, why not have some fun and come along for the ride that is the Canadian Baseball Network’s Top 10 ‘Names list’?

Here, you will find the best names in the draft, using players who are likely to be picked somewhere in this year’s selection process. This includes personal analysis on those names, with absolutely no merit and only personal opinion. Rankings are based solely on the amount of enjoyment that follows when reading and saying the player’s name out loud, with no emphasis on the talent of that player.

Before delving into the list, honourable mentions go out to Keegan Baar andNigel Nootbaar, for sheer number of consecutive vowels; Blake Fox, Jake Bird and Zach Fish, because animal names are always fun; Jace Fry, Cy Sneed, Jakson Reetz, Justus Sheffield, Slade Heggen , Treg Haberkorn, Devan Stubblefield and Bryce Montes de Oca – which may or may not loosely translate to mountains of goose – for being so close but just not making the Top 10, and to Denz’l Champman, just for having an apostrophe.

For no reason other than to start with a Canadian player, the list will begin with the 10th-best name and continually get better and better, right down to No. 1 in your great-name-loving hearts. Please note, Canadians earned extra points in the ranking system.

10. Zach Pop

Scouts and fans most definitely agree on this one – Pop is one helluva name for a baseball player. Granted, the Brampton, Ont., native is a hard-throwing high school right-hander, and not a hitter, which might make for a higher ranking, but the name is solid. Future broadcasters of any games involving Pop can rejoice at the ease of which his name rolls off the tongue and requires no secondary check on pronunciation. All in all, this University of Kentucky commit easily rounds out the best 10 names in this year’s draft.

9. Storm Edwards

The name Storm just seems to come with an added air of confidence that the guy behind it is likely to do some damage. Things haven’t gone so well this season so far for 2012′s 25th-round pick, Storm Throne, who is currently on the restricted list with the Kannapolis Intimidators of the South Atlantic League after posting a 11.57 ERA over four games with the club. But hopes are higher for Edwards. The outfielder from Mountain Home, North Carolina – also great to say – is currently ranked 10th in his state and is committed to the Wolfpack at North Carolina State University.

8. Stone Garrett

Just like Storm, Stone is a fantastic first name. Three minor league players carry Stone as their last name, plus two with the surname Stoneburner – awesome – but none so far who can use it to introduce themselves with only one name. Garrett is from Sugar Land, Texas, so his introduction is just great all around. The high school outfielder is committed to Rice University, where he could join the Owls. A Stone Fox would obviously be the desired choice, but a Stone Owl is acceptable.

7. Brock Dykxhoorn

The Canadian right-hander is a sure-fire candidate for minor league Moniker Madness if and when he makes it to the pro ranks. There is very little doubt that any of the players on this list would make it into the delightful name competition of the minors, but Dykxhoorn would follow fellow Canuck Maxx Tissenbaum and likely move further than any man north of the border before him. The Goderich, Ont., native just finished his season with Central Arizona after a year at West Virginia University to start his collegiate career, and is committed to the University of Nevada at Las Vegas. The highest-ranking Canadian on this list, Dykxhoorn gets bonus points not only for that, but also for having a K and an X back-to-back in his surname, followed by hoorn. The combination is unstoppable.

6. Forrest Wall

While the name is a personal favourite – they all are – the high school second baseman from Winter Park, Florida is following some solid similar name candidates who have taken the professional field before him. Admittedly, if Forrest Snow or Forrestt Allday were in this draft and not playing for the Jackson Generals and Greenville Drive, respectively, Wall might be out of contention. But the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill commit is the only Forrest in Baseball America’s Top 500, currently ranked at No. 34 by actual talent, so he makes it in. Like Pop, a position change would likely move him higher up the list, because an outfielder with the name Wall just provides so much material. An excellent runner, it isn’t far-fetched to think he might end up there one day, so here’s hoping for plenty of punny goodness at Wall’s future games.

5. Gunnar Heidt

Gunnar. His name is Gunnar. And he throws a baseball. There’s not much better than this, outside of the remaining four names on this list, of course. The shortstop from the College of Charleston in South Carolina is ranked 10th among the talent in his state, but his name definitely gives him the top spot in that category. He also enjoys surfing. You’re welcome.

4. Touki Toussaint

In terms of talent, Toussaint is the highest-ranked player on this list. So what follows is that the right-hander from Miami is taking all lists by storm – no pun intended, Edwards. Committed to the Vanderbilt Commodores, but likely to be one of the first 10 selections in the draft, there is nothing about this name that wouldn’t be fun for a broadcaster to announce. First name, last name, he’s got it all, really. Plus, you know, he’s really good. Watch for this pick to be the first name from this list butchered by baseball commissioner Bud Selig in New York on Thursday night.

3. Cre Finfrock

Now we’re really getting into it. The hard-throwing right-hander from Stuart, Florida has impressed many with his fastball, touching up to 96 miles an hour. But who cares about that? His name is Cre Finfrock. He was an easy choice for the No. 3 pick because no matter how you pronounce it, it’s still awesome to say, and confusing for everyone hearing it.

2. Joey Pankake

Pankake rises to the (almost) very top of the list because he was also a strong favourite in 2011, when he was originally drafted by the Texas Rangers in the 42nd round, the same organization who at the time carried Mark Hamburger. It was a perfect fit, except for Pankake, who chose to pursue a collegiate career at South Carolina. But the Gamecocks’ junior third baseman and outfielder is back, and really, who doesn’t love a great pancake? Joey sure does, who revealed in a post-game interview once that the home run he hit in that particular matchup followed a breakfast outing to IHOP for free pancakes on International Pancake Day. And that awesomeness is really what it boils down to here, nothing to do with the fact that he is ranked the seventh-best talent in his state. As long as he remains draft-eligible, Joseph Gale Pankake will be on this list.

1. Handsome Monica

Yes, this is his real name. His parents took a real risk when he came into the world, but high risk means high upside, right? The high school catcher and first baseman from Covington, Louisiana seems to be basking in the uniqueness of his name as the draft approaches, a clear indicator that he knows just how awesome it is – and how could he not? The mind wanders in the direction of wondering what it was like for him as perhaps an eight-year-old, or in his early teen years, but nonetheless he’s a good ballplayer now with power potential and he’s embracing everything the moniker Handsome Monica has to offer. With a name like that, what else is there to do?

This article was originally published at the Canadian Baseball Network.

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