Eric Cerantola: ripe to be drafted

Barring any surprises, the first Quebec native to be called up for the next major league draft will be pitcher Eric Cerantola.

« I’m super excited, I can’t wait to find out which team is going to draft me and I can’t wait to get into professional baseball, » said the 21-year-old athlete, in view of the auction scheduled for Sunday to Tuesday.

Originally from the greater Montreal area, Cerantola moved with his parents to Oakville, Ontario when he was only 7 years old. A simple telephone conversation is enough to retrace his Quebec roots, since he still expresses himself very well in French.

Between two discussions surrounding the good performances of Carey Price during the playoffs of the National Hockey League, this great supporter of the Montreal Canadiens shows optimism about what is taking shape for his own career.

« I think I have a great opportunity for the draft, my agent has been in contact with several teams, » said the man who just concluded his season at Mississippi State University with a national championship won by his team.

“I really liked the time spent in Mississippi, it will help me in the long run, adds the one who played three seasons in the NCAA, praising in passing the atmosphere of college baseball. I feel well prepared for what’s to come. »

A justified decision

As is sometimes the case in baseball, Cerantola was already drafted for the first time by major league baseball, in the 30th round by the Tampa Bay Rays, in 2018. At the time aged 18, the giant of 6 pi and 5 po, however, had not obtained a satisfactory signing bonus to prevent him from going to university.

“Both my parents [Franco et Lucy] are engineers and it was important for me to get a degree, says Cerantola, who is completing a course in business administration. It’s something that will serve me for the rest of my life. »

In terms of baseball, Cerantola also feels more mature to face the vagaries of affiliated baseball. As a pitcher, his stint at Mississippi State University also allowed him to improve, despite limited use in recent months.

“I started the season in the starting rotation, but I was placed in quarantine after being in contact with a teammate who had contracted COVID-19, he explains. Afterwards, I was put in the bullpen and I was ready if I was given the ball.

Throw 100 miles per hour

In 17 1/3 innings, Cerantola has allowed 11 runs this season. He nevertheless managed 24 strikeouts and limited the opponent to a .206 batting average against him. Even more impressive for scouts, Cerantola also hit the magic number of 100 miles per hour with a pitch in his first game of the season on Feb. 27 against Tulane University’s Green Wave. The average of his shots varies between 94 and 96 miles per hour.

« When I came to Mississippi State, I only had two pitches: a fastball and a curveball, » Cerantola said. I’ve improved my fastball velocity and curve, but I’ve also developed good shifting that I can now use in games. »

So many arguments that should make Cerantola the first player from Quebec – and perhaps the only one – to be drafted in the coming days.


Major League Baseball Draft: Quebecers in the crosshairs

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, major baseball’s draft session had been reduced to only five rounds in 2020. In this rather particular context, no Quebecers had been selected. Players here can be a little more optimistic this year, as despite another shortened version, there are a total of 20 rounds for this auction which will be held from July 11 to 13.

In an attempt to identify Quebecers who could be drafted, the QMI Agency felt the pulse of various recruiters from the Belle Province.

In general, there is an important trend. It would be very surprising if a young Quebecer associated with a secondary school were called up this year. Teams are most likely to bet on those who attend an American college or who play at the university level in the United States, in the NCAA.

“They are 100% disadvantaged, summarized Alex Agostino, who works in the recruiting sector for the Philadelphia Phillies. And it’s even more true this year when there are fewer players in the minor leagues.

About 40 teams have effectively disappeared following a shake-up in affiliate baseball, which now has only four levels: A-weak, A-strong, AA and AAA.

For example, a player like Jean-Christophe Masson was only 16 when he was selected in the 26th round (777th overall) by the Toronto Blue Jays in the 2019 draft. round. It would have been more difficult for him to be called, according to the current context. Young Alexis Gravel, 17, could very well have followed in his footsteps by being drafted this year, but at 20 rounds, his chances are dwindling considerably. Instead, he is likely to join Weatherford College in Texas this fall.

A hidden card?

In the last five major baseball drafts, only one Quebecer from high school has been chosen in the first 20 rounds, namely left-handed pitcher Antoine Jean, in the 17th round. However, he refused the offer of the Minnesota Twins to turn to the University of Alabama. At 19, Jean could be drafted again by the end of his time in the NCAA.

According to the echoes, it is a native pitcher from the Montreal region, Eric Cerantola, who seems to have the best chance of being selected during the next week. The tall right-hander, who grew up in Oakville, Ont., is a product of Mississippi State University. The Tampa Bay Rays made him their 30th-round pick in 2018, but then he decided to go the NCAA route to increase his value. For the rest, we are never safe from a hidden card.

The one who risks being drafted…

-Eric Cerantola*

Hidden cards:

-Conor Angel

– Mathieu Deneault-Gauthier

– Alexis Gravel

– Christopher Pouliot

– Mathieu Vallee

Things to watch for in the coming years:

– Felix-Antoine Chenier-Rondeau

– Louka Daoust

– Yohann Dessureault

– Cedric De Grandpre

– Antoine Jean

-Joshua Jones

-Simon Lusignan

-Alfonso Villalobos

*Eric Cerantola was born in Quebec, but grew up in Oakville, Ontario.

List of Quebecers selected among the first 20 rounds in the last five drafts:

2019 – Antoine Jean, Minnesota Twins, Round 17 – ABC

2019 – Édouard Julien, Minnesota Twins, Round 18 – NCAA (Auburn)

2017 – Jonathan Lacroix, Houston Astros, 12th round – College (Seminole)

2017 – Raphaël Gladu, New York Mets, 16th round – NCAA (Louisiana Tech)

2016 – Charles Leblanc, Texas Rangers, 4th round – NCAA (Pittsburgh)

2016 – Abraham Toro, Houston Astros, 5th Round – College (Seminole)

2016 – Louis-Philippe Pelletier, Houston Astros, 20th round – College (Seminole)

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