Since its inception in 1998, over 200 players have moved on to the MLB. No wonder, the Oklahoma Sunbelt Classic is considered the top tournament for high school ball players in the US. The prestigious tournament began with a banquet on June 6 and finished June 12. It’s a 10 game tournament, in a 7 day span. State teams from Texas, Colorado, Missouri, Tennessee, Georgia, Arizona, Mississippi and two teams from Oklahoma were entered. The event is heavily scouted with more than 50 college recruiters watching games at Mike Deake Field at McAlester High School and Eastern Oklahoma State College.
This year, Mississippi took home the bragging rights only losing one game. Canada finished in 7th place, with a 2-7 record. This was a tough Canadian team and never quit. Infielders, Andrew Nantau, who made the "all tournament team" and Patrick Mulligan, led Canada in every offensive category. Team Canada has had former big leaguer's such as John Axford, Chris Leroux and current minor leaguer, Zack Pop, suit up for the tournament. The 2019 Team Canada staff included long time GM Marc Picard, head coach Dean Dicenzo, assistants Rick Johnson, Brodie Jeffery and myself. Players had a wonderful experience staying with billet families and were able to enjoy their off time, riding in ATV’s and other activities. It sure was different back in 1998 when I played in the tournament, but one thing that is still the same was the high level of competition.
Team Canada has had former big leaguer's such as John Axford, Chris Leroux and current minor leaguer, Zack Pop, suit up for the tournament. Other notables: Kevin Bass (Astros), Buddy Biancalana (Astros/Royals), Byron Buxton (Minnesota Twins), Al Davis (Mariners), Eric Plunk (A's), Randy Johnson (Mariners/Astros), Mike Moore (A's), Phil Stephenson (Cubs), Mickey Tettleton (A's/Orioles), John Russell (Phillies), Johnny Damon (Royals). Shane Monahan (Mariners), J.D. Drew (Cardinals), Tim Drew (Indians), Jeff Francoeur(Atlanta among others), Brian McCann (Astros, Yankees, Braves), Buster Posey (Giants), Sonny Gray (A’s/Yankees), John Axford (Brewers/A’s/Jays) and John Rocker (Braves).
Congratulations to the following players, who represented Team Canada at the 2019 Oklahoma Sunbelt Tournament:
Junior Team Canada
Sophomore Team Canada