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Barriera vows to make teams regret passing him up after Blue Jays take him at No. 23 – Sportsnet.ca

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LOS ANGELES – The wait to No. 23 was agonizing for Brandon Barriera, and not just because he was rocking a dark suit on a 34 C afternoon that was scorching even in the shade at the L.A. LIVE entertainment complex.

Uncertainty about the future isn’t easy and the 18-year-old left-hander was eager to figure out where he was going. He didn’t expect it to take two-plus hours for his name was called. He didn’t know the Toronto Blue Jays were really on him until two picks before it was their turn.

Emotions struck once it was official. He hugged his family. He broke down on TV during his first post-selection interview and then vowed to make the other 22 teams regret passing him up.

What a ride.

“I’ll stand by that until I make my major-league debut and even then, it makes this game a whole lot easier now,” Barriera said in an interview. “I’m actually thankful all those teams passed up on me because I’m going to use that and work to get better and become the best player I can be.”

That mix of confidence and competitiveness made for quite a first impression and, in combination with his athleticism, mid-90s fastball, plus slider, changeup and breaking ball, helped hook in the Blue Jays.

His skill-set checks many of the boxes they seek out in pitchers, even if “there’s a greater risk when you’re selecting a high school pitcher in that area,” said amateur scouting director Shane Farrell. “Somebody like Brandon, with his pitch mix, we’re excited about the quality of stuff he’s going to bring to the field.”

Picking in the bottom third of the opening round left the Blue Jays unable to zero in on a couple of players, instead building out a group of options they felt would be available in that range. One major surprise early in the draft – the Texas Rangers taking right-hander Kumar Rocker at No. 3 – had a trickle-down effect that led to several other changes.

As the machinations played out, Barriera waited and waited – “it’s not a great feeling just kind of sitting there,” he said – and once his name was called, there was “a lot of relief on my shoulders. That was the hard part. Now comes the easy part. I get to go and play baseball.”

The Blue Jays were an unexpected landing spot, but they were also a welcomed one.

Barriera, identified by area scout Adrian Casanova, is committed to Vanderbilt but the No. 23 pick’s assigned value is $3,075,300. In the second round, at No. 60 overall, they took shortstop Josh Kasevich out of Oregon, at No. 77 they picked switch-hitting infielder Tucker Toman out of Hammond High School in Columbia, S.C., before grabbing Cade Doughty, a second baseman from Louisiana State one pick later.

The Blue Jays will have a total signing bonus pool of $8,367,700 to work with, boosted nearly $1.7 million by the compensatory picks at Nos. 77-78 for the departures of Marcus Semien and Robbie Ray.

“We feel like we’re in a good place,” Farrell said of signing all four picks. “We don’t foresee much difficulty in getting things done as it stands right now.”

The infielders were all projected to go higher than they did in the third-party rankings and the Blue Jays were to “to manage our bonus allotment in a way that allowed us to acquire two hitters that we believe in and some upside in acquiring two high-school players today, as well,” said Farrell.

Kasevich, drafted by area scout Ryan Fox, is a high-contact, high-walk, low-strikeout hitter with a chance to stay up the middle.

Toman, selected by Mike Tidick, is the big swing here, someone Baseball America described as “one of the better hit/power high school players in the class” but also as a “fringy defender.”

Doughty, scouted by Chris Curtis, showed increased power this season, driving balls into gaps “with higher exit velocities than seen before,” per Baseball America.

“We acquired three different types of hitters,” said Farrell. “Josh, very much contact-oriented. Tucker we believe has some power potential and Cade is just a good hitter in his own right. We’re excited about all three of them.”

Barriera was born in New York and grew up a Yankees fan mesmerized by lefty Andy Pettitte but moved to Florida when he was nine. At 11, he joined the Cannons Baseball Academy, where director Nick James worked with him on his pitching and coached him in travel ball.

Their bond is such is that he was with Barriera and his family at the draft and praised the person as much as the “good stuff.”

“Most of this year he was 94-97, up to 99 a few times. Real power slider. We had it over 3000 RPMs quite a few times this spring in training. Good breaking ball, 11-5 shape on that. His best pitch may be his changeup,” said James. “But the thing that people are going to find out that they love about Brandon in Toronto is what a great teammate he is. Everywhere he’s ever been, he’s a team-first guy, he’s a program-first guy, wants to do whatever it takes to win and he celebrates his teammates just as much as he enjoys his own success.”

In that way, he’ll fit right into the culture the Blue Jays are trying to sustain, with a chance to boost the cadre of young arms the team has at double-A New Hampshire and single-A Vancouver.

Like Ricky Tiedemann, who has emerged as the club’s top pitching prospect, Barriera is comfortable throwing any of his pitches at any time, with a “bulldog on attack” mindset on the mound.

“I’m not going to take anything off just because you’re the ninth-hole hitter, or if you’re 0-for-3 with three strikeouts – I’m still going to go at you the same way,” he said. “At the end of the day, in a way, I want to make the hitters look silly. That’s pretty much what my mentality is out there.”

While Barriera focused on Pettitte when he was young, in recent years he’s locked in more on Luis Severino, the electric right-hander who “is not the biggest guy on the field, but he plays big, his stuff plays big, and he goes out there with a lot of emotion and plays with a lot of energy.”

That admiration for Severino and the Yankees will have to change, something that donned on him as he sported a crisp, new white Blue Jays jersey over his suit and blue cap on his head.

“Oh yeah,” said Barriera. “I’m 100 per cent Blue Jays now.”

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Juan Brunetta has a goal and an assist to lead Liga MX All-Stars over MLS All-Stars 4-1

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COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — Juan Brunetta and Maximiliano Meza scored a minute apart in the second half, and Mexico’s Liga MX All-Stars beat the Major League Soccer All-Stars 4-1 in the MLS All-Star Game on Wednesday night.

Brunetta (Tigres) scored in transition in the 68th minute to make it 3-1 and set up Meza (Monterrey) soon after in front of a record crowd of 20,931 at Lower.com Field.

It was the first MLS All-Star Game victory for Liga MX in three tries. The MLS All-Stars won in 2022 and won on penalty kicks after a 1-1 draw a year earlier.

“It was an incredible game,” Liga MX coach Andre Jardine said. “There were a lot of high-level players. It was a tight game. Both teams definitely came out to play. In the second half they came out with a lot of great names as well. I was a bit surprised. It was a bit difficult, especially in the first 15 minutes, but we had to adjust and ultimately it was a great game.”

There were plenty of big names on the field, but the absence of the brightest and biggest one took some luster out of the event. The league announced Monday that Inter Miami forward Lionel Messi was unable to play because of ligament damage in his right ankle.

The 2022 World Cup champion was injured while playing for Argentina in its victory over Colombia in the Copa America final on July 14.

Fans cheered when Columbus forwards combined to tie the match 1-all in the 17th minute, about a minute after Germán Berterame (Monterrey) scored for Mexico on a header.

From the left flank, Diego Rossi found Crew teammate Cucho Hernandez racing unmarked down the middle of the box for the equalizer.

“Unbelievable for me to score in front of my home fans,” Hernandez said.

Oussama Idrissi (Pachuca) made it 2-1 in the 41st with a strike from the top of the penalty area.

MLS had two chances to tie it in the 63rd when Riqui Puig (Los Angeles Galaxy) hit the crossbar and on the follow, Luca Orellano (Cincinnati) was denied on a goal-line clearance by Unai Bilbao (Tijuana).

Minutes later, Liga MX put the game out of reach.

MLS recognized the revival of the Columbus market by awarding it the All-Star Game. The Crew, a 1996 charter member, were threatened in the fall of 2017 with relocation to Austin, Texas, by then-owner Anthony Precourt.

A grassroots movement called Save the Crew drew international attention and helped persuade Cleveland Browns owners Jimmy and Dee Haslam to buy the team and keep it in Columbus.

The Crew won the MLS Cup in 2020 and 2023, reached the final of the 2024 CONCACAF Champions Cup and opened Lower.com Field in 2021, where there have been 28 straight sellouts for MLS matches.

“It shows everyone the courage of the owner,” Crew and MLS All-Stars coach Wilfried Nancy said. “Listen, this is a representation of what Columbus is and the passion for the soccer.”

The All-Star squad had five Crew players. Hernandez and Rossi were joined by midfielder Darlington Nagbe and defenders Rudy Camacho and Steven Moreira.

UP NEXT

MLS and Liga MX continue the rivalry with the start of the Leagues Cup on Friday All 47 teams will compete in a World Cup-style format, with the championship match on Aug. 25. There will be 77 matches in the United States and Canada. Inter Miami is the defending Leagues Cup champion.

___

AP soccer:

The Canadian Press. All rights reserved.

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Chelsea salvages 2-2 tie with Wrexham in friendly at Levi’s Stadium

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SANTA CLARA, Calif. (AP) — Lesley Ugochukwu scored in the 82nd minute to help Chelsea salvage a 2-2 tie with Wrexham in a friendly match Wednesday night at Levi’s Stadium.

Ugochukwu rolled a shot from the middle of the box through traffic into the right corner.

Wrexham took a 2-1 lead when Jack Marriot scored on a counterattack in the 72nd minute.

Luke Bolton also scored for Wrexham, the Welsh team co-owned by Canadian actor Ryan Reynolds that was promoted this year to the third tier of English soccer.

Christopher Nkunku scored first for Chelsea in the perennial Premier League power’s first pre-season match and its first under manager, Enzo Maresca, the former Leicester City manager.

Nkunku fired a shot from the middle of the box into the left corner of the net past goalie Arthur Okonkwo in the 35th minute off an assist from Marc Guiu after a corner kick.

Wrexham tied it in the 58th minute when Bolton scored from the right wing off an assist from Sebastian Revan, who connected with Bolton on a crossing pass.

Chelsea goalkeeper Robert Sanchez blocked a breakaway shot from James McLean in the 29th minute.

Chelsea beat Wrexham 5-0 in a friendly last season.

UP NEXT

Wrexham: Visits the Vancouver Whitecaps on Saturday.

Chelsea: Plays the Celtic on Saturday at Notre Dame in South Bend, Ind.

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Preseason Opener: Enzo Maresca’s Chelsea Takes on Wrexham

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Welcome to the first match of the summer, the first preseason game, and the first chance to see Enzo Maresca’s Chelsea in action. While the main focus today is on fitness, this game will undoubtedly spark analysis and excitement among fans.

Football, sort of, is back! Let’s see how the teams line up for this highly anticipated friendly.

Chelsea Starting XI:

  • Sánchez
  • James (c)
  • Tosin
  • Badiashile
  • Colwill
  • Lavia
  • Chukwuemeka
  • Nkunku
  • Madueke
  • Guiu
  • George

Substitutes:

  • Beach
  • Bergström
  • W. Fofana
  • Veiga
  • Acheampong
  • Gusto
  • Chilwell
  • Santos
  • Ugochukwu
  • Sterling
  • Ângelo
  • Broja

Wrexham Starting XI:

  • Okonkwo
  • Cleworth
  • Brunt
  • O’Connor
  • Bolton
  • Jones
  • Dobson
  • Lee
  • Revan
  • Palmer
  • McClean (c)

Substitutes:

  • Howard
  • Burton
  • Boyle
  • Barnett
  • James
  • Forde
  • Evans
  • Ashfield
  • Cannon
  • Davies
  • Bickerstaff
  • Waters
  • Dalby
  • Marriott

Match Details:

  • Date / Time: Wednesday, July 24, 7pm PDT; 3am BST (next day); 7:30am IST (next day)
  • Venue: Levi’s Stadium, Santa Clara, CA, USA
  • On TV: ESPN (USA); none (UK); elsewhere
  • Streaming: ESPN+ (USA); Chelsea TV (int’l pay-per-view)

Both teams will be eager to test their tactics and players ahead of the upcoming season. Chelsea fans are particularly excited to see how new manager Enzo Maresca will shape the team, while Wrexham supporters are keen to see their team perform against top-tier opposition.

Let’s see how the starting formation and tactics unfold as we get a first glimpse of what’s to come this season. Stay tuned for an exciting game!ea

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