In Canada, from every small town to major city, kids grow up playing hockey. As a kid growing up in St. Catharines, I dreamed about playing for the Leafs — roll your eyes if you have to — the team I loved and watched every Saturday night on CBC. And as much as I loved baseball and the Toronto Blue Jays, I, like many other Canadians, was just better at hockey. I never really dreamed about playing for the Toronto Blue Jays in the same way. However, a growing number of Canadian kids out there do dream of putting on the best blue and white jersey in this country and writing their names into Blue Jays lore.
Toronto Blue Jays prospect, Connor Panas, is one of them. He grew up in Etobicoke, a quick ten-minute drive from the Rogers Centre. As a kid, he idolized the Blue Jays and was lucky enough to grow up hanging around former Montreal Expos and Toronto Blue Jays catcher, Darrin Fletcher, who was his neighbour. Connor played little league baseball with Fletcher’s son, and they would go down to the SkyDome and hang out on the field with the players — pretty much living the dream of every young Jays fan.
Panas batted clean up for Dunedin this year and swung a hot bat that helped lead the High-A Blue Jays to becoming co-champions of the Florida State League. Connor wore number 27 before Vladdy Jr. arrived from Lansing and claimed that number for his own. So Panas changed his to 15, and it looks like that number might have worked out for him. After changing his number he truly started to heat up.
I recently had the opportunity to interview Connor and talk a bit about baseball, the minors, player development, and how young he is (or how old I am!) He may not know who John Candy is or be familiar with the Kids In The Hall, but Connor certainly knows how to get wood on the ball, and he really could end up becoming one of the best power-hitting prospects in the Blue Jays’ system — so I think we can forgive him for that (but seriously man, check out Uncle Buck now!).
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