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(Posted:11 p.m., March 10)
Orléans ball player kicks off spring training tour with a bang

By Fred Sherwin
Orléans Online

Demi Orimoloye rounds the bases after hitting a three-run homer against the Philadelphia Phillies prospects team in St. Petersburg, Florida on Sunday. Baseball Canada photo

While most high school students are spending March Break on the ski slopes or on the beach, 17-year-old Demi Orimoloye is spending his March Break on the baseball diamond in sunny central Florida.

The Grade 12, St. Matthew High School student is one of the top players on the Canadian national junior team currently playing a series of spring training games against Major League prospects.

Orimoloye kicked off the tour with a bang on Sunday, hitting a two-run homer against a team made up of Philadelphia Phillies prospects in St. Petersburg, Florida.

“(He) threw a 0-1 curveball that hung a bit and was able to get a good swing on it,” said Orimoloye of the blast that cleared the left field fence.

Team Canada ended up losing the game 10-6, but not before raising a few eyebrows.

Orimoloye is one of Canada's top 17-year-old prospects along with Josh Naylor from Mississauga. The two young men will both be eligible for the 2015 Major League draft.

Orimoloye came up through the Orleans Red Sox Little League system. He graduated to the Ottawa-Nepean Canadians U18 team as a 15-year-old in 2012 and last year made the national junior team.

Born in Nigeria, Orimoloye immigrated to Canada when he was just a year old with his parents Segun and Adenike. The family originally lived in Toronto, before moving to Orléans in 2001.

Blessed with natural athletic ability, size and speed, the 6-foot-4, 225 lb Orimoloye has caused many a football coach to drool, but a dislike for physical contact steered him to the baseball diamond.

Those who know the game and have seen Orimoloye play, describe him as being raw but with the kind of potential that could see him selected in the first or second round of the Major League draft.

"Demi has a chance to be a really special talent. He needs to develop his over-all game, and it’s going to come," says Greg Hamilton, Canada's director of national teams.

For his part, Orimoloye knows he still has a lot to learn, but he's willing to do whatever it takes to improve his game.

"I’m not really consistent right now,” Orimoloye said. “I’m still trying to put it all together, but I think that on this national team I am getting that rawness removed. I am kind of figuring out what I’m going to do and everything …

“I would like to go in the first round of the draft, and I want to be the best player I can be. I think over the next two years with this national team and the coaching that they have with Team Canada, I can reach my full potential and then get even better than that.”

The prospect of Orimoloye reaching his full potential should make pitchers shudder and Major League scouts lining up to sign him.

The future is bright indeed for the young man whose teammates have nick-named the Nigerian Nightmare.

(This story was made possible thanks to their generous support of our local business partners.)

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