4 SEC prospects the Toronto Raptors can select in 2022 NBA Draft

4 SEC prospects the Toronto Raptors can select in 2022 NBA Draft

The Toronto Raptors have one very high second-round pick in the 2022 NFL Draft, though Masai Ujiri might not be above moving up or down in the order if he finds one player that really speaks to him. The SEC might have a handful of players that will mesh well with Toronto’s style. While conference […]
4 SEC prospects the Toronto Raptors can select in 2022 NBA Draft – Raptors Rapture – Raptors Rapture – A Toronto Raptors Fan Site – News, Blogs, Opinion and More

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Author: Mike Luciano / Raptors HQ

Pre-2022 Blue Jays Top Prospects Countdown – No. 10: Yhoangel Aponte

The Blue Jays don’t have a lot of high ceiling outfielders. 

Chavez Young is on the cusp of breaking into the majors as his defense is the best in the organization. The Jays are apparently going to sign 16-year-old Emmanuel Bonilla, but he’s incredibly far away. After that, it’s hard to think of another highly rated outfield prospect.
That is until you look at the 2021 Dominican Summer League (DOSL)’s roster and see Yhoangel Aponte.
Background:
Like many prospects that played on the DOSL in 2021, little is known about Aponte’s life prior to being signed by the Jays. The now 18-year-old outfielder was signed out of Venezuela for $360,000 in the 2021 International Free Agency. 
Thus far, he only ranks in Baseball America’s Top 30 list, and they make a note that his talent is comparable to other top talent in this class. That begs the question, how did the then 17-year-old do in the 2021 DOSL season?
Aponte’s 2021:
In his age 17 season, the outfielder slashed .240/.393/.749 with no home runs and a wRC+ of 122 in 163 plate appearances. He also stole five of his nine stolen base attempts. He had a rather impressive walk rate of 15.3%, but that came with a high strikeout rate of 27%.
During the minor league season, I made note of standouts from each level every single day. One name that continued to pop up, especially early in the DOSL season, was Aponte. At one point in the season, he had nearly the same amount of walks (12) as strikeouts (15). After that point, he walked only 10 times compared to 29 strike outs.

He’s played 61 innings at center and 9 innings in right.
— Brennan Delaney (@Brennan_L_D) August 3, …

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Author: Brennan Delaney / Blue Jays Nation

The Lightning are the Leafs true test of merit

The Leafs are riding high. Maybe not high, but that mild tingle you sometimes get from ditch weed. Three straight wins even against the Hawks, Wings, and LTIR mangled Knights does put the Leafs back on track and at least on the positive side of the playoff picture again and a 5-4-1 record is like a report card that keeps you out of summer school, but certainly won’t be put up on the fridge to brighten your parents day.
After three games of good vibes only, Toronto will now be facing the reigning two time Stanley Cup champion Tampa Bay Lightning. The good news is that the Lightning have been off to just as bad a start as the Leafs this season, or pretty close to it with a 5-3-1 record. The bad news is whether you judge a team by how they look on paper or by how they look on ice, the Lightning are a far superior team to the Leafs, and that’s true even when Nikita Kucherov is shutdown.
Tonight is a chance for the Leafs to pick up a win that shows they can hang with the big dogs of the league, …

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Author: Jon Steitzer / The Leafs Nation

Raptors should be praised for their commitment to getting vaccinated

Raptors should be praised for their commitment to getting vaccinated

The NBA is still trying to get their vaccination rate as high as possible, as some marquee players on contending teams have been very vocal in their decision not to inoculate themselves despite every contrarian argument they can present being easily swatted down. The Toronto Raptors, luckily, do not have this problem. The Raptors were […]
Raptors should be praised for their commitment to getting vaccinated – Raptors Rapture – Raptors Rapture – A Toronto Raptors Fan Site – News, Blogs, Opinion and More

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Author: Mike Luciano / Raptors HQ

Leafs News & Notes: Matthews and Andersen nearing return, Nylander held out of practice, Dermott ready for retribution?

The Leafs are riding high after Jack Campbell and Michael Hutchinson helped lead the team to back to back shutouts over Connor McDavid and company in the last couple of games, and they’ve done so without Auston Matthews in the lineup as well. Tuesday’s practice, however, brought with it some optimism that reinforcements for an already formidable squad could be on the way sooner rather than later.
Matthews has been skating for the last few days but Tuesday’s practice was the first time that he was back skating in his regular place between Mitch Marner and Joe Thornton as part of the main practice group. He is still questionable to return for Wednesday’s matchup but returning to full practice is an encouraging step in his recovery.

Auston Matthews on how his hand/wrist is doing:
“It’s feeling a lot better. Day by day it’s progressed. The plan is to see how it feels tomorrow and go from there.”
— Kristen Shilton (@kristen_shilton) March 2, 2021

According to head coach Sheldon Keefe, Matthews has been battling with an injury to his hand/wrist area for most of the season but it was aggravated further in last Wednesday’s overtime …

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Author: Nick Richard / The Leafs Nation

High-impact players not named Francisco Lindor that the Blue Jays could acquire

We know the Blue Jays are looking to add a “super high impact player” this off-season and we know Cleveland is going to trade star shortstop Francisco Lindor. On paper, it’s a perfect match. Lindor is an impact player on both sides of the ball, the Blue Jays front office knows him very well from their time in Cleveland and Rogers has the money to give Lindor the massive contract extension he’s looking for. 

As great as it would be to get Lindor, you can’t put all your eggs in one basket. You need other options in case something falls through. So here are other high-impact players the Blue Jays could target this off-season.
Free Agents  
Trevor Bauer
The National League Cy Young award winner is coming off of a remarkable season in which he had a 1.73 ERA and 2.5 WAR in 73.0 innings. He struck out 36% of batters he faced and walked just 6.1%. He’s a high strikeout arm having posted double-digit strikeouts per nine in each of the last four seasons. He’s also been durable having made at least 25 starts and throwing 150.0 innings every season from 2014-19.
As with Lindor, there is the obvious Cleveland connection. …

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Author: Paul Berthelot / Blue Jays Nation

What to expect from Kasperi Kapanen this summer

Expectations were high for Kasperi Kapanen coming into 2019-2020, fresh off his first 20 goal season in the NHL and armed with a shiny new contract.
With Zach Hyman still on the shelf through training camp and the beginning of the season, Kapanen was given an opportunity to fill a top six role on his off wing. He struggled to produce early on with just 2 goals through his first 10 games and never looked comfortable on the left side, eventually returning to his natural wing on some variation of the Leafs third line.
Kapanen’s season reached a turning point in early February when he was made a healthy scratch for what the team said was a matter of “internal accountability.”

Reason for Kasperi Kapanen scratch: “internal accountability.”
— Justin Cuthbert (@jccuthbert) February 2, 2020

Upon his return to the lineup, Kapanen brought a newfound tenacity to his game and looked like a player who had something to prove.
Despite an up and down season, both on and off the ice, he is still a very important part of this Leafs forward group as they get set to do battle with Columbus.
By The Numbers
After scoring 20 goals in …

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Author: Nick Richard / The Leafs Nation

Toronto Raptors: Top three Kyle Lowry games of 2019-20

Kyle Lowry continues to perform at a high level as the leader and point guard of the Toronto Raptors. What are his top three performances from the season so far? With the 2019-20 NBA season shockingly suspended indefinitely due to the spread of the coronavirus disease, it has become anyone’s guess as to when the […]
Toronto Raptors: Top three Kyle Lowry games of 2019-20 – Raptors Rapture – Raptors Rapture – A Toronto Raptors Fan Site – News, Blogs, Opinion and More

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Author: Aditya Chandran / Raptors HQ

The best headshots from Blue Jays spring training photo day

For most of us, the joy of photo day ended back in high school. But for professional athletes, the never-ending gift known as player photo day lives on. Every spring training, players parade themselves into a storage room lined with a coloured background and pose awkwardly in front of the camera.
By now, some of these players know what they’ve signed up for and treat photo day like any other spring training exercise, while others put some thought and care into their photo day poses.
The Blue Jays had their official spring training photo day last week and these are some standouts from the photo session.

Funny, that’s actually a fifty-foot hall redwood that’s been whittled down into a baseball bat for Vladdy.

Hyun-Jin Ryu looks like he’s enjoying his brand new uniform, albeit the colour scheme isn’t that much different from the Dodgers’ home whites.

Bo Bichette has perfected the “blue steel” look.

Cavan Biggio already has his album cover photo ready for his sophomore album: “Plate Recognition 2: Electric Bugaloo”.

Phillippe Aumont looks like he’s seen some stuff.

Teoscar Hernandez is elated …

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Author: Ian Hunter / Blue Jays Nation

Rachel Doerrie’s 5 Things to Watch For vs Colorado

The Toronto Maple Leafs are in the Mile High City tonight for game two of the Sheldon Keefe Era. Between the return of Tyson Barrie to the Leafs first game after practising under Keefe, there is a lot to watch for in this evening’s game.
Here are five things to watch for:
1) The Return of Tyson Barrie and Alex Kerfoot
Tyson Barrie and Alex Kerfoot return to Denver for the first time since being traded to the Leafs. Barrie admitted going into Denver without a goal would’ve weighed heavily on his mind. Well, he got the monkey off his back in Arizona, and he’s got to be feeling good about his game right now.
Kerfoot returned to the Leafs lineup after dental surgery on Thursday and I would think he’s pretty fired up to play against his old team, too. I’d expect some sort of video tribute by the Avs in the first commercial break — both may be in the starting lineup — and it may get emotional for a few seconds.
With Barrie’s new lease on the rest of the season, I’d expect him to activate more in the rush and create more …

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Author: Rachel Doerrie / The Leafs Nation