Field of dreams

BOB ELLIOTT -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 9:56 AM ET

After private workouts in front of the Minnesota Twins, the Chicago Cubs and the Cincinnati Reds, Brett Lawrie will be a first rounder tomorrow, Day 1 of the Major League Baseball draft.

The Langley, B.C., infielder will be the highest Canadian position player ever selected. He could go to the Houston Astros, the Milwaukee Brewers, the Twins or the Reds.

The first five rounds take place in Orlando, and will be broadcast live on ESPN. The final 45 rounds take place Friday via conference call.

And that's when the top local high school player -- Toronto outfielder Marcus Knecht, who plays for coach Danny Bleiwas' Ontario Blue Jays -- will be chosen.

Knecht, Lawrie's teammate with the Canadian National Junior Team and a member of the Oshawa Dodgers, is expected to go in the seventh- to the 10th-round range. He has signed a letter of intent to attend Oklahoma State University.

After writing an exam at St. Mike's yesterday, Knecht boarded a bus bound for Sarnia and the high school playoffs.

"My dad (Mike) coached me when I started with the North York Blues. He was the most influential person I had in baseball," Knecht from the bus said. "But in the last year, Greg Hamilton (Team Canada) and Danny (Bleiwas) have helped me far more than I can ever explain."

Knecht will write his calculus and advanced functions exams from his hotel room with teacher Jeff Zownir supervising.

The outfielder attended private workouts held by the Toronto Blue Jays and the Brewers and said he "hit the ball hard."

Jordan Meaker, who pitched for the Ontario champion Burlington Bulls peewees before moving to Flower Mound, Tex., will be the top Canadian collegian (canadianbaseballnetwork.com).

Selected in the ninth round three years ago by Houston, Meaker started the NCAA opener for the Dallas Baptist Patriots against the Houston Cougars last Friday.

He pitched six innings, allowing two earned runs and received a no decision in a 9-5 loss to Houston. On the season, Meaker was 7-1 with a 4.19 earned run average.

Other Ontario collegians expected to be chosen are St. Thomas outfielder Brad McElroy, Charlotte and Bolton's Marcel Champaigne, Arizona State.

The other Ontario high schoolers include: Grafton, Ont., righty Nick Purdy of the Ontario Prospects; Sarnia righty Nick Bucci of Team Ontario; Ancaster righty Brad Furdal of the Inter County Terriers and Richmond Hill lefty Nick Fogarty of the Ontario Blue Jays.

STRONG PITCHING

Canadian drafts are usually dominated by pitching, as in 2007 when 11 pitchers were clocked throwing over 90 m.p.h. Twenty nine of 33 draft picks were signed, with nine players receiving six-figure bonuses, led by Gatineau's Phillippe Aumont, who received $1.9 million US from the Seattle Mariners.

This is the year of the position player.


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