Canadian GM brings Lawrie to Milwaukee

BOB ELLIOTT -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 8:40 AM ET

Canadians flock to the Dominican Republic for warm weather, sandy beaches and the bluest of blue waters.

Brett Lawrie went to the Dominican last month to improve his standing for the annual June draft of high schoolers and collegians.

Mission accomplished.

The Milwaukee Brewers made Lawrie their first-round pick -- 16th overall. The Langley, B.C., native is the highest Canadian position player ever selected.

Lawrie hit .486 (17-for-35) with eight homers and 24 RBIs with the Canadian national junior team.

Brewers' Canadian scouts Marty Lehn and Jay Lapp convinced management that Lawrie was a first-rounder. And general manager Doug Melvin, of Chatham and Toronto's Gord Ash, the assistant GM, did not need a lot of convincing.

They were so sure they didn't bring Lawrie in to their private workout. Lawrie went to workouts for the New York Mets, Cincinnati Reds and Minnesota Twins, among others.

Lawrie was invited to attend the draft yesterday at Lake Buena Vista, Fla. at Disney's Wide World of Sports. He decided to stay at Langley, B.C. to celebrate with family and friends.

Among Canadians, only pitchers Adam Loewen, Jeff Francis and Phillippe Aumont have been selected higher than Lawrie.

"That hasn't sunk in yet," Lawrie said. "It's a great accomplishment. I enjoyed playing for Canada and hope to make it with the Brewers someday."

Lehn laughed when asked what was the most amazing thing he's seen Lawrie done.

"I saw first him as at age 13 and scouted him at age 16, but I don't think anything will top his five-homer day in the Dominican," said Lehn, a coach on Greg Hamilton's Team Canada staff. "That might not happen in Little League -- with the wind blowing out."

Brewers scout Tom McNamara arrived in the Dominican at 2 a.m., slept fast, headed to the park for batting practice and saw Lawrie's five-homer day in a doubleheader against the Seattle Mariners' rookie-class Dominican summer league team.

McNamara phoned the home office and was told to stay another day. He told Lehn: "What more can I see? I just saw him hit five homers."

The next day Lawrie hit a mammoth homer against the Angels.

The final words McNamara said to Lehn were: "I think we have found our pick at No. 16."

Still, Lehn worried.

"I knew there was heavy interest from both Cincinnati and Minnesota, I was worried either club might take him."

The world unfolded as the Brewers hoped, and they have Lawrie.

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JAYS PICKS

1st round -- 1B David Cooper, California

2nd -- OF Kenny Wilson, Tampa Fla. HS

3rd -- RHP Andrew Liebel, Long Beach State

4th -- 3B-OF Mark Sobolewski, Miami

5th -- SS Tyler Pastornicky, Bradenton, Fla. HS

6th -- CF Markus Brisker, Winter Haven, Fla. HS


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