Canada’s baseball hotbed is still Langley, B.C.
At the corner of 214 A Street and 58th Ave., sits McLeod Athletic Park, home of the Langley Blaze.
Brett Lawrie and Scott Mathieson learned the game at McLeod under Scott’s father, Doug Mathieson, coach of the B.C. Premier League team.
Second baseman Lawrie, 20, of the Milwaukee Brewers was selected Canadian minor-league offensive player of the year by our voters, while reliever Mathieson, 26, of the Philadelphia Phillies is the Canadian minor-league pitcher of the year.
They’re the best of the 104 Canadians who appeared in the minors this season in our second annual awards.
In last year’s inaugural awards, outfielder Tyson Gillies, now in the Phillies organization and also from Langley, was selected the top offensive player while Brewers co-closer John Axford and Calgary’s James Henderson, shared top-pitcher honours.
Lawrie was a No. 1 pick in 2008, receiving a $1.7-million US bonus after being scouted by Brewers scout Marty Lehn. Playing at double-A Huntsville, he led all Canadians in runs scored (90) and hits (158) while batting .285 with eight homers and 63 RBIs in his second full season as a pro. He edged Cambridge’s Scott Thorman, who shared the home run lead among Canadians with Shawn Bowman of Coquitlam, B.C. Thorman was at triple-A Omaha (Royals) and Bowman was at double-A New Hampshire (Jays).
The right-hander, a 17th-round draft pick in 2002, was 3-6 with a 2.80 ERA and 26 saves at triple-A Lehigh Valley. He walked 24 and struck out 83 in 641/3 innings in 54 appearances.
Mathieson made eight starts for the 2006 Phillies and has made two relief appearances this season. He’s currently on the disabled list with a strained back muscle.
He travelled to Philadelphia last weekend to be presented with the Paul Owens Award, as the organization’s top minor-league pitcher and hopes to make the Phillies bullpen next season.
This season, the Phillies hired Hall of Fame closer Bruce Sutter to work with Mathieson on a splitter.
Finishing behind Mathieson in voting were Guelph’s Scott Diamond, triple-A, Gwinnett (Braves), Georgetown’s Shawn Hill, who progressed through the Jays system all the way to the Rogers Centre, and Kitchener’s Ryan Braun at triple-A Charlotte (White Sox).
The top offensive player of the 53 Canucks playing independent ball and 11 Canadians in foreign lands was Medicine Hat’s Drew Miller of the Calgary Vipers and the Golden League. Miller beat out Ivan Naccarata of Longeuil, Que., and Ottawa’s Sebastien Boucher, both from the Can-Am League champion Quebec Capitales. Naccarata was a college teammate of Jose Bautista at Chipola College.
The top indy league pitcher was closer Andrew Albers of North Battleford, Sask., and the Quebec Capitales. He finished ahead of teammate Michel Simard from Charlesbourg, Que., and closer Aaron Cotter of Kitimat, B.C., and Sioux Falls of the American Association.
GETTING AN INVITATION
Sarnia’s Justin Randall has been invited to the free-agent camp that Rays scout Rob Ducey runs for independent league players. The Sarnia infielder hit .373 with 16 RBIs for Southern Illinois in the Frontier League.