Lawrie head of Class of ’06
By BOB ELLIOTT, QMI Agency
TORONTO - At what level should Brett Lawrie really be playing at rather than third base for the Blue Jays?
Really, what if he had progressed through the minors at a normal pace, where should he be?
Let’s look at Team British Columbia which lost 4-2 to Ontario in the 2006 Canada Cup at Medicine Hat, Alta. a day Lawrie went hitless — yes Blue Jays fans someone can get him — playing third base and hitting third.
Lawrie, 21, was the only player this weekend involved in the 2006 gold-medal game who was at the O.com Coliseum, which the A’s named after their offence, according to west coast wit Ray Ratto.
Where are his former teammates, now?
The cleanup hitter for Team B.C., in 2006, Surrey’s Corey Stang was hitless as the Wisconsin Timber Rattlers, a Milwaukee Brewers affiliate, fell 8-2 to the Peoria Chiefs in a class-A Midwest League game before 4,158 fans on Friday.
The B.C. starter in the final was right-hander Kyle Lotzkar of Tsawwassen. He started Saturday night for the Dayton Dragons in the Cincinnati Reds system against the Lansing Lugnuts, also of the Midwest loop.
The shortstop from 2006, Carter Bell of Courtenay, B.C., singled playing third as the Yakima Bears fell 2-0 to the Tri-City Dust Devils in a class-A Northwest League game before 2,814 fans in Pasco, Wash. Bell was drafted in June after three years with the Oregon State Beavers.
Also playing for B.C. coach John Haar, a Canadian Baseball Hall of Famer, were Vancouver right-hander Mitch Hodge, currently injured with the Midwest loop’s Kane County Cougars in the Royals system and Surrey’s Evan Hildenbrandt, who pitched for Billings in the Reds system in 2008, missed all of 2009 and worked in four games in 2010.
As a 16-year-old, Lawrie hit .333 (7-for-21) against older pitchers with three doubles and a triple.
Five teammates from that Team B.C. signed. None have progressed higher than class-A.
That’s how special, how advanced Lawrie is.
And what of the gold-medal winning Ontario team?
Leadoff man Chris Bisson of Orleans, who had two hits in 2006, singled Friday as the Fort Wayne TinCaps thumped the West Michigan Whitecaps 10-2 before 7,884 Midwest fans watching the San Diego Padres affiliate.
Cleanup hitter, Scarborough’s Leslie Williams, played centre, knocking in a pair before heading to Northeastern University. Now strictly a pitcher, Williams watched from the bullpen as the Bluefield Blue Jays scored a 5-3 win against the Pulaski Mariners in a rookie-class Appalachian League game Friday before 757 fans.
Mississauga catcher Jordan Wideman watched from the bullpen as the Bakersfield Blaze, a Reds affiliate, beat the Lake Elsinore Storm 6-4 Friday in a class-A California League game before 952 fans.
Mississauga right-hander Cory Pappel, who pitched the final 21/3 scoreless innings for the win, is about to begin his senior year at Cornell University.
Also on coach Jason Chee-Aloy’s roster were Niagara Falls right-hander Colin Buckborough who pitched in the Seattle Mariners system in 2008-09 and Mitch Delaney from La Salle, Ont., who played two seasons in the New York Yankees chain.
Five Ontario players turned pro. None have progressed higher than class-A.
That’s how special, how advanced Lawrie is.
In all 11 players were drafted and signed. Only one is wearing a Jays uniform in Oakland.
The man has scouted amateur players in the North East for years. He’s had first-rounders drafted. He does not work for the Blue Jays.
He evaluated right-hander Tyler Beede this spring, calling the unsigned pitcher “mature beyond his years, probably a solid No. 3 starter in the majors.”
But the scout has questions.
“The family sent out a letter saying for teams not to draft the player, right?”
“Then, guys wrote that Beede had a pre-draft deal done, right?”
Right, but not guilty of writing it.
“I read in the Boston Globe how the family had a draft party with 150 friends and family. Who on earth has a party when they have zero intention of signing?”
Beede turned down the Jays offer of $2.3 million US, saying it was $1 million short and that he was heading to Vanderbilt University.
HERE AND THERE
Long-time Jays minor-league employee Rocket Wheeler phoned, saddened with news The Honourable Mr. Justice Randall Echlin, Superior Court of Justice (Ontario) had passed. Wheeler, now managing double-A Mississippi in the Atlanta Braves system, knew the judge from the Jays fantasy camps in the 1990s. “Man, that’s awful news, he was always smiling, always happy,” Wheeler said. “One year, he had a hamstring injury. It didn’t bother The Judge one bit, he just kept going.” ... Look for the Jays to return to their old-fashioned style white uniforms ... Saw an interesting piece on how the Jays and Mariners should have played their recent three-game series at Vancouver’s B.C. Place. One problem is that the stadium has not completed post-Olympic Games renovations ... Rich Harden of Victoria, B.C., now has 11 games of 10 strikeouts or more, fourth on the career Canadian list behind Fergie Jenkins (48), along with Erik Bedard and Ryan Dempster, who have 13 apiece ... Phillies’ Roy Halladay struck out 14 in a complete game loss on Tuesday to the Pirates. It was the first time a pitcher had whiffed that many in a complete-game loss since Boston’s Pedro Martinez in 2000. Martinez struck out 17, but lost to the redoubtable Steve Trachsel of the Tampa bay Rays.
The New York Mats had Carlos Beltran on the market in July.
All they wanted from their rivals, the Atlanta Braves, was one of their prized pitching prospects: Randall Delgado, Arodys Vizcaino, Mike Minor or Julio Teheran.
The Braves went the patient route. And a few hours after the San Francisco Giants, who acquired Beltran, placed the outfielder on the disabled list (strained right hand) Delgado took a no-hit bid into the seventh against the World Series champs before giving up a solo home run to Cody Ross.
Delgado allowed only one run and one hit in six-plus innings of the 2-1 extra-inning win. Vizcaino pitched two scoreless for his first big-league win.
Lefties Jonny Venters and Eric O’Flaherty, plus closer Craig Kimbrel may give the Bravos their deepest bullpen ever.
ENGLE'S TIME MAY BE NOW
Pat Gillick is out of the running to take the Chicago Cubs’ GM job.
Could another ex-Blue Jays employee be in the mix? Bob Engle, Latin America scouting director for the Seattle Mariners and in the running when the M’s hired Jack Zduriencik, is a name sure to surface.
As scouting director with the Jays Engle, scouts Don Welke, Ted Lekus and Bus Campbell signed future Cy Young winners Pat Hentgen, Chris Carpenter and Roy Halladay. Engle always maintained his best two scouts were Wilbur (Moose) Johnson and Tim Wilken.
When Engle joined Gillick with the 2000 Mariners, he took his network of Latin American scouts with him.
Engle’s staff has signed Felix Hernandez another Cy Young winner.
Dominican Michael Pineda is in the M’s rotation with a 9-7 record and a 3.77 mark while Nicaraguan Erasmo Ramirez is on the horizon. Promoted to triple-A Tacoma three starts ago, Ramirez is 10-6 with a 4.51 ERA walking 12 and striking out 96 in 129 innings at double-A Jackson and Tacoma.
BEST DAY IN BASEBALL
Oakland A's DH/Outfielder
“My best day was on Nov. 4, 2009, the moment I was part of the New York Yankees winning the World Series,” Matsui said. “It was a great feeling, winning was one of the main reasons I came to the United States.”
Matsui did his part in Game 6, hitting a two-run homer in the second off Philadelphia Phillies starter Pedro Martinez. Later he doubled off J.A. Happ as the Yanks clinched with a 7-2 victory.
“Inside the clubhouse, when we got off the field, the parade and sharing happiness with my teammates is something I’ll never forget,” Matsui said.
Matsui spent 2010 with the Los Angeles Angels, signed as a free agent with the A’s this season and will likely be a free agent again this fall.