Lawrie, Green share Echlin award, Hardy top minor league pitcher
*3B Brett Lawrie (Langley, BC) is an excitable guy, but probably not this excited when he heard that Taylor Green (Comox, BC) and he shared the CBN’s first Randy Echlin award as the CBN’s top minor league hitter ….
By George Farelli
It’s less than a six-hour trip to Langley, B.C. from Comox, B.C. by road and boat.
Yet Langley’s Brett Lawrie and Comox’s Taylor Green wound up in the same place.
They began the season in the minors, finished in the majors — Lawrie playing third with the Toronto Blue Jays, Green coming off the bench with the Milwaukee Brewers — and now the two have been linked together again.
They will share the first Randy Echlin memorial award named after the former Ontario Supreme Court Justice who passed in August after years of running the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame selection committee. Echlin had a baseball-shaped heart and could be always found in Dunedin, the Rogers Centre, his son’s game at Leaside or induction day at St. Marys.
Pitcher of the year honours went to Mark Hardy (Campbell River, BC), who in his second year as a pro soon became the workhorse for the single-A Ft. Wayne TinCaps, making 27 Starts. He Won 11 games (most by any Canadian at the affiliated minor league level), dropped 10 and in 129 1/3 Innings pitched, surrendered only 40 earned runs, ending the season with a neat 2.78 ERA.
Both Green and Hardy are products of the Parksville Royals’ system and Dave Wallace’s coaching in particular. The BC Premier League has coaching legends like Bill Green, John Haar and Doug Mathieson who have touched the lives of 1,000s of youngsters, but the hours Wallace puts in at the diamond can’t be overlooked.
A total of 121 Canadians played on minor league teams in 2011, while another 48 played for independent league teams.
Both hitters played the same position and followed similar paths this summer, each enjoying a breakout season. They were good enough in both cases, to merit promotions to the majors.
Lawrie made his debut the Blue Jays on Aug. 5, while Green made his Major League debut wth the Brewers on August 31. Ironically, both achieved their first Major League Hit in their respective Debut Game.
Green put up some excellent numbers with the Nashville Sounds, in 94 games and 420 at-bats he had 141 hits, scored 74 runs, while hitting 36 doubles, 22 homers, 88 RBIs and a .336 average. Green earned Pacific Coast League all star honours and played in the Triple-A all-star game in Salt Lake City, Utah.
With the Brewers, he appeared in 20 games and produced a very respectable .270 average. His success this year may have been slightly
overshadowed by fellow countryman Lawrie, but there is no doubt Green has proved conclusively that he is a potential Major League player.
Lawrie not only made the transition to a new organization, but soon after he also began the process of moving from second to third and this
move to a new position in the Blue Jays organization, was accomplished without affecting his offensive output.
Following up on a great year in 2010 with the Double-A Huntsville Stars, in 69 games with Triple A Las Vegas he had 292 at bats, scored 64 runs, hit 24 doubles, 18 home runs, with 61 RBIs and .353 average.
He continued his excellent productivity playing 43 games with the Blue Jays, and in 150 at-bats he had 44 hits, including nine home runs and 25 RBIs, with a .293 average. Pretty remarkable, for a 21-year-old rookie. For Blue Jays fans, Lawrie is here to stay!
His toughest rival and finishing a close second was Andrew Albers (North Battleford, Sask.) who was a very shrewd free agent signing by Minnesota Twins scout Tim O’Neill prior to the 2011 season.
In stints with two teams in the Twins organization this season — single-A Ft. Myers Miracle and the double-A New Britain Rock Cats, Albers put up some great numbers as a reliever. Overall, he appeared in 35 Games, went 8-2, saved four and in 95 2/3 Innings gave up only 23 earned runs, for an excellent 2.17 ERA.
Both Hardy and Albers were key members of the Team Canada Pitching Staff at the 2011 Pan American games in Mexico and were able to make significant contributions to a Gold Medal winning performance.
This capped off what was obviously a terrific season for both of these young pitchers.
And on the independent front, Matt Rogelstad (Port Moody, BC) of the Edmonton Capitals in the North American League is our top hitter and John Mariotti (Toronto) of the Quebec Capitales in the Can Am League was named the best pitcher.
Rogelstad enjoyed his most productive season as an indy league player. In 82 games and 316 at bats he had 105 Hits, scored 75 runs, had 23 doubles, two home runs, 46 RBIs with a .332 Batting Average.
Finishing close behind was Drew Miller of the Calgary Vipers as he had another excellent season, and continues to have what has been an outstanding indy career. With him, these kind of numbers seem to be the norm, as he appeared in 84 games with 276 at-bats, 93 hits, scored 67 runs, had 20 Doubles, 12 homers, 61 RBIs and a .337 average.
Mariotti had an outstanding season with Quebec. He made 18 Starts, going 11-1 pitching 108 1/3 Innings and allowing up only 33 earned runs, for a 2.74 ERA. He was a key contributor in the Capitales winning a third consecutive league championship.
OFFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE YEAR
2008 – Tin Smith (Toronto, Ont.) Rangers.
2009 — Tyson Gillies (Langley, BC), Mariners.
2010 — Brett Lawrie (Langley, BC) Brewers
2011 – Taylor Green (Comox, BC) Brewers and Brett Lawrie (Langley, BC) Jays.
PITCHER OF THE YEAR
2008 — Scott Diamond (Guelph, Ont.) Braves.
2009 — James Henderson (Calgary, Alta.) Brewers and John Axford (Port Dover, Ont.) Brewers.
2010 — Scott Mathieson (Langley, BC) Phillies.
2011 – Mark Hardy (Campbell River, BC) Padres.
INDEPENDENT / FOREIGN LEAGUE PLAYERS
OFFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE YEAR
2008 — Drew Miller (Medicine Hat, Alta.) Calgary Vipers
2009 — Pete LaForest (Hull, Que.) Quebec Capitales and Colin Moro (Calgary, Alta.) Calgary Vipers.
2010 — Drew Miller (Medicine Hat, Alta.) Calgary Vipers.
2011 – Matt Rogelstad (Port Moody, BC) Edmonton Capitals.
PITCHER OF THE YEAR
2008 — Michel Simard (Charlesbourg, Que.) Quebec Capitals.
2009 — Aaron Wideman (Mississauga, Ont.) New Jersey Jackals.
2010 – Aaron Cotter (Kitimat, BC) Sioux Falls Pheasants.
2011 – John Mariotti (Toronto) Quebec Capitales
2011 Canadians in the Minors, plus top 10 lists