By Bob Elliott A year this month the vultures were circling.
And the tune they were humming was not a good one. In fact, it was off key.
Brett Lawrie ... Was not on the British Columbia entry at the Canada Cup in Quebec City because he was busy attending national showcases Had not shown well at said showcases. Would be lucky to go in the top five rounds. Could not make the adjustment from third base to behind the plate.
Well, well, well. Lawrie (Langley, BC) was white-hot in April and then with the Canadian National Junior Team humped it up another notch creating a legend in the Domincan Republic hitting five home runs in a doubleheader. "I have him down as the next Babe Ruth, but I might be a tad light," joked one scout there that day. He was first round material in June, chosen 16th over-all by Canada's team, the Milwaukee Brewers, was dominant at the World Junior championships in Edmonton where he won the triple crown ... and now is in Bejing with Team Canada.
And now the teen-ager is a very rich man. The Brewers gave Lawrie a $1.7 million signing bonus, the fourth highest a Canadian has ever received. He is the 19th of the 30 first rounders to have signed. Players have to sign by the Aug. 15 midnight deadline or return to school and enter next year's draft. The only Canucks to receive higher bonuses were: lefty Adam Loewen (Surrey, BC), who went 4th over-all in 2002, receiving $3.2 million from the Baltimore Orioles; right-hander Phillippe Aumont (Hull, Que.), 11th over-all in 2007, getting $1.9 million by the Seattle Mariners and lefty Jeff Francis (North Delta, BC), handed a $1.85 million bonus from the Colorado Rockies. (Speaking of Francis he will re-join the Rockies rotation in his first start since June 28, Thursday in Game 1 of the doubleheader after troubles with his left shoulder.)
Lawrie is a late sign and will make his pro debut in affiliated ball in 2009, but he's a long way away from being similar to the hold outs we see each summer as he played in the World Juniors and now the Olympics. He's in Bejing in a back-up role ... but then he was not supposed to be drafted this high a year ago this month.
Briefly: Luke Wilson (LaSalle, Ont.) turned down a six-figure signing bonus to attend Rice University on a football scholarship. Wilson, who played first base for Team Canada at the World Juniors, is a tight end.