*Brett Lawrie (Langley, BC) stings another line drive, described as the most intense player Mike Guerrero ever managed in 17 seasons with the Milaukee Brewers. Letters of Intent
By Bob Elliott
Blue Jays manager John Farrell has seen Brett Lawrie play 43 regular-season games.
Mike Guerrero managed Lawrie for 135 games at double-A Huntsville in 2010.
Guerrero, son of former Blue Jays scout Epy Guerrero, who brought Tony Fernández, Carlos Delgado, Kelvim Escobar, Junior Félix, Nelson Liriano and others to Toronto, had three other Canadians on his Huntsville roster: Infielder Taylor Green (Comox, BC), RP James Henderson (Calgary, Alta.) and RHP Alexandre Periard (St. Eustache, Que.).
“He’s the most intense Canadian I’ve had, maybe one of the most intense players I’ve ever had,” said Guerrero, from Pearl, Miss., of Lawrie.
Guerrero in his 17th season in the Milwaukee Brewers organization, this is his eighth year managing.
“Prince Fielder played for me, Rickie Weeks, Jonathan Lucroy and a few more on their way to the majors. Some show more emotion. Everyone is intense, every one shows emotions differently.”
Also learning from Guerrero were Yovani Gallardo, Matt LaPorta, Michael Brantley and John Axford (Port Dover, Ont.), now with the Brewers.
A year ago, Lawrie (Langley, BC) batted leadoff, in the No. 2 spot or third in the batting order.
“People in Huntsville would rather see him hit a ball in the gap than a homer, Brett could go first to third quicker than anyone in this league, “ Guerrero said.
Lawrie hit 18 triples and eight homers, batting .275 at Huntsville and higher in the majors?
Can the game suddenly be as easy as the 21-year-old is making it look?
Well, Jays broadcaster Buck Martinez used to room with a rookie third baseman with the Kansas CIty Royals. Martinez says Lawrie is more athletic than his old roomie, who grew up to be George Brett, a Hall of Famer.
“We tried to help Brett last year. Every kid has a different demeanor,” Guerrero said. “One thing I have to tip my hat to him is that I never had to tell him to play hard. He plays every game hard, goes all out.”
It didn’t matter if the score was 1-0 or 10-1.
“He can do so many things, the most impressive thing is his athletic ability. It comes so easy for him,” Guerrero said. “Whether it’s going side-to-side on a grounder, jumping on a line drive, running the bases, he got to the plays or could catch up to a pitch. His athletic ability is off the charts.
“We saw flashes of the tools he has, saw what he brought to the table.”
Guerrero said he saw highlights on ESPN when Lawrie hit his grand slam against Oakland, then celebrated by fist pumping, slamming fists from one end of the dugout to the other and finally taking a curtain call.
“He could get pretty excited with us,” Guerrero said. “I’m sure having success at the big league level is worth getting excited about. You have to be a special kid to go in the first round. Defensively he has what it takes.”
Lawrie was selected 16th overall in North America in the 2008 draft by the Brewers, played for Canada in the Bejing Olympics and for the Canadian team in Edmonton at the world juniors.
This is his third full year of pro ball. He spent 2009 at class-A Wisconsin, last year at Huntsville, this year at triple-A Vegas and the Jays on his ear-popping ride.
The Jays moved last year’s opening day starter, Shaun Marcum, for Lawrie at the winter meetings in Lake Buena Vista, Fla.
Marcum is 13-7, with a 3.31 ERA for the NL Cental champion Brewers.
“The Brewers got what they wanted in Marcum,” Guerrero said. “The Jays got what they wanted. They had to wait for a little more seasoning, but both teams filled their needs.
“There’s no doubting the talent Brett Lawrie has. He can do on the field whatever he’s determines to do. He’s going to be successful for a long time.”