By Bob Elliott
A record three Blue Jays are headed to the annual New York Writers diner Jan. 23.
Naturally, Josh Donaldson will be there as the New York chapter of the Baseball Writers Association of America presents him with his American League MVP award at the New York Hilton.
Right-hander Marcus Stroman will be presented the Arthur and Milton Richman ‘Ya Gotta Have Heart’ award. Stroman tore an ACL during spring training during pitcher’s fielding practice in Dunedin, returning to action in the second game of a Sept. 12 doubleheader at Yankee Stadium,
And reliever Latroy Hawkins will be presented the William J. Slocum-Jack Lang award for long and meritorious service. Hawkins pitched 21 years for 11 different teams and threw his final pitch with the Jays.
Manager John Gibbons gave the popular Hawkins the ball to get the final three outs in a 15-2 American League East clincher at Baltimore’s Camden Yards.
Most Januarys Donaldson would have been in the running for additional hardware: the Sid Mercer-Dick Young Player of the Year award.
However, to avoid duplication, the award was changed to the Sid Mercer-Dick Young New York Player of the Year award last year.
TOP RANKED CANUCK: Cal Quantrill of the Stanford Cardinal had Tommy John surgery on his right elbow March 20. The Blue Jays drafted Jeff Hoffman from East Carolina coming off the same surgery as did the Florida Marlins with Chris Leroux in 2005.
ESPN’s Keith Law has Quantrill ranked 13th on his top 30 list of prospects in North America heading into next June’s draft. The Port Hope native is expected to have eight starts.
Toronto shortstop Daniel Pinero of the Virginia Cavileers, right-hander Curtis Taylor of Port Coquitlam, B.C. and the University of British Columbia along with Toronto catcher Andrew Yerzy of the Toronto Mets are expected to be among the top Canucks drafted.
HONORS: Legendary Le Journal de Montreal scribe (and mentor) Serge Touchette has won the Jack Graney award presented by the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame in St. Marys ... Charlie Wilson is the second winner of the Howard Starkman award presented to the Blue Jays employee of the year. Wilson has been director of minor league operations since 2009, joining the organization as an intern in 1993. Starkman retired in April of 2014 and has missed about five home games since. The award goes to the employee “who best exemplifies the values of integrity, innovation, accountability, team work and a passion for winning.”
SCOUT AND ABOUT: Blue Jays pro scout Steve Connelly left early in November taking a crosschecker job with the Arizona Diamondbacks .... Former Jays scout Rob St. Julien left the San Diego Padres after one year to become a crosschecker job with Los Angeles Dodgers under scouting director Billy Gasparino, another former Toronto scout ... Veteran Ben McLure, who scouted for the Jays in the 1990s received career recognition award at Mid Atlantic Scouts banquet on Nov 14. He was pro scout with Brewers in 2015.
TOP CANUCKS: Outfielder Tyler O’Neill of Maple Ridge, B.C. hit 32 home runs with the class-A Bakersfield Blaze to win the Randy Echlin Memorial award as the top Canadian hitter in the minors.
Lefty Adam Loewen of Surrey, B.C. of the Philadelphia Phillies and Shane Dawson, of Drayton Valley, Alta. and a Toronto Blue Jays farmhand finished in a tie in Canadian Baseball Network voting for best pitcher. A total of 93 Canadians appeared in the minors.
O’Neill, a Seattle Mariners farmhand signed by scout Wayne Norton, was second in the minors in homers despite missing two weeks to help Canada win Pan Am gold in Ajax.
Loewen finished second in ERA and third in saves among Canadians. After 40 games in the minors with double-A Reading and triple-A Lehigh Valley he was promoted to the Phillies appearing in 20 games.
Dawson won 12 games at class-A Lansing and three more at class-A Dunedin to lead in Canucks in wins. He led in strikeouts (120) and was third in innings pitched (127 2/3).
Previous winners to make the majors include a pair of two-time winners Brett Lawrie of Langley, B.C. and Calgary’s James Henderson. Other winners to make the majors include Oscar Taveras, Dalton Pompey, Scott Diamond, John Axford, Scott Mathieson and Andrew Albers.
The best of 57 playing either foreign ball or independent league ball were Jim Adducci of Burnaby, B.C. of the Lotte Giants in Korea at the plate and right-hander Karl Gelinas of Iberville, Que. from the Quebec Capitales in the Can Am League. Gelinas won for a third straight year.
FAREWELLS: Baseball Canada president Ray Carter announced his retirement -- well actually guest speaker Hall of Famer Robbie Alomar did -- earlier this month at a Saskatoon banquet. Carter of Delta, B.C., has presided since 2000. Mississauga executive and coach David Huctwith ran against Carter in the previous term ... Patti DeAngelis of Aramark Corporation -- food suppliers to those nightly inhabitants of the Rogers Centre has left the building. DeAngelis worked with the Jays for 32 years.