By George Farelli
Canadian Baseball Network
Tyler O’Neill homered Friday night.
Jamie Romak did not.
And so it goes as a home run race among two Canadian sluggers unfolds in the minors.
O’Neill (Maple Ridge, BC), the Langley Blaze grad, hit his 22nd homer as the class-A Bakersfield Blaze lost 11-4 to the Inland Empire ‘66ers at San Manuel Stadium in San Bernardino, Calif.
Romak (London, Ont.) a London Badgers alum, singled in a run as the triple-A Reno Aces edged the Fresno Grizzlies 5-4 before 8,015 fans at Aces Ballpark.
O’Neill and Romak continue to battle for the home run title, much like Mike Trout and Pujols of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. The minor leaguer regular season ends Sept. 7, while the big boys have two months left.
O’Neill also singled and is hitting .260 with 59 RBIs and an .840 OPS in 74 games. O’Neill missed two weeks as he helped Canada win Pan Am Gold in Ajax.
Romak is hitting .295 with 20 homers, 83 RBIs and .942 OPS in 100 games. Hopefully, there is a September call up for Romak with the Arizona Diamondbacks.
Since I began providing the annual Top 10 lists in 2003, we’ve had a Canadian player hit 20 or more home runs in the minor leagues every year up to and including last season.
O’Neill’s 22nd equalled the minor-league high of future major-league sluggers and MVPs Justin Morneau (New Westminster, BC) and Joey Votto (Etobicoke, Ont.) plus Scott Thorman (Cambridge, Ont.) ... who all had 22 homers.
While impressive both O’Neill and Romak’s final homer numbers will pale in comparison to the all-time Canadian leaders.
At the bottom is another chart which outlines these numbers (which are preliminary and unofficial). I reserve the right to adjust them if need be.
YR PLAYER HR PLAYER RBIs
2003 Justin Morneau (New Westminster, BC) 22 Simon Pond (North Vancouver, BC) 85
2004 Morneau 22 John Suomi (Etobicoke, Ont.) 99
2005 Aaron Guiel (Vancouver, BC) 30 Guiel 95
2006 Votto (Etobicoke, Ont.) 22 Pond 78
2007 Pete LaForest (Gatineau, Que.) 29 Votto 92
2008 Jamie Romak (London, Ont.) 25 Romak 80
2009 Brock Kjeldgaard (London, Ont.) 24 Kjeldgaard 82
2010 Scott Thorman (Cambridge, Ont.) 22 Chris Dennis (Windsor, Ont.) 87
2011 Kjeldgaard 24 Taylor Green (Comox, BC) 91
2012 Oscar Taveras (Puerto Plata, D.R.) 23 Taveras 94
2013 Kjeldgaard 24 Romak 74
2014 Romak 24 Romak 85
INDY LEAGUE PLAYERS
YR PLAYER HR PLAYER RBIs
2003 Ryan Radmanovich (Calgary, Alta.) 21 Radmanovich 65
2004 Pat Scalabrini (Coaticook, Que.) 20 Scalabrini 66
2005 Radmanovich 28 Radmanovich 89
2006 Radmanovich 27 Radmanovich 66
2007 Eddie Lantigua (Quebec City, Que.) 21 Lantigua 82
2008 Drew Miller (Medicine Hat, Alta.) 19 Miller 70
2009 LaForest 24 LaForest 82
2010 Miller 21 Miller 94
2011 Bobby Wagner (Port Coquitlam, BC) 13 Miller 61
2012 Sebastien Boucher (Ottawa, Ont.) 14 Jose Peley (Montreal, Que.) 79
2013 Jonathan Malo (Laval, Que.) 11 Peley 59
2014 Kjeldgaard 16 Rene Tosoni (Coquitlam, BC) 65
ALL TIME SINGLE SEASON LEADERS
37 Morry Abbott (Duncan, BC) 1939 Class B Tacoma Tigers
32 Vince Barton (Edmonton, Alta.) 1930 Class AA Baltimore Orioles
31 Charlie Mead (Vermillion, Alta.) 1953 Class A Calgary Stampeders
187 Jeff Heath (Fort William, Ont.) 1936 Class C Zanesville Grays
133 Charlie Mead (Vermillion, Alta.) 1947 Class B Vancouver Capilanos
127 Paul Martin (Montreal, Que.) 1946 Class C Henderson Oilers