Elliott: Balazovic pitches scoreless inning in Futures Game

Ontario Blue Jays grad RHP Jordan Balazovic (Mississauga, Ont.) put up a zero in the Futures Game.

Ontario Blue Jays grad RHP Jordan Balazovic (Mississauga, Ont.) put up a zero in the Futures Game.

By Bob Elliott

Canadian Baseball Network

The first Futures Game in 1999 was played at Fenway Park.

RHP Chris Mears, who was born in Ottawa, lived in Leaside before moving to Victoria, BC, wound up as being The World’s arms that day. The World scored a 7-0 shut out of Team USA, as Alfonso Soriano hit a pair of home runs.

Tomo Ohka, Sun-Woo Kim, Tony Armas Jr., Mears, Wascar Serrano, Luke Prokopec, J.C. Romero and Francisco Cordero combined on the shut out. Mears was part of the Seattle Mariners organization at the time.

Pierre-Luc LaForest (Gatineau, Que.) of the Tampa Bay Rays was part of the winning dressing room as well.

And on Sunday night at Progressive Field in Cleveland, Ontario Blue Jays grad RHP Jordan Balazovic (Mississauga, Ont.) worked a scoreless inning.

Working the seventh inning, he popped up Daulton Varsho, a second round pick of the Arizona Diamondbacks, playing at double-A Jackson, on a 2-0 pitch to third baseman Isaac Paredes in foul ground.

Then Gavin Lux, a Los Angeles Dodgers first rounder in 2016 and now at triple-A Oklahoma City, hit a 1-2 roller to 1B Samuel Huff.

Twins prospects INF Royce Lewis and RHP Jordan Balazovic.

Twins prospects INF Royce Lewis and RHP Jordan Balazovic.

Next, Cristian Pache, an Atlanta Braves free agent now at double-A Mississippi, reached on an error by shortstop Royce Lewis -- also a Twins prospect.

After the play you could hear on TV a miked-up Lewis apologize to Balazovic saying “Sorry ... I can’t even make a play for my own pitcher.”

C Jorge Mateo then threw out Pache attempting to steal ending the inning. Balazovic had a 12-pitch outing throwing eight strikes.

Balazovic was drafted in the fifth round by Twins scout Walt Burrows (Brentwood Bay, BC) in 2016. He made four starts for the class-A Cedar Rapids Kernels and then was promoted to class-A Fort Myers Miracle this season.

Combined this year the right-hander is 6-3 with a 2.74 ERA. In his 13 starts he has walked 19 and struck out 91 in 65 2/3 innings.

The American League scored twice in the bottom of the seventh as the AL tied the Nationals 2-2 in extras in the annual SiriusXM All-Star Futures Game.

Blue Jays prospect Nate Pearson pitched the fifth and hit triple figures striking out Gavin Lux, retiring Cristian Pasche on a ground ball and fanning Joey Bart.

Since 1999, 38 Canadians have been named to the Futures with Justin Morneau (New Wesminster, BC), Brett Lawrie (Langley, BC), Erik Bedard (Navan, Ont.), Aaron Myette (New Wesminster, BC) and 1B Joey Votto (Etobicoke, Ont.) each being named twice.

Votto homered off Boston Red Sox Clay Buchholz to left centre in the 2007 Futures Game at AT&T Park in San Francisco. The Seattle Mariners have had the most players named (six): RHP Phillippe Aumont (Hull, Que.), OF Tyson Gillies (Langley, BC), OF Tyler O’Neill (Maple Ridge, BC), LHP James Paxton (Ladner, BC), OF Michael Saunders (Victoria, BC) and Mears.

Yep, that Wayne Norton (Port Moody, BC) fellow could scout some.

Mears pitched in 29 games for the Detroit Tigers and Boston GM Dave Dombrowski promoted him from area scout to a newly created role of pitching cross-checker. LaForest played in 68 games for the San Diego Padres, Philadelphia Phillies and Tampa Bay.

The Baltimore Orioles, Cincinnati Reds and Minnesota Twins each had four Canucks named.


Futures Game Participants (1999-2019)

Name Year Team

RHP Phillippe Aumont 2008 Mariners

RHP Jordan Balazovic 2019 Twins

LHP Erik Bedard 2001, 2002 Orioles

LHP Jeff Francis 2004 Rockies

OF Tyson Gillies 2009 Mariners

3B Vladimir Guerrero 2017, Blue Jays

RHP Rich Harden 2003 A’s

RHP Shawn Hill 2003 Expos

C George Kottaras 2006 Padres

C Pierre-Luc LaForest 1999, 2003 Devil Rays

INF Brett Lawrie 2009, 2010 Brewers

1B Jordan Lennerton 2013 Tigers

RHP Kyle Lotzkar 2012 Reds

LHP Adam Loewen 2005 Orioles

RHP Trystan Magnuson 2010 Blue Jays

RHP Scott Mathieson 2005 Phillies

C Russell Martin 2005 Dodgers

RHP Chris Mears 1999 Mariners

1B Justin Morneau 2002, 2004 Twins

RHP Aaron Myette 1999, 2000 White Sox

1B Josh Naylor, 2016, 2017 Padres

OF Tyler O’Neill 2016 Mariners

OF Ntema Ndungidi 2000 Orioles

LHP James Paxton 2011 Mariners

OF Dalton Pompey 2014 Blue Jays

RHP Cal Quantrill 2017 Padres

OF Michael Saunders 2007 Mariners

RHP Mike Soroka 2017, Braves

1B Scott Thorman 2003 Braves

OF Rene Tosoni 2009 Twins

LHP Phillippe Valiquette 2010 Reds

INF Joey Votto 2006, 2007 Reds

(Zero Canadians were selected in 2015 and 2018)

Canucks in Futures Game by organization: Mariners 6, Orioles 4, Reds 4, Twins 4, Blue Jays 3, Padres 3, Braves 2, Brewers 2, Rays 2, White Sox 2, A’s, Dodgers, Expos, Phillies, Rockies, Tigers.