By Bob Elliott
Canadian Baseball Network
A funny thing happened when I was writing about the sad news that Jay Lapp would no longer be working for the Milwaukee Brewers.
After I mentioned he was a former winner of the Jim Ridley award as a former Canadian Baseball Network scout of the year, I thought to myself -- who won last year?
Well, that’s the worst thing about getting old ... you can’t remember half the stuff you forget.
So, without further ado we do remember the 2016 scout of the year -- now for 2017, well, the year is not over.
There is zero doubt as to whom the scout of the year should be. Doug Mathieson (Langley, BC) had the type of year scouts dream of ... the kind of fill your pockets draft scouts anywhere in North America would love to have.
And it went like this ... as Mathieson and the Diamondbacks drafted in 2016
_ C Andrew Yerzy (Toronto, Ont.) of the Toronto Mets was the second Canuck drafted overall -- behind RHP Cal Quantrill (Port Hope, Ont.) who went eighth to the San Diego Padres -- and the first high schooler. The Diamondbacks gave Yerzy a signing bonus of $1,214,100 (US).
_ RHP Curtis Taylor (Port Coquitlam, BC) of the University of British Columbia Thunderbirds was selected third overall by the Diamondbacks. Taylor was chosen in the fourth round by the Diamondacks and was given a $496,000 bonus. Taylor was chosen 119th overall. So 119 picks in, three Canadians had been selected and two went to the Diamondbacks.
Not a bad draft. It got better.
_ RHP Jake Polancic (Langley, BC) was the 10th Canadian selected as he went in the 11th round to the Diamondbacks. The Langley Blaze grad was given a $100,000 signing bonus.
_ C Luke Van Rycheghem (Kent Bridge, Ont.) was selected in the 23rd round by the Diamondbacks. The Ontario Blue Jays grad was given a $100,000 bonus.
So four Canadians drafted, four signed and given $1.910,100 US.
Of course scouting director Deric Ladinier had the final say and former Blue Jays scouting director Tim Wilken, in his role of chief overseer of available talent, was in on Polanic as well Ontario scout George Halim (Dundas, Ont.).
But this award goes to Mathieson, who doubles as the former coach, current GM and chief recruiter of the Blaze. Jamie Bodolay now coaches the Blaze.
“Doug Mathieson treated me like a son,” said Evan Bailey (Kamloops, BC), a coach with the Okanagan A’s in the BC Premier League and a coach with BC Orange at the fifth annual Tournament 12. Bailey was drafted by the Anaheim Angels in the 49th round of the 2003 draft from the Blaze.
“He cared personally and I liked his style: he would tell you where you stood. He would tell you how it was. He always preached to compete. The man is ultra competitive.”
His son, Scott Mathieson, Doug’s son, and Bailey were teammates for half of the 2002 season. Scott was drafted in the 17th round by the Philadelphia Phillies in 2002 (a year after the organization was founded) and four years later he was with the big club. Now, after two Tommy John surgeries Scott is in his sixth season with the Yomiuri Giants.
And 15 years after Scott graduated, Doug still motors on, unlike a lot of parents who are only interested until their son quits playing or goes to college.
“Doug hated losing and demanded a lot,” Bailey said, “I’m of the same mentality. Why is he still involved? Because he has an extreme passion for the game. He’d take kids out onto the field when it was two degrees to work on stuff.”
(And he would also take pictures of his infielders taking grand balls on Boxing Day at McLeod Athletic Park and send them east to snow bound Toronto.)
After Bailey was drafted he went home to Kamloops and figured he spend the next four or five days with his family.
“The phone rings, it’s Doug, what are you doing? Get on a bus and get here ... I need you to start tonight,” Bailey said.
Bailey got on the bus.
George Halim walked behind the batting cage where Bailey and I were talking. Tell that story about your first game at Jupiter last year.
“Well, we’re up by three, last inning we have William Sierra (Montreal, Que.) on the mound and he goes strikeout, pop out ... no problem right. Then he goes walk, single, walk and Doug tells me to go talk to him. One pitch I tell him and we’ve won it.
“Next guy single, so it’s 4-3 and runners on first and third. Their guy hits a ball to right field, our guy comes in, dives and the ball gets by him all the way to the fence. He gets up and is walking after the ball. He thinks the game is over.”
Except the runner on third was the tying run. Mathieson along with everyone else is screaming to run and throw the ball in. The game is not over. The winning run scores and the right fielder is crushed.
“Next day he wouldn’t come out of the hotel until Doug’s van left for the park,” Halim said. “We’re hitting in the first inning their outfielder comes running in, dives and misses the ball ... finally Doug bursts out laughing.”
It was about now that Hamil former North Shore Twins asks who he is talking to -- since proper introductions were not made.
“EVAN BAILEY! You are one of the names on the outfield wall at McLeod Athletic Park."
Working back Langley alumni to be drafted include:
From 2016 Brayden Bouchey, Toronto Blue Jays; Jake Polancic, Diamondbacks.
From 2015: Devon Stewart Cleveland Indians.
From 2014 Mitchell Robinson, Miami Marlins; Kurtis Horne, New York Mets; Zak Miller, Los Angeles Angels.
From 2013 Tyler O’Neill, Seattle Mariners.
From 2011 Justin Atkinson, Blue Jays; Dustin Houle, Milwaukee Brewers; Tom Robson, Blue Jays.
From 2010 Kellin Deglan, Texas Rangers; Mike Ellis, San Diego Padres.
From 2009 Wes Darvill Chicago Cubs; Brooklyn Foster, Diamondbacks; Colin Kleven, Philadelphia Phillies; Mike Monster, Cincinnati Reds; Rory Young, Houston Astros.
From 2008 Brett Lawrie, Milwaukee Brewers; Carter Morrison, Cincinnati Reds; J.R. Robinson, Blue Jays; Stosh Wawrzasek, Brewers.
From 2007 Ryan Jensen, Brewers; Travis Nevakshonoff, Brewers; Kyle Lotzkar, Cincinnati Reds.
From 2006 Tyson Gillies, Seattle Mariners; Kyle Paul, Indians; Shayne Wilson, Minnesota Twins.
From 2005 Jon Hesketh, Blue Jayd; Denver Wynn, Minnesota Twins.
From 2004 Jordan Lennerton, Blue Jays; Jamie Metzner, Brewers.
From 2003 Evan Bailey, Angels; Jared Johnson, Marlins; Adam Parliament, Atlanta Braves
From 2002 Scott Mathieson, Phillies.
From 2001 Ryan Lennerton, Los Angeles Dodgers.
OF Jayden Knight (Langley, BC) is hoping to add his name to that list.
Knight isn’t sure yet what kind of scout Mathieson is but “he’s always at any event I go to.” And as a coach?
“Oh he’s always on me ... about bunting ... about showing well ... about not hitting ... sometimes he is joking,” Knight said. “He can be tough.”
Knight has been doing double duty at the Rogers Centre.
Being there for when his BC Orange plays.
And being there for when the Futures Navy team plays to see his Blaze teammates INF Daniel Martin (Penticton, BC), LHP Justin Thorsteinson (Langley, BC) and INF Theo Milas (Burnaby, BC).
His coach/scout of the year would not have it any other way.
At the Canada Summer Games in London, Mathieson introduced us to barrel-chested outfielder Tyler O’Neill (Maple Ridge, BC) and we saw the resemblance to Brett Lawrie (Langley, BC). Mathieson and I spoke and O’Neill kind of vanished.
“Hey, didn’t you forget something,” Mathieson barked at O’Neill.
“Sorry,” O’Neill said, extending his hand to me, “a pleasure to meet you sir.”
CANADIAN BASEBALL NETWORK
SCOUT OF THE YEAR
RE-NAMED JIM RIDLEY AWARD IN 2006
YEAR WINNER HOMETOWN TEAM
1994 Bill Scherrer, Buffalo, NY, Florida Marlins
1995 Bill MacKenzie, Ottawa, Ont., Colorado Rockies
1996 Tim Harkness, Hampton, Ont., San Diego Padres
1997 Ed Heather, Cambridge, Ont., Toronto Blue Jays
1998 Wayne Norton, Port Moody, BC, Baltimore Orioles
1999 Walt Jefferies, Paris, Ont., Toronto Blue Jays
2000 Claude Pelletier, Ste-Lezare, Que., New York Mets
2001 Jim Kane, Brampton, Ont., Atlanta Braves
2002 Ken Lenihan, Bedford, N.S. MLB Scouting Bureau
2003 Dick (The Legend) Groch, St. Clair, Mich. Milwaukee Brewers
2004 Jim Ridley, Burlington, Ont. Minnesota Twins
2005 Walt Burrows, Brentwood Bay, BC MLB Scouting Bureau
2006 Alex Agostino, Montreal, Que., Philadelphia Phillies
2007 Howie Norsetter, Sydney, Australia, Minnesota Twins
2008 Greg Hamilton, Ottawa, Ont., Baseball Canada
2009 Jim Ridley, Burlington, Twins
2010 Jay Lapp, London, Ont., Brewers
2011 Doug Mathieson, Langley, BC Twins
2012 Andrew Tinnish, Burlington, Ont. Blue Jays
2013 Murray Zuk, Souris, Man., San Diego Padres
2014 Wayne Norton, Port Moody, BC, Mariners
2015 Jim Stevenson, Tulsa, Oak. Astros
2016 Doug Mathieson, Langley, BC, Diamondbacks
SCOUTS IN FULL FORCE: Besides Jamie Lehman, who heads up the Jays Canadian scouting, Toronto scouting director Steve Saunders was on hand along with scouts Tim Rooney, Dan Cowan (Delta, BC), Adam Arnold (London, Ont.) and Jasmin Roy (Montreal, Que.).
Led by Hall of Famer Pat Gillick the Philadelphia Phillies had three scouts at Day II and Day III.
The Boston Red Sox, Chicago Cubs and Detroit Tigers each had two scouts here.
The Miami Marlins, New York Yankees, Tampa Bay Rays, Washington Nationals, Seattle Mariners, Arizona Diamondbacks, Pittsburgh Pirates, Cincinnati Reds, Cleveland Indians, St. Louis Cardinals, Anaheim Angels, New York Mets, Minnesota Twins, Texas Rangers, San Diego Padres, the Brewers and the Major League Scouting Bureau were also represented.
All in all that’s 21 pro clubs ... by our count.
SCHOOL COUNT: Recruiters on hand were from Kentucky, Washington, Cal State Northridge, Utah, BYU, Sacramento State, Purdue, Kansas, Niagara, Canisius, Bryan, Northern Kentucky, Wagner, Northwestern Ohio, Minot State, Taft, Indian Hills, Iowa Western, Whitworth, Southwestern, Utica, University of Brritish Columbia and Laurentian.
FIRST PITCH: Former Canadian Baseball Network scout of the year Wayne Norton (Port Moody, BC) will throw out the first pitch before the Seattle Mariners finish their season. Norton was inducted into the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame in 2016.