Elliott: Reds' Byckowski CBN Scout of the Year
By Bob Elliott
Canadian Baseball Network
The scouting pecking order in Canada in terms of seniority goes likes this:
_ No. 1 in terms of seniority and respect is Murray Zuk (Souris, Man.) who began scouting for the San Diego Padres in 1971.
_ Next is Claude Pelletier (Ste-Lezare, Que.) who started scouting for the Los Angeles Dodgers in 1986 before moving over to the New York Mets.
_ No. 3 is Walt Burrows (Brentwood Bay, BC), who began working for the Major League Scouting Bureau in 1991 and then moved over to the Minnesota Twins.
_ And No. 4 is Bill Byckowski, who started evaluating in 1993 for the Toronto Blue Jays and after the great purge in the early 2000s joined ex-Jays scouting director Chris Buckley with the Cincinnati Reds.
Zuk won our scout of the year honour 2013 -- later named after legendary Jays/Twins scout Jim Ridley in 2009.
Pelletier won our scout of the year honour in 2000.
Burrows won our scout of the year honour in 2005.
Yet Byckowski (Georgetown, Ont.) has never won. Why? Because we didn’t want then GM Gord Ash thinking he had a big head?
Because Buckley instructed us not to give him the award as it would activate a bonus clause?
We were worried about playing favorites with the hometown Jays? Maybe.
Byckowski has had good years before ... like Dave Stewart, who lost the Cy Young award four straight years. Yet, if they gave one for the four-year period Stew would have been the runaway winner. He lost to Boston’s Rogers Clemens in 1987, Minnesota’s Frank Viola the next year, Kansas City’s Bret Saberhagen in 1989 and teammate Bob Welch in 1990. Stewart was 84-45 with a 3.20 ERA in 146 starts, walking 367 and striking out 718 in 1061 2/3 innings.
Byckowski is one of those guys. Oh, and he is also the 2018 winner of the Jim Ridley award as the Canadian Baseball Network Scout of the Year. This is the 25th annual CBN Scout of the Year honour which was renamed after the late Ridley in 2009. Byckowski spent hours in Ridley’s hospital room that final week.
With the Jays, Byckowski signed Mike Johnson (Edmonton, Alta.), who pitched in 81 games with the Montreal Expos and the Baltimore Orioles. As well, his name is on lefty Paul Spoljaric (Kelowna, BC) along with Bobby Prentice and Ridley. Spoljaric pitched in 195 games with the Blue Jays, Mariners, Royals and Phillies.
As a cross checker with the Reds he was in on drafting first-round all-stars C Devin Mesoraco (15th over-all) a high schooler from from Punxsutawney, Penn. and two-time all-star Todd Frazier (34th) from Rutgers in 2007 draft
Besides grabbing some of top Canucks like former Great Lake Canadians Myles Gordon (Oakville, Ont.) he -- and the staff of six or seven area scouts he manages along the East Coast -- was in on signing MLB Pipeline’s Reds prospects like:
_ No. 1 prospect 3B Nick Senzel, chosen second overall from Tennessee in 2016 ($6.2 million signing bonus).
_ No. 2 OF Taylor Trammell of Kennesaw, Ga. first round, who went 35th overall ($3.2 million).
_ No. 3 RHP Hunter Greene of Sherman Oaks, Calif. a HSer drafted second overall last in 2017 ($7.23 million).
_ No. 4 Jonathan India chosen in the first round -- fifth overall from the University of Florida ($5,297,500 bonus).
_ No. 6 C Tyler Stephenson, selected 11th overall in 2015 from Kennesaw, Ga. ($3,141,600).
_ No. 7 INF Jeter Downs drafted by the Reds in the first round 32nd overall from Miami Gardens, Fla. in 2017 ($1,822,500).
_ No. 9 Mike Siani, a fourth round high schooler Philadelphia, Penn. ($2 million).
_ No. 10 OF Stuart Fairchild, a second rounder in 2017 out of Wake Forest ($1.800,3 million).
_ No. 12 RHP Jimmy Herget, a sixth rounder selected in 2015 from South Florida ($276,600).
_ No. 16 LHP Scott Moss, chosen in the fourth round in 2016 from University of Florida ($577,400).
_ No. 17 LHP Jacob Heatherly, chosen in the third round in 2017 from Cullman, Ala HS ($1,047,500).
_ No. 18 RHP Lyon Richardson selected in the second round of the 2018 draft from Jensen Beach Fla. HS ($1,997,500).
_ No. 24 C Chris Okey, a second round pick from the 2016 draft out of Clemson University ($2 million).
_ No. 27 RHP Nick Hanson, a third round pick in 2016 from Savage, Minn. as a high schooler ($925,000)
_ No. 28 RHP Jared Solomon, an 11th round pick in 2017 from Xavier University ($207,500).
Canadian Baseball Hall of Famer Jim Ridley (Burlington, Ont.) in his coaching days.
Canadian Baseball Network
Scout Of The Year
Re-Named Jim Ridley Award In 2009
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, Ont., Minnesota Twins
2010 Jay Lapp, London, Ont., Milwaukee Brewers
2011 Doug Mathieson, Langley, BC, Minnesota Twins
2012 Andrew Tinnish, Burlington, Ont., Blue Jays
2013 Murray Zuk, Souris, Man., San Diego Padres
2014 Wayne Norton, Port Moody, BC, Seattle Mariners
2015 Jim Stevenson, Tulsa, Oak., Houston Astros
2016 Doug Mathieson, Langley, BC,, Arizona Diamondbacks
2017 Chris Reitsma, Calgary, Alta., Baltimore Orioles
2018 Bill Byckowski, Georgetown, Ont., Cincinnaati Reds