Canadian Michael Crouse bids to make all-star game in Mexico
By Cole Shelton
Canadian Baseball Network
Michael Crouse has been around a lot of teams and has played a ton of high calibre ball throughout his career.
Crouse, the British Columbia native was drafted by the lone Canadian team in the Toronto Blue Jays back in 2008 in the 16th round. He then went onto play in the Blue Jays organization for seven seasons before heading to independent ball and now he’s playing in Mexico for Pericos de Puebla.
For Crouse, however, to be drafted by the Blue Jays was a dream come true.
“I mean it’s dope," Crouse said. "In Vancouver you get to watch Seattle, New York and Toronto are constantly on TV and you grow up and get drafted by the Jays ... it’s like damn I got drafted by the team I was constantly watching so it is pretty cool.”
Crouse was released after the 2014 season and 508 games. He went on to play two very good seasons in the Atlantic League, first for Lancaster Barnstormers and then the New Britain Bees.
Following that, an opportunity came up for Crouse to continue on playing professionally in Mexico, which he didn’t pass up on.
“I had two really good years in the Atlantic League which is the best independent ball league and nothing really came of it. I then had the opportunity to go play in Mexico which is also triple-A ball and another good league,” added Crouse. “I thought it would get me more eyes on me because I am still trying to return to affiliated ball and help a club out there. Just switched it up and see where this goes.”
Switching it up is what Crouse did but what didn’t switch was his calibre of play. In Mexico, they play two half seasons and in the first half, Crouse was phenomenal. He hit .320 with a .391 on-base percentage, while also hitting 10 home runs and registering 35 RBIs for Puebla.
He was an anchor offensively and defensively for his team and now, because of his first half, Crouse is up in the running for a fan vote to be named to the annual All-Star game.
“My first half I did really well and I have a shot to get into the All-Star game, which is basically a fan vote,” said Crouse. “They do the fan portion and the league will do a portion as well but that is for the fans to vote for players to get into the All-Star game. I tweeted it out there and maybe hoping a little help from Baseball Canada people will allow for more people to vote for me.”
While the All-Star game would be a good opportunity for the Canadian, Crouse is hoping to play well in the second half of the season.
“Do what I did the first half and out of the Mexican league there is a draft for first-year import players to go play winter ball down there,” added Crouse of what he hopes to come of this opportunity. “I’d love to go play winter ball and it is another two more months down there which is another high calibre of ball. The more I play and the more high calibre of ball I play the more looks I get to get back to affiliated ball and that is where I want to be. That is my goal and just stay healthy and compete how I did the first season.”
Playing high calibre of ball is exactly what Crouse is doing and has done as he has helped represent Canada on the world stage. Crouse was a member of the Team Canada that won gold in the 2011 Pan-Am Games and a bronze medalist in 2011 at the Baseball World Cup. Crouse, however, believes playing for Team Canada helped set him up to be the professional he is today.
“When you get down there Greg Hamilton sets it up as a professional atmosphere like a pro team would be handling spring training,” said Crouse. “You are waking up early, doing practice, going for lunch and coming back out for a game. You wear your polos, you are talking to pro hitting coaches and pitching coaches and the people they bring in for the camp. They send you down to Dominican to see how you compete against them and to show you that these guys are grinding as hard or even harder then we are in Canada because they are trying to get out of there and provide for their family because they don’t have too much.
“It is just an eye opener when you get selected to that team and wake up every day and head to the field and maintain yourself to become the professional you want to be.”
Ultimately with the help of Team Canada and him playing well in Mexico, it wouldn’t come as a surprise to see Crouse back in affiliated ball next season. For now, Crouse is focusing on the second half of the Mexican season and hoping to continue to be successful in Mexico.