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Brett Lawrie

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Brett Russell Lawrie

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Brett Lawrie was a first-round pick in the 2008 amateur draft and made his major league debut in 2011. He has also played for Team Canada.

The B.C. native played summer ball with the Langley Blaze of the British Columbia Premier League.

A catcher in the amateur ranks, Lawrie played for Canada when they won Bronze in the 2006 World Junior Championship. He hit .700 for the Canadian junior national team in spring training of 2008. In the Dominican Summer League camp, he hit .500 with 8 home runs and 24 RBI in 8 games. Lawrie was the 16th pick of the 2008 amateur draft, taken by the Milwaukee Brewers, who had a Canadian GM, Doug Melvin. It was the 4th-highest a Canadian had been picked in the MLB amateur draft and the highest a position player had gone; Adam Loewen (4th), Jeff Francis (9th) and Phillippe Aumont (11th) had been picked higher.

Lawrie was the star for the host country in the 2008 World Junior Championship, batting .469/.500/1.000 with 16 RBI, 4 triples and 3 homers in 8 games. He threw out 4 of 8 attempted base-stealers. He led the event in home runs and RBI. Only Erik van Dorp of the Netherlands had a better average among players with 30 or more plate appearances. Lawrie was named to the All-Star team at catcher but Canada only finished 6th and Yung-hoon Sung of South Korea beat him out for MVP honors.

Lawrie was with Canada for the 2008 Olympics, going 0 for 10 as a backup LF/DH. He hit a sacrifice fly and drove in another run on a grounder. He was also selected as a backup on Canada's team for the 2009 World Baseball Classic.

Signed by scout Marty Lehn for $1.7 million, Lawrie made his pro debut on April 9, 2009, for the Wisconsin Timber Rattlers. He was 0 for 4 with a strikeout and a run against the Quad Cities River Bandits; the next day, he homered, stole two bases, scored twice and drove in three. He hit .274/.340/.436 that first season, between Wisconsin and the Huntsville Stars of the Southern League, holding his own in AA before turning 20. He was used as a second baseman that first year and had 37 extra-base hits, showing excellent power for such a young age. He was ranked #59 on Baseball America's top 100 prospect list before the 2010 season, which he spent entirely at Huntsville. There he hit .245/.346/.451 in 135 games, with 36 doubles, 16 triples and 8 homers while stealing 30 bases. He played with the World Team in the Futures Game in both 2009 and 2010. In his first big league game, he went 2 for 4 with an RBI in his first at bat as the Jays beat the Baltimore Orioles, 5-4.

After the 2010 season, he was the key player acquired by the Toronto Blue Jays in a trade that sent pitcher Shaun Marcum to the Brewers in return for Lawrie and P Carlos Villanueva. His ranking on the top 100 prospect list had improved to #40 by then. Although there was speculation that the Jays may have him start the 2011 season directly in the major leagues, he was in fact sent to AAA Las Vegas, where he moved to third base. He was an unstoppable force with the bat in the Pacific Coast League, hitting .353 with a .661 slugging percentage in 69 games. The Jays, dissatisfied with the play of Edwin Encarnacion at third base, were about to call him up to the big club in late May, but the plans were put on hold when Lawrie was hit by a pitch which broke his left hand. He missed a month of action, and had to make a rehabilitation stop with the Dunedin Blue Jays of the Florida State League, but by early August, he was back to beating up opposing pitchers in AAA. On August 4th, the Jays called him up and immediately inserted him in the starting line-up for the next day's game, moving slugger Jose Bautista, who had been manning third base for a couple of weeks, back to right field. He got a base hit and and RBI in his first major league at bat, and two days later, hit his first major league home run off Alfredo Simon of the Baltimore Orioles. He then hit his first grand slam on August 10th against the Oakland A's Craig Breslow in the 6th inning of a game at the Rogers Centre, leading Toronto to an 8-4 win. He finished the year with a batting line of .293/.373/.580, with 9 homers and 25 RBI in 43 games. He was named the third baseman on the 2011 Topps All-Star Rookie Team after the season.

Lawrie hit the first two walk-off home runs by a player born in the 1990s. He had hit a walk-off shot off Dan Wheeler of the Boston Red Sox in the bottom of the 11th inning on September 5, 2011, for a 1-0 Blue Jays win, then connected off Mike Adams of the Texas Rangers leading off the 9th inning on May 1, 2012, for an 8-7 win. On May 15, 2012, Brett threw a huge tantrum after being called out on strikes facing Fernando Rodney in the 9th inning of a game against the Tampa Bay Rays. He slammed his helmet to the ground, and it bounced up and struck home plate umpire Bill Miller on the hip. He had already been ejected at that point, and he was later fined and handed a four-game suspension. A number of fellow players commented that Lawrie had gone over the line in showing his disagreement with the call, and a chastised Lawrie stated the next day that he planned to apologize personally to Miller before that day's game. On July 18th, he almost suffered a serious injury when he dove over a safety railing into a camera bay while trying to catch a foul ball hit by Mark Teixeira at New Yankee Stadium. He flipped completely over the railing, landing awkwardly five feet below, and was unable to put pressure on his right leg when he tried to stand up. He was immediately taken out of the game, but x-rays came back negative. It was particularly scary for the Jays as they had put star slugger Bautista on the disabled list the previous day with a wrist injury. Altogether, he played 125 games for the Jays that first season, hitting .273/.325/.405 with 26 doubles and 11 homers, 73 runs scored and 48 RBI.

Lawrie had more injury problems in the spring of 2013. He had to forgo a chance to play for Team Canada in the 2013 World Baseball Classic because of a strained oblique muscle that put him on the disabled list for the first few games of the season.

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