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Russ Canzler

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Russell Michael Canzler

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Russ Canzler has played the infield and the outfield in the minor leagues and reached the majors with the Tampa Bay Rays in 2011.

Canzler was selected out of high school in Hazleton, Pennsylvania by the Chicago Cubs in the 30th round of the 2004 amateur draft. He had also played American Legion ball in Hazleton. Canzler was signed by scout Billy Blitzer and made his pro debut that summer. As befits a late-round draft choice, he made his way slowly up the Cubs' organizational ladder. He spent his first two season with the AZL Cubs, playing third base the first year and first base in 2005, hitting .299 in 49 games in his second go-round. He was promoted to Boise of the Northwest League in 2006 and had a bit of a break-out season, hitting 22 doubles and 16 homers in 73 games, and made the league's post-season All-Star team. In 2007, he was with Peoria of the Midwest League, hitting .270/.321/.376 in 125 games in his first taste of full-season ball. He began spending some time in left field that year, in his addition to his starting job at 1B.

In 2008 Canzler spent the entire season with the Class A Daytona Cubs in the Florida State League. His numbers were very similar to the previous season, although he did raise his home run total from 7 to 12 in fewer at-bats, thus improving his slugging average considerably. In 2009, he reached AA for the first time after going back to Daytona to start the season. After 28 games of his usual production - .270 with middling power - he was promoted to the Tennessee Smokies of the Southern League and hit .258 in 90 games. He was back at Tennessee in 2010, but was no longer the starter at first base. His most frequent position was third base, and he also played first, the outfield, and DH. He hit .287/.372/.566 in 112 games, his best batting line until then.

Canzler moved to the Tampa Bay Rays organization as a free agent in 2011 and started the year in AAA. He was hitting .290 with 23 doubles and 10 homers in 84 games for the Durham Bulls and earned a spot to play in the AAA All-Star Game in Salt Lake City, UT on July 13th, although he was still moving around between the various positions he can handle. He was the hero of the contest, hitting a 3-run homer that accounted for all the scoring in the International League's 3-0 victory over the Pacific Coast League. He ended the year with a .314 average, a league-leading 40 doubles, 18 home runs, and 83 RBI for the Bulls and was named the 2011 IL MVP, earning a September call-up with Tampa Bay. He made his big league debut against the Boston Red Sox on September 15th. Entering the game as a pinch hitter for DH Johnny Damon, he was walked by Michael Bowden in the ninth inning in his only plate appearance.

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