TORONTO – On Saturday, January 14th, and for the first time since 2020, Baseball Canada welcomed corporate partners, alumni and friends to the 19th Baseball Canada Awards Banquet and Fundraiser.
The evening featured National Team alum and former big leaguer Adam Loewen who became the 11th member inducted onto Baseball Canada’s Wall of Excellence presented by RBC Wealth Management while six other alums were presented with awards.
Baseball Canada Wall of Excellence - Presented by RBC Wealth Management
ADAM LOEWEN – SURREY, BC
Perhaps no player in the history of Canadian baseball has garnered this much attention as an amateur player than Adam Loewen. A physically imposing figure whose athleticism and ease in which he played the game brought droves of scouts to his native British Columbia and to appearances with the Junior National Team prior to the 2002 MLB Draft. His talent was so special that he put his physical gifts to use and impacted a baseball game both on the mound and in the batter’s box. Little did anyone know at the time, that this strapping left handed pitcher and hitter would put both to use in his professional career.
Loewen became the highest Canadian ever selected in the MLB Draft when the Baltimore Orioles took him 4th overall as a left-handed pitcher in 2002, and this is still true today. He reached the big leagues in 2006, but an arm injury forced him to end his career on the mound midway through the 2008 season. After not swinging a bat for 6 seasons, he decided to become a position player again and signed with the Toronto Blue Jays where he began his journey back to the bigs in 2009. After two seasons in the minor leagues this player found himself in Triple A during the 2011 season hitting .306 with 17 homers and 85 RBI. His performance earned a September call-up to the Blue Jays where he made his ‘second’ big league debut and later hit his first major league home run.
Three seasons later, and looking for a job with a club, he did what he was told wasn’t possible and decided to try his luck on the mound again. After a season and a half of working his way through the minor leagues he made baseball history when the Phillies made Loewen a big leaguer again on August 7th of 2015. He reached the majors again as a reliever with the Arizona Diamondbacks the following season adding another chapter to his remarkable story. His extraordinary physical gifts aside, this individual’s work ethic and ability to persevere are what make this person and his story, truly special.
Russell Martin Award for Junior National Team MVP - Presented by the Toronto Blue Jays
MYLES NAYLOR – MISSISSAUGA, ON
After getting his feet wet with the Junior National Team program in 2021 Myles naylor took his game to another level in 2022, doing so in the spotlight of two international tournaments and with weight of a famous Canadian baseball name on his shoulders. Starting at third base for all eight of Canada’s games at the U18 Baseball World Cup in September, he hit .471 with a home run and six RBIs and followed that up by hitting .316 with three home runs and seven RBIs at the Americas World Cup Qualifier in November. Heading into his senior season in high school and the 2023 MLB Draft this player will be one for Canadian baseball fans to watch for.
Stubby Clapp Award - Presented by Mizuno Canada
MIKE SOROKA – CALGARY, AB
The start to Mike Soroka’s big league career has been rivaled by few Canadians in the history of the game. An All-Star Game appearance at just 21 years old, Rookie of the Year and Cy Young consideration in the same season, earning a playoff win in 2019 and being tabbed an Opening Day starter for the Atlanta Braves at the age of 22. Like his demeanor on the mound, all seemed under control at the start of the 2020 season when a freak injury that ruptured his Achilles tendon brought his playing career to a halt. After a lengthy rehab, a setback required a second surgery before the unthinkable happened when the surgically repaired Achilles ruptured again requiring season-ending surgery. With all of the adversity Soroka has faced, he continues to remain focused on his goal of being a dominant big league starting pitcher.
Canadian Futures Award - Presented by the Toronto Chapter of Baseball Writers Association of America
EDOUARD JULIEN – QUÉBEC CITY, QC
Edouard Julien’s raw skillset caught (Junior National Team Head Coach) Greg Hamilton’s eye in 2015 and soon after an invitation to join the Junior National Team that included a two-year stint and finishing as one of Team Canada’s top hitters at the 2017 Under 18 Baseball World Cup in Thunder Bay. His bat continued to make noise as a freshman at Auburn University where he belted 17 homers in 2018 and broke Frank Thomas’ freshman RBI record that had stood since 1987. After just two seasons at Auburn, he was selected by the Minnesota Twins in the 2019 MLB Draft, signed and began his professional career that’s seen him rise to being one of the top prospects in the Twins’ organization. Julien has belted 35 homers over the last two seasons, including 17 in 2022 at Double-A where he was an All-Star and capped his season being named “Arizona Fall League’s Breakout Player of the Year.
Baseball Canada Special Recognition Award - Presented by MLB Players Association
JOSH & BO NAYLOR – MISSISSAUGA, ON
Baseball is a game that continues to amaze with the incredible moments that it offers. A moment that was truly unique to not only to one family, but a moment that the entire Canadian baseball family could take pride in took place just a few months ago when brother’s Josh and Bo Naylor played together in a Major League Baseball game. With friends and family looking on, a dream became reality with both players hitting fourth and fifth in Cleveland’s lineup. Two graduates and former MVPs of the Junior National Team program, these brothers hold a special place in Canadian baseball with their supreme talents on the field and their generosity and care off the field. With Josh established in the bigs while Bo is looking to break in full time, these players have fans for life in each other, their family and an entire nation.
Baseball Canada Special Achievement Award - Presented by RBC Wealth Management
DENZEL CLARKE – PICKERING, ON
Loud tools and freakish athleticism have the entire Oakland A’s organization drooling over Denzel Clarke. A former Junior National Team star who represented Canada at the 2017 Under-18 Baseball World Cup, he was a coveted player prior to the 2021 MLB Draft and is quickly climbing the ladder in Oakland’s system after they selected him in the fourth round. At two minor league levels in 2022, Clarke smacked 16 homers, stole 30 bases and made history in July becoming the first professional baseball player to hit two inside-the-park home runs in two straight games. The month of July saw him become the 35th Canadian to participate in MLB’s Futures Game at Dodger Stadium where he made a highlight reel catch. In October, he joined some of the top prospects in the game for a stint in the Arizona Fall League and rose to the challenge hitting .275 with a home run and three stolen bases. It won’t be long before his talents will be revealed at the highest levels of the sport.