OTTAWA- The ninth annual Baseball Canada National Teams Awards Banquet and Fundraiser was held on January 15th at Toronto’s Renaissance Hotel at Rogers Centre where another great night of Canadian baseball was celebrated.
"Once again, we were quite fortunate to celebrate Canadian Baseball excellence with so many committed alumni, MLB and Corporate Partners and Friends who have directly and indirectly contributed so much to the growth and development of our National Teams Program," says Greg Hamilton, Baseball Canada's Head Coach and Director of National Teams.
The highlight of the evening was the awards presentation where Baseball Canada recognized some individuals who shone at different points of the 2010 baseball season.
Joey Votto became the third member of Baseball Canada’s Wall of Excellence, presented by RBC Wealth Management, after his MVP season with the Cincinnati Reds. Votto joined two other former MVP’s in Larry Walker and Justin Morneau on the wall.
In just his third full season in the big leagues, Votto cemented himself as one of baseball’s most feared hitters.
His 2010 season was one for the ages as he amassed 37 homeruns and 113 RBI’s while carrying a .321 batting average to unanimously win the National League MVP Award. Votto electrified a packed Rogers Centre with a homerun against Team USA at the 09 WBC participated in the 2010 All-Star game, took home the Hank Aaron Award and also won the Lou Marsh Award given to Canada’s Athlete of the Year.
Kellin Deglan was given the Junior National Team MVP Award, presented by ESPN Wide World of Sports. Deglan’s season began on a high note as he was selected in the first round (22nd overall) of June’s MLB Draft by the Texas Rangers. Deglan was a rock behind the plate for Canada leading up to and during the World Junior Baseball Championships in Thunder Bay. His ability to handle a pitching staff, throw out runners at key times and sacrifice his body behind the plate helped lead Canada to a 4th place finish. During the World Championship his ability to get on base allowed him to score 5 runs in the tournament, good for second on the team.
Jamie Romak took home the Senior National Team MVP Award, presented by the MLB Players Association, after putting on a dominant display at the Pan Am Games Qualifier in October. In 8 games he led the Pan Am qualification tournament with 5 homeruns and 14 RBI’s while carrying a .448 batting average. His offensive display made others take notice as he was named to the tournament All-Star team as an outfielder and given the tournament MVP award.
Playing in his 6th professional season he hit a combined .296 with 13 homeruns and 69 RBI’s between high-A Carolina and double-A Northwest Arkansas in the Kansas City Royals organization. His performance during the season earned 3 Player of the Week awards and 1 Player of the Month honour.
Another member of the Pan Am Games Qualifier team, Chris Robinson, was the winner of the Stubby Clapp Award, presented by Mizuno Canada. Robinson, a National Team veteran, answered the bell when it mattered most at the Pan Am Qualification tournament. Facing a must win game against Puerto Rico, his 5-hit performance including a key 2-run homer gave Canada a convincing victory and a guaranteed spot in the 2011 Pan American Games. Renowned for his leadership and defensive skills behind the plate, this player led the tournament in hitting with a .545 average and he was given the nod as the tournaments All-Star catcher.
This one-time Olympian and member of the 2006 WBC club helped lead the Iowa Cubs to the Pacific Coast League’s best record while participating in his 6th professional season.
John Axford of the Milwaukee Brewers was given a Baseball Canada Alumni Award, presented by the L.J. Pearson Foundation. Axford burst onto the scene in 2010 becoming the full time closer for the Brewers. Taking over from perennial All-Star and All-Time Career Saves Leader, Trevor Hoffman and having never closed before, he not only met the challenge head-on, he exceeded all expectations by recording 24 saves in 27 opportunities. Sporting a handlebar moustache which made him a crowd favorite, he also earned a penchant for the strikeout as he whiffed 76 batters in 58 innings pitched.
His 2010 season earned him recognition on Baseball America’s All-Rookie team and further entrenched himself as a valued member of the Brewers bullpen.
Finally, Scott Mathieson was given a Special Achievement Award, presented by the MLB Players Association, after a dominant season as the closer for the Lehigh Valley IronPigs, the triple-A affiliate of the Philadelphia Phillies. Coming off his third arm surgery in less than 4 years, Mathieson came back with a vengeance in 2010. Spending the majority of the season as the closer with the Lehigh Valley Iron Pigs he was dominant in saving 26 games. His mid 90’s fastball was too much for hitters to handle as he recorded 83 strikeouts in 64 innings pitched. Mathieson’s performance earned him a promotion to the big leagues in 2010 and also the Paul Owens Award as the Phillies Minor League Pitcher of the Year.
The evening also included check presentations from Major League Baseball, the Toronto Blue Jays and the Royal Bank of Canada to Baseball Canada at a value of $50,000, $25,000 and $15,000 respectively.
“I can’t say enough about the support we’ve received from our sponsors,” says Baseball Canada President Ray Carter. “They continuously show a vested interest in promoting the sport in Canada, both at the grassroots level and at the elite level.".
Baseball Canada would like to thank everybody who made the ninth annual National Teams Awards Banquet and Fundraiser a night to remember.