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In the Minors: Canadians to Watch

‘In the Minors’ will be a regular feature on that will highlight Canadian’s in the minor leagues. This week we profile 5 players to watch for as the minor league season gets underway.

OTTAWA-The start of Major League Baseball also means that the Minor League Baseball season is not far behind. Over 70 Canadians are on minor league rosters with some just starting their careers in professional baseball while others are knocking on the door of the big leagues. Brett Lawrie (Langley, BC) of the Las Vegas 51’s made headlines in March with a stellar performance at Spring Training with the Toronto Blue Jays. Here are some other Canadians to keep an eye on throughout the minor league season.

Phillippe Aumont (Gatineau, QC) – Reading Phillies (AA)

Aumont is looking for a bounce-back season after struggling in his first year in the Phillies organization. The former 1st round pick of the Mariners (2007) has spent his professional career as both a starter and reliever and will now set his sights on the closers role in Reading. Aumont spent the majority of last season at High-A Clearwater, while he finished the year representing Canada at the Pan Am Games Qualification tournament in Puerto Rico.

Nick Bucci (Sarnia, ON) – Brevard County Manatees (High-A)

Bucci spent last season in Low-A with the Wisconsin Timber Rattlers in the Mid-West League. The Milwaukee Brewers farmhand compiled a 6-7 record while carrying a 3.51 ERA. An 18th round selection in 2008, Bucci will make the jump to Brevard County in the Florida State League. The right-hander is no stranger to wearing the Maple Leaf as he has represented Canada on both the Junior and Senior teams.

Michael Crouse (Port Moody, BC) – Lancing Lugnuts (Low-A)

The Blue Jays think they have something special in Crouse who they selected in the 16th round back in 2008. Crouse has spent the majority of two seasons playing Rookie ball and will now get his first taste of full season ball play in Lansing. In 2010 Crouse proved he was ready to make the jump by hitting .333 with 4 homers and 20 RBI in only 96 At-Bats in the Gulf Coast League. The Junior National Team graduate is off to a hot start with the Lugnuts as he picked up two hits including a homerun in his first game.

Kellin Deglan (Langley, BC) – Hickory Crawdads (Low –A)

The reigning Junior National Team MVP and 1st round draft choice of the Texas Rangers is starting the season with Low-A Hickory of the South Atlantic League. It was a busy summer for Deglan in 2010 which saw him sign with the Rangers moments after the draft, play on their Arizona League team, suit up with Team Canada at the World Junior Championship in Thunder Bay and then finish the year with Short-Season Spokane. The left-handed hitting catcher will turn 19 in early May, making him one of the youngest players in the South Atlantic League.

Scott Diamond (Guelph, ON) – Rochester Red Wings (AAA)

Diamond made the jump to AAA last season with Gwinnett in the Atlanta Braves organization and proceeded to go 4-1 in 10 starts. After becoming eligible for the Rule 5 Draft, he was quickly snapped up by the Minnesota Twins with their 1st round selection. Diamond did not make the Twins 25-man roster out of Spring Training, however he impressed enough that the Twins worked out a trade with the Braves to keep him rather than offer him back to the Twins as the Rule 5 Draft stipulates. With a solid showing, Diamond could be a candidate for his first big-league call-up.