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In the Minors: Canadians to Watch

In the Minors’ is a regular feature on that highlights Canadian players in the minor leagues during the 2011 season.

This week, we look at one player on the path back to the big leagues, two minor league veterans swinging big bats and a player trying to beat the odds as he embarks on his minor league career.

Jimmy Van Ostrand (Richmond, BC) –Corpus Christi Hooks (AA)

Van Ostrand is back at AA Corpus Christi looking to repeat the success that he achieved there in 2009. After a disappointing 2010, Van Ostrand returned to the Hooks in 2011 and looks to make the jump to AAA. The 2008 Olympian is batting .281 with 3 homers and 20 RBI through 47 games this season. Van Ostrand is a veteran of the National Team as he played in the 2009 World Cup and 2010 Pan Am Qualifier in addition to the 2008 Olympics in Beijing. Van Ostrand was selected by the Houston Astros in 8th round of the 2006 Draft out of Cal Poly San Luis Obispo and quickly signed with the club. This will be his sixth season in the organization.

Brock Kjeldgaard (London, ON) – Brevard County Manatees (High-A)

The Edmonton-born Kjeldgaard is already on pace to eclipse his 20 homerun season of 2009. Through 156 at-bats, Kjeldgaard has hit 10 homers including a two homerun game on two occasions. The Milwaukee Brewers farmhand carries a .256 batting average to go along with 30 RBI for the Manatees whose roster includes Canadian pitcher, Nick Bucci (Sarnia, ON). Kjeldgaard, a 34th round pick of the Brewers back in 2005 has put up some impressive homerun totals through five seasons in the minors, and 2011 looks to be a banner year in that department.

Ryan Lapensee (LaSalle, ON) – Visalia Rawhides (High-A)

LaPensee is hoping to beat the odds and reach the big-league’s as a non-drafted player. After a record setting career at Wayne State University in Michigan, LaPensee was signed by the Arizona Diamondbacks last off-season. LaPensee spent time in extended spring training before making his professional debut at Visalia in mid-May. In his first professional game on May 14th, LaPensee had two hits, one of which was a double, and collected one RBI. Through 32 at-bats he has a .281 average and 5 RBI’s. Towards the latter part of Spring Training, LaPensee got into a big-league game where Kirk Gibson was managing and Alan Trammell was bench coach. Gibson and Trammell are former Detroit Tigers, the team that LaPensee grew-up watching close to his hometown.

Scott Richmond (Vancouver, BC) – Las Vegas 51’s (AAA)

Scott Richmond is healthy and looking to pitch his way back to the big-league’s on a full-time basis. Injuries have slowed the career of Richmond who made his MLB debut in 2008. Logging just over 138 innings with the Blue Jays in 2009, Richmond pitched only 41 innings through three levels of the minor leagues in 2010 after suffering a shoulder injury. This season at Las Vegas, Richmond is in the starting rotation and making a case for a big-league call-up. His most recent start on May 29th saw him fan a season high 11 batters through five innings and give up only two runs. Richmond carries an overall 3-2 record and his 44 total strikeouts are second-most on the team. In April, Richmond was summoned to the Jays on an emergency basis where he saw action in one game.