OTTAWA – It’s Opening Day in Major League Baseball so it’s time for our annual look at players who will be representing our great country on big league clubs this season.
Some great news to start as Brampton, Ontario native and Junior National Team alum Zach Pop has cracked the Opening Day roster of the Miami Marlins after the club selected the right-handed pitcher in last December’s Rule 5 Draft.
Pop is set to join Josh Naylor (Mississauga, ON) and Mike Soroka (Calgary, AB) as members of the 2014 Junior National Team to reach the big leagues. He is also set to become the 29th graduate of the Junior National Team program since 1999 to reach the big leagues, and according to the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum, Pop will become the 28th Canadian to make their MLB debut since 2010 and the ninth from the province of Ontario.
Some not-so-great-news for a pair of Canadian hurlers that will start the seasons on injured lists including Soroka who is still recovering from a torn Achilles Tendon suffered last August. The 23-year-old is progressing from the injury ahead of schedule and tossed two innings of relief on March 30th earning a save in his first spring training outing. He and the Atlanta Braves are hoping for a season debut later in April.
North Vancouver, BC’s Rowan Wick, a valuable member of the Chicago Cubs’ bullpen, has been battling an oblique issue during spring training so he will open the season on the IL.
Joey Votto (Etobicoke, ON) is set to begin his 15th MLB season, all in a Cincinnati Reds uniform, and the former National League MVP (2010) is nearing some milestone offensive numbers as he currently sits at 1,908 hits, 295 home runs and 966 RBI. Votto is also on pace to play his 1800th MLB game with 1771 games already under his belt.
Coming off a Gold Glove season in left field, Maple Ridge, BC’s Tyler O’Neill will look to continue to make an impact for the St. Louis Cardinals as he enters his fourth big league campaign. The former Junior National Team MVP (2013) and 2015 Pan Am Games gold medalist will look to tap into his power potential at the plate with many experts predicting 25-30 home runs.
Moving to the American League, Canadian MLB veteran and Ladner, BC native James Paxton, has returned to the Seattle Mariners, the club he broke into the majors with back in 2013. The left-handed starter spent the past two seasons with the New York Yankees where he enjoyed one of his best MLB seasons in 2019 winning 15 games and pitching to a 3.82 ERA.
In the AL Central, former Junior National Team teammates Josh Naylor and Cal Quantrill (Port Hope, ON) are set to enter their first full seasons in Cleveland after coming over from the San Diego Padres last August. All indications are that Naylor will start the season as the everyday right fielder while Quantrill will pitch out of the bullpen.
In the AL East, Toronto Blue Jays reliever Jordan Romano (Markham, ON) is sure to see high leverage innings out of the bullpen after an impressive stint in 2020 while Victoria, BC’s Nick Pivetta will look to establish himself as a key member of the Boston Red Sox starting rotation since being acquired by the club from the Philadelphia Phillies during the 2020 season.
In 2020, ten players who call Canada home played in the big leagues including Abraham Toro (Greenfield Park, QC) of the Houston Astros organization who was optioned to Triple-A Sugar Land on March 30th.
A modern-day record 26 Canadians appeared in the big leagues in 2011.
There are six Canadians on big league coaching staffs including Stubby Clapp (First Base Coach) of Windsor, Ontario with the St. Louis Cardinals, Jonathan Erlichman (Process & Analytics Coach) of Toronto with the Tampa Bay Rays, Dave McKay (First Base Coach) of Vancouver with the Arizona Diamondbacks, Rob Thomson (Bench Coach) of Sarnia, Ontario with the Philadelphia Phillies, Jimmy VanOstrand (Mental Performance Coach) of Richmond, BC with the Toronto Blue Jays and Carson Vitale (Major League Field Coordinator) of Victoria, BC with the Seattle Mariners.
Stu Scheurwater of Regina, Saskatchewan continues to be Canada’s lone MLB Umpire as he’s set to begin his fourth, full-time season in the majors.
Toronto’s Alex Andreopoulos (Blue Jays), Kirkland, Québec’s Eric Langill (Mets) and Guelph, Ontario’s Jamie Pogue(Cardinals) make up a trio of Canadian big league bullpen catchers.
2021 MLB Canadians