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A Baseball Revolution in Sherbrooke

  • June 12, 2008

OTTAWA, ON – Mike Goyette has one goal, to get more kids involved in baseball in the Sherbrooke region.  So he took it upon himself to get the ball rolling.

Registration numbers have dropped dramatically over the last few years in the Sherbrooke area.  This has caused the local midget AAA team to fold five years ago, force kids to play baseball in other regions like Trois-Rivières and has caused the promotion of the game in the area to be virtually non-existent.

In order to get baseball back in the consciousness of the area, Mike Goyette quit his job so he could dedicate himself full-time to baseball and create his website “Baseball Action Mike Goyette”.

“It’s certainly a big risk on my part to take this on, especially with three kids, but I’m very passionate about baseball,” says Goyette in a phone interview.  “The impression people have about baseball is something I want to change.”

Goyette has been a coach in the region for 25 years and has begun offering his services for private clinics as to create a one-on-one atmosphere with the kids.  He also offers baseball schools through his own endeavour, Mike Goyette’s Baseball School.  This summer he is offering four four-day sessions, two are for general techniques and two are hitter specific.

Furthermore, the Philadelphia Phillies Regional Assistant Scout has been speaking to elementary schools about baseball, offering extra curricular, and lunch hour and gym class sessions.

Goyette has used the Winterball program as a tool when he goes to schools, considering he used to organize sessions on the program when he was with Baseball Québec.

“What I do in the school is very similar to what Winterball does.  In fact, more often than not, I get calls from schools that already have the Winterball kit and are looking for new ideas on how to use it.  So I go in and basically give a second tutorial about the program.”

It has only been a few months since Goyette started his website and there are already have been some fantastic results.

During one of his school sessions with mostly underprivileged kids, he worked with some youngsters who had never held a bat before to even kids who did not know anything about baseball.  Over the following weeks, two kids in those sessions registered to play for the first time.

“That’s a great example of what a full-time baseball guy can do in this area,” explains Goyette.

Another success was the re-establishment of the midget AAA team in Sherbrooke for the 2008 season and coming this fall, kids in the region will have their very own baseball academy at l’école secondaire Du Triolet.

Goyette will act as coordinator and head coach of the program for the first year and figures this should help to stop kids from migrating to different regions.

“Kids who wanted to specialize in baseball were forced to go to Trois-Rivières.  Now, we can offer a quality program for kids who want to pursue their development in the sport with a team of certified coaches with experience and knowledge with youth.”

Goyette tackled this challenge head-on and has the ultimate goal of seeing more kids on the ball diamond, but mostly, he want to change people’s attitude towards the game.

“The most important thing is the kids, not winning.  I feel people put too much emphasis on winning, which goes against the development of the player.  My role is that of a coach, but it’s also to change people’s perceptions.”

For more information regarding any of the programs offered by Mike Goyette, visit his website at www.baseballamg.com, or contact him directly at 819-835-1321 or by e-mail at mgoyette@axion.ca.

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Baseball Canada Announces New Executive and Board

  • June 09, 2008

TORONTO, ON - Baseball Canada elected its new executive and board of directors at its annual general meeting June 6-7.

The three-member executive that will serve a two-year term for Baseball Canada consists of three incumbent members.

Ray Carter will return as president, being acclaimed in this year's election. Carter has served the association in his current capacity since 2000.

“I’m honoured to lead Baseball Canada and that the people here have continued faith in me for the last 10 years,” says Carter after his acclamation.

Vice-president Linda Lewis was also re-elected without opposition and will continue a role she has served since 2002.

“I feel great to get that support from the board,” explained Lewis.  “We still have a lot of things to get started, Ray and I and the treasurer that we would really want to see through.”

Al Fitzsimmons, treasurer since June 2007, was also acclaimed in this year’s election.

The 10-member board of directors comprising one representative from each province was elected as follows:

Alberta: Carl Linden
British Columbia: John Berry
Manitoba: Ken Sharpe
New Brunswick: David Watling
Newfoundland: Tom Devine
Nova Scotia: Jody Frowley
Ontario: Don McKnight
Prince Edward Island: Don LeClaire
Quebec: Benoit Lavigne
Saskatchewan: Larry Orth

Updates and reports were also shared by various organization committees, including high performance, coaching, umpires, championships and sport development.

One contentious issue during this year’s meetings was the implementation of the participant fee.  There were several strides made, but there is still work to be done and Baseball Canada’s President sees a light at the end of the tunnel.

“We need to set up the participation fee structure so that everyone can settle down and focus on the business of baseball,” says Carter.

The next Baseball Canada general assembly will take place at this fall's convention November 13-16, which will once again be in Toronto.

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31 Canadians Picked in Second Day of MLB Draft

  • June 07, 2008

OTTAWA, ON - The first day of the Major League Baseball First Year Player Draft saw ONE Canadian selected, that being Brett Lawrie of Langley, BC who was selected 16th overall by the Milwaukee Brewers.

On the second day of the MLB draft, 31 Canadians were selected.  A total of 32 Canadians were selected over the two day event.  Here are the Canadians selected on the second day of the draft:

  • Andrew Albers; North Battleford, SK (10th round, 315th/Padres), LHP
  • Brad Furdal; Ancaster, ON. (11th round, 323rd/Rays), RHP
  • David Francis; Mississauga, ON (12th round, 370th/Braves), RHP
  • Marcel Champagnie; Bolton, ON (15th round, 469th/Angels), SS/OF
  • Carter Morrison; Langley, BC (16th round, 479th/Reds), CF
  • Stosh Wawrzasek; Langley, BC (16th round, 488th/Brewers), RHP
  • Michael Crouse; Port Moody, BC (16th round, 489th/Blue Jays), OF
  • Nick Bucci; Sarnia, ON (18th round, 548th/Brewers), RHP
  • Jordan Meaker; Burlington, ON (20th round, 618th/Diamondbacks), RHP
  • Mathieu Poirier; Montreal, QC (21st round, 634th/Athletics), RHP
  • Mitch Delaney; LaSalle, ON (21st round, 650th/Yankees), 1B
  • Carter Bell; Courtenay, BC (22nd round, 657th/Giants), INF
  • Marcus Knecht; Toronto, ON (23rd round, 698th/Brewers), OF
  • Michael Gosse; Pitt Meadows, BC (23rd round, 703rd/Tigers), 2B
  • Lionel Morrill; Edmonton, AB (24th round, 726th/Twins), OF
  • Brad McElroy; St. Thomas, ON (25th round, 759th/Blue Jays), OF
  • J.R. Robinson; Burnaby, BC (31st round, 939th/Blue Jays), LHP
  • Jordan Lennerton; Surrey, BC (33rd round, 1003rd/Tigers), 1B
  • François Lafreniere; St-Bruno, QC (34th round, 1017th/Giants), RHP
  • Ruddy Rio-Nunez; Montreal, QC (35th round, 1066th/Phillies), OF
  • Nick Purdy; Grafton, ON (36th round, 1075th/Royals), RHP/OF
  • Clay Caufield; Toronto, ON (38th round, 1160th/Yankees), RHP
  • Nick Fogarty; Richmond Hill, ON (40th round, 1208th/Brewers), LHP
  • Benson Merritt; Smithville, ON (42nd round, 1259th/Reds), RHP
  • George Agyapong-Mensah; Mississauga, ON (44th round, 1329th/Blue Jays), RF
  • Jean-François Ricard; Montreal, QC (44th round, 1334th/Mets), LHP
  • David Cooper, Edmonton, AB. (44th round, 1337th/Diamondbacks), SS
  • James Kottaras; Markham, ON (45th round, 1357th/Brewers), 2B
  • Ashton Florko; Trail, BC (45th round, 1359th/Cubs), LHP
  • Nathan Linseman; Ariss, ON (45th round, 1361st/Tigers), LHP
  • Leonardo Ochoa; Longeuil, QC (48th round, 1428th/Giants), SS

Baseball Canada would like to congratulate all the Canadians selected during the two days of the Major League Baseball First Year Player Draft.

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Brett Lawrie Selected 16th Overall in MLB Draft

  • June 05, 2008

OTTAWA, ON – The Milwaukee Brewers made Brett Lawrie (Langley, BC) the 16th overall pick of the 2008 MLB First Year Player Draft, and thus making him the fourth highest Canadian selected in the history of the event.

When Commissioner Bud Selig uttered the 18-year-old’s name as the 16th pick, his reaction to the moment was one that would be expected.

“I was really overwhelmed by the whole situation,” says a very excited Lawrie. “It was great to have all my family and friends behind me and it’s been a fun day.”

When asked who he hugged first upon hearing his name called, Lawrie couldn’t really say.

“It was a little bit of everybody I guess. Everyone came at me so it was a little bit of everyone, it was funny. It was a really great moment in my life and I’ll cherish it forever.”

Only Adam Loewen (4th – 2002), Jeff Francis (9th – 2002) and Phillippe Aumont (11th – 2007) were selected higher than Lawrie in the first round as he now joins an exclusive group of Canadians.

“That part hasn’t really sunk in yet,” says Lawrie. “It’s definitely a great accomplishment and it’s been fun and all I can say is that I enjoy playing for Canada and I hope to make it with the Brewers in the big leagues someday.”

Lawrie’s stock skyrocketed this spring with his on-field performance. Just over the last few months he has been tearing the cover off the ball. He hit .700 (21-for-30) at the Junior National Team’s Spring Training camp this past April and was even better in the Dominican Summer League camp just last week where he hit .500 (17-for-34) with eight home runs (five in a doubleheader) with 24 RBI in only eight games.

“We are extremely happy for Brett and his family. It’s a deserving accomplishment for an exceptional talent and he’s earned everything he got today,” says Greg Hamilton, Director of National Teams for Baseball Canada.

Lawrie now goes to a Brewers organization with strong Canadian ties, starting from the very top with a Canadian General Manager, Doug Melvin and a Canadian Assistant GM, Gord Ash.

The draft will continue until tomorrow after a maximum of 50 rounds. Canadians have been eligible for the MLB Draft since 1985 and last season, 33 Canadians were drafted by 15 MLB clubs.

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2008 Provincial Preview: Saskatchewan

  • June 04, 2008

One province that keeps ascending the national ranks is Saskatchewan.  The 2007 season was a huge success for the province and the association is looking to keep the momentum for 2008.

At the Baseball Canada Fall Convention last November, Saskatchewan was awarded the Province of the Year award and was ranked first in the governance category.

The province was also ranked fourth in the player registration category and Sask Baseball Executive Director Mike Ramage says that the numbers should be better again this year.

“In terms of registration, we had our first increase in 12 years, two years ago and those numbers were stable last year which has been great.”

Ramage gives credit to the Winterball and Rally Cap programs for the increase in membership the last few years.  The association has focused its attention to the rural areas of the province and the response has been extraordinary.  In fact, the demand for these programs has been somewhat overwhelming.

“We just pitched it to a few school districts around the province and they’re all over it,” explains Ramage.  “It’s like candy for them.”

Another category where the province ranked well was with the National Championships.  Despite not winning a medal last year, the province ranked fifth.

A reason for the high ranking is the increase in high level competition.  For example, the association sends their Canada Games team’s prospect to the United States to play some exhibition games against some American clubs, with encouraging results.

“It was a good trip for them and they did really well down there,” says Ramage.  “We were able to get some good evaluations done and get an idea of what we’re looking at for the games in 2009.”

The coaching the players receive can point to the improvement in results for the provincial teams as well.  The number of coaches who register with NCCP continues to increase in the province, while in the case of the Canada Games and the Baseball Canada Cup teams, they have the Baseball Canada Coach of the Year at the helm, Roger Anholt.

If the 2008 season becomes a mirror image of the 2007 season for Saskatchewan in term of governance and National Championships, then the province will enjoy an enviable year.

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Portugal is Looking for National Team Players

  • June 04, 2008

OTTAWA, ON – The Portuguese Baseball and Softball Federation is on the look out for baseball players with a Portuguese passport or are of Portuguese decent to participate in a European baseball tournament.

The city of Abrantes, Portugal is hosting the European Championship Qualifying Tournament where four nations will take part.  Portugal will take on the national teams from Russia, Ireland and Greece.

The Portuguese Senior National Team is looking for players who have played at a university level or higher.  They are specifically looking for, but not limited to, pitchers, catchers, middle infielders and a center fielder.  Tryout dates are July 2-13 in Portugal.

For those who meet the demanded criteria and are interested or for those looking for more information please contact the Portuguese National Team coach Nus Jurgens at jurgens@menontheroof.nl, or the President of the Portuguese Baseball and Softball Federation Sandra Monteiro at sandra@pureid.com.

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Juniors’ Final Dominican Game Cancelled

  • May 29, 2008

GUANUMA, DR – The Junior National Team’s final game for their Dominican Summer League Camp has been cancelled due to rain and will not be made-up.

The Canadians finish their tour of the Dominican with a 7-1 record, arguably one of their most successful tours thus far.

Brett Lawrie (Langley, BC) was on fire during his eight game stretch, hitting .500 (17-for-34) with eight home runs and 24 RBI.

The Junior will return to Canada on Friday, May 30 and rejoin their respective clubs.  The will reunite in July to begin a cross-Canada tour which starts in Thunder Bay and makes its way to Edmonton for the World Junior Baseball Championship, which take place from July 25-August 3.

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Juniors Crush Blue Jays

  • May 28, 2008

BOCA CHICA, DR – The Junior National Team put runs across in every inning except the eighth inning on route to a 21-5 drubbing of the Toronto Blue Jays in the Dominican Republic.

Carter Morrison (Langley, BC) led the way going 3-for-5 with a home run, a double and five RBI.  Brett Lawrie (Langley, BC), James Kottaras (Markham, ON) and Jeff Hunt (Cambridge, ON) all contributed with three RBI apiece.

For the seventh time in eight games, the Juniors took the lead early in the first inning.  Brett Lawrie came in to score the game’s first run on a Luke Willson (LaSalle, ON) single.

The Canadians doubled their lead in the second inning when Jeff Hunt stroked a double to bring in Carter Morrison for his first RBI of the game.

With the score 3-2 for Canada after three innings, the Canadians put up a six spot in the fourth inning.  Lionel Morrill (Edmonton, AB) scored the inning’s first run on an RBI single from Carter Morrison.  Morrison came in to score on a Jeff Hunt single, followed by Ivan Hartle (North Vancouver, BC) who drove in Jonathan Gilbert (St-Georges, QC).  After Hunt came in to score on James Kottaras’s single, Hartle and Kottaras crossed the plate on Brett Lawrie’s single to complete the inning’s scoring.

Canada added three runs in the fifth thanks to the patience of the hitters.  A fielder’s choice, a walk and an error loaded the bases for Jonathan Gilbert who then drove in a run on a single.  Jeff Hunt and James Kottaras would then draw walks to bring in the two other runs.

With already a seven run lead, the Juniors added another three runs in the sixth inning.  With the bases loaded, Carter Morrison hit a bases clearing double to put Canada ahead 15-5.

Two doubles in the seventh, one by James Kottaras and one by Marcus Knecht (Toronto, ON), drove in two more runs and increased the Canadian lead to twelve.

The Juniors concluded their onslaught in the ninth inning with four more runs, highlighted by Carter Morrison’s solo home run.

Hidden in all this offence was another solid pitching performance from the Canadian hurlers.  Nick Bucci (Sarnia, ON) got the start on the mound and went three innings, allowing two runs on three hits and one walk, while striking out a pair.

Andrew Ledger (Toronto, ON) came in relief of Bucci and threw two innings, giving up three runs on four hits and a walk, and two strikeouts.

Then Brad Furdal (Ancaster, ON) and Brandon Petite (Glace Bay, NS) combined to shutout the Blue Jays for the final four innings.  Furdal only allowed one hit over three innings of work, striking out four.  Petite threw a scoreless ninth inning, giving up only a walk.

The Junior National Team will play its final contest of the Dominican Summer League camp on Thurdsay, May 29 against the Philadelphia Phillies.  Game time is at 11 am in Guanuma.

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Juniors Keep On Rolling in Dominican

  • May 27, 2008

BOCA CHICA, DR – The Junior National Team continue to have great success over their competition in the Dominican Republic.  This time, the DSL Minnesota Twins fell victim to the offensive attack and precision pitching of the Canadians as the Juniors came up with an easy 7-1 win.

For the sixth time in seven games, the Juniors opened the scoring in the first inning.  Marcus Knecht (Toronto, ON) hit into a fielder’s choice to bring in James Kottaras (Markham, ON) for the games first run.

The Twins would tie it up in the bottom of the second off of Canadian starter Jake Eliopoulos (Newmarket, ON).  That would be the only run allowed by Eliopoulos as he would go for three innings, allowing one hit and three walks while striking out a pair.

The Juniors would retake the lead in the fifth inning as three Canadian runners would cross the plate in the frame.  Jonathan Gilbert (St-Georges, QC), Dale Anderson (Strathmore, AB) and Maxx Tissenbaum (Toronto, ON) would all come in to score and give Canada a 4-1 lead.

Anderson, who was 1-for-1 with a two runs, an RBI, a pair of walks and was hit by a pitch, drove in Michael Crouse in the sixth inning on an RBI single to make 5-1 Canada.

The lead would climb to six in the seventh inning when James Kottaras came in to score his second run of the game on Luke Willson’s (Lasalle, ON) RBI single.

That would be more that enough for the young men on the mound for Canada as David Walkling (Nanaimo, BC) and Evan Grills (Whitby, ON) would combine to shut out the Twins for the last six innings.  Walkling scattered three hits and gave up a walk in three innings on the mound, while Grills allowed only two runners to reach and struck out six.

The final run came in for the Canadians in the ninth inning when Dale Anderson scored on an Ivan Hartle (North Vancouver, BC) single.

The Junior National Team continues its Dominican tour with a matchup against the Toronto Blue Jays on Wednesday, May 28 at 11 am in Boca Chica.

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Juniors Hold On to Win Over Rangers

  • May 26, 2008

SAN PEDRO DE MACORIS, DR – The Junior National Team’s offence continues to excel in the Dominican, this time crossing eight runners at the plate.  However, it was almost not enough as the Texas Rangers put up five runs in the last two innings, three in the eighth and two in the ninth, but the Juniors held on to an 8-7 win.

Brett Lawrie (Langley, BC) continues to tear the cover off the ball, once again going deep for his eighth homer in five games in the Dominican.  His latest long ball came in the first inning, making it four time out five games that the Canadians put up at least a run in the first.

After Lawrie opened the scoring, the Juniors added a pair in the second on a two-run double from Greg Densem (Toronto, ON) to score Lionel Morrill (Edmonton, AB) and Carter Morrison (Langley, BC) and put Canada ahead 3-0.

The Rangers would respond in the bottom half of the inning on a solo home run off of Andrew Ledger (Toronto, ON) to bring the lead down to two.  That would be the only run Ledger would allow, going three strong innings.

The Canadians brought the lead back to three in the fourth inning when Morrill came in to score on a fielder’s choice to make it 4-1.

But the Rangers quickly responded in the bottom half of the inning with another solo shot, this time off of Danny Britton-Foster (Ladysmith, BC).  But like Ledger, that would be the only run allowed by Britton-Foster in three innings of work.  He allowed five hits and struck out three in his outing.

In the fifth inning, the Juniors padded their lead with three runs in the frame to put them ahead 7-2.  Ivan Hartle (North Vancouver, BC) started the inning with a bunt single, followed by an error by the shortstop to allow Lawrie to reach base.  After a walk to Marcus Knecht (Toronto, ON) to load the bases, Michael Crouse (Port Moody, BC) drew a walk to score Hartle.   An RBI single from Morrill brought in Lawrie and a wild pitch allowed Knecht to score.

The lead would increase to six in the seventh inning on the second RBI of the day for Brett Lawrie, who was 2-for-5 on the day, to bring in Hartle.

It turned out the Canadians would need every one of those runs as the Rangers would shorten the lead to three on a three-run home run in the eighth inning.  Texas would load the bases with nobody out in the ninth and would bring two across on a double play and an RBI single, but Mike Monster (Kelowna, BC) got the last hitter to strikeout putting an end to the game.

The Junior National Team will next take on the Cleveland Indians on Monday, May 26 at 11 am in Boca Chica.

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