Canadian Pipeline to Milwaukee

Brett Lawrie was a first round pick of the Brewers in 2008.  (Photo: Brad Krause)

Brett Lawrie was a first round pick of the Brewers in 2008. (Photo: Brad Krause)

When you think Canada, the sport most likely to come to mind is hockey. But for the Milwaukee Brewers, America’s neighbor to the north has proven to be a baseball hotbed in recent years.

Several noteable Canadians have spent time with the Brewers in the past, including pitchers John Axford and Eric Gagne, as well as current closer Jim Henderson.

The Brewers minor league system is littered with Canucks as well, including infielders Taylor Green, Pete Orr and jalen Harris, outfielders Chadwin Stang and Brock Kjeldgaard, pitcher David Otterman, and catcher Dustin Houle.

Houle was an 8th round selection of the Brewers in 2011 after playing for the Langley Blaze, a traveling team of some of Canada’s top young prospects.

The Brewers have gotten quite familiar with the Blaze over the past few years, as the team routinely heads to Arizona each spring for a series of exhibition games.

Since 2001, the Langley Blaze have had 30 players selected in the Major League draft, including a record-high six players drafted by the Milwaukee Brewers.

The most noteable former Blaze player selected by the Brewers was infielder Brett Lawrie, who Milwaukee selected in the first round of the 2008 MLB draft. Lawrie spent two seasons in the Brewers system before being dealt to the Toronto Blue Jays in exchange for Shaun Marcum in December of 2010.

The same year the Brewers selected Lawrie, they also grabbed his teammate, right-handed pitcher Stosh Wawrzasek in the 16th round.

One year earlier, in 2007, Milwaukee also drafted a pair of Blaze players, including pitcher Travis Nevakshonoff in the 9th round, and outfielder Ryan Jensen in the 33rd round.

In 2004 the Brewers selected right-handed pitcher Jamie Metzner in the 46th round, but Metzner did not sign with Milwaukee.

As for who might be the next player to make the jump from the Langley Blaze to the Milwaukee Brewers, fans attending Spring Training will get a pair of chances to take an up close and personal look this March. The Blaze are scheduled to play a pair of games at Maryvale Baseball Park against one of the Brewers minor league affiliates on March 17th and March 25th.

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