Top prospect Brett Lawrie is set to make his Major League Baseball debut in Baltimore.
The Toronto Blue Jays called up the third-baseman from their AAA affiliate, the Las Vegas 51s on Thursday and Lawrie hopped on a plane to meet the team in Baltimore for the three-game series.
His parents, Russ and Cheryl, and older sister Danielle, will be on hand to match the 21-year-old’s debut.
Lawrie was acquired by Toronto during the off-season from the Milwaukee Brewers. The Brewers selected Lawrie in the first round of the 2008 MLB Draft 16th overall, the highest ever Canadian positional player selected.
Lawrie, in his first season at AAA with Las Vegas, batted .353 with a team-high .661 slugging percentage in 69 games. He also led the 51s with 18 home runs and six triples and was third with 61 RBIs.
Lawrie was on the verge of being promoted to Toronto in late May before he fractured his left hand. After a month of rehabbing in Florida, he re-joined Las Vegas in mid-July.
He showed little rust, hitting .348 (24-for-69) in 17 games since being activated from the disabled list.
“We felt like, one, he was ready,” Toronto manager John Farrell said on the Blue Jays’ website. “Two, we wanted to get in a position where he joins us on the road.
“Finally, this is a guy that we’ve had a lot of expectations on. That’s not to create more of a hysteria situation, than the attention that’s going to follow him, but he has done everything we’ve asked at Triple-A.”
The Blue Jays felt it was important to get Lawrie some experience at the Major League level before rosters expand in September. That’s the same time of year where competition around the big leagues drops because of the arrival of Minor Leaguers and teams playing out the string.
This promotion will provide Lawrie with a larger sample size of games for the club to evaluate his talent. General manager Alex Anthopoulos also believes the club has done everything it could to prepare his young third baseman for the next step.
“We try to put these players in the best position to have success when they come up here,” Anthopoulos said. “You know you’re not going to be 100 percent sure. Like I always say, the likelihood, with all players, they’re likely going to have to go back down. But at least you want to do the best you can developmentally to prepare them for being up here.
“Hopefully now it’s one of those things with Brett where he can stay up here for the entire year.”
Lawrie graduated from Brookswood Secondary in 2008 and is played in the Langley Blaze Premier program.
He also represented Canada at the 2008 Olympics in Beijing, as well as multiple times with the Canadian junior national team program.