Outlook - The Canadian team has always been considered the step child to the United States. Hockey is the main sport of the youths in Canada. It doesn’t thaw out early enough for the kids to have the same kind of season as the American players growing up in California. That hasn’t stopped a few players from excelling. They finished in third last year, their highest finish ever in the World Cup. With a roster full of minor leaguers, and a few veteran major leaguers, they will be one of the many teams fighting for that bronze medal again.
World Cup Record - 71-88
Top Three Finishes - one (2009)
Best Player - Larry Walker, thier hitting and first base coach gets my vote for Canada’s top player ever. He was one of the many Canadian kids that grew up playing hockey and wanting to play in the NHL. The Expos saw him play baseball and offered him more money than he could ever get playing hockey. With a little bit of work, Larry became a five tool player, winning the MVP of the National League in 1997 when he hit .336, 49 homeruns, 130 RBIs and 33 stolen bases. No other Canadian player has won the MVP award in the major leagues. Injuries may have prevented him from being one of the all time greats.
Roster: The numbers below are their minor league numbers:
Catcher: Cole Armstrong (Angels, .284, 9, 30), Chris Robinson (Cubs, .316, 1, 29)
First Base: Emerson Frostad (Astros, .235, 3, 11), Jimmy Van Ostrand (Astros, .306, 11, 48)
Middle Infield: Chris Bisson (Padres, .261, 2, 43), Jonathan Malo (Mets, .226, 3, 16), Skyler Stromsmoe (Giants, .277, 2, 20)
Third Base: Shawn Bowman (Braves, .259, 8, 21)
Outfield: Michael Crouse (Blue Jays, .261, 14, 55), Brock Kjeldgaard (Brewers, .270, 24, 76), Marcus Knecht (Jays, .273, 16, 86), Jamie Romak (Royals, .253, 23, 71), Tim Smith (Royals, .301, 10, 49)
Left handed Pitcher: Andrew Albers (Twins, 8-2, 2.16), Mark Hardy (Padres, 11-10, 2.78), Jay Johnson (Phillies, 1-5, 2.94)
Right Handed Pitcher:Nick Bucci (Brewers, 8-11, 3.84), Jimmy Henderson (Brewers, 7-2, 4.28), Shawn Hill (former National/DNP), Mike Johnson (Former Expo/DNP), Chris Kissock (Phillies, 3-7, 4.82), Kyle Lotzkar (Reds, 3-2, 4.32), Dustin Molleken (Rockies, 4-1, 5.05), Scott Richmond (Blue Jays, 6-9, 7.33)
Players to Watch - The outfield will provide the power with Romak, Knecht and Kjeldgaard. The infield will hopefully provide them with consistent defense because their hitting is weak. There are three veteran arms on the staff with major league experience in Mike Johnson, Scott Richmond and Shawn Hill. Hill played for the 2004 Olympic team and pitched well in four starts for the Marlins last year. Scott Richmond was supposed to play for Canada in the 2008 Olympics but he got called up to the major leagues. Mike Johnson played for the major leagues, but has also played in the professional leagues in Japan, Taiwan and Korea, as well as the Canadian team in the 2004 and 2008 Olympic teams and the World Baseball Classic.
Strange Fact - Larry Walker is not the only MVP of a professional league that is traveling with this team. In 2008, Mike Johnson went 20-2 with a 2.45 ERA pitching in Taiwan for the La New Bears, who now may have the coolest name in baseball (La Minga Monkeys). That performance gave him the MVP in the Taiwan League.