With the WBC quickly approaching, HTTN’s got the info you need
-by David Kloepfer
With just over a month left before Canada’s first game against Italy in the World Baseball Classic, it’s time to start looking at who’ll take the field for the red and white.
This week, we look at the pitching staff.
Scott Richmond, R (born August 30, 1979 in Vancouver, BC)
Richmond managed 169.00 innings of MLB experience over four seasons with the Jays during which he posted a 5.27 ERA and a 1.45 WHIP. Most of those innings came in 2009 (138.2), when he put up a 5.52 ERA and 1.46 WHIP.
Richmond signed a contract to play for the Lotte Giants in the Korean Baseball Organization for 2013.
Chris Leroux, R (b: April 14, 1984 in Montreal, QUE)
Chris Leroux throws a fastball, slider, and sinker at about even distribution. He’s also managed to hurt himself on a yearly basis since he first broke into the bigs.
His minor league career saw him pitch at every level from low A to AAA, and possibly for every team in America. He’ll try to make the Pirates again this coming year.
In 11 innings with the Pirates last year, he struck out 12 and walked 2. In 63 innings at AAA Indianapolis, he stuck 56 and walked 14 — a similar rate to his smaller MLB sample.
Jameson Taillon, R (b. November 18, 1991 in Winter Have, FLA)
At 21, the dual citizen Taillon is the youngest member of Team Canada.
Taillon went 2nd overall in the 2010 MLB draft. He was drafted before Chris Sale (13th overall), an All Star last year, and Manny Machado (3rd overall), who had a promising last two months of 2012.
If there’s a player to watch for Canada in this Tournament, it’s Taillon. Also, props to the Pirates organization for letting their budding star play.
Shawn Hill, R (b. April 28, 1981 in Mississauga, ON)
Hill is what you call a journeyman, meaning he’s ridden a lot of filthy man-stunk buses to a pile of minor league parks across America. He still made more money throwing 12.0 for the Padres in 2009 than I have in my entire life, so I don’t feel too bad for him.
The Blue Jays signed Hill to a minor league deal for 2013 and he might make an appearance out of the pen if something goes terribly wrong for them this season.
Andrew Albers, L (b. October 6, 1985 in North Battleford, SA)
Drafted in the 12th round in 2004, Albers has yet to make it to the show. He was, however, part of the gold medal winning 2011 Pan American Games squad and he and the rest of the team were inducted into the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame for their success. Tommy Lasorda’s in there, too. Seriously.
Dustin Molleken, R (b. August 21, 1984 in Regina, SA)
Molleken also has yet to crack the bigs. He spent 2012 with the Nippon Ham Fighters and made history as the first Canadian player to appear in a NPB championship series game.
His career ERA is 4.88, which doesn’t tell you much because it’s distributed over many seasons at every level of minor league ball and one in Japan.
Mark Hardy, L (b. May 3, 1988 in Campbell River, BC)
Hardy, a former UBC hurler, spent part of 2012 with the AA San Antonio Missions under Manager John Gibbons.
The Missions, for whom Hardy played six games last year, were one of four teams he had a stop with in 2012 when he climbed the minor league ladder from rookie ball all the way to AA. He made a similar four-team journey in 2010.
Hopefully 2013 sees Hardy climb the final few rungs into the majors.
Trystan Magnuson, L (b. June 6, 1985, Vancouver, BC)
Magnuson threw 14.2 innings over 9 games for the Oakland A’s in 2011 before being traded to Toronto for cash. In 2012, he threw a solid 32 innings in relief for the AA New Hampshire Fisher Cats, posting a 1.95 ERA, a 1.21 WHIP, and a 6.7/9inn strikeout rate.
Scott Mathieson, R (b. February 27, 1984 in Vancouver, BC)
Continuing the trend of Canadians winning the NPL championship, Mathieson did just that with the Yomiuri Giants last year.
Scott’s career has been derailed twice by Tommy John surgery; he is now either an unstoppable cyborg of modern medicine or another disastrous elbow injury waiting to happen. He was stellar over 42.0 innings with the Giants last year, striking out 48 batters and allowing .976 walks plus hits per innings pitched.
Phillipe Aumont, R (b. January 7, 1989 in Gatineau, QUE)
Gatineau, Quebec, has a lot of strip clubs. That’s because it’s just across the border from Ottawa, which is full of greasy politicians and university students, and because it is in Quebec, which is where strippers come from. This is neither good nor bad; it is only true.
Phillipe threw 14.2 innings for the Phillies last year. He was ‘aight.
Jesse Crain, R (b. July 5, 1981 in Toronto, ON)
Jesse has a no-fooling full on MLB career going: 495 IP, 3.22 ERA, 7.2 SO/9, 4.3 BB/9. He came in eighth in rookie of the year voting in 2005.
Crain is a late relief guy, usually appearing in the seventh inning or later and facing only one to three batters. Odds are he’ll set up for closer John Axford.
Why has Crain been so successful? Because he is from Toronto, which is the Centre of the Universe.
Jim Henderson, R (b. October 21, 1982 in Calgary, AB)
Henderson threw 30 innings in relief for the Brewers last year, taking the field in the sixth or later and facing only a batter or three. He fills much the same role as Crain, but he’s not as good at it. He’s also a right-hander. He mostly threw his four-seamer (65% of the time) in 2012, which maxed out at 95 mph. He offsets his fastball with a slider; a similar repertoire to Crain’s, but Henderson throws his four-seamer more frequently.
John Axford, R (b. April 1, 1983 in Simcoe, ON)
Axford has been a solid closer for the Brewers over the last four years but in 2012 his ERA soared into the mid-fours and his WHIP increased by a third.
You know what? I don’t think he gave a damn. He had a child that July, and he was probably still glowing from his 2011 Robert Goulet Memorial Mustached American of the Year Award. Wouldn’t you be?
There’s an apparent dearth of both high-quality starting pitching and left-handers on this team.
Part of the problem is the notable exceptions of Scott Diamond, the injured Twins pitcher (and my fellow Guelph, ON native); Jeff Francis, who’s competing for a job in the Rockie’s rotation; and Ryan Dempster, who was officially ruled out after he couldn’t make up his mind whether or not he wanted to play. That’s what indecisiveness gets you, Ryan, but ya kinda stunk last year anyway.
Erik Bedard, released from the Pirates last August, and Rich Harden, who missed all of last season with a shoulder injury, were also not named to the team.
Visit headtothe.net again next week when I take a look at the infield.