TORONTO — Brett Lawrie has already broken the news to Toronto Blue Jays general manager Alex Anthopoulos.
He’s through with the minor leagues and is making the team out of spring training.
“Yeah, if he doesn’t know it then he should have known it when he was picking me,” the newly acquired prospect says. “He told me he didn’t get me because he wants me to play in the minor leagues, so that obviously tells me he wants me to be in the big leagues. Traded for a big-league starter, what can I say?
“He’s been trying to get me for a long time, he really wants me to play major-league baseball. And I’m looking forward to it in the near future here.”
The 20-year-old from Langley, B.C., picked up Monday from the Milwaukee Brewers for right-hander Shaun Marcum, certainly does not lack in confidence.
Just two years into his professional career, coming off a solid season with double-A Huntsville, Lawrie made it clear that he’s intent on winning a job with the Blue Jays in 2011, and sees no need for a stint at triple-A Las Vegas.
“Nah, I’m ready,” he says, not a hint of doubt in his voice. “My goals are what they’ve always been — I’m looking for major-league baseball, I’m not looking for minor-league baseball.
“I figure I’m good, I’m done, I’m pretty good at minor-league baseball so I think it’s time to (take) a shot at major-league baseball. So my goal is to try and break with the team out of spring training and see what I can do.”
The Blue Jays, on the other hand, are likely to have a different timeline in mind for the latest addition to their stockpile of young talent. They still have much to determine about Lawrie, like where exactly he’s going to play, before his readiness for such a jump can be properly assessed.
And based on its track record, the Anthopoulos regime is likely to make Lawrie force the front office’s hand with a dominant stretch in the minors before bringing him up. As the GM said when the trade was completed: “We let the players dictate that, and I think it’s unfair to start putting expectations and timelines on players, especially not having been around him.”
That won’t curb Lawrie’s enthusiasm.
The 16th overall pick in the 2008 draft — the highest a Canadian position player has ever been selected — was chosen as a catcher but installed at second base by the Brewers once he turned pro. He also has experience at third base and in the outfield and could end up in one of those spots, too.
It doesn’t matter to him.
“Anywhere they need me to play I’ll play, I can do pretty much whatever they need,” says Lawrie. “Whatever gets me to the big-leagues the quickest is what I want to do.”
Regardless of where he ends up on the diamond, it’s Lawrie’s bat and his approach to the game that will carry him up to the majors. In 135 games with Hunstville, he batted .285 with eight homers, 36 doubles, 16 triples, 63 RBIs, 90 runs scored and 30 stolen bases — the type of well-rounded production the Blue Jays so desperately need.
Lawrie is also a fierce competitor who isn’t intimidated on the grandest of stages, owning a fearlessness on the field that prompted Greg Hamilton, Baseball Canada’s director of national teams, to name him to the squads for 2008 Olympics and 2009 World Baseball Classic.
“A lot of the scouts that have seen him talk about him playing the game harder than most players they have ever seen and how when he’s on the field he’s all about winning,” said Anthopoulos.
Lawrie agrees, saying “I’m there for my teammates, and more than anything, I’m there to win.”
“I’m a ferocious player, I’m explosive, play the game hard, play the game the right way, never miss a beat, laying out for balls, just a grinder player,” he adds. “I get after it and in between the lines, I get ready to rock every single day.
“I’m sure once I get to the big leagues it’s only going to get even more intense.”