But What Do I Know? . . . Vladimir Guerrero Jr., Joey Votto, James Paxton, Edouard Julien

July 16, 2023

By Kevin Glew

Cooperstowners in Canada

Some Canadian baseball news and notes from the past week:

-As you know, Vladimir Guerrero Jr. (Montreal, Que.) won the Major League Baseball Home Run Derby on Monday night to become the second player born in Canada to win it. He joined Justin Morneau (New Westminster, B.C.) who was victorious in the event in 2008. Guerrero Jr. belted 72 home runs to take home this year’s crown. This combined with the 91 he clubbed in the 2019 derby give him 163 in total in the derby. This is the second-most all-time to Pete Alonso‘s total of 195.

-I recently did a 24-hour poll on Twitter that asked people who they thought was the Canadian major league comeback player of the year so far in 2023. The choices were Boston Red Sox left-hander James Paxton (Ladner, B.C.), Cincinnati Reds first baseman Joey Votto (Etobicoke, Ont.) and Atlanta Braves right-hander Michael Soroka (Calgary, Alta.). After 219 votes, Votto was the winner with 47.9% of the votes. Paxton was second with 40.2%. Votto, who will turn 40 on September 10, returned to the Reds’ lineup after recovering from shoulder surgery after missing the season’s first 72 games. Since then, he has seven home runs and 18 RBIs in 19 games, and owns a .597 slugging percentage and .939 on-base plus slugging percentage (OPS). His underdog Reds also sit in second place in the National League Central division with a 50-43 record.

-On Saturday, Paxton was hit hard in his 11th start of the season for the Boston Red Sox, allowing six runs in three innings in the Red Sox 10-4 loss to the Chicago White Sox. The 34-year-old southpaw is now 5-2 with a 3.51 ERA and has 68 strikeouts in 59 innings this season. Overall, however, Paxton has been one of the Red Sox best starting pitchers over the past two months. He was named the American League’s Pitcher of the Month for June after he went 3-0 with a 1.74 ERA, with 34 strikeouts in 31 innings, in five starts. Paxton’s 11 starts with the Red Sox this season are his first in the regular season since April 6, 2021 with the Seattle Mariners. Since that time, Paxton has endured his second Tommy John surgery, a grade 2 lat tear and, most recently, a hamstring injury.

-Meanwhile, Michael Soroka (Calgary, Alta.) will likely get a start for the Atlanta Braves in their series against the Arizona Diamondbacks that begins on Tuesday. The 25-year-old righty has allowed three earned runs in 10 2/3 innings in two starts with the Braves since being recalled on June 30. He also made two starts with the Braves earlier in the season. In total, in four big league starts this year, he is 1-1 with a 5.31 ERA and has 16 strikeouts in 20 1/3 innings. After initially tearing his right Achilles tendon on August 3, 2020, the Junior National Team alum then re-tore it the following June. Following two years of recovery and rehabilitation, Soroka returned to game action in August last year and posted a 5.40 ERA in six late-season starts between class-A and triple-A before being shut down with elbow inflammation.

Edouard Julien (Quebec City, Que.) continues to impress with the Minnesota Twins. Heading into Sunday’s game against the Oakland A’s, the Canadian infielder has had three consecutive two-hit games, and since the start of July, he has raised his batting average from .252 to .279. The Junior National Team grad has seven home runs in 44 games and leads all Twins players with a .515 slugging percentage and an .870 OPS.

-Right-hander Jordan Balazovic (Mississauga, Ont.) has also been impressive with the Twins. Since being called up from triple-A on June 18, the 6-foot-5 Canuck has posted a 1.64 ERA in eight relief appearances and has struck out nine batters in 11 innings. Prior to his call-up, the 24-year-old Ontario Blue Jays and Junior National Team alum had appeared in 14 games (three starts) for the triple-A St. Paul Saints this season and was 1-1 with a 4.79 ERA. Selected in the fifth round of the 2016 MLB draft by the Twins, Balazovic has pitched in parts of seven seasons in the Twins’ system and owns a 24-24 record with a 4.24 ERA in 106 minor league games (82 starts).

-After being hit hard in his two most recent starts, Cleveland Guardians right-hander Cal Quantrill (Port Hope, Ont.) was placed on the 15-day injured list again on July 6. The 28-year-old Ontario Terriers and Junior National Team grad had just returned from 28 days on the injured list with right shoulder inflammation. “He’s getting to his velocity, but he’s not commanding it,” Guardians manager Terry Francona told reporters about Quantrill on July 6. “His work in between is lacking because he doesn’t feel like he can do it. The good part, this time we’re not going to shut him down. We’re going to let him play catch and when he’s ready we will start his side days again.” After setting career-highs with 15 wins and 186 2/3 innings pitched in 2022, Quantrill has struggled to a 2-6 record with a 6.45 ERA in 13 starts, spanning 67 innings, this season.

-The Pittsburgh Pirates activated left-hander Rob Zastryzny (Edmonton, Alta.) from the injured list on July 7 and then designated him for assignment. He went unclaimed by another club and the veteran southpaw is now with the Pirates’ triple-A affiliate in Indianapolis. The 31-year-old lefty had been on the 15-day injured list since June 16 with forearm inflammation. Zastryzny posted a 5.29 ERA in 18 relief appearances for the Pirates this season. Earlier in the campaign, Zastryzny missed more than a month with left ulnar neuritis. The 6-foot-3 Canuck was a second-round pick of the Cubs in 2013. He recorded a 4.41 ERA in 18 relief appearances with the Cubs from 2016 to 2018 and earned a World Series ring in 2016. From 2019 to 2022, he pitched in the Los Angeles Dodgers, Baltimore Orioles, Miami Marlins, New York Mets and Los Angeles Angels organizations. In December, he signed a minor league deal with the Pirates.

-The Toronto Blue Jays activated right-hander Zach Pop (Brampton, Ont.) on July 9 and assigned him to the triple-A Buffalo Bisons. Pop was initially placed on the 15-day injured list on May 5 with a hamstring injury, but experienced multiple setbacks during his recovery. He has also been hit hard during his rehab appearances with the Bisons. In eight triple-A relief appearances, he owns a 9.00 ERA. Prior to his injury, the Junior National Team grad was 1-1 with a 6.59 ERA in 15 appearances for the Blue Jays this season.

-Happy 33rd Birthday to Baseball Canada alum and former Milwaukee Brewers pitching prospect Nick Bucci (Sarnia, Ont.)! Selected in the 18th round out of Sarnia’s St. Patrick’s High School in 2008, Bucci toed the rubber for parts of six seasons in the Brewers’ organization, advancing as high as double-A. In total, he posted a 3.75 ERA in 84 minor league appearances (including 72 starts) and had 347 strikeouts in 398 1/3 innings.

-On this date 73 years ago, Phil Marchildon (Penetanguishene, Ont.) pitched his final major league game. The Canadian righty entered the game in relief of Boston Red Sox left-hander Mel Parnell in the first inning and allowed a run in 1 1/3 innings to Cleveland at Fenway Park in the Red Sox 13-10 win. It was Marchildon’s only game with the Red Sox. His previous 184 major league appearances were with the Philadelphia A’s.

-This week’s trivia question: Who was the first Montreal Expos pitcher selected to the MLB All-Star Game? Please provide your answer in the “Comments” section below.

-The answer to last week’s trivia question (Who was the first Toronto Blue Jays pitcher selected to the MLB All-Star Game?) was Dave Lemanczyk in 1979.

9 thoughts on “But What Do I Know? . . . Vladimir Guerrero Jr., Joey Votto, James Paxton, Edouard Julien

Add yours

  1. Thanks for my Sunday morning Canadian baseball fix. Did Claude Raymond pitch in a all star game?

  2. A great rundown as usual Kevin. So many great Canadians to great things. I so look forward to every game because it seems like something exciting is always happening.

Leave a Reply

Powered by WordPress.com.

Up ↑

%d bloggers like this: