Brewers sign top Draft pick Lawrie
Canadian inks first pro contract before playing in Olympics
CINCINNATI -- Before he headed off to play in the Olympics, Brett Lawrie had to take care of business.
Lawrie, the Brewers' top pick in the 2008 First-Year Player Draft, came to terms this week on his first professional contract just before leaving for Beijing to play for Team Canada in the Summer Games. The Brewers announced the deal Tuesday while Lawrie was on a plane to China.
Lawrie, who will be a catcher in the Brewers' system, is believed to have received a $1.7 million signing bonus. The agreement does not include an invitation to Major League Spring Training."The conversations have been ongoing, so there weren't really any surprises," said Brewers amateur scouting director Jack Zduriencik. "The groundwork was laid." Zduriencik traveled to Durham, N.C., to finalize the contract with Lawrie, who was there with Team Canada for a series of Olympic tune-ups against Team USA. The teams shared a flight overseas on Tuesday morning.
An 18-year-old from Langley, B.C., who converted to catcher over the past year, Lawrie's commitments to Team Canada will prevent him from playing in the Brewers' system this year. But he will be assigned to the instructional league when he returns, and could also take part in the Brewers' two-part offseason training program at Maryvale Baseball Park in Phoenix.The Brewers had hoped to sign Lawrie earlier so he could spend a week or two with Minor League catching instructor Charlie Greene. "There is a silver lining to everything," Zduriencik said. "The [Olympic] experience for Brett is going to be a great experience. It's a chance to represent your country and you're playing against the best national teams in the world. ... Certainly, we would have liked to have gotten him into pro ball and gotten him some instruction, but I don't think this is a setback in any way, shape or form." Before joining the Olympic team, Lawrie played for Team Canada in the World Junior Baseball Championships and won a trifecta of awards. He batted .469 in the tournament to win top hitter honors, hit three home runs to win the homer title and led the tournament with 16 RBIs. The Brewers hope to introduce Lawrie at Miller Park during their Sept. 4-7 series against the Padres. He has already passed his physical, so that visit would be purely ceremonial.
At No. 16 overall, Lawrie became the highest drafted hitter out of Canada and just the sixth Canadian ever selected in the first round. The Brewers may have snatched Lawrie away from the Toronto Blue Jays, who owned selection No. 17.Lawrie's sister, Danielle, is a pitcher with the Canadian women's Olympic softball team, which will also be in Beijing.
Adam McCalvy is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.