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From fan to draftee, Brown takes first real step toward MLB

Growing up on the baseball fields of Port Arthur, Eric Brown always dreamed of one day becoming a Toronto Blue Jay.
Eric Brown throws the ball around at Port Arthur Stadium Thursday afternoon. (Jamie Smith,
Growing up on the baseball fields of Port Arthur, Eric Brown always dreamed of one day becoming a Toronto Blue Jay.

After watching his name pop-up Wednesday in the 2011 Major League Baseball draft for Canada’s only remaining MLB team, the former Border Cats pitcher might get his chance.

Brown was picked up by the Jays 1,519th overall in the 50th round, one of 35 Canadian players drafted to the majors this year.

"Obviously being a Canadian kid growing up loving baseball, the Jays have always been my team. So yeah, it’s a little extra special that it happened to be them to draft me,"

Brown said Thursday while working out with his former team at Port Arthur Stadium.
While some players might start thinking about fame and fortune after they’re drafted, the humble 22-year-old right hander said he’s just relieved that being selected means he can continue to play the game he loves.

Brown will start playing for the single A Vancouver Canadians as early as the end of the week. While it’s his dream to play in the show, Brown said he might still have a long way to go before stepping onto the field at the Rogers Centre in a Blue Jays' uniform.

"They can move me up or move me down depending on how I do," Brown said. "I try not to have any expectations, just try to take it as I go and do the best I can."

Brown finished up his senior year as a University of British Columbia Thunderbird with a 7-2 record, posting a 2.27 ERA. He led his team with 83 1/3 innings pitched.

Border Cats head coach Mike Steed compares Brown to four-time Cy Young pitcher Greg Maddux, who won more games in the 1990s than any other pitcher, in terms of how he manages his game. Steed said Brown brought a lot of maturity to the Cats in 2010.

"I think it helped the younger guys more than anything just by his approach to the game his work habits and all that," Steed said. "He’s not overpowering but he knows how to pitch."
Brown said from his time as a little league Port Arthur National to a Border Cat, it’s an honour to be among so many great athletes who have played ball in Thunder Bay.

"They’ve all just been stepping stones and building towards this," Brown said. "I’m just glad to have the opportunity to keep playing."