Toronto Blue Jays fans realized how much the team valued up-and-coming infielder Brett Lawrie earlier this winter when management met Milwaukee's asking price of top pitcher Shaun Marcum.
But how is the 21-year-old from Langley, B.C. viewed across Major League Baseball?
Well, for the second year in a row he appears on MLB.com's Top 50 Prospects list, this time ranked 28th.
Lawrie, the lone Canadian and one of only two second baseman on the list, will report to spring training in Dunedin, Fla., with the Jays' other position players by Feb. 19.
If you ask the confident Lawrie, he'll be roaming the dugout at Rogers Centre in Toronto on April 1 when the Blue Jays open the regular season against Minnesota.
"Yeah, if he doesn't know it then he should have known it when he was picking me," Lawrie said of Blue Jays general manager Alex Anthopoulos in early December. "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."
Just two years into his professional career, coming off a solid season with AA 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 AAA 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.
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 might end up in one of those spots.
In 135 games with AA Hunstville last season, he batted .285 with eight home runs, 36 doubles, 16 triples, 63 runs batted in, 90 runs scored and 30 stolen bases — the type of well-rounded production the Blue Jays so desperately need.
Scouts have long admired Lawrie's tenacity and fearlessness, two traits that helped him get named to Canada's Olympic team in 2008 and World Baseball Classic squad in '09 despite his age.