MLB Canadian Roundup: Abraham Toro makes immediate impact for Astros

Houston Astros' Abraham Toro celebrates in the dugout after hitting a two-run home run against the Toronto Blue Jays in the ninth inning. (Fred Thornhill/CP)

With the regular season almost over, players are either trying to make an impression before the winter or preparing for a playoff push. In the sixth instalment of a monthly series, we check in on the Canadians across Major League Baseball, starting in Houston…

Abraham Toro, Longueuil, Que.
Talk about an impressive MLB debut.

Toro, 22, began his big league career on Aug. 22 and eight games in helped Justin Verlander earn his third career no-hitter.

The infielder made a big difference in the game by hitting a go-ahead two-run home run in the ninth inning and later recording the final out at third base on a Bo Bichette ground ball.

It will be interesting to see what Houston does with Toro once the playoffs start. Shortstop Carlos Correa appears to be close to returning from a back injury, so it’s not clear where Toro fits on Houston’s roster.

James Paxton, Ladner, B.C.
Paxton was featured in the last instalment of this series for his strong play and has done nothing but impress ever since.

The 30-year-old southpaw has won all six of his starts over the last month thanks to some gaudy strikeout totals. He struck out 11 at Dodger Stadium on Aug. 23 and followed that outing up with a 12-strikeout performance at home to the Rangers on Sept. 3.

Mike Soroka, Calgary
Soroka had the chance to pitch against the Blue Jays on two occasions over the past month with one appearance on home soil and the other in Atlanta (he lost the first game, but beat the Blue Jays the next time out).

What impact he has as the Braves begin their playoff run will be interesting to watch. In the meantime, he’s generating some support as an NL Cy Young candidate.

Joey Votto, Toronto
A low back strain landed Votto on the 10-day injured list retroactive to Aug. 15.

He returned on Aug. 27 and has hit three home runs since then, but his season OPS is just .781, his lowest ever mark in the major-leagues.

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Russell Martin, Montreal
In what is becoming a monthly staple, Martin’s pitching has overshadowed any type of offensive production.

This month it was a performance against the Padres that impressed his teammates (watch the clip below until the end).

At the plate, Martin hit a go-ahead three-run home run on Sept. 3 against Colorado in a victory over the Rockies.

Josh Naylor, Mississauga, Ont.
Continued playing time appears to be benefiting the 22-year-old, who already has seven walks compared to 10 strikeouts in September. That’s a much better ratio than in August when he had twice as many strikeouts as walks.

Naylor is coming off a solid weekend where he went 2-for-4 with a double on Friday, duplicated those results on Saturday and hit a two-run homer on Sunday.

Nick Pivetta, Victoria
Pivetta was demoted to triple-A for the second time this season on Aug. 24 after picking up two losses in relief.

He was recalled when rosters expanded and has allowed three earned runs and three walks over 2 2/3 innings.

Tyler O’Neill, Burnaby, B.C.
The Cardinals activated O’Neill from the injured list in late August after his left wrist strain and he’s appeared in limited action ever since.

The outfielder only has six at-bats in September with one hit for the NL Central leaders.

Rowan Wick, North Vancouver, B.C.
Wick’s last month was highlighted by the first two career saves of his career.

He’s appeared in relief 13 times in the last month and is sporting a solid 2.79 ERA for the season.

Cal Quantrill, Port Hope, Ont.
It’s been a rough stretch for the right-hander, who has given up 28 earned runs over his last four starts.

Quantrill has seen his earned-run average go from 3.23 when our last instalment came out to 5.33 for the year in the process.

Jordan Romano, Markham, Ont.
Romano returned to the Blue Jays on Aug. 22 after a stint in the minors where he was injured along the way.

The right-handed relief pitcher has pitched five innings giving up five hits and three earned runs along the way. He didn’t have a great weekend after being hit with a line drive.


Jordan Balazovic, Mississauga, Ont.
An impressive season in the minors for the 20-year-old right-hander earned him a promotion to double-A Pensacola before the post-season started on Sept. 4.

Balazovic is six-foot-five, 215 pounds and made his double-A debut in Game 3 against the Biloxi Shuckers. He allowed two earned runs on three hits over 4 2/3 innings and struck out seven as Pensacola picked up the win.

Balazovic’s season is done, however, as the Blue Wahoos were eliminated in Game 5.

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