Eric Brown didn't even know if he would be drafted last year, so when he was selected in the 50th and final round, it was a joyful moment. The fact that he was taken by the Blue Jays, the team he grew up rooting for, was just icing on the cake.
"It was a dream come true," he said. "Growing up in Ontario, to be drafted by the Blue Jays was really a thrill. ... I had an idea that [getting drafted] was a possibility, but I was ecstatic. I was following the Draft a bit. Every time the Blue Jays came around, I'd take a look at it."
Brown made 18 appearances last summer for short-season Vancouver, posting a 3.62 ERA as the team captured the Northwest League championship. Though he had been promoted to Class A Lansing during the final week of the season, he still received a ring.
"The whole experience in Vancouver was unbelievable," he said. "It was almost like a second hometown. I was sad I had to move on, but at the same time, I had to move on. Hopefully, we can repeat again here."
The 23-year-old right-hander started the Canadians off on the right foot Friday, allowing one hit over four shutout innings as Vancouver defeated the Spokane Indians, 8-1, in the season opener for both teams.
Brown issued one walk and struck out one in his first professional start. He generated five groundouts and four fly balls.
"I thought it was pretty good overall," the Thunder Bay native said. "I attacked the zone with the fastball, got ahead and made some good pitches when I had to."
The only hit off Brown came in the second, when Ryan Rua singled on a ground ball to right field. He was erased moments later as Cam Schiller hit into an inning-ending double play.
"The hit was on a slider that was a little more of a cutter and stayed up in the zone," Brown said. "I tried to bury it and [Rua] was able to get barrel on it and bounce it through the right side."
Four relievers finished off the win for Vancouver, yielding one run on two hits over five frames. Balbino Fuenmayor led the offense by going 2-for-5 with a homer and four RBIs, while Dan Klein also went deep.
Although Brown put together a 3.52 ERA over 15 1/3 innings as a reliever for Lansing this season, he said he's happy to be back with the Canadians. As a graduate of the University of British Columbia -- located in Vancouver -- he has friends who come to see him play. And he feels honored that the Blue Jays are taking a look at him as a starter.
"I've got lots of friends around in the Vancouver area coming out to support me," Brown said. "My parents will usually try to make it out as well.
"It's a first-class organization, a great city and great fans. I'm not at all upset to be back here. I'm looking forward to the summer."
So, as a fan, has he thought about what it would be like to wear a Blue Jays uniform at the Major League level?
"I'm taking it one step at a time for now," Brown said. "I was thrilled to get moved up and get a chance to relieve in Lansing. Now I'm thrilled they think enough of me to make me a starter. I'm going to keep competing. Obviously, it's always been a lifelong dream to play in the Majors, but you can't get too far ahead of yourself."