NEWS
08/04/2011 09:02 EDT | Updated 10/04/2011 05:12 EDT

Adding CanCon: Top prospect Brett Lawrie gets called up by Toronto Blue Jays

TORONTO - Canadian third baseman Brett Lawrie will soon make his long-awaited debut with the Toronto Blue Jays.

The team selected his contract from triple-A Las Vegas shortly after the Jays dropped a 7-6, 12-inning decision to the Tampa Bay Rays on Thursday afternoon.

"We wanted to find out about Brett Lawrie sooner rather than later," general manager Alex Anthopoulos said on a conference call. "We wanted to get him some August at-bats to get a little bit more of a read on him so he deserved to be up here."

Lawrie's arrival bumps all-star slugger Jose Bautista back to right field where he started the season. That left outfielder Travis Snider as the odd man out and he was sent back down to the triple-A club.

"It was not an easy decision to make," said Anthopoulos. "It really came down to (rookie right-fielder) Eric Thames and Travis. (Manager John Farrell) and I talked about it at length and player performance is really what it came down to."

Snider has hit .225 in 49 games this season with three home runs and 30 RBIs. Thames is hitting .272 in his first season in the majors with 22 RBIs and five home runs in 46 games.

"When you look at the numbers and the performances to date they both haven't done all that well in the last week or so," said Anthopoulos. "Even in the month of July they both have comparable numbers.

"Eric Thames is probably a little bit ahead of (Snider) in July, but on the season, overall, Eric's played a little bit better than Travis."

Anthopoulos confirmed that Thames would move to left field and the newly acquired Colby Rasmus will stay in centre.

"Extending my love to all the fans, friends, and family who are sticking by me through this journey," said Snider on Twitter shortly after the announcement. "Thank u all for ur support #keepthefaith"

The Blue Jays also recalled left-hander Luis Perez from Las Vegas and placed right-hander Carlos Villanueva on the 15-day disabled list.

Lawrie, a 21-year-old native of Langley, B.C., has hit .353 for Las Vegas this season with 18 home runs and 61 RBIs. The top prospect was acquired from the Milwaukee Brewers last December in the Shaun Marcum trade.

"We try to put these players in the best position to have success when they come up here," said Anthopoulos. "You know you're not going to be 100 per cent sure. Like I always say, the likelihood with all young players is that they're probably going to have to go back down, but at least you want to do the best you can developmentally to prepare them for being up here.

"Hopefully now with Brett he can be up here to stay for the entire year."

Villanueva, who has a right forearm strain, is 6-3 this season with a 4.24 earned-run average but he has struggled of late.

The right-hander was scheduled to have an MRI on Thursday but results from the scan were not immediately available.

Perez has split this season between Toronto and Las Vegas. The left-hander is 1-2 on the season with a 3.57 earned-run average in the majors.