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Russ Canzler, a name that many NEPA baseball fans will recognize, was claimed off waivers by the Baltimore Orioles on Tuesday. Canzler, a Hazleton, Pa. native, was recently claimed by the New York Yankees, but was designated for assignment to clear room for the recently signed Travis Hafner. Canzler has made the big leagues the past two seasons with Tampa Bay and Cleveland respectively, and has dominated the International League the past two seasons as well.
Canzler, 26, was selected in the 30th round by the Chicago Cubs in the 2004 draft, and played in the Cubs system through the 2010 season. The Rays then picked him up as a minor league free agent, where he began his International League domination. Canzler hit .314 with 18 home runs and recorded 83 runs batted in on his way to winning the International League Most Valuable Player award with Durham in 2011. He then appeared in three games with the Rays at the conclusion of the regular season, playing for fellow Hazleton, Pa. native, Joe Maddon.
Canzler joined the Indians organization following the 2011 campaign and proceeded to hit 22 home runs with Columbus. He was called up by Cleveland when the rosters expanded, and earned 93 at-bats in 26 games with the Indians to close out the 2012 season. He hit his first career Major League home run at Target Field against the Twins on Sept. 7. He finished the month with a .269 average, three home runs, and 11 runs batted in.
Canzler will have an opportunity to make the Orioles opening day roster, in large part to his defensive versatility. He has played first base, third base, left, and right field. With a healthy Brett Gardner joining Ichiro and Curtis Granderson, it would have been a tall order to get significant playing time with the Yankees this season.