Layin’ Down The Law
There was no Keith Law chat at ESPN today, but the day wasn’t a total loss for local KLaw fans, as he showed up on Prime Time Sports on the Fan 590 (audio here), and had some things to say about the Jays’ prospects, relating to the recent release of Law’s Top 100.
Because you should listen to the whole thing I’ll spare you the less exciting bits– like how he didn’t like the promotion of Adeiny Hechavarria, and how that he and Anthony Gose are still ridiculously raw at the plate– and skip straight into raging fucking hard-on territory.
On Zach Stewart’s ability to remain a starter:
“I’ve seen him,” Law says. “I’ve seen him pitch as a started with above average velocity. He’s got really good sink on the fastball– it’s not just downward sink too, it’s sink and tail– just a tonne of downward life on the fastball. He’ll show you three other pitches– I think he’s got a knockout slider that’s going to miss bats in the big leagues. I don’t see anything in the delivery that says to me that this guy’s got to go to the bullpen. It’s not like he’s a little guy where I think he might have to go to the bullpen. There’s no obvious red flag here that says to me he’s a bullpen guy. You look for, when you’re trying to figure out if a guy can start, do you have a third pitch? Does the delivery work? Can he hold his velocity deep into games? All the markers on Stewart point to him remaining a starter. So, I know there are a lot of scouts, a lot of… even executives who say he’s going to end up in the bullpen. You know what? He’s not going to end up in the bullpen until he pitches himself there, and right now there’s no evidence he’s going to do that. The evidence says he’s a starter.”
Law then compared Stewart to Roy Halladay– though… simmer down, champ, it was meant in terms of the style of his fastball, not so much results– saying that he can touch 96, he’ll sit at 91-93, and that he’s got great sink on it. The big difference, Law noted– and big can’t be emphasised enough I don’t think– is that he doesn’t have Halladay’s command. So… let’s not go nuts here, but let’s still appreciate the praise. “Stewart is going to get a lot of ground balls off that fastball,” he added. “It’s one of the best moving fastballs of any of the prospects on that Top 100. “
“There’s just too much there to have him only throw 60 innings,” he adds.
On Travis d’Arnaud:
“If they brought him up on Opening Day in 2011 I think he’d struggle badly,” Law said. “That ranking [25 spots above Aaron Cibia] in the Top 100 is about the long-term. I think d’Arnaud has much more upside– almost as much power potential as Aaron Cibia, but a lot more potential to hit for average, and he’s a far, far better defensive catcher. The Blue Jays’ people say he’s the best overall defensive catcher they have in the system, and I would certainly agree with that. And when you’ve got a guy who can contribute defensively behind the plate, but who is also going to be an asset on offence, that’s a potential All-Star. If you look around the big leagues right now at the average catcher, offensively, it’s pretty bad. That’s why the Rays wanted that Robinson Chirinos, who’s only been catching for a year-and-a-half, in the Matt Garza trade, because you can kinda sit him behind the plate, and he can hit. Well, the Blue Jays actually have a guy who suit up behind the plate and help them receiving, throwing, and hitting. That’s a pretty special prospect.”
Meanwhile, new Jays manager John Farrell joined Bob McCown and John Shannon on Prime Time Sports on the Fan 590 yesterday (audio here), and there were a few things of he said that are worth mentioning.
He was first asked about potential lineups, and when it was suggested that the roster is 95% set he was quick to clarify that that’s not necessarily the case. He then explained that there are five main questions he feels need to be answered through Spring Training:
Who’ll take the fourth and fifth spots in the rotation, who’s going to hit leadoff, who’s going to hit behind Bautista to provide some protection, who will be the closer, and how they’re going to handle Arencibia and Lind.
Asked specifically about the closer, Farrell made sure to include Jason Frasor in the mix– something that Alex Anthopoulos has yet to do this off-season, at least to my knowledge.
Farrell also spoke about Brett Lawrie, and while it was suggested to me on Twitter that the manager’s comments indicate that the club is OK with Lawrie opening the season with the club, that’s really not sense I got.
“I don’t think you ever look at a player and say ‘he’s too young,’ ” Farrell said. “I think that’s a case by case basis. And are they mentally ready to handle the challenges at the Major League level? Are they ready to handle some of the slumps that they might go through and be able to separate that out? But… he’s currently not on the Major League roster– and he doesn’t need to be on it– but I think he’s going to let us know with his play, in Spring Training and beyond, when he’s ready– and fully ready– to come to the Major Leagues to stay, and not come up to go back.”
The key though, to my mind, was what he said next.
“When you talk about skipping one full level you have to have a true understanding of what that player’s capabilities are from a mental standpoint, as well as from a physical standpoint.”
Now, Farrell suggested that the four-to-six weeks of Spring Training might be enough to make that kind of evaluation, but seeing as those will be the first few weeks anyone in the organization has seen him, I don’t think it’s outlandish to assume it won’t be enough.
He also added this about Lawrie’s position: “We’re going to start him and hold him at third base for the time being. We reserve the right to make some change somewhere down the line– that might be mid-season, that might be the end of the season.”
So… there’s that.