Alex Anthopoulos was on the Fan590 this morning with Jeff Blair and Stephen Brunt (audio here), and while a lot of it was typical Anthopoulosian blather, he did admit that he overstepped when he proclaimed last year that Adeiny Hechavarria was a shortstop, end of story, and he had a few things to say that were definitely worth noting– even if we don’t necessarily believe what he’s saying. Actually, especially if we don’t.
Part Three of Three – Adeiny Hechavarria
On the surface the relatively-early demotion of Adeiny Hechavarria to the Jays’ minor league camp may seem like an indication that all is still not well with the Cuban prospect. But that didn’t quite gibe with what we’d been hearing this spring. For instance, in the Toronto Sun on Saturday, John Farrell raved about the shortstop’s bat after the club faced the Astros.
“The display that Hechavarria put on was as good as anything we’ve seen in camp,” he said. “A line-drive base hit off of (Brett) Myers, a 420-foot home run to centre field. He had an outstanding day.”
He added that Hechavarria looks like a completely different hitter compared to last year. “It centres around his physical maturity. His bat speed is noticeably quicker. He is growing into a man and has a man’s strength. It’s playing out on the field.”
Assistant GM Tony LaCava added that “He’s built like a football cornerback. If he’d been born in this country, I doubt baseball would have gotten him.”
Unsurprisingly, Anthopoulos is in line with his lieutenants when it comes to his evaluation.
“He looked great, and I even told him that this morning when I sent him out,” Anthopoulos explained to Blair. “I said, ‘I didn’t want to have to send you out, because I love being able to see you play.’ He’s so much fun to watch.
“He swung the bat outstanding in Spring Training– he’s got so much better. I always try to temper that enthusiasm with– it’s Spring Training, and the fact that he’s getting challenged with fastballs, and not as much 0ff-speed, but just everything was better. Even, Jose Bautista was telling me the other day, the bat speed seems better, he’s a lot stronger. And he worked out a lot more– you guys have already seen him. He’s already cut and strong, but he worked at getting a lot stronger, he was more prepared, and it’s showing: the strength in his body, the bat speed. Even from a defensive standpoint. He’s great, but I thought he was much better this Spring Training than last Spring Training.”
“The big thing we’ve stressed to him is being selective,” Anthopoulos adds. “And he did it a bunch of times this Spring Training, where he may have gone down 0-2 and worked the count back to full. Just his at bats were so much better. So stressed that to him, to continue to try to be selective, because he’s got power, he’s got strength, and if he can be more selective he’ll really do some damage with the bat.”
“Adeiny’s got tools to be more than that,” he says, comparing Hechavarria to Alcides Escobar, the Royals’ gold glover with a bottom-of-the-order bat, “but he hasn’t shown it yet. I’d love to be able to say that he’s going to be more than that, but until we see it over the course of a season, we don’t know. But there’s definitely more ceiling there– the worst case scenario he’s a bottom-of-the-order bat, but he’s got the ability to be so much more.”
The GM isn’t completely off the deep end here, despite all the good he sees– which, frankly, sounds a lot more optimistic than where I think most fans have been at with Hechavarria to this point.
“We still have a lot of minor league data that shows he doesn’t have the bat yet,” the GM cautions. ”As excited as we are about Adeiny, we’ve seen it with a multitude of young players– Adam Lind, Travis Snider– how many of these young players come up and stay up?”
That said, Anthopoulos was far closer to fawning that to overly cautious. And while it’s not like we could expect him to trash his own very expensive prospect, he certainly didn’t have to say so much, or do it so glowingly. It almost makes you wonder if the poor numbers he’s posted throughout his minor league career really are a product of the things that the Jays have been trying to get him to work on– that maybe they projected him as growing into a bigger and stronger body and set about changing his swing to suit it.
Whatever the case, good words are… um… good.