Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Prospects Gone Wild

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Image courtesy of Las Vegas Sun
All it took was one cryptic comment by Alex Anthopoulos to send the entire Twitterverse into complete hysteria. And then it was a hit by pitch to the Blue Jays most prized prospect to send everyone into a tailspin.

Yes, in a span of about four hours, Blue Jays fans experienced the highest of the highs and the lowest of the lows. One minute, Brett Lawrie was all but confirmed to make his debut with the big club on Friday, and then an injury to his hand put his call-up in jeopardy.

I don't think I've ever seen people so collectively relieved at news of a bruise. Given, the news could have been far worse and hopefully this won't affect Brett Lawrie's timetable of joining the Blue Jays.

The topic of Lawrie's rumoured call-up was brought up during last night's Score liveblog, and my initial reaction to this news was brought with tempered optimism. I'm as excited as the next fan as Brett Lawrie playing with the Blue Jays, but at the same time I don't want to set my expectations for him so astronomically high.

Eric Thames was arguably the second most anticipated Blue Jays prospect that was on everyone's "must-see" list, and Thames has actually been a very pleasant surprise so far. We have yet to see what he can do in the outfield, but with the bat he's shown he can hold his own against major league hitting.

The difference with Brett Lawrie is the third base position has basically just been waiting for him since Spring Training. Edwin Encarnacion, John McDonald and Jayson Nix have been keeping the position warm, and everyone is expecting Lawrie to slot in as the starting third baseman right away.

I don't think the Blue Jays are expecting Brett Lawrie to come right out of the gate and immediately show Adrian Beltre-esque defense, but at least Lawrie has a lot to gain at the position. He's undoubtedly going to take his bumps and make some bad plays at the hot corner.

The difference between Brett Lawrie and Edwin Encarnacion though is Lawrie will make errors and hopefully learn from his mistakes, whereas EE will just keep making errors at a position he's been familiar with for most of his career.

Any time I think about expectations attached to highly-touted prospects, I just think back to J.P. Arencibia. After 2008, he was on track to become the catcher of the future. After a disappointing 2009 campaign in Las Vegas, his future was put into question and the Blue Jays had to put Arencibia on hold in the minors.

J.P. Arencibia's path to the majors was not one without its struggles, and now he's putting together what could end up being a Rookie of the Year campaign. J.P. took his bumps in the minors, but he learned something down there and is a better player now because of it.

The thing I worry about with Brett Lawrie is; is it all too much, too soon? He'll have spent just over two years in the minor leagues and will be fast-tracked to the show at just 21 years old.

To make it to the big leagues is a huge accomplishment in itself, and when Brett Lawrie gets the call he's been anxiously awaiting, it will be very well deserved.

However, I don't think it's fair to place all our hopes on the shoulders of a 21 year old quite yet.

3 comments:

  1. Lawrie = Playoffs baby!

    Just kidding, but seriously when are they going to move up Jenkins and/or Nestor Molina to AA? They've been prettttty dominant at HiA

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  2. I think saying EE, Nix and JMac have been keeping his spot warm is generous...but I see what you're saying. They've been an offensive void. Nix and JMac have been good defensively though. Lawrie will be a boost to the batting order immediately(I think) and maybe not as good as JMac in the field(few are), I think he'll learn from him and be fine.

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  3. Anon, Chad Jenkins seems to be progressing well. I imagine he should be in New Hampshire within then next few months or so. Same goes for Molina.

    Mattt, I think if EE was consistent offensively then it would be a different story. He's been so spotty this year, and now that his bat isn't all that consistent, I think it's time to get Lawrie up here. It will be a welcome offensive addition to the lineup too, hopefully!

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