Friday, August 05, 2011

Prospect: Brett Lawrie (Tor)

3b|  21 years old  |  1st round pick by MIL 2008  |  Brookswood Secondary (BC)

The Blue Jays knew what they were doing when they sent reliable 28-year old starting pitcher Shaun Marcum to the Brewers for their #2 prospect (#59 overall) Brett Lawrie. The Brewers believed that they needed starting pitching more than a budding 2b, where they have Rickie Weeks signed until 2014. Lawrie was drafted as a catcher out of Canada and being Canadian would fit in nicely with the Blue Jays. He is the 4th highest Canadian ever drafted. At the age of 19, Lawrie made an apperance as a pinch runner during the World Baseball Classic.

But 2b wasn't written in stone and with the Blue Jays still thinking highly of Aaron Hill, they moved Lawrie to 3b, where they have a need, and placed him in AAA. And he has not disappointed. He's batting .357/.420/.679. Has an OPS of 1098, 18 homers, 12 stolen bases and 24 doubles. All this in only 280 at bats. He missed a few weeks with a fracture in his left hand after being hit by a pitch in June but hasn't skipped a beat since returning to action. Did I mention he drives in and scores about 1 run each game?

Lawrie had good minor league seasons in 2009 and 2010 but exploded in 2011 and it is believed that he is on the cusp of being called up to help the Blue Jays (he was called up while I was writing this article), who are always looking to improve at 3b.

Though he'll like start off in the majors like most prospects, batting in the bottom 3rd of the Blue Jays order, don't be surprised to see him become a dangerous 2nd-place hitter in a lineup with Rasmus, Lind and Bautista. Maybe his speed won't last that long but his power will likely get better.

He's tabbed as an outstanding athlete and decision-makers can afford to overlook his lack of experience in the infield and its possible that at the Major League level, he eventually gets moved to the outfield. His plate discipline is not a strength but his pure athleticism can get him out of bad counts. There are rumors that he's not the most hard-working athlete around and not committed to his defense but that's not unlike many minor leaguers. Toronto has done a pretty good job with its younger players recently, making sure they're ready to make the jump (Travis Snider, Eric Thames) before letting them play full-time and I don't expect Lawrie will be any different.

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