Prospect Press: Brett Lawrie, Toronto Blue Jays
Friday August 5th, 2011
From young minor league prospects to rookie big-league talent, Prospect Press will be providing an inside look at baseball's best talent for years to come. Today's Prospect Press focuses on recently recalled Toronto Blue Jays prospect Brett Lawrie.
This year has been and up-and-down experience for Toronto prospect Brett Lawrie, who was promoted to the major leagues on Thursday. Lawrie was on the brink of a major league call-up about six weeks ago, but an errant pitch at Triple-A Las Vegas led to a wrist bruise and forced a trip to the minor league disabled list, delaying his Blue Jays debut. It was a setback for the British Columbia native, but his rehabilitation went well and he returned to action last month.
Since then, after going 0 for 7 with 5 strikeouts in a doubleheader on July 19th, Lawrie has torn up pitching in the Pacific Coast League by going 24 for 62 (a .387 average) with three home runs and 12 RBI, bringing his combined minor league season numbers up to a .347 average, a .415 on-base percentage, 18 homers, 24 doubles, 61 RBI, and 13 stolen bases.
Those numbers are impressive, but Lawrie was already making headlines before the start of the season when he was dealt from the Milwaukee Brewers to the Toronto Blue Jays for pitcher Shaun Marcum. Lawrie spent several years as one of Milwaukee's top hitting prospects, but he switched positions a few times since being taken 16th overall in the 2008 amateur draft and his defensive abilities have always lagged behind his bat. Still, Lawrie is just 21 years old, and the former catcher and second baseman appears set to play a lot of third base for the Jays. That move would send slugger Jose Bautista back to right field to replace recently demoted outfielder Travis Snider.
Throughout his minor league career, Lawrie has displayed solid power and contact numbers, but also great athleticism. He tallied just 8 home runs in 135 minor league games last season, but he also smacked 36 doubles and 16 triples, plus he notched 30 stolen bases. As many expected, his home run power has improved, and when he fully matures he seems capable of hitting 25 to 30 long balls over a full big league season. As with most youngsters, there will likely be a bit of a big league learning curve for Lawrie, but his proven numbers over 300-plus minor league games speak well of his chances for major league success.
From a fantasy baseball standpoint, Lawrie could be a very valuable piece for any roster, particularly since any of his defensive shortcomings won't hurt his value. Even if his batting average isn't on-par with his minor league rates, his power and speed combination would add immediate value, and his various position switches means he could be eligible as both a second and third baseman this year. It's important that fantasy owners looking to enlist his services strike early and get him before competitors catch on.
At his full potential, Lawrie could be an all-star candidate every season, and he has the skills to become a major league star very soon. He's one of the rare prospects who has met or exceeded all hype, though that distinction will definitely be put to the test now that he's joined a major league roster. Overall, though, he could soon become one of the game's very best.
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