The long awaited Major League debut of the Toronto Blue Jays top prospect 3B Brett Lawrie occurred tonight and I thought I would provide some thoughts and observations on his first game.
Lawrie, 21 years old is listed at 6’0” and 213 pounds and he looks like a middle linebacker for Ohio St with his impressive build and physique. He possesses massive strong forearms and looks extremely athletic. He appears better suited for a more physical sport and my guess is he could’ve had success in multiple sports if he had the inkling.
With nothing left to prove at AAA the Jays did the right thing bringing him up now after destroying minor league pitching with a slash line of 353/415/661 with 24 2Bs, 18 HRs and a .459 wOBA. He was playing in a supped up offensive environment and he could still stand to refine his patience at the plate (7.9 BB%) or he could be vulnerable to more skilled and savvier major league pitching.
Small nitpicking aside this is one of the most anticipated Blue Jays debut in franchise history. I don’t remember this much buzz surrounding a prospect on the Jays since Jose Cruz Jr. was acquired from the Seattle Mariners in 1997 (what a rip off).
First inning – Nick Markakis flares a little grounder down the third base line, Brett Lawrie was playing well off the line with the shift on for the lefty, he ranged far to his right and made an athletic (though offline) throw to first base. Markakis was safe on the play as Lawrie really had no chance, but an athletic play.
After the inning was done, Brett was talking and presumably taking advice from John McDonald, likely about just eating the ball and not risking the throw next time. Having veterans like Johnny Mac around doesn’t help a club statistically but it is hard to measure the impact he can have on our younger players.
Second inning – Two out and two on, Brett Lawrie makes his debut at the plate. Lawrie has a nice solid wide stance and looks strong and comfortable with the bat. Facing right hander Tommy Hunter.
Pitch 1 – Ball, Lawrie takes a close slider. 1-0
Pitch 2 – Ball, takes another close slider. 2-0
Pitch 3 – Good swing, just a bit late on a fastball, fouled behind home plate. 2-1
Pitch 4 – Big slow curveball, out in front, fouled into third base territory. 2-2
Pitch 5 – Fastball up the middle, Lawrie hammers it up the middle for an RBI single!
First big league hit in his first big league at bat! Great at-bat, good patience, good balance and a solid stroke to centre field! Lawrie 1-1 with a single and RBI.
Third inning – Nolan Reimold hits a ground ball to Lawrie and he boots it, the ball got right through him on a slightly strange bounce. A play he should have made, nerves/adrenaline possibly playing a role after getting the big first hit. The error is meaningless and the Jays got out of the inning, Lawrie will definitely have to continue working hard on his defense and it has been made very clear that he is not going to second base.
Fourth inning – Brett Lawrie leads off the inning for his second MLB at-bat, still facing Tommy Hunter.
Pitch 1 – Fastball upstairs, ball. 1-0
Pitch 2 – Fastball down the middle, taken for a strike. 1-1
Pitch 3 – Big breaking ball outside, ball. 2-1
Pitch 4 – Another big looping breaking ball, outside. 3-1
Pitch 5 – Broken bat grounder to third base, Lawrie hustled hard down the line but was thrown out by a step.
Another solid at-bat, Lawrie worked the count and got a solid pitch to hit and just got sawed off. Lawrie might be facing another pitcher in his next at-bat as Tommy Hunter has struggled to keep his pitch count inline, already has 70+ pitches in the fourth inning. Lawrie now 1-2 with a single and RBI.
Sixth inning – Lefty Troy Patton relieves SP Tommy Hunter, not much known about him to be honest (apparently a switch hitter according to Yahoo!)
Brett Lawrie comes to bat with 2 outs and nobody on-base.
Pitch 1 – Fastball up, called a strike though looked like a ball. 0-1
Pitch 2 – Fastball way outside, taken. 1-1
Pitch 3 – Big curve ball, bends into the inside corner, taken for strike two. 1-2
Pitch 4 – Off speed pitch bounced in, taken. 2-2
Pitch 5 – Fastball a bit up (and maybe outside) called strike three, it looked like a ball.
Tough at-bat with a couple questionable calls (at first glance), Lawrie goes down looking and is now 1-3 with a single and RBI. Lawrie continues to look poised at the plate and appears he will be a gamer at the plate, a guy who can grind out an at-bat and never given an out away. This might infuriate some Jays fans but he reminds me of Vernon Wells and Aaron Hill mechanically with a touch of Josh Hamilton (maybe it is the tatoos!).
Another tough play in the field for Lawrie, another ball bounces off his glove, allows a run to score without getting an out. Gets another chance, shows good hands on a sharp ground ball, gets the ball quickly to second base for one out, Aaron Hill struggled to get it out of his glove, can’t turn the double play.
Eighth Inning – Brett Lawrie comes to bat with 2 outs and runners at first and second base. Now pitching for the Orioles is Chris Jakubauskas, a big righty with terrible stats so far (6.10 ERA, 1.76 WHIP).
Pitch 1 – Breaking ball low in the dirt, taken. 1-0
Pitch 2 – Fastball upstairs, handled by Brett Lawrie with a hard hit single to left field, Colby Rasmus thrown out at the plate!
Two out base hit and almost another RBI, Lawrie with a rocket to left field on a pitch up in the zone is now 2-4 with two singles and an RBI.
Final Box Score Line for Brett Lawrie – 2/4, 2 singles, 1 RBI, 1 K.