Brett Lawrie

Blue Jays GM: decision coming soon on top prospect Brett Lawrie

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10:50 p.m. EDT update: Amid speculation that Lawrie could be called up to make his major league debut Friday, he was forced to leave Tuesday’s game with Triple-A Las Vegas after being hit on the hand by a pitch.

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With two months down, we’re nearing the point at which teams can call up their top prospects without having to worry about them becoming super-two arbitation eligible after 2013.  One everybody is watching is Brett Lawrie, and Jays GM Alex Anthopoulos said Tuesday that a decision on the 21-year-old can be expected soon.

Lawrie, who was switched from second base to third after the Blue Jays acquired him from the Brewers for Shaun Marcum over the winter, is hitting ..354/.413/.677 with 15 homers and 11 steals for Triple-A Las Vegas.  That’s an outstanding environment for offense, but he’s been even better on the road than at home, hitting .375/.436/.663.

Lawrie’s defense remains rough, though.  Or as Project Prospect’s Adam Foster told me last week:

I’ve seen Lawrie twice in person. His hands would be among the worst of any big
league infielder if he remains at third. The scout who caught him for me last week confirmed that his stiff hands, difficulty throwing and lack of focus on defense don’t project well for his future as an infielder.

The Jays, though, badly need some help at third base and may soon give him a try there anyway.  A switch to left field could come later down the road.

For more on Lawrie, go check out Project Prospect’s latest scouting report, which comes with a couple of video clips.

Reid Brignac is trying to become a switch hitter

LAKE BUENA VISTA, FL - FEBRUARY 26:  Reid Brignac #4 of the Atlanta Braves poses on photo day at Champion Stadium on February 26, 2016 in Lake Buena Vista, Florida.  (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)
Rob Carr/Getty Images
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Veteran utilityman Reid Brignac is in camp with the Astros on a minor league deal. The 31-year-old is close to being done as a major leaguer as he owns a career .219/.264/.309 triple-slash line across parts of nine seasons. In an effort to prolong his big league career, Brignac is now attempting to become a switch-hitter, MLB.com’s Brian McTaggart reports.

I’m going to try it out this year. It was something that I just thought long and hard about and I was like, ‘OK, I’m going to try and see how it goes.’ I used to switch-hit when I was younger off and on, nothing consistent. I could always handle the bat right-handed. I play golf right-handed, so I do a lot of things that way that feel natural.

I just want to get to the point where I’m trying to stay in games, not get pinch-hit for, not starting games because a lefty is starting. … That could help me stay in the games longer. I’m trying to add a new element. I play multiple positions and now if I can switch hit and be consistent at it, then that can only help me.

As Brignac mentions, he’s also verstile. He’s a shortstop by trade, but has also logged plenty of innings at second base and third base, and has occasionally played corner outfield.

There aren’t any examples — at least that I can think of — where players began switch-hitting late in their careers and actually succeeding in the major leagues. As the saying goes, you can’t teach an old dog new tricks. But here’s hoping Brignac bucks the trend.

Video: Andrelton Simmons makes a heads-up play to catch Carlos Asuaje off first base

ANAHEIM, CA - AUGUST 03:  Andrelton Simmons #2 of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim returns to the dugout after scoring in the second inning against the Oakland Athletics at Angel Stadium of Anaheim on August 3, 2016 in Anaheim, California.  (Photo by Lisa Blumenfeld/Getty Images)
Lisa Blumenfeld/Getty Images
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Angels shortstop Andrelton Simmons fell off the map a bit last year due to a combination of the Angels’ mediocrity, Simmons’ lack of offense, and a month-plus of missed action due to a torn ligament in his left thumb.

Simmons is still as good and as smart as ever on defense. That was on full display Monday when the Angels hosted the Padres for an afternoon spring exhibition.

With a runner on first base and nobody out in the top of the second inning, Carlos Asuaje grounded a 2-0 J.C. Ramirez fastball to right field. The runner, Hunter Renfroe, advanced to third base. Meanwhile, Asuaje wandered a little too far off the first base bag. Simmons cut off the throw to first base, spun around and fired to Luis Valbuena at first base. Valbuena swiped the tag on Asuaje for the first out of the inning.