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.
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.
It was only a matter of time before Mike Trout courted another all-time record, and on Saturday, he found himself in elite company with his 25th and 26th home runs of the season. He put the Angels on the board with a 429-foot blast in the first inning, depositing an 0-1 fastball from the Orioles’ Kevin Gausman into the left field bleachers:
In the third inning, with the Angels up 2-1, Trout returned to tack on another insurance run. He targeted Gausman’s slider for his second solo shot of the evening and cleared the center field fence with a 418-footer to bring his total to 26 home runs on the year.
Trout has mashed at a staggering .339/.471/.596 clip since his return from the disabled list last month, and Saturday’s totals helped mark his sixth consecutive season with at least 25 home runs. That’s a record few have matched before their age-26 season; in fact, only Hall of Fame sluggers Eddie Mathews and Frank Robinson have ever pulled it off.
Assuming he continues to rake in hits and plate appearances over the last six weeks of the regular season — and there’s nothing to indicate that he won’t — Trout is in line to join elite company of a different kind. The 26-year-old entered Saturday’s game with a 206 OPS+ (park-adjusted on-base plus slugging). According to MLB.com’s Matt Kelly, that means Trout’s hitting at a better clip than the average Major League player by a full 106 percent. Should he finish the year with a 200 OPS+ and 502 plate appearances or better, he’ll be the first player to do so since Barry Bonds obliterated the competition with his 263 OPS+ in 2004.
The Blue Jays acquired right-hander Tom Koehler from the Marlins in exchange for minor league right-hander Osman Gutierrez and cash considerations, the clubs announced Saturday. Koehler is in his sixth year with the Marlins and stands to make $5.75 million in 2017. He’ll be arbitration eligible in 2018 and is set to enter free agency by 2019.
The 31-year-old right-hander struggled to a 7.92 ERA, 4.7 BB/9 and 7.1 SO/9 over 55 2/3 innings with Miami in 2017. He was optioned to Triple-A New Orleans in late July, where he rebounded with a 1-1 record in seven starts and whittled his ERA down to a 1.67 mark. The Blue Jays have yet to establish Koehler’s role within their organization, but are hoping to see a turnaround from the righty when he breaks back into the big leagues.
Gutierrez, 22, was assigned to Single-A Greensboro on Saturday. He has yet to find his footing in the minors, and exited a 78-inning stint with Single-A Lansing after racking up a career-worst 7.85 ERA and 8.2 SO/9. His lack of control is particularly alarming, with a 6.2 BB/9 that dwarfs the 2.0+ BB/9 of seasons past, but he still has plenty of time to figure out his mechanics before reaching the Show.