Blue Jays Final Report
British Columbia native Brett Lawrie
, 21, was on the verge of being called up when he was hit by a pitch on May 31 and broke a bone in his left hand. It only delayed the inevitable.
After his return to the field, Lawrie continued to improve his plate approach and adjust to third base. He was batting .353/.415/.661 with 18 homers and 61 RBIs in 292 at-bats for Triple-A Las Vegas when the Jays called him up on Aug. 5.
In his first 38 major league games, he batted .303/.378/.629 with nine home runs and 23 RBIs. Among his first nine homers were a grand slam against the A's and a walk-off in the 11th inning of a 1-0 win over the Red Sox. Lawrie, the Brewers' first-round pick in 2008 was acquired in the offseason for righthander Shaun Marcum and so far he's been worth it.
Righthander Henderson Alvarez
, 21, got called up soon after Lawrie, after going 8-4, 2.86 with 66 strikeouts and 17 walks in 88 innings at Double-A New Hampshire.
Alvarez continued his strong performance through his first seven major league starts, going 1-2, 3.09, with 29 strikeouts and seven walks in 44 innings. The movement on his fastball, not to mention high-90s velocity, makes him difficult to hit, and he also mixes in an excellent changeup. Once he perfects his slider, he could get more strikeouts. So far the Venezuelan's poise has also been impressive.
Keep An Eye On:
Lefthander Justin Nicolino
says he is a big fan of Cliff Lee, another lefthander who has done pretty well for himself. Nicolino, 20, is off to an impressive start in his own career. A second-round draft pick out of high school in Orlando in 2010, he started the season with short-season Vancouver where he was 5-1, 1.03, with 64 strikeouts and 11 walks over 52 innings. In three starts with low Class A Lansing, he was 1-1, 3.12. Nicolino has a low-90s fastball along with a good curveball and great feel for a changeup. He has a good feel for pitching in general, especially considering his age, and a businesslike demeanor on the mound.
• Righthander Kyle Drabek, who opened the season in the rotation in Toronto, and outfielder Adam Loewen were among the Blue Jays September callups. Loewen is another British Columbia native who reached the big leagues with the Orioles as a lefthander.
• Las Vegas first baseman David Cooper led the Pacific Coast League in batting (.364) and doubles (51). He was hitting .229/.316/.458 over his first 48 big league at-bats.