Giants Derek Law Finishes Hitters With Funk

Giants righthander Derek Law‘s delivery elicits many descriptive words; simple isn’t one of them.

He has a pronounced stab in the back of delivery, which includes a turn in which he shows his back to the batter, and he shows plenty of effort as he uncorks his 92-96 mph fastball. But the same issues that ensure scouts would never recommend he start help make him hard to hit as a reliever. Even from an extremely overhand delivery, Law is hard for hitters to time because of some of the extra parts of his delivery.

Derek Law

Derek Law (Photo by Bill Mitchell)

Law first showed up on the Baseball America radar back in 2008, when he ranked as one of the top 10 pitching prospects at the East Coast Pro Showcase ($), joining Zack Wheeler and Keyvius Sampson on that list. At the time, Law had an 87-89 mph fastball. He touched 93 mph at the World Wood Bat Championships and ranked 14th in our 2009 draft rankings of Pennsylvania prospects ($), but that consistent high 80s velocity helped ensure he made it to Miami-Dade JC, as he was picked by the Rangers in the 28th round but did not sign.

Two years later, Law had gotten his velocity more consistently into the low 90s, but the stabbing arm action and effortful delivery ($) helped him last to the Giants’ ninth-r0und pick, even though Law’s control at Miami-Dade JC was excellent—121 strikeouts and 16 walks in 92 innings. Law jumped to low Class A Augusta in his first full pro season in 2012, then was sent back there this year even though he had a solid 2012. Law went 0-3, 2.31 in 35 innings, striking out 48 and walking 10 in his return to Augusta. He dominated even more thoroughly after a midseason promotion to high Class A San Jose. Law was 4-0, 2.10 with 11 saves in 26 innings with San Jose, but his most impressive numbers were his 45-1 strikeout-to-walk ratio.

Law vexes hitters with an extremely downhill fastball, an ability to elevate it, a bigger breaking curveball and a solid slider. He’s continued to handcuff hitters in the Arizona Fall League. In two appearances he’s given up two baserunners (a pair of singles) in 2 1/3 innings while striking out five of the nine hitters he’s faced.

“He’s downhill with funk and finish, and his breaking ball is filthy,” said an NL pro scout.

When scouts worry about deliveries, they are worried in part because clean deliveries are thought to lead to less injuries. But also, stabs and ugly arm actions are generally thought to make it harder for a pitcher to repeat his delivery and to throw strikes consistently. That has not been a problem for Law.

Baseball America’s Josh Norris saw both of Law’s outings in Arizona. Here’s video of what he saw.