Ferguson: Best yet to come for Lawrie, Hechavarria

Scott Ferguson
10/1/2012 11:02:13 AM
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The three greatest homegrown position players in Blue Jays history are generally regarded to be Tony Fernandez, Shawn Green and Carlos Delgado, with honourable mention to Lloyd Moseby and Jesse Barfield.
It's interesting to pinpoint, when they actually made their first significant impact with the club. Green had brief stints with the club in 1993 and 1994 and had a pretty decent year in '95 at age 22, with a .288 average, 15 homers and 54 RBI's. However his first great year was 1998 at age 25 when he batted .278 with 35 homers and 100 runs batted in.

For Delgado, it all came together in 1996 though he had a taste of the Majors each of the three previous seasons. Delgado hit .270 in 1996 with 25 homers and 92 runs batted in at age 24.

Fernandez played 103 games for the Jays over 1983-84 at ages 21 and 22. But in 1985, the year of the Jays' first division title, he really blossomed. Fernandez played 161 games at age 23 and hit .289 while delivering spectacular defence.

I guess the point is, you can expect too much, too soon unless you get one of those rare gems, like Mike Trout or Bryce Harper.

Brett Lawrie's numbers this year aren't nearly as impressive as a year ago, when he broke in at third base at age 21, played 43 games, hit nine homers and drove in 25 runs and looked like one of the best defensive shortstops in the Majors.

This year at 22 he's been suspended and he's been injured, yet he's still batting .273 with 11 homers and 48 RBI's and he's still playing that lights-out defence at third.

In all, over 165 games Lawrie already has more homers and runs batted in at age 22 than Green and Delgado did at the same age. More than Fernandez too for that matter, but he was more of a slashing line drive hitter.

What I'm saying is, the best of Lawrie may be yet to come in the next year or two if he trends the way Green, Delgado and Fernandez did.

Adeiny Hechavarria is another interesting case. The Jays landed him by outbidding the Yankees and others in 2010. The raw but talented young Cuban signed a four-year deal on April 3, 2010 worth $10 million. This year he's finally made it to the "bigs" at age 23. A natural shortstop who was projected by some to be a centre fielder in the future, he mainly played second and third base since joining the Jays because of the presence of Yunel Escobar.

Hechavarria looks every bit the gold glove defensive prospect he's been touted as and he's started to come on at the plate the last few weeks. With all the promise Anthony Gose and Moises Sierra have shown, the one youngster who looks like a lock to stick next season is Hechavarria, especially since he's heading into the final year of his contract.

The Blue Jays main team goal, over the final three games against Minnesota at Rogers Centre is to avoid 90 losses and stay out of the basement in the AL East. If they finish ahead of Boston, it would be the first last place finish for the Red Sox since 1992, the year the Jays won their first World Series.

I mentioned a couple of columns ago that the Jays didn't have a 10-game winner this season. They still don't after Ricky Romero and Henderson Alvarez got no decisions against the Yankees over the weekend.

1979 was the one and only season in 35 years that the Jays didn't have a 10-game winner. The only hurler with a chance to hit 10 now is Brandon Morrow on the final night of the season against the Twins on Wednesday.

It's unbelievable with just three days left in the season, not one division title or Wild Card seeding in the American League has been settled. It will practically take a miracle, but wouldn't it be something if Tampa Bay forced a sudden death game on the final night of the season and then won that game to get into the ALDS once more? Here's hoping.

Brett Lawrie (Photo: The Canadian Press)


(Photo: The Canadian Press)
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