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There have been a couple of occasions this season when the Toronto Blue Jays have needed a bat from Triple-A Las Vegas. In both instances they called up older, more lightly regarded prospects (Eric Thames, David Cooper) over Brett Lawrie, their crown jewel in Sin City.
Last night in Las Vegas' 9-8 victory over Round Rock, Lawrie went 3-for-3, with a home run, a triple, two RBIs and three runs scored. In 169 at-bats this year, the Canadian is hitting .337 with nine home runs, 31 RBIs, a 1.010 OPS and nine steals in 10 tries.
Much like they do New York Yankees catching prospect Jesus Montero, evaluators seem to agree that Lawrie can hit, but his defensive play will ultimately be the determining factor of when he arrives in the majors.
A second baseman his first two seasons, Lawrie was moved this year to third base, where he has committed seven errors in 39 games. After a slow start, he has made only three of those errors in his last 31 contests, so he is cutting down on the gaffes.
If he can show the Jays that he can hold his own at third, Lawrie has a chance to hit his way to the majors by this summer. The current third base tandem of John McDonald (batting .211 this season) and Edwin Encarnacion isn't exactly a roadblock, so it's just a matter of him convincing the Jays' brass that he is ready.
The 21-year-old has the bat to develop into a .280-20-80, 15-steal type at the major league level. The big question is where he is going to play.
Seattle Mariners second base prospect Dustin Ackley went 3-for-5 with a home run and three runs scored in Tacoma's 7-2 win at New Orleans on Tuesday. Following a .211 showing in April, Ackley is hitting .377 with a pair of homers, four RBIs, two steals and a .482 on-base percentage in May.
A few days ago, Mariners general manager Jack Zduriencik told a Seattle radio station that Ackley would be up "sooner than later." Based on that information, expect the second overall pick of the 2009 draft to debut sometime in June, as the Mariners will try to circumvent allowing Ackley to reach Super Two status.
Since, the club has made it known that the club believes the former UNC Tar Heel's bat isn't a concern so much as the improvement of his defense. He has committed five errors in 159 chances and generally played somewhat lackluster in the field. Still, a call-up next month seems to be in the making.
The 23-year-old is an on-base machine who projects as a run scorer in his rookie season. He has the wheels to top 10 steals this year and the pop to club six to 10 home runs.
In Triple-A Fresno's 5-3 win over Memphis last night, San Francisco Giants first base prospect Brandon Belt went 1-for-2 with a grand slam and five RBIs. Since his return to Fresno, Belt batting a robust .387 with three home runs and 18 RBIs and has more walks (26) than strikeouts (21).
The 22-year-old southpaw threw six shutout innings of four-hit ball in Double-A Erie's 1-0 victory over Trenton last night. Ten of the 12 outs on balls in play recorded by Crosby came via ground ball.
Armed with a mid-90s fastball and a wicked curveball, Crosby has the stuff that scouts drool over. However, the 6-foot-5, 200-pound lefty has been set back by elbow woes throughout his career. He missed most of the 2008 season after having Tommy John surgery, and he was limited to 12 innings last year due to elbow soreness.
This season Crosby has been tough to hit at times and has kept the ball on the ground, but he has struggled with walks, averaging 5.3 free passes per nine frames. The southpaw has walked two batters or more in all seven of his starts. Crosby has been able to survive by holding opponents to a .221 average and has averaged 8.1 whiffs per nine stanzas.
Crosby has the talent to pitch his way into the Tigers' starting rotation as a mainstay, but his health is a red flag. His repertoire might be best suited for the bullpen, where he would project as an end-of-game caliber arm.
About Chris Hadorn
Chris Hadorn has covered minor league and amateur prospects for more than a decade. He writes for San Diego's North County Times and has been a KFFL fantasy baseball contributor since 2006.