Posted by: Asher Roth | March 16, 2010

Who can say “Hechavarria” ten times fast?

We’re midway through March, essentially midway through Spring Training. Pretty exciting stuff.

The Jays have the day off today, so I shall touch on some exciting news that has been brought to our attention, I shall briefly summarize what’s been going on the last few days, and we’ll take a quick look at how some of the names in camp are doing thusfar.

Word on the street is the Jays are interested in signing 21-year-old Cuban defector/really talented shortstop prospect Adeinis Hechavarria for $10 million. Now, according to Double-A, in typical fashion, there is no truth to the report that the contract has been offered or agreed to or signed or anything, but he also wouldn’t deny that he’s interested.

The Jays became a team of interest for this kid when the Yankees re-signed Derek Jeter for the long term, so clearly the kid wants to play. In terms of offensive prowess, the kid is being compared to Alfonso Soriano – nothing wrong with a young, slim kid with 40-homer capability. That’s certainly offense I would take over Alex Gonzalez – but let’s not get ahead of ourselves too much, since we also thought Aroldis Chapman was a lock to sign here.

But wouldn’t it be nice…

Now, in the last couple days, the Jays lost to the Braves and Tigers (again???). Brian Dopirak hit his first homer of the spring yesterday, but two young pitchers of the future, Marc Rzepczynski and Brett Cecil, looked pretty bad in the losing cause, allowing 7 runs (6 earned between them).

Against the Braves, Brandon Morrow had a rough outing, while Jason Frasor looked even worse, while Travis Snider continued to struggle mightily at the plate, and Jose Bautista continued to tear it up, with two more hits.

Right now, Jose leads the team with a .647 batting average, including going 11 for 17 with four doubles and three homers, Mike McCoy sits second at .615, Randy Ruiz leads the team with 13 hits in 26 at-bats, while big names Aaron Hill, Vernon Wells and Lyle Overbay all have plus-.400 averages.

On the other side of the spectrum, Joey Gathright is going to have to hit better than .150 to make this team, with the way Jeremy Reed is hitting .391 and all. Jose Molina’s hitting .083, but that’s no shock. Travis Snider’s .200 is a lot less encouraging. Cito said he was no lock to make the team, and he certainly is no lock with those kinds of numbers.

How about the pitchers? So far, Shaun Marcum, Casey Janssen, Scott Downs and Dana Eveland have yet to allow a run each. Ricky Romero’s one earned run in 9 innings of work is nothing to sneeze at either. R-Zep’s 4.50 ERA is alright, while relief locks Brian Tallet, Jeremy Accardo, Jason Frasor, Shawn Camp and Kevin Gregg have not looked very good at all.

At the end of the day, of course, none of this matters. Guys can be slow starters, guys can hit several homers in spring training and then have nothing happen at the major league level (remember when Gabe Gross hit 8 homers in spring training?). But for me, these numbers are at least partially significant because a particularly standout spring will earn you a loose spot, while having an awful spring will occasionally lose you a job you may have assumed you were a lock for.

However, Double-A has been very straight up with his players, telling them all what their places are, what roles they can be offered, and has been very real with them, and the player feedback is good. At the very least, we know that this new kid is trying to make Toronto a favourable place to play, and that’s not a bad thing at all. After J.P.’s whole Adam Dunn fiasco, we need all the positive publicity we can get up here.

Up next for the Jays is a trip to Sarasota to play the divisional rival Orioles.



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