TORONTO -- Adeiny Hechavarria took another step closer to the Major Leagues on Thursday when he was promoted to Triple-A Las Vegas.
Hechavarria spent parts of the past two seasons playing for Double-A New Hampshire. The 22-year-old shortstop entered the year as the club's No. 8 prospect, according to MLB.com.
"I know during Spring Training the conversation that surrounded his overall plan was to get him some exposure at Triple-A," Blue Jays manager John Farrell said.
"We wanted to get him against some older veteran pitching before this year was out."
Hechavarria was signed by the Blue Jays as a non-drafted free agent on April 13, 2010. He received a four-year contract worth $10 million and is considered Toronto's best defensive player in the Minors.
The native of Cuba has continued to show improvement with his Gold Glove-caliber defense. According to the club reports, Hechavarria has become more consistent with his arm-slot angle and as a result, his throws across the infield have become more accurate.
Hechavarria still hasn't enjoyed much success at the plate, though. He hit .235 with six home runs and 46 RBIs in 111 games with the Fisher Cats this season.
Despite the subpar numbers, Farrell is optimistic the young infielder will eventually live up to his offensive potential.
"There's a belief that there is that hit ability in there," Farrell said.
"I know there has been inconsistent approach and plan at the plate with him throughout the course of the season. But, still, there is an overall feeling that he has an ability to hit, and hit for average, before it's all said and done."
The contract Hechavarria signed with the Blue Jays stipulated he had to be placed on the 40-man roster. Major League service time still applies and he will remain under club control following his four seasons in the organization but the Blue Jays have already used two of his three option years.
Hechavarria could be sent back to the Minors again in 2012, but if that happens he would then have to be placed on the 25-man active roster the following season, or risk being lost through waivers.
That could potentially force the organization to speed up his transition time to the Majors. It still seems somewhat unlikely but that could happen as soon as September.
"He has been talked about, yeah, but whether he is a September callup remains to be determined," Farrell said.
"We have had some discussions on a potential group of guys that would return but that hasn't been finalized."
Villanueva, Tallet working their way back
TORONTO -- Carlos Villanueva resumed throwing on Friday following a seven-day shut-down period with inflammation in his right forearm.
Villanueva has been on the 15-day disabled list since Aug. 4. There is still no set timetable for his return, but when that happens, he likely will be pitching out of the bullpen.
"It's likely he would come back as a reliever with the time allotted, after what he has gone through," Farrell said of Villanueva, who made 13 starts this year.
"We have every intent of getting him back into games here when he's ready. But when he's ready it likely would be in a reliever role."
Toronto is expected to ask Villanueva to prepare for the 2012 season as a starter. That would provide the club with more flexibility in Spring Training and still allow Villanueva to transition back to the bullpen at any time.
"You want to keep every potential starter and build them accordingly," said Farrell, who noted the club took a similar approach with left-hander Marc Rzepczynski this season.
Left-hander Brian Tallet, acquired in a trade with the Cardinals on July 27, is also in Dunedin working his way back from a rib-cage injury. He threw in a simulated game on Friday afternoon and remains in the club's plans for later this year.
"We're fully mapping out a throwing program that will have him active and throwing this season," Farrell said.
Tallet posted a 8.31 ERA in 17 1/3 innings with the Cardinals this season.
Blue Jays taking slow approach with Lawrie
TORONTO -- Brett Lawrie has gotten off to a hot start in his rookie campaign, but there are no immediate plans for him to move up in the batting order.
Lawrie, batting ninth, entered play on Friday hitting .333 (7-for-21) with two home runs and six RBIs. The club doesn't want to put any more pressure on the young infielder during his first couple of weeks in the big leagues.
"We're still six games into this," Farrell said. "We're still about making sure we give him ample time and opportunity just to get settled in here. While he has been good so far, we just want to be sure we take a consistent and gradual approach with him."
Lawrie may be hitting at the bottom of the order for now, but he still projects to be a middle-of-the-order type of bat. The 21-year-old hit .353 with 18 home runs and 61 RBIs in just 69 games this season for Triple-A Las Vegas.
"I'd like to think so," Farrell said. "Whether that's 2-5, 2-6, somewhere in there. It probably has as much to do with who else is in the lineup as it does just looking at one guy in particular."
Gregor Chisholm is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, North of the Border, and follow him on Twitter @gregorMLB b>. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.