04/22/10 7:04 PM ET
Inbox: Will Hechavarria join Jays in 2010?
Questions answered on Cuban prospect, Snider and more
By Jordan Bastian / MLB.com
--Brian K., Cargill, Ontario
Hechavarria was signed to a Major League contract, but that does not necessarily mean that Blue Jays fans will see him in Toronto before the end of this season. Right now, the plan is for Hechavarria to begin at high Class-A Dunedin after a stint at extended spring training, with the goal of reaching Double-A New Hampshire later this year.
That said, the Blue Jays have not completely ruled out promoting Hechavarria to the big leagues this season if the shortstop progresses quickly. That was the message that general manager Alex Anthopoulos gave after officially announcing the signing last week.
"It's tough to say. We've talked about that," Anthopoulos said. "He'll be able to determine that. We don't know the player well enough right now to have that determination. It's one of those things where we don't want to put expectations on him, for him to expect to be up here at the end of the year or the following year. He'll dictate that to us."
For now, Toronto's only priority is getting the 21-year-old Hechavarria acclimated to life in the United States. Anthopoulos said Hechavarria is taking aggressive English at the Blue Jays' complex in Florida and the club has put a solid support system in place to help the shortstop get accustomed to life as a professional ballplayer.
Once the Jays are convinced that Hechavarria is becoming more comfortable with his new surroundings, then the organization will begin plotting his path through the system. Jays shortstop Alex Gonzalez is signed through this season -- with a club option for 2011 -- so it seems most likely that Hechavarria is more in the plans for next year.
It has been suggested that in the bottom of the 10th of Wednesday's 4-3 loss to the Royals, Blue Jays manager Cito Gaston should have pinch-hit Randy Ruiz for John McDonald with two outs and the game on the line. Let's pretend that Gaston did, and that Ruiz homered and tied the game, sending it to the 11th. Could you speculate on the defensive alignment we would've had at that point? I think it would've been pretty bizarre.
--Mathew B., Calgary
That's tough to do. Mike McCoy had already been burned as a pinch runner, so pulling McDonald would have left the Jays without a second baseman. Ruiz is typically a designated hitter or a first baseman, and he is not lauded for his defense by any means. Without third baseman Edwin Encarnacion (sore right shoulder), and second baseman Aaron Hill (sore right hamstring) on the disabled list, Gaston's options were very limited.
Under your scenario, Ruiz would have needed to either man second (not fun to imagine), play first (forcing Lyle Overbay to move somewhere else), take a spot in left field (meaning either Fred Lewis or Travis Snider moved to second) or take over as the DH (filled by Lind). Another option would've been to bring in a pitcher to play second base. Hey, wasn't Jeremy Accardo a shortstop in college? But then all of a sudden the pitcher might be forced to hit.
No matter how you slice it, it would not have been pretty in the 11th inning. There is an argument to be made for going for the tie and avoiding a loss right there in the 10th inning, but there is also an argument to be made for planning ahead and keeping the best defensive alignment possible. Gaston chose to stick with McDonald and I'm not sure I disagree with that decision.
Have a question about the Blue Jays?
E-mail your query to MLB.com Blue Jays beat reporter Gregor Chisholm for possible inclusion in a future Inbox column. Letters may be edited for brevity, length and/or content.
How long do you think it will take Travis Snider to become a middle-of-the-order hitter like he has been through the Minors for the Jays? Is there any way it happens this year? Or are we looking at a two- or three-year window to see him reach his potential?
--Robbie G., Thornhill, Ontario
The Blue Jays would love for Snider to blossom into a big league slugger this season, but the club is willing to be patient. Remember, Snider is still just 22 years old. Consider that Adam Lind -- Toronto's current No. 3 hitter -- was 22 years old when he made his Major League debut. It took Lind until his fourth year in the Majors to finally develop into a true middle-of-the-order threat. Snider is currently dealing with the big league learning curve and Toronto hopes he will reach his potential soon.
Any news on the Brett Wallace watch? He seems to be doing pretty well with Triple-A Las Vegas and Overbay is looking like he doesn't have much left to offer, especially against lefties. Should we expect Wallace to be promoted soon?
--Scotty M., Seattle
I think Wallace will be in a Blue Jays uniform before the season is over. Will it be soon? Tough to say. Anthopoulos does not want to bring up any of his top prospects until it is a situation where they are in the big leagues to stay. Right now, the Jays are giving Overbay an opportunity to get himself out of this early-season slump. If Toronto could find a trade partner for Overbay, the club would likely move him to clear room for Wallace, who will not be called up unless he is going to step in as the everyday first baseman.
Do you think Dustin McGowan will be able to return to full form following his injury?
--Kyle W., Toronto
That's the million-dollar question for the Jays right now. McGowan was recently placed on the 60-day disabled list, so that's an obvious sign that Toronto does not see him being a part of the rotation soon. McGowan's comeback from his right shoulder injury slowed toward the end of Spring Training, and the Jays continue to take a very conservative approach with him. In the meantime, a pile of young pitchers have climbed over McGowan on the depth chart. In his final appearance in the spring, McGowan was hitting 85 mph with his fastball and showed poor command. It is hard to say whether he will return to the form he showed in 2008.
What happened to Brad Mills? Last year he was the talk of the town out of Spring Training.
--Andrew W., St. Catharines, Ontario
Mills looked good again this spring and has enjoyed a strong start to the season with Triple-A Las Vegas. Through three outings, the lefty is 2-0 with a 2.04 ERA and 24 strikeouts over 17 2/3 innings. The way things currently stand -- with Brett Cecil being called up to the Jays for a start on Friday -- Mills has put himself in a good position to possibly be the next starter promoted if Toronto's starting staff needs help.