7/26/2013 10:45 P.M. ET
Blue Jays announce signing of 16-year-old prospect
By Evan Peaslee / MLB.com
TORONTO -- The Blue Jays announced the signing of Dominican prospect Bryan Lizardo for $250,000 on Friday.
Lizardo turned 16 on Friday and is the 21st-ranked international prospect according to MLB.com.
The Santiago, Dominican Republic native is a 6-foot-2, 180-pound third baseman who was selected to the 2013 Dominican Prospect League Elite Travel Team in March.
Lizardo is a switch-hitting power bat, with a good rhythm and approach at the plate. However, it's believed that he's better from the left side and may be better suited to hit purely from that side.
Defensively, he is athletic with good hands and a strong throwing arm, and is considered one of the top defenders in the Dominican Prospect League. However, he still needs some work on his footwork and defensive actions, but his overall game is expected to mature and improve with more instruction.
Izturis comfortable playing every day
TORONTO -- After eight seasons in Anaheim, it's taken Maicer Izturis a little while to get comfortable in his new surroundings.
The 32-year-old infielder struggled in the season's opening months as he adjusted to a new city and a new club.
That's all behind him now, as Izturis has become more reliable in the field and has raised his batting average and on-base percentage in every month this season. Entering Friday, he was hitting .328 with a .403 OBP in July and has become an everyday player at second base.
"It feels more comfortable to play every day," Izturis said. "I've been in the league for eight years. It makes a big difference when you know your role and know that you're playing."
Since June 10, Izturis has raised his batting average from .202 to .249, and he's reached base safely in 15 of his last 17 games, including a walk in his first at-bat on Friday. He finished 1-for-4 with a go-ahead RBI double in the Blue Jays' 12-6 win over the Astros.
"It looks like he's settled in," manager John Gibbons said. "Here's a kid who's had a good career helping some good teams out there in Anaheim, and now we're starting to see it the last couple of months. He's really turned it on."
Entering Friday's game against the Astros, Izturis was third on the team with 19 hits and nine RBIs in July.
Rasmus raking in July
TORONTO -- Although Jose Bautista, and Edwin Encarnacion are the Blue Jays' biggest sluggers, it's Colby Rasmus who's swinging the club's hottest bat.
Rasmus was hitting .389 in his last 10 games, entering Friday, and a team-best .352 in July with two home runs, 11 RBIs and 11 runs.
"Talking to him, watching what he's doing out there, you can tell he's feeling good right now," manager John Gibbons said. "Just from seeing him every day, he doesn't say a whole lot, just goes about his business."
The 26-year-old center fielder has also been one of the best defensive players, leading the team with a 1.2 defensive WAR, and he's been one of the American League's best hitters at his position.
Rasmus ranks second among AL center fielders with 16 home runs and 49 RBIs (behind Baltimore's Adam Jones), and third in OPS. (.810). He also has a hit in 13 of his last 15 games, including a nine-game hitting streak that he extended with a second-inning single on Friday. He added an RBI double in the fifth and finished 4-for-5 -- his first four-hit game since May 31.
"You guys know what kind of talent he has, I mean, he can do everything," Gibbons said.
Although his starting center fielder is generally considered a streaky player, Gibbons believes those dramatic swings are far less severe this year.
"He's like anybody else, he goes through his ups and downs," Gibbons said. "In the past he's been really streaky, hot and cold. I think that's kind of tapered off a little bit, he's a little bit more consistent."
The numbers would agree with the skipper's sentiments.
Rasmus has avoided those prolonged slumps that plagued him in 2012. His season high is three games without a hit, while last year it was six, which was part of a stretch of only three hits in 14 games.
"I think he's starting to settle in who he is," Gibbons said. "He's got enough years under his belt now. He's starting to understand that a little bit."
Evan Peaslee is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.