When Will Adeiny Hechavarria Arrive in Toronto?

The Top 50 Jays Prospects Rankings continues and Adeiny Hechavarria will be a part of it, somewhere in the top 20, but before we get to him in the rankings I thought it would be interesting to take a look at just when he may arrive in Toronto.

image courtesy of sportsnet.ca

I want to clear up something before we get into the possibilities that the Jays face in calling Adeiny up. Buck Martinez answered a questionabout Adeiny in July of ’10 that dealt with the “$10,000,000 man” and his progress in AA since being called up. He pointed to the fact that the Jays had nobody on the staff, and I mean nobody, who spoke fluently in Spanish in Dunedin to help Adeiny out. Who was teaching him the ropes? Obviously he had to get everything translated from other players, such as Rey Gonzalez, but they’re not always around. So, it’s easy to imagine Adeiny getting about 5% of the instruction he was supposed to be getting. Never mind how that happened in the first place since you’d think that a team would want to make the most out of a $10,000,000 investment (shame, shame), at the very least they recognized their mistake and put him up in AA with Luis Rivera. And just like that, Adeiny’s performance began to creep up. I expect that he’ll blossom even more in 2011 and that we should collectively cut him some slack until after the season.

Before we even look at when Adeiny Hechavarria will make it to The Show, we need to decide where a hole may exist in the infield that would allow him to be called up.

The Second Base Option

 

  • The most immediate thought that most Jays fans have is to shift Aaron Hillto 3B and to bring Adeiny up as a 2B.
  • If this is the way the Jays want to go, I think you’ll see Adeiny begin the ’11 season manning 2B in AA or AAA.
  • The caveat to this idea: what happens to Brett Lawrie? If it happens as stated above, Lawrie can’t fit in at 2B due to Adeiny (who’s D would be much better), would no longer have 3B as an option due to Hill, and thus would only have LF and RF as his options. That’s already the prediction of many and it would turn a Rajai DavisBrett Lawrie platoon into a very interesting possibility.
  • Another issue with this is that Adeiny may not convert to 2B well at all. I’m not sure if he ever played any games at 2B in Cuba, but I do know he spent all of his time at SS for the Jays thus far. I also know that he made 20 errors which wound up giving him a very mediocre .959 fielding percentage for the season. At only 21 years old in HiA and AA, I’m not sure we can hold that against him, but does that make 2B a better option for him, or will it worsen his defensive performance more?
  • Analysis: It’s quite possible that Adeiny winds up at 2B due to Lawrie’s defensive woes at the position and the fact that Hill has said he’s wiling to man 3B. As I said above, if this is the plan for the Jays, they should have him manning 2B in ’11 to get used to the idea – or at the very least have him play half of his games there. If that doesn’t happen, expect the next option to be a possibility.

The Short Stop Option

  • Another option is to bring him up as a SS and to move Yunel Escobarto 3B. Yunel has 35 games played at 3B in the minors and 22 in the majors. His arm is strong enough to play the hot corner, so that’s not an issue. The problem with this idea is that Yunel made many errors in both instances for a total of 7 errors in his short time at 3B in the minors (.932 fielding %) and 4 errors in his short time at 3B in the majors (.923 fielding %).
  • The interesting part is that Yunel has succeeded more during his short times at 2B during the same seasons, enough to accomplish a .953 and .963 fielding % even with more games played at 2B. So, there is a “merry-go-round” possibility whereby the Jays would place Escobar at 2B, Hechavarria at SS, and Hill at 3B. It sounds like a lot of moving around, but it’s the same amount of moving around as bringing Hechavarria up as a 2B and shifting Hill to 3B, so there’s no real difference in the amount of players changing positions.
  • Analysis:This scenario works well and continues to provide the all-Cuban middle infield that the Jays are heading towards. Adeiny is definitely more comfortable playing SS and has an MLB ready glove at the position, so this option may be the best for the Jays overall. My guess is that if he is asked, Yunel would be more than willing to shift to 2B in order to accommodate a fellow Cuban.

Adeiny to Third Base Option

  • Some people seem to believe that Adeiny could also man 3B due to his strong arm and glove.
  • While he doesn’t have the prototypical bat to fit the position, Adeiny has the tools to man 3B if need be. When we look at Yunel’s troubles at the hot corner in his short experience there, we realize that such a switch is not easy. If the Jays were to ask Adeiny to learn how to play 3B AND simultaneously have him learn how to hit MLB pitching, it would be a set up for failure to say the least.
  • Analysis: I don’t even have to go on from there. It just doesn’t seem to make much sense at all to force the youngster to the hot corner. His bat doesn’t fit there and it would be asking a lot of him to learn the position and to succeed at the plate.

Having looked at the available options on the diamond, I would contend that if the Jays place Adeiny at 2B when the 2011 season begins, whether it be in AA New Hampshire or AAA Las Vegas, he will come up to the Jays as a 2B. If not, the Jays will either use Yunel Escobar as trade bait or shift him to 2B, where his bat fits the position and he is capable of playing defensively. Aaron Hillwould move to 3B, and his bat fits in the position very well as he can pop 23-30 HRs on any given season. This option would give the Jays the best advantages on the diamond, but it doesn’t mean that it is what’s going to happen. To me, it all depends on the long-term plans of the Jays and what they intend on doing with Adeiny, Yunel, and Aaron.

The one part that we haven’t covered yet is what happens to Jose Bautista who is currently slated to man 3B? Well, he returns to his favorite spot in RF, where he can continue to gun down runners as he wants to do. Travis Snider returns to LF, and Rajai Davis becomes a 4th outfielder who can man all 3 spots or he becomes trade bait.

Now for the actual work. Adeiny had a line that disappointed most people with a .273/.305/.360 total in AA. He’s obviously not knocking on the door to the big leagues as a result, but the Jays did move him from HiA to AA despite a .193/.217/.292 line there, so you know they have faith in his abilities. The culture shock he faced in coming to the U.S. can affect different players in many different ways, but it seems that it may have hit Adeiny harder than some others. So, it took some time for him to get going, but it seems like he got up for the challenge as he improved his stats after his promotion.

What does that mean for 2011? Well, my best guess would be that you’ll see Eric Thames in AAA manning LF, Brett Lawrie will take his spot in AA, and Adeiny Hechavarriawill continue to man SS, or 2B, in AA. Either way, the Jays will wait to see where the chips fall in the MLB standings by July before they make a decision on Adeiny. They’ll watch his performance in AA, but I don’t believe that it will be the final reason for the Jays to decide on his promotion. If they do fall out of contention, I fully expect to see the Jays call Adeiny up in order to provide him with some seasoning for the 2012 season.

However, since I fully expect that the Jays will finish 2011 above the .500 level, the Adeiny promotion should be in September at the earliest, and more likely in 2012. That’s not a bad thing at all since the more confidence Adeiny brings with him when he gets to The Show, the better.

It would take an outstanding turnaround from Adeiny or a massive fall from the Jays to have him show up in The Show before the end of July. Let’s just hope that doesn’t happen for the fun of watching a full entertaining season! As always, there’s always the possibility that trades could speed up his promotion process, or that Adeiny himself could become trade bait if the Jays are in contention and feel that some of the 2010 draft picks are making enough headway to deal him. With Alex Anthopoulos at the helm, you just never know!

- MG

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Tags: Aaron Hill Adeiny Hechavarria Brett Lawrie Edwin Encarnacion Jose Bautista Yunel Escobar

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