Just Called Up, Adeiny Hechavarria Plays 3B?
By Mat Germain
There are certain decisions that teams and managers make that make you shake your head some times. It seems to me that for the second time since he’s been a Blue Jays player, Adeiny Hechavarria has been set up for failure by this organization. With little regard for how his mental state of mind, they’ve thrown him to the wolves, likely to send him down with a burst confidence level that may take a while to rebuild.
What am I talking about? First, it was the language. The Jays let Hechavarria down was when they failed to have a translator with him when he began his minors career with the Jays in HiA Dunedin. At the time, he was 21 years old and in a new country for the first time. He couldn’t speak the language of the land, and had to feel isolated. In baseball terms, the result was little interaction between a non-Spanish speaking coaching staff in Dunedin and Hechavarria. In plain English, he was left out to dry. After a .193/.217/.292 start over 167 PA, someone in the organization finally took note of it, spread the news, and got him promoted to AA, where the coaching staff did speak Spanish. The result? A much improved .273/.305/.360 line despite playing against better competition
The second instance of letting Hechavarria down just happened over the weekend. Having NEVER played 3B as a professional player, he was called up from AAA to play the position. While he didn’t make any errors on the day, he had to feel out of place playing in a new location he’d never seen, a new position he’d never played, and in a spot in the lineup (9th) that he rarely if ever hit from. Talk about setting a player up for failure. He struck out twice and walked once in his ABs on the day and didn’t look entirely lost over his last few ABs. But, in my estimation, leaving him at SS would have allowed him to concentrate a lot more on hitting and getting through the day at the plate instead of taking on the pressure of fielding the hot corner.
Both Yunel Escobar and Kelly Johnson have a tremendous amount of experience playing in the infield in MLB. Why the staff didn’t decide to have either one move to 3B until Brett Lawrie returns is beyond me. I do believe it’s the first time I’ve been entirely against a decision made by Jays brass this season.
The confidence of a young player is a fragile thing. Once it’s gone, there’s no telling how long it will take for it to return. As we all witnessed with Travis Snider, who was toyed with on many levels for way too many years, it can break the spirit of even the most talented of players. Cherish it. Harness it. Grow it. Don’t put him in a situation to fail and then hope he comes out of it alright.
With the amount of significant money the Jays have invested in Hechavarria, you would think that they’d be more careful with his development. As it is, it seems that they’re taking the “figure it out as we go along” route.
What happens if Hechavarria goes 0 for 15, or 1 for 15, and gets sent back down to AAA as Lawrie makes his return? How will he take the experience? Will it sour his outlook and make him wonder just what the Jays have in store for him in the future? Will he play second base, short stop, or third base as a pro? Is he going to have to “earn” a good spot in the lineup by batting less often and with all of the pressures that come with “earning” that better hitting spot?
Maybe it’s just me, but it would have made a whole lot more sense to start Hechavarria at Short and moving Yunel Escobar over to 3B. Escobar has 22 games of experience at the hot corner (2007) and would have known that it was only a temporary arrangement, until Lawrie returned to play. For those of you who may say that it would make Escobar unhappy, I say, suck it up! Doing what’s best for the team, and its future, is what matters most. If anything, as a “leader”, Escobar should have volunteered to shift to 3B for Hechavarria. That’s what leaders do. Just look at Cal Ripken Jr.
Who knows? Maybe Hechavarria feels fine at 3B and I’m making a big deal out of nothing. Maybe he’ll light it up at the plate before Lawrie returns, and maybe his hitting will have nothing to do with his field play. Still, I can’t help but believe that things would have been easier on him overall if he was playing SS. To me, this is an organizational short coming that has resulted in mistakes being made when calling up players or pitchers, and putting them in situations that they’re uncomfortable with.
There are many examples I could list. Noah Syndergaard noted that he was uncomfortable with the piggy backing he experienced in LoA. He thought a started should be the starter, not someone who comes in from the 4th or 5th inning on. There’s the Travis Snider example, the pitching injuries throughout the organization, ect.. ect… It just feels like there’s a lack of overall foresight by the organization. Will this last? I certainly hope not, because there are some exceptional talents coming through the minors, and I’d hate to see them being mismanaged.
For now, I’ll just cross my fingers and hope that Hechavarria does a good job at 3B and at the plate until the Jays figure out where they really want him to play.