Drew Silva

Baseball Daily Dose

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Lovin' Brett Lawrie

Friday, June 03, 2011

The Blue Jays cut ties with 28-year-old reliever Josh Roenicke on Thursday, suddenly and quite conveniently clearing a spot on their 40-man roster. Roenicke wound up finding a gig with the Brewers just hours later. Our guess -- and it's not a far-fetched idea -- is that top third base prospect Brett Lawrie will be on his way to Baltimore within the next couple of days to claim that open roster spot and to make his major league debut during the Jays' three-game weekend series against the Orioles.

Lawrie suffered a bruised left wrist while playing in a game for Triple-A Las Vegas on Tuesday. Had he not encountered that minor injury, he might already have a nameplate in the visiting clubhouse at Camden Yards.

A 21-year-old from western Canada, Lawrie has posted a hair-raising .354/.415/.677 batting line with 15 home runs and 49 RBI in 52 games this season at the Triple-A level. Las Vegas is a park that caters to the long ball, but Lawrie is also getting it done on the road.

And it's not just about the power. Lawrie, acquired this winter in Toronto's trade of Shaun Marcum, has swiped 11 bases in 12 chances so far down on the farm and stole 30 bases last season for the Brewers' Double-A affiliate. Given license to be aggressive in the majors, he could be a 25-steal guy on a yearly basis.

Lawrie's not a great defender. Heck, he's not even really an average defender. But that's the sort of thing most fantasy owners don't need to lose sleep over and defense is something that can be developed with proper coaching through age 30 or even later. He'll get better at playing third base while the Jays look the other way because of his plus bat.

Lawrie is likely to struggle early on in the bigs. He's been a free-swinger throughout his minor league career and will have to learn that wild hacks won't cut it against baseball's best breaking pitches. But Lawrie has the ability to provide offensive production at a position where finding such a thing is a constant chore, and that immediately gives him fantasy relevance.

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* Giants first baseman Aubrey Huff exploded for his first career three-homer game Thursday night in St. Louis, taking advantage of Lance Lynn's major league debut and the shaky Cardinals bullpen. He wound up with six RBI in a 12-7 victory for the defending World Series champions. Huff's been a disappointment through the first third of the 2011 season, but big nights can lead to lengthier leashes and he should remain a regular member of the Giants' lineup going forward despite his still-uninspiring .233/.291/.403 batting line. This is the first time since April 6, by the way, that Huff's slugging percentage has climbed over .400.

Those hoping that Brandon Belt would sneak his way back into the equation at first base are surely disappointed by the turn of events. Belt's not having any luck in the Giants' crowded outfield, either, with Nate Schierholtz, Cody Ross and Andres Torres suddenly catching fire. There's a lot to like about Belt's bat and he's certainly done enough proving at the Triple-A level, but it might make sense to send the 23-year-old, nicknamed "Baby Giraffe," back to the Fresno Grizzlies for more marinating. Right now, he needs consistent at-bats more than anything.

Belt can be dropped in non-keeper mixed fantasy leagues, where better options populate the waiver wire.

* It's safe to wonder at this point whether we'll ever see Brandon Webb on a major league mound again. The 32-year-old right-hander was pulled off his minor league rehab assignment Thursday after physicians found renewed inflammation in his troublesome rotator cuff. He made just one rehab start, Monday for Double-A Frisco, and allowed five runs in less than four innings. His fastball velocity is still in the 81-84 MPH range and he can't seem to escape the shoulder discomfort that has plagued him since the first week of the 2009 regular season.

Webb's going to keep trying, and the Rangers are going to continue to provide him with training facilities and starting opportunities at their various minor league affiliates, but the Nolan Ryan-led club is not going to promote the former Cy Young Award winner without first seeing quality concrete results. And the same goes for every other organization in the majors.

National League Quick Hits: Cardinals center fielder Colby Rasmus collected six RBI in a losing effort Thursday evening against the Giants … Pablo Sandoval will begin a minor league rehab assignment Friday at Single-A San Jose … The Phillies will activate outfielder Shane Victorino from the disabled list before first pitch Friday … Jason Bourgeois went 2-for-4 with a triple and a walk in his first rehab game Thursday at Triple-A Fresno … Juan Miranda is day-to-day with an illness … Padres catcher Nick Hundley could begin a rehab assignment as soon as Saturday … Carlos Beltran went 2-for-4 with a three-run homer Thursday in the Mets' comeback victory over the Pirates … Matt Holliday is expected to return from his disabled list stint as soon as he is eligible … Barry Zito is scheduled to make his first rehab start Monday at Single-A San Jose … The Diamondbacks signed reliever Yhency Brazoban to a minor league contract … Manny Acosta is expected to join the Mets' bullpen Friday.

American League Quick Hits: The Twins called up outfield prospect Ben Revere … Red Sox starter Daisuke Matsuzaka has indeed decided to undergo Tommy John reconstructive elbow surgery … The Twins placed Jim Thome and Jason Kubel on the 15-day disabled list … Indians designated hitter Travis Hafner is scheduled to take dry swings with a bat on Friday … Joe Mauer has been moved to the 60-day disabled list and won't be eligible to return until June 12 … Adam Lind went 3-for-3 with two doubles during a rehab game Thursday at Single-A Dunedin … Tommy Hunter is scheduled to throw two rehab innings Saturday at Triple-A Round Rock … The Twins have called up infielder Brian Dinkelman for depth purposes … Twins shortstop Trevor Plouffe was sent back to Triple-A Rochester … Joakim Soria tossed two perfect innings Thursday in mop-up duty … Red Sox signee Kevin Millwood gave up four runs in less than four innings Wednesday in his first start with Triple-A Pawtucket … The Rangers signed reliever Manny Delcarmen to a minor league contract … Veteran lefty Rich Hill is expected to have Tommy John surgery.

Drew Silva is a baseball editor for Rotoworld and also contributes on NBC Sports' Hardball Talk. He can be found on Twitter.
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