Hechavarria getting opportunity to show skills

Hechavarria getting opportunity to show skills

Hechavarria getting opportunity to show skills
NEW YORK -- The prolonged absence of Brett Lawrie from the Blue Jays' lineup has opened the door for prospect Adeiny Hechavarria to make his mark at the big league level.

The 23-year-old is expected to start receiving the bulk of the playing time at third base as veteran Omar Vizquel finds himself on the bench with a little more regularity.

Hechavarria entered play on Monday night hitting just .179 in 14 games this season, but assistant general manager Tony LaCava doesn't feel that necessarily tells the full story.

"I think he's had some good swings, and at times, good at-bats," LaCava said. "I don't think he's chased as much as a lot of young kids do when they first get here. I thought he handled himself very well. Obviously the batting average doesn't say that, but I think he'll be better for having gone through all of that."

Hechavarria has yet to reap dividends at the plate in the big leagues but did display improved abilities this season for Triple-A Las Vegas. He hit .312 with six homers and a .788 OPS en route to being the sole member of the Blue Jays organization named to the All- Pacific Coast League team.

Improved hitting obviously will be key to Hechavarria's future success in the Majors, but it's his ability in the field that made him a highly touted prospect out of Cuba. Hechavarria has generally been considered one of the best infielders in the Minor Leagues, and the transition to Toronto has been seamless despite playing out of position at third base.

The biggest difference between this year's version of Hechavarria in the field compared to past seasons is that he toned down the desire to be flashy and is making plays more simple while displaying an improved arm slot.

"It's leaps and bounds better," LaCava said. "He's so athletic and he is so gifted. He can do some things that most people only dream of doing.

"I think the biggest thing we've seen ... a couple of years ago his arm slot was really inconsistent and he had a lot of balls tailing up the line on him. He didn't have the default slot that most good infielders have, where they go to that slot every time. He has that now, and that was a big improvement for this year."