Friday, August 12, 2016

Prospect Retrospective: Derek Law

Hey team!  After answering a couple of questions about Derek Law, I got to thinking it might be fun to do a few Giants Prospect Retrospectives a la John Sickels.  We'll go ahead and start with Derek Law:

Derek Law was the Giants 9'th round draft pick in 2011 out of Miami-Dade, a Florida JC.  He's a big kid at 6'2", 210 lbs and a funky delivery that comes almost straight over-the-top giving him a big downward plane on his pitches.

Law signed quickly and was assigned to the Rookie Arizona League where he pitched well with a line of 0-0, 2.50, 18 IP, 1.00 BB/9, 9.50 K/9 with 4 Saves.  2012 found him moving up to Low A Augusta where he again pitched well, 5-2, 2.91, 55.2 IP, 3.72 BB/9, 10.88 K/9 with 2 Saves.

I was surprised when he was sent back to Augusta to start the 2013 season.  Maybe it was the mediocre BB/9 the Giants wanted him to work on?  He did improve on his 2012 numbers with a line of 0-3, 2.31, 35 IP, 2.57 BB/9, 12.34 K/9 with 3 Saves.   That earned him a mid-season promotion to San Jose where he had a spectacular breakout:  4-0, 2.10, 25.2 IP, 0.35 BB/9, 15.78 K/9 with 11 Saves.  He struck out 45 batters and walked just 1.  That's right, he walked just 1 batter against 45 K's in 25.2 IP!  He also had 1 HBP.  Law was rewarded with an Arizona Fall League assignment where he was not quite as spectacular as in the Cal League, but still pitched well:  1-0, 3.18, 12.1 IP, 4.38 BB/9, 11.68 K/9.  The 4.38 BB/9 seemed awfully high, but eh, it was a small sample size in an extreme hitter-friendly environment.  In retrospect, I wonder if that may have been the first sign of trouble with his UCL?

I don't really remember exactly what happened in Spring Training of 2014.  I know a lot of us were hoping Derek might have a great spring and make the 25 man roster.  If I recall correctly, he again pitched well, but not spectacularly and was assigned to AA where he again pitched well but with a distinctly higher BB/9:  2-0, 2.57, 28 IP, 4.50 BB/9, 9.32 K/9 with 13 Saves.  He underwent Tommy John surgery about midseason.  Again, loss of command of the strike zone is known to be an early symptom of UCL tears.

Derek made it back in time to pitch in the second half of the 2015 season, again in Richmond.  The ERA did not look great but the K and BB rates were distinctly improved:  0-1, 4.56, 25.3 IP, 2.81 BB/9, 11.22 K/9 with 13 Saves.

Derek made just 3 appearances in AAA to start the 2016 season and has spent the rest of the season with the Giants.  His numbers, particularly an excellent walk rate, are looking more and more like 2013 in San Jose was the real Derek Law, not the injured and rehabbing Derek Law we saw in AA:  4-1, 2.05, 44 IP, 1.23 BB/9, 8.80 K/9.  He is currently working on a string of 17 consecutive scoreless appearances .  After his most recent appearance in the 8'th inning of the Giants 1-0 win over the Marlins, Manager Bruce Bochy all but named him the 8'th inning setup man and specifically mentioned his ability to command all 4 of his pitches including a change up which allows him to attack LH batters.  Hmmm…… a Closer has to be able to get batters from both sides of the plate out!

In one of the previous comment threads, I was musing about how much Law's minor league career reminded me of Sergio Romo's, especially the K/BB rates.  So, I looked up Romo's numbers.  He actually had a much higher K/BB of 6.07 compared to Law's 4.18, but Law had those 2 seasons impacted by his UCL/TJ issue.  Romo had a 2.09 BB/9 with a 14.38 K/9 in his High A season at San Jose.  Law's SJ season was better, but in a much smaller number of innings.  Another comp is Sergio Romo's rookie season of 2008:  3-1, 2.12, 34 IP, 2.12 BB/9, 8.74 K/9.  Check out Romo's peak season of 2011:  3-1, 1.50, 48 IP, 0.94 BB/9, 13.13 K/9!  They are very different pitchers, but if the Giants get anything resembling Sergio Romo's career out of Derek Law, the future is bright!

No comments:

Post a Comment