Jairo Labourt: the Best Blue Jays LHP After Daniel Norris?
Jairo Labourt was one of many Toronto prospects slated for assignment at short-season Vancouver, a pivotal Blue Jays affiliates for 2014. After graduating quality prospects to the big club (save for breakout campaigns from LHP Daniel Norris and OF Dalton Pompey), the Jays patiently waited until June for a handful of high ceiling talents to debut. Signed out of the Dominican Republic in 2011, Labourt has fit in well with a big-name rotation featuring Alberto Tirado, Miguel Castro, and Matt Smoral. Showing both the stuff and results to succeed as a starter, what should Toronto fans expect from the lanky lefty?
The Blue Jays 2011 international signings crop has been a boon to the Blue Jays organization. Roberto Osuna was the biggest name, purchased for $1.5 million from a Mexican League club. Labourt, Tirado and Castro were also recipients of six-figure bonuses. The left-handed Labourt has improved his stock in 2014, pairing with Castro as the most dominant 1-2 punch in the Northwest League.
At 6-foot-4, 204 pounds, Jairo Labourt has a frame which projects to withstand a starting pitcher’s workload. The baby-faced 20-year old will benefit from added muscle (especially in the lower half), relying on long levers and a quick arm to generate velocity at present. Still, too much added bulk might slow the above-average athleticism.
The lefty throws from a high-3/4 arm angle with downhill plane and starts exclusively on the left side of the rubber. His tempo can be quick, but Labourt’s motion is repeatable thanks to a brief pause at the balance point. He pitches with a great deal of confidence and is not afraid to challenge hitters. Between two observed appearances, Labourt appears more composed. Boise batters reached scoring position in four innings, three of which Labourt ended with strikeouts.
Jairo Labourt uses a three-pitch mix, throwing a fastball, slider, and change-up. The fastball ranges between 90-95 mph, sitting 93-94 and hitting 95 multiple times. While the wind-up gives him time to hump up on the fastball, Labourt used a slide-step out of the stretch and still hit 95 consistently. The pitch has sink and tail, and sneaks up on hitters in a hurry thanks to the left-hander’s extension. When overthrown, the fastball stays up, though Labourt usually pounds the lower half of the zone. Command of the pitch is still developing, as one would expect from a 20-year old, but improved since first observed early in the season.
The slider is the Dominican’s swing-and-miss offering with two-plane break. Labourt is still learning how to locate the pitch, throwing it with the most consistency to the glove-side corner of the plate between 82-87 mph. At lower velocities, the pitch sweeps across the plate, versus tighter spin and more bite at higher velocities.
The lefty was able to throw multiple sliders against a right-handed batter for called and swinging strikes, targeting the batter’s back foot. Against Boise’s left-handed first baseman, Labourt’s slider ended up nearly two feet wide of the plate and still elicited a huge swing and miss. The pitch will improve with repetitions and should be at least average. One of the keys will be maintaining arm speed throughout the motion.
Jairo Labourt shows a feel for the change-up, with arm speed, separation from the fastball velocity, and fade. The pitch ranged from 82-84 mph (good for a 10 mph difference from the fastball). Labourt located the pitch mostly to the arm side and threw it predominantly against right-handed batters. Profiling as another average-or-above offering, it would be beneficial for the budding top prospect’s development to see more of the pitch in game action. Though it made sense to see the slider in strikeout counts given the need to develop the pitch, Labourt’s change-up will be crucial for his long-term projections.
While Tirado boasts bigger stuff and Smoral is a former first-round pick, Jairo Labourt projects to be the fastest mover of the group. Toronto challenged the lefty with an assignment to Single-A Lansing at the beginning of the season before an extended look in Vancouver. Labourt will stick in the Lansing rotation in 2015, ready for a full-season workload after amassing nearly 100 innings this season (whereas Tirado and Smoral simply need to log innings, period). If Labourt proves effective in Lansing, he’ll hit the fast track.
Tool Present Future Projected Role Number 3/4 starter on first division team. Fastball 60 65 Slider 35 50 Change-up 40 55 Control 40 55 Command 30 45
Owning Jairo Labourt
In dynasty fantasy baseball leagues, being first to high ceiling prospects is key. With Labourt’s present velocity, he ranks as arguably the hardest throwing left-handed pitcher scouted at ROTOscouting this season. And while velocity isn’t everything, it does allow for a greater margin of error as the 20-year old works his way through the system. Plus, the Blue Jays have had a good run of developing pitching recently. Marcus Stroman and Aaron Sanchez have excelled in MLB roles, while Daniel Norris is a breakout prospect with the chance to debut soon. Jairo Labourt is an important part of the next wave of pitching prospects and should be scooped up in deep leagues where 150 or more prospects are owned.
29 Aug 2014 / Ben Flajole / 1
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