1/13/2014 5:07 P.M. ET
Law has ability to thrive as member of Giants' bullpen
Despite unconventional mechanics, right-hander has what it takes to make Majors
By Bernie Pleskoff / MLB.com
Prior to the Arizona Fall League, San Francisco Giants pitching prospect Derek Law might not have been on the minds and lips of player personnel evaluators and scouts.
Law's performance in Arizona likely changed some impressions. Or, in my case, created an impression. I had never seen the right-handed Law pitch.
Law is the son of Joe Law, himself a right-handed pitcher who spent nine seasons as a pitcher in the Oakland Athletics farm system.
Derek Law began learning how to pitch when his dad created a pitching mound in the family's backyard. Young Derek was only seven years old at the time.
Now 23, with four quality pitches, Law has a chance to develop into a dominating back end of the bullpen reliever. He can throw his fastball, curveball, slider and changeup for strikes.
Law attended Seton LaSalle Catholic High School in Pittsburgh. He pitched well enough to be selected by the Texas Rangers in the 28th round of the 2009 First-Year Player Draft.
Instead of signing with the Rangers, Law elected to pitch for the highly acclaimed baseball program at Miami Dade College in Florida.
Law was a high strikeout pitcher with good command and a low walk rate for Miami Dade. He showed enough promise to again gain the attention of baseball scouts and front offices.
The Giants selected Law in the ninth round of the 2011 First-Year Player Draft.
Law began his career pitching for the Giants in the Arizona Rookie League that summer. He threw 18 innings, all in relief. Law struck out 19 while walking only two on his way to a 2.50 ERA and 1.00 WHIP.
Since that time, it has been more of the same for the 6-foot-3, 218-pound Law.
In parts of three seasons, he has compiled an ERA of 2.57 and a WHIP of 1.06. He has struck out 188 while walking only 37 batters. He is averaging 12.1 strikeouts per nine innings.
It is that command and control that I saw in the Arizona Fall League. His command, control and repertoire, along with unconventional pitching mechanics make it very difficult for hitters to follow the ball from Law's hand.
Law has a type of over-the-top, aggressive delivery that causes concern for some scouts. He expends energy on every pitch. Lots of energy. But it works.
In the fashion of former pitching great Luis Tiant, Law completely turns his back to the hitter in his delivery. The batter sees the back of his uniform long before he is able to follow the flight of the ball.
While I would generally shy away from a pitcher with lots of movement in a high-octane delivery, Law has the ability to repeat his mechanics from pitch to pitch. He finds a rhythm and stays in sync.
Not only does he know what pitch he wants to throw at every count, he knows where the ball is going. His mound demeanor and game awareness is advanced and polished.
Law's fastball isn't very overpowering. In the Arizona Fall League, the readings I saw had him at 92 to 93 mph, but it seemed that every one of his fastballs had late life and great sink. He missed lots of bats.
While his fastball was deceptive, his slider may be his best pitch. With sharp movement at 10 mph slower than his fastball, his slider really puts hitters back on their heels, forcing right-handed hitters to chase balls outside.
Law's curveball is another pitch that changes eye levels and alters the balance of the hitter. He throws that pitch around 74-75 mph. His changeup is solid at 80 mph and he isn't afraid to mix it among his arsenal, spotting it at the correct times.
While he is extremely effective against hitters from both sides of the plate, he is really tough on right-handed batters.
Last season, splitting time between Rookie League Arizona, Class A Augusta and Class A Advanced San Jose, righties hit just .196 against him. Overall, he had a great season. He yielded only 51 hits in 66 1/3 innings pitched.
Law was one of the top pitchers in the 2013 Arizona Fall League, finishing at the top or near the top in several categories.
For now, not everyone has heard of Derek Law. However, that could change quickly if he continues to control his wide variety of pitches and uses his unusual mechanics to navigate through opposing lineups. He has to keep healthy and continue to control his outings.
Make no mistake. Law is really effective and lots of fun to watch pitch.
Bernie Pleskoff has served as a professional scout for the Houston Astros and Seattle Mariners. Follow @BerniePleskoff; on Twitter. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.