Law Reigns Supreme For Squirrels
By Ryan Lazo, sports editor
Apr 15, 2014, 19:34
RICHMOND — Scattered among the 40 rounds and 1,216 players chosen each year in the Major League Baseball draft are future stars and hidden gems found in the later rounds. The San Francisco Giants may have found one of those gems in the 9th round of the 2011 MLB Draft with the selection of a hard-throwing right-hander named Derek Law.
The Pittsburgh, PA native has shot up the Minor League ladder while improving as the competition has progressively become more difficult. In fact, Law opened the organization's eyes last season with a 22-game stint in San Jose where he struck out 45 hitters while surrendering just one walk. It's why it was no surprise Law found himself among the final cuts to make the Giants out of Spring Training before being assigned to Double-A Richmond to master the closing role.
And while Law has taken to the run in from the bullpen in front of packed stadiums and having to hold small leads against some of the more talented hitters in the minors, he also saw himself going in another direction.
"I honestly loved basketball," the 6-foot-2 reliever said in the locker room before rain washed away the Flying Squirrels' game against Reading. "Obviously I was a little better at baseball than that, but if I was 7-foot then maybe basketball would be it."
But baseball is in Law's blood.
His father, Joe Law, pitched in the minor leagues for a decade including making the major league roster of the Oakland Athletics for four days, but never made an appearance. It seemed only natural for his son to follow in his footsteps.
However, the 23-year-old explained he didn't always know he had a future in the game of baseball, but as he started to grow and fill out his body during High School, his all-around game improved. No longer was Law just fitting in among his peers, but sticking out with increased velocity.
"Sophomore year I started to throw a little bit harder," he explained. "It was later in the year, I got through a game or two and I did really well. But it wasn't until my junior year where I started dominating hitters."
That domination of hitters led to the Texas Ranger selecting Law in the 28th round of the 2009 draft, but he never reached an agreement. Instead, Law enrolled in Miami Dade Junior College where his maturation really began to take hold.
The flamethrower learned how to take the mental aspect of the game and apply it to his other areas. No longer did Law carryover bad outings into other outings. Instead, he made adjustments immediately when he felt something in his delivery or pitch selection go awry.
It's what led Law to realize his dreams were about to be fulfilled as he was once again selected by a Major League Baseball team — this time in a higher round — and was more prepared than he would have been if accepted the Rangers' offer two years earlier.
"I was originally drafted by the Rangers in '09 and It was kind of surreal," he said. "Two years later, I was drafted by the Giants. You don't really believe it."
But entering his third year of professional baseball, Law is on the cusp of making an impact for the Giants. In 93 appearances heading into this season, Law had punched-out 188 hitters 140 innings of work, showing the type of talent the Giants' organization envisioned.
Yet, for now the right-hander is making an immediate impact on Richmond's early-season success and the rest of the Eastern League with his domination on the mound. Law has jogged in from the bullpen four times in a Richmond uniform while allowing no runs, striking out seven and surrendering just one hit in 4.1 innings of work so far.
In fact, the only people who have been able to slow Law down have been the umpires who have literally had to stop him from delivering pitches too fast. The righty not only has elite stuff — a mid to high 90s fastball and wipeout slider — but he doesn't like to over think on the hill, instead preferring to put the hitters on the defensive.
"I've kind of just developed that, but it's not like I just want to get it over with obviously," Law said of his fast-pace. "I know it's easier for the infielders behind me if I work quicker ... guys are starting to call timeout against me more often and it's getting me mad."
Added catcher Myles Schroder, "He's got four pitches that he can throw for a strike and with his velocity up where it is, you can't touch the kid. You have a guy who throws in the high 90s with a curveball and slider with the bite he does, it's tough to hit."
It's why Law likely won't be in Richmond very long as he continues to both impress and dominate at every level he reaches. So it shouldn't be a surprise if you see Law donning a Giants' jersey in the late summer months as a key cog in their bullpen during a playoff run.
After all, Law likes to work fast and it doesn't come any faster than pitching during a playoff run.