At the trade deadline in 2015, the Detroit Tigers lost ace pitcher David Price to the Toronto Blue Jays. In exchange, the Tigers received pitchers David Norris, Jairo Labourt, and Matt Boyd. Norris will most likely be in the starting rotation come spring and Boyd has already seen some time in the bullpen. Labourt is on the 40-man roster, but most likely be pitching the minor leagues. He is our Motor City Bengals #15 prospect.
Jairo Labourt was originally drafted by the Blue Jays out of the Dominican Republic when he was only 17 years old. The left-handed pitcher will be 22 years old in March. He stands 6’4 and weighs 205. For comparison purposes, Labourt is only an inch shorter than ace Justin Verlander; Norris is only one year older than Labourt.
As soon as Labourt was acquired from the Blue Jays, the Tigers sent him right to the Single-A+ Lakeland Flying Tigers. There he started in seven games where he had a 6.31 ERA, striking out 34 batters in 35.2 games. However, he did allow 3 home runs, 15 base-on-balls, and 45 hits. His WHIP in Lakeland was 1.682. He played some winter ball and his stats were not much better. It is clear that he has to learn to allow significantly fewer hits before he can move out of the minors.
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Despite the questionable stats, Labourt does show promise. In June of 2014, he allowed one hit in a game against the Tri-City Dust Devils. At the time, Labourt had just been moved from the Single-A Lansing Lugnuts to the Single-A-Vancouver Canadians. Prior to the one hit, he went six innings retiring all of the batters. He was replaced in the seventh and the team won 1-0.
In a Futures Game in July 2015, Labourt came in to relieve in the bottom of the fifth. He threw a perfect inning, striking out two of the batters he faced. At the time of this game, he was considered the Blue Jay’s #10 prospect. He impressed the scouts with his speed, but he showed that he needs to work on his command (which is common with young pitchers who throw hard).
Labourt’s pitches include a fastball, slider, and changeup. He usually hits the low 90’s on his fastball, which has a strong sinking action. He does not allow many home runs because of the action on his fastball. Coaches are working with him to improve his changeup and his slider, too. Unfortunately, his command issues do result in a higher-than-average number of walks.
Labourt is currently sitting on the Detroit Tigers 40-man roster. It is obvious that they want to see what he can do in Spring Training to evaluate the best place for him. The Tigers are always in need of strong relievers, so the pressure is on the young pitcher to show his stuff. The team added him to the roster in November 2015 to protect him from the Rule-5 draft along with two other pitchers, Michael Fulmer and Montreal Robertson.