Labourt tosses perfect frame in Futures Game

Blue Jays prospect fans two for World Team in Cincinnati

Labourt tosses perfect frame in Futures Game

CINCINNATI -- Blue Jays prospect Jairo Labourt had never been to a big league stadium before he checked into Great American Ball Park on Sunday as a member of the World Team for the SiriusXm All-Star Futures Game.

"I've seen all the things. They look really good," Labourt said through a translator before the game. "I've got to keep working hard so I can come back and stay. To get to the big leagues, you have to work very hard, and I just want to keep moving forward."

Labourt came on in relief in the bottom of the fifth and pitched a 1-2-3 inning, striking out two in a 10-1 loss to the U.S. Team.

Labourt is a 21-year-old power left-hander from the Dominican Republic and, to this point, his career has been moving forward. He's pitching at Class A Advanced Dunedin this season, his first year in a full season league. He's already made 16 starts, two short of his career high last season, and has thrown 72 2/3 innings after logging 85 1/3 in 2014.

Labourt is mindful that he'll soon be in uncharted territory, but is confident he's up to the challenge. At 6-foot-4, 200 pounds, he has the frame to handle the workload. "I have to keep my mind strong for the long season," he said.

Labourt's fastball sits in the low to mid-90s with movement and he's shown his potential by striking out 6.9 per nine innings. His slider is improving and he's also working on his changeup. Labourt's fastball has a good sinking action, one of the reasons he's allowed just six homers. Like many young, hard-throwing pitchers, he also struggles with his command at times. He's walked 42.

That's probably one reason why Labourt's overall numbers -- 2-7, 4.71 ERA -- aren't more impressive. In his first 11 starts, he posted a 3.30 ERA. He said it's because he's been concentrating on throwing more strikes.

"It's very mechanical," Labourt said. "I've been practicing my mechanics. They've been trying to make adjustments. I'm trying to throw strikes and that's what I need to do to make the change."

Last season, Labourt led the short-season Class A Northwest League with a 1.77 ERA in 15 starts for the Vancouver Canadians. He's currently ranked as the Blue Jays' No. 10 prospect by MLB.com.

Being selected to the Futures Game is an acknowledgment of Labourt's upside and also gives him a firm vision of exactly where he's hoping to be someday.

"This is something that's very important for my career," he said. "And I'm happy to be here."

Paul Hagen is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.