Law's father, Joe, pitched for 9 seasons in the A's organization, and once spent four days on the big league roster. But he never appeared in a Major League game. The closest Joe came was in the first game of a road doubleheader against the Indians, when Dave Stewart was pitching with the flu yet managed to toss a complete game. Law got warm once in the bullpen, but Stewart escaped his jam with a popup.
The A’s optioned Law to the minors in between games of the doubleheader.
Nearly three decades later, Joe was watching from the stands at Dodger Stadium, and Derek didn’t have to wait long to become an official big leaguer. He appeared the day the Giants called him up on April 15, 2016, striking out three batters sandwiched around Justin Turner’s triple.
- In 2009, Derek was drafted in the 28th round by the Rangers, out of Seton-LaSalle Catholic High School in Pittsburgh PA. But he did not sign.
- In 2011, he signed with the Giants (see below).
In 2014, Baseball America rated Law as the 12th-best prospect in the Giants' organization. But he fell to #23 both in the spring of 2015 and again in 2016.
April 15, 2016: The pitches that Derek Law threw during his Major League debut were lively enough. So was his attitude.
Freshly recalled from Triple-A Sacramento, Law struck out the side in the seventh inning of the Giants' 7-3 loss to the Dodgers and, as he left the mound, exchanged a few quick, short, competitive words with Los Angeles' Justin Turner, who tripled with one out but was stranded on base.
"I got caught up in the Giant-Dodger rivalry a little bit," said Law.
Giants manager Bruce Bochy was suitably impressed by Law: "He's got the equipment to pitch here."
Law's father, Joe, also pitched professionally and received a late-season promotion to the Majors from the Oakland A's in 1988. But he was never summoned into a game. Law's parents flew in from Pittsburgh to see their son make his debut, along with his fiancée. (C Haft - MLB.com - April 16, 2016)
Derek took a grip on honesty and threw a high, hard one at himself. "Honestly, I don't think I ever thanked him enough for what he's done," said Law, during his 2016 rookie season.
Derek was referring to the man who sparked his baseball career—his father, Joe. Told of his son's remark, Joe responded as most parents would: selflessly. "He has [thanked me], in his own way," Joe said. "I didn't do it for thanks. I did it because I wanted to help him be a good baseball player. I never, ever, ever thought he would get as far as he did."
Make no mistake: Joe didn't lack confidence in Derek. However, Joe, having pitched professionally for nine seasons, understood the odds that an aspiring player must overcome to reach the Major Leagues. Having heard it all from dozens of pitching coaches, Joe sensed what to tell young Derek when he threw off the mound built alongside the family's home in the Beechview section of Pittsburgh.
"He obviously taught me everything I know in baseball," Derek said. One subject they rarely discussed was disappointment. His father never pitched in the Major Leagues despite some very good seasons in the Minor Leagues.
Joe insisted that Derek's success "definitely" eases the sting of his bad luck with the A's, then politely declined to discuss the issue further. Any story written about any pitcher in the Law family should focus on Derek, said Joe. "I'm happy for his career," Joe said. "I'd rather it be him."
Growing up, Derek felt reluctant to pry too much regarding his father's lost opportunity. "He talked about it once in a while and didn't really say much about it," said Derek, who suspected that leaving the subject alone was best. "I never really wanted to get into his head about that. He never got that chance. It could have been him."
Derek experienced his own bout with adversity, undergoing Tommy John surgery on his elbow in 2014. He has rebounded nicely with the Giants, recording a 2.82 ERA in his first 22 appearances while striking out 20 and walking just four in 22 1/3 innings.
Of course, Derek takes Joe's pitching wisdom to the mound with him. Asked to cite the most enduring athletic lesson he learned from his father, Derek said, "The thing that sticks in my head the most is you don't ever want to give the hitters too much credit. They'll get themselves out."
When the Giants recalled Law in April 2016, Joe and his wife, Tracey, didn't bother trying to contain their emotions. They cried tears of joy as they recalled Derek's countless youth league games, Joe's one-on-one pointers on throwing breaking pitches, and Tracey's insistence that her husband move hitting lessons outside because 4-year-old Derek was breaking lamps and other fragile objects with his line drives. "It was a good day in the Law household," Joe said. (Haft - MLB.com - 6/16/16)
Early in Derek's career, it was clear he had talent. After earning Pittsburgh All-Area honors in 2008 and 2009 at Seton-LaSalle Catholic High School, he had an offer to play at North Carolina State. But when that offer fell apart, Law went to Florida in October 2008 for a wood-bat tournament.
Frank Damas, who was Miami-Dade's recruiting coordinator at the time and is now a scout for the D-backs, was in Jupiter, Fla., looking for talent. "I was walking between fields -- one game was still going on longer than others," Damas said, "and I happened to see Derek."
Miami-Dade head coach Steve Hertz offered a scholarship to Law sight unseen based on Damas' recommendation. Damas was right about Law, who went 8-5 with a 2.35 ERA and 121 strikeouts in 92 innings as a sophomore. The Giants drafted Law out of Miami-Dade, taking him in the ninth round in 2011.
Law pitched well at every stop in the Minors, but he required elbow surgery in June 2014, and he didn't return until one year later. The surgery was a success, and 2016 has been the proof.
Long said Law's velocity has improved from 91 mph in college to as much as 97 mph now.
"He told me he could have worked a bit harder when he was in college," Long said. "But he was just a kid back then. Since he got drafted, he has become a consummate pro. I think he's going to be in the Majors for a long time." (Villa - MLB.com - 8/16/16)
Derek, who is a 6-foot-2, 210-pound righthanded pitcher (like his father), was called up to the Majors. The Giants flew Derek's parents, Joe and Tracey (from Pittsburgh PA), as well as Derek's fiancée, Chelsea, and two friends to Los Angeles for the game against the Dodgers.
More importantly, Derek got into the game. Pitching in relief, Law allowed no runs, striking out the side in the seventh inning. The first batter Law faced was Adrian Gonzalez, who went down swinging. "As a kid, you think about that moment all the time," Derek said of pitching in the Majors. "And then it's happening, and it goes by like that, and it's over. And you're like, 'Well, now I'm in the big leagues, I guess.'"
"Just with his opening appearance in L.A., we knew we had something special in that kid," Giants veteran pitcher Jeff Samardzija said. "He's got starter's stuff. He's got four pitches, he attacks the zone and he knows how to pitch."
Despite the praise, Law has remained humble. According to Joe, Derek has a great relationship with his brother, 21-year-old Dustin, who is autistic. In addition, Derek is marrying Chelsea, his high-school sweetheart, on New Year's Eve.
Derek hasn't forgotten the people in Miami who meant so much to him, either. During last week's road series against the Marlins, he called Danny Price, his second head coach at Miami-Dade College, as well as pitching coach Kevin Long and former MDC head coach Steve Hertz and got them tickets to that night's game. "He was honored that we were there," Price said.
"I'm so proud of him, not only because he is pitching so well, but just the way he carries himself," said Hertz. "He is very gracious and humble."
Playing in the Major Leagues is such a long-shot for most prospects. But for a moment there, it looked like Derek might not even be born. In July 1990, Joe Law, while playing Triple-A baseball, was driving cross-country from Tacoma, Wash., back home to Pittsburgh after knee surgery. Tracey, who was seven months pregnant with Derek, was driving when their car was rammed from behind.
Joe said his family's car flipped twice on the Ohio Turnpike. Joe, who wasn't wearing a seatbelt, was thrown from the vehicle. Fortunately, Tracey held onto the steering wheel and suffered only a minor cut on her elbow. And while there was no damage to the unborn Derek. Joe wasn't as fortunate—he had a lot of internal and external bleeding. Oakland released him, and that was the end of his career.
Joe said the crash was destiny. "I knew," Joe said, "that the reason why I never played in the Majors was for me to be home with Derek." (Villa - MLB.com - 8/16/16)
June 2011: The Giants chose Law in the 9th round, out of Miami Dade Junior College in Florida. He signed for $125,000, via scout Mitchell Metcalf.
- April 2, 2019: The Blue Jays traded CF Kevin Pillar to the Giants for 2B Alen Hanson, RHP Derek Law, and RHP Juan De Paula.
|Home:||Pittsburgh, PA||Team:||BLUE JAYS|
|Birth City:||Pittsburgh, PA|
|Draft:||Giants #9 - 2011 - Out of Miami-Dade JUCO (FL)|
Law has a plus 93-96 mph 4-seam FASTBALL that seems harder because of his unorthodox delivery, and an impressive plus, 79-82 mph SLIDER that breaks downward sharply at the plate that has been described as a "bowel locker." He also uses a below-average 83-85 mph CHANGEUP against lefties. The two plus pitches (heater and slider) gives him two swing-and-miss offerings. (Spring 2018)
2016 Season Pitch Usage: 4-seam Fastball: 52.4% of the time; Change 5.8%; Slider 23.6%; and his Curve 18.3% of the time.
2017 Season Pitch Usage: 4-seam Fastball: 53.2% of the time; Change 7.3%; Slider 23.1%; and his Curve 16.5% of the time.
2018 Season Pitch Usage: 4-seam Fastball: 51.6% of the time; Change 5.5%; Slider 29.7%; and Curve 13.3% of the time. Average velocity: 4-seam 94.6 mph, Change 84.8, Slider 85.3, and Curve 77.6 mph.
February 23, 2014: Derek possesses not only an enviable variety of pitches but also matchless command of them, a combination that should hasten an ascent to the big leagues.
Law's father, Joe, taught him the waste of throwing ball four. The elder Law pitched professionally for nine seasons in the A's system. "I've been throwing curveballs since I was 8 or 9, getting in fights with my dad," Derek said jokingly.
When they weren't debating the prudence of flinging curves at a relatively early age and risking injury, Law was listening to his father. "Most of his influence was, 'Don't give hitters too much credit. They'll get themselves out seven out of 10 times,'" Law said. "That's a pretty good ratio to me."
Law's skills further tilt the statistical imbalance in his favor. To his surprise, he gained velocity on his fastball last year, adding a couple of miles an hour to consistently reach the mid-90s range. Throwing straight overhand helps his slider, which is his out pitch, and his curveball, which travels in a sharp vertical arc -- "12-to-6" in baseball parlance.
Then there's Law's delivery, featuring an exaggerated corkscrewing so that his back faces the hitter before he releases the pitch. The turn in his motion helps him hide the ball longer and create torque, which in turn enhances velocity. (Haft – mlb.com - 2/22/14)
Law's delivery is still not pretty, and features a stab in his take-away, stiffness in his lower half. But he has toned down his hip turn as he gathers himself over the rubber, and he manages to stay around the strike zone consistently enough to receive average grades for his control,
He hides the ball well with his over-the-top delivery, and his stuff bounced back nicely in his return from the Tommy John surgery. (Spring 2016)
- As of the start of the 2019 season, Derek had a career record of 9-3 with a 3.83 ERA, having allowed 10 home runs and 105 hits in 105 innings.
June 8-end of 2014 season: Law was on the D
Near the end of June, Derek underwent Tommy John surgery.
2015: Law was rehabbing from his T.J. surgery.
Aug 28-Sept 14, 2016: Law was on the DL with right elbow strain.