‘Every time you put him in, he does something positive’
Raptors rookie Jakob Poeltl earning his minutes
The return of Donaldson was just one of the positive steps for the Jays on Monday as the roster continues to round into shape. Second baseman Devon Travis played four innings at the position in a minorleague game and plans to to do the same on Wednesday. If everything holds up with his injured knee, he hopes to appear in a major league game on Friday.
Then there’s right fielder Jose Bautista, who should be back with the team on Tuesday after his Dominican Republic team was eliminated at the World Baseball Classic.
“And then you’re looking at our team,” Gibbons said. “We’re into the last couple of weeks and you want to see them all together. Kind of makes you feel good.” where his natural basketball instincts come from, but he is very much aware that he has them
“I don’t know,” Poeltl said following a lengthy practice on Monday. “I mean, I guess both my parents were athletes, I was always in love with sports in general, I was like playing around, playing basketball as a little kid. But it’s really just instincts. I don’t know where it’s coming from, I just feel comfortable out there and I feel like I know where I’m supposed to go.”
Poeltl has surpassed Nogueira on the depth chart which leaves just starting centre Jonas Valanciunas ahead of him in terms of minutes.
Valanciunas is more of an old school centre among today’s versatile big men. Offensively he’s one of the better shooters on the team and has expanded his range even from last year. He’s still very effective banging with the other traditional bigs but struggles when he has to go outside to cover a big with shooting range and then recover back to the basket.
But Poeltl, even at this early stage in his career and the tender age of 21, is better equipped for that type of game and will eventually develop himself into that type of centre that can pull opposing covers out to the three point line.
At some point the Raptors are going to have to make a decision on whether they can live with the defensive limitations Valanciunas comes with. His slow reaction time and slow recovery time are not traits Poeltl shares. The Austrian is athletic and considerably quicker than his Lithuanian counterpart.
Having said that, Raptors fans would be wise to recall that last year in the playoffs it was Valanciunas, until he got hurt in the Miami series, that was putting this team on his back and carrying them.
Poeltl is still at least a couple of years away from being able to do that.
But down the road, and not too far down the road, it’s not hard to imagine Poeltl getting that introduction as the Raptors’ starting centre.