Joe Law got so close to a major-league mound he could almost hear the shortstop behind him snap his bubble gum.

The longtime A's prospect was called up in 1988. He was supposed to make a spot start for Dave Stewart, who was sick. But Stewart got better and pitched the opener of a doubleheader. Law was demoted before the nightcap and never made it back.

Derek Law likes to razz his dad and say, "If I make one inning, I'm better than you."

That could happen a lot sooner than people think, with the Giants.

Law is a 23-year-old right-hander who shot through the lower levels of the minor-league system last season thanks to uncanny control and one big pitch, and he has a legitimate chance to shake up the bullpen competition and win a job straight out of camp.

"He was lights-out in the Fall League," general manager Brian Sabean said. "He's got a pitch that you don't see. It's a down curveball, like a real hard split. He's a name that we hope can carry over his Fall League performance and actually try to make our ballclub. It wouldn't surprise me if he's in contention based on what we saw."

Law did not allow a run in 12 1/3 innings in the Arizona Fall League, but that is not the number that stands out.

In 22 games last summer as the closer for Class-A San Jose, after a promotion from low-A Augusta, Ga., the right-hander struck out 45 batters in 25 2/3 innings and walked one.