October 24 Winter League Report

Jon Berti
Jon Berti

Jon Berti

 

Here’s the latest update on our Blue Jays players and how they’re doing in the various winter leagues around the world!

 

 

On Tuesday, three Blue Jays saw some action with Jon Berti being the only every day player to get into the game. Berti was 1/3 with two walks, scoring a run in the 11-6 win for the Mesa Solar Sox. Blake McFarland went 1 2/3 innings, allowing two hits and a walk but he struck out two and kept the scoresheet clean. Arik Sikula also has a perfect ERA after 1 2/3 innings of one-hit ball himself.

 

Wednesday was a “taxi squad” day for the AFL meaning that Dwight Smith, Jr. got to see some action. Alexis Brudnicki reports that he’s working on playing second base with Mesa manager (and Blue Jays’ roving infield instructor) Mike Mordecai but he played his familiar position of left field, going 2/4 with a run and an RBI.

 

On Thursday, Jon Berti led off, playing left field and was 1/5 while Sean Ochinko was 0/3 behind the plate. There was no sign of Dalton Pompey for three games which leads me to believe that he’s probably picked up an injury in the AFL.

 

Down in Venezuela, Cory Aldridge has three hits (including a home run) in his last three games and has pushed his overall line to .243/.378/.324 with a home run and five RBI. Andy Burns has continued to slump, going 0/8 in his last two games and is hitting .205/.314/.250 over 12 games. Casey Lawrence started last night and was hit hard, giving up six runs (four earned) over four innings and pushing his overall ERA to 3.77 with four walks and four strikeouts over 14 1/3 innings.

 

There is a large Blue Jays contingent in the Dominican Winter League that starts with Jonathan Diaz who recently re-signed with the Blue Jays organization. Diaz was 0/6 in two games since the last update although the stats from last night’s game may be incomplete. Andy Fermin got into another game but didn’t come to the plate and is still hitting 1/4 for the young season. Emilio Guerrero went 0/1 in his only chance to do anything and is 1/2 overall in the season. Matt Hague was 0/7 in his two games since the last update and is hitting .333/.375/.333 in five games. Melky Mesa hasn’t gotten into a game since our last update and is 1/9 in two games. Ricardo Nanita was 0/3 with a walk and a run in his only game since the last update and is 2/9 over three games. Starting pitcher Richard Bleier hasn’t pitched since our last update and is 1-0 with a 0.00 ERA in five innings with one unearned run allowed. Ryan Tepera pitched 2/3 scoreless innings since the last update, striking out one to give him 1 2/3 scoreless innings in the Dominican.

 

In the Mexican Winter League, Jorge Flores is getting everyday playing time and has four hits including two doubles in his last two games. He’s hitting .324/.425/.382 over 11 games in his home country. Putting together a 5-game hit streak, Ryan Schimpf added a home run over the last few days and is now hitting .311/.360/.578 with three doubles and three home runs in 11 games.

 

Who are these players? Find out in The 2014 Toronto Blue Jays Minor League Handbook, now available as an ebook at Smashwords.com for $7.99 US. It’s coming soon to Amazon, Apple iBooks, Kobo and other fine retailers. You can purchase and preview the book at our Smashwords.com page! If you like us here,“like” us on Facebook!

The All-Star Break Supplement to the Minor League Handbook is also available at Smashwords.com for only $2 US! Get an update on how your favourite players have been doing this season as well as a report on the 2014 draft!

All photos are copyright Blue Jays from Away (2013-2014) and may not be used without permission.

October 21 Winter League Report

Jorge Flores
Jorge Flores

Jorge Flores

 

Yep, it’s that time again. Time for me to peek in on the Winter Leagues and get away from my real life world for a few moments before running away until baseball comes back in the spring!

 

 

Starting with the Arizona Fall League, the most recent results weren’t great for our starting duo of pitchers, Sean Nolin and Roberto Osuna. Both lowered their ERAs for the AFL, but both allowed two runs over their two innings. Osuna allowed four hits and two walks while Nolin allowed five hits and one walk.

 

Three hitters got into the game on Monday: Dalton Pompey was 1/2 with a run and was picked off, Jon Berti pinch ran for Dan Vogelbach and also got picked off and Sean Ochinko was 1/3 with an RBI and continues to be the Blue Jays’ best performer this AFL.

 

On Saturday, Dwight Smith, Jr. was 1/3 with a walk and two stolen bases and was the only Blue Jay to get in the game.

 

In other leagues, Andy Burns is coming down to earth in the Venezuelan League, now hitting .250 in 10 games. He’s hitless in his last 14 at bats. Also in Venezuela, Cory Aldridge is hitting .172/.273/.172 in eight games. Gregory Infante has a 5.79 ERA in 4 2/3 innings in Venezuela and Casey Lawrence hasn’t pitched since our last update.

 

Dominican League Action has started and Jonathan Diaz and Andy Fermin are both 1/4 in the DWL. Emilio Guerrero is 1/1 and Matt Hague is 5/8 with five RBI already. Melky Mesa is 2/9 and Ricardo Nanita is 1/3. Radhames Liz has a 10.12 ERA in 2 2/3 innings and Ryan Tepera has thrown one scoreless inning, walking one and allowing a hit while Richard Bleier made one start and threw five innings, allowing one unearned run on six hits and one walk.

 

In the Mexican League, Jorge Flores is hitting .304 with five RBI in eight games and has a .448 OBP while Ryan Schimpf is hitting .323 with two home runs and four RBI.

 

Who are these players? Find out in The 2014 Toronto Blue Jays Minor League Handbook, now available as an ebook at Smashwords.com for $7.99 US. It’s coming soon to Amazon, Apple iBooks, Kobo and other fine retailers. You can purchase and preview the book at our Smashwords.com page! If you like us here,“like” us on Facebook!

The All-Star Break Supplement to the Minor League Handbook is also available at Smashwords.com for only $2 US! Get an update on how your favourite players have been doing this season as well as a report on the 2014 draft!

All photos are copyright Blue Jays from Away (2013-2014) and may not be used without permission.

October 18 Winter League Update: Ochinko Shines

Sean Ochinko
Sean Ochinko

Sean Ochinko

 

I bet most of you out there were saying “Who’s Sean Ochinko” when the Arizona Fall League rosters were announced.

 

 

I hope that by now, your questions have been answered, particularly if you follow us here at Blue Jays from Away. In yesterday’s game between the Mesa Solar Sox and Surprise Saguaros, It was Sean Ochinko who provided the offense for the Solar Sox with better known prospects Dalton Pompey and Jon Berti having oh-fers. Ochinko, a two-time Webster Award winner, went 2/4 with a double and a home run, driving in all five runs for Mesa and raising his batting average to .438 for the AFL. He also threw out one of the two runners attempting to steal for a nifty 50% success rate on the day. Blake McFarland also got into the game, throwing two more scoreless innings, allowing a hit and striking out one.

 

In Mesa’s 6-2 victory on Thursday, both Dalton Pompey and Jon Berti had a hit each although Berti’s had a bit more thump behind it, going deep with a solo home run and adding a walk. Pompey stole a base in his 1/4 game and Arik Sikula threw one inning, allowing an unearned run on one walk with a strikeout.

 

Mesa had another 5-2 win against Peoria on Wednesday with just Dwight Smith, J.r. seeing action in a “taxi-squad day.” Smith went 0/4 with a run scored.

 

In other offseason leagues, the Dominican Winter League got under way and two players on the Jays’ rosters saw some action with Matt Hague going 1/3 and Radhames Liz giving up three runs in 2 2/3 innings.

 

In Venezuela, Casey Lawrence continues to shine, adding 5 1/3 innings to his total, giving up two runs on nine hits with one walk and two strikeouts. His total is now a 1.74 ERA over 10 1/3 innings through two starts. Gregory Infante allowed two runs in an inning of work on Friday, ballooning his ERA with Tiburones de La Guaira to 7.36 in 3 2/3 innings. Cory Aldridge played a couple of games since our last update, going 1/7 with an RBI and a walk while Andy Burns is 0/8 in his last two games but went 3/4 with three RBI on Wednesday and is now hitting .300 in 30 at bats.

 

In the Mexican League, Jorge Flores continues to hit well, but went 1/9 over his last three games, and is now hitting .278 (but with a .435 OBP) in six games. Ryan Schimpf had two consecutive two-hit games on Tuesday and Wednesday but was 0/4 yesterday. He’s hitting .280 with a .560 slugging percentage in his six games.

 

Who are these players? Find out in The 2014 Toronto Blue Jays Minor League Handbook, now available as an ebook at Smashwords.com for $7.99 US. It’s coming soon to Amazon, Apple iBooks, Kobo and other fine retailers. You can purchase and preview the book at our Smashwords.com page! If you like us here,“like” us on Facebook!

The All-Star Break Supplement to the Minor League Handbook is also available at Smashwords.com for only $2 US! Get an update on how your favourite players have been doing this season as well as a report on the 2014 draft!

All photos are copyright Blue Jays from Away (2013-2014) and may not be used without permission.

October 16 Winter League Update

Jorge Flores
Jorge Flores

Jorge Flores

 

What were the Jays’ minor leaguers up to in the Winter Leagues? Let’s find out!

 

 

In yesterday’s Arizona Fall League action, Dwight Smith Jr. got into a game and went 0/4 with a run after reaching on a throwing error by the first baseman in the seventh inning.

 

If we go back to Tuesday’s game, Dalton Pompey was 1/4 with a walk and a run and Sean Ochinko was 2/5 with a double and an RBI. Sean Nolin started the game and was inconsistent, giving up four runs in 1 1/3 innings with two walks and four strikeouts. Roberto Osuna went one inning and allowed two more runs on three hits and a walk with one strikeout. His ERA is now 30.86 in two appearances.

 

On Monday, Pompey was 1/4 with a double and a walk, stealing a base but also getting caught stealing. Jon Berti saw action, going 2/4 with a stolen base of his own. On the mound, relievers Blake McFarland and Arik Sikula saw action and McFarland went one scoreless innings, allowing a hit and a walk with two strikeouts while Sikula allowed two hits and struck out one in his scoreless inning.

 

Other active Blue Jays in winter leagues include hitters Cory Aldridge (2/19 in 5 games) and Andy Burns (9/22 in six games with 5 RBI and two walks) and pitchers Gregory Infante (2 2/3 IP, 3.38 ERA, 2.25 WHIP, 0 BB, 1 K) and Casey Lawrence (5 IP, 0.00 ERA, 1.40 WHIP, 2 BB, 1 K) in the Venezuelan Winter League.

 

Outfielder Norberto Obeso is showing up on the Blue Jays’ list of winter ball players. The 19-year-old Mexican has yet to get an at bat. He’s a teammate of Jorge Flores who is hitting .333 (4/12) through four games in the Mexican Winter League. Ryan Schimpf has two home runs in his first five games in Mexico and he’s hitting .333 (7/21).

 

Who are these players? Find out in The 2014 Toronto Blue Jays Minor League Handbook, now available as an ebook at Smashwords.com for $7.99 US. It’s coming soon to Amazon, Apple iBooks, Kobo and other fine retailers. You can purchase and preview the book at our Smashwords.com page! If you like us here,“like” us on Facebook!

The All-Star Break Supplement to the Minor League Handbook is also available at Smashwords.com for only $2 US! Get an update on how your favourite players have been doing this season as well as a report on the 2014 draft!

All photos are copyright Blue Jays from Away (2013-2014) and may not be used without permission.

October 12 Winter League Update

Dwight Smith, Jr.
Dwight Smith, Jr.

Dwight Smith, Jr.

 

Friday was a really quiet day for the Blue Jays’ players in the Arizona Fall League. With all four of the Jays’ pitchers appearing in the game on Thursday, we shouldn’t expect see many of them for another day or two.

 

 

On Friday, only second baseman Jon Berti saw some action, although he was actually playing left field (which he did a few times this season in New Hampshire). Berti went 0/3 with an RBI and a stolen base after getting hit by a pitch in the first inning.

 

Dalton Pompey

Dalton Pompey

 

There was a little more to take note of on Saturday as three Blue Jays got into the lineup. Dalton Pompey led off and played center field, going 1/4 with a triple and an RBI. Sean Ochinko was back in the lineup and went 2/4 with a double and since the Peoria Javelinas didn’t steal any (nor attempt to steal any) bases off of him, I’ll credit Ochinko with holding the running game at bay. Dwight Smith, Jr. also saw his first fall league action, going 1/4 with a double.

 

Andy Burns

Andy Burns

 

In other Winter League news, Cory Aldridge has begun to play in the Venezuelan winter league, going 2/13 in 13 at bats so far. He’s been joined in that league by Andy Burns (3/11, 2 2B, 1 BB) and pitcher Gregory Infante who has allowed one unearned run on two hits in 2/3 of an inning.

 

Jorge Flores

Jorge Flores

 

In the Mexican Winter League, Jorge Flores (a.k.a. “Mighty Mouse”) is 1/3 with a walk in his only game so far and Ryan Schimpf is 0/5 in his only game.

 

Who are these players? Find out in The 2014 Toronto Blue Jays Minor League Handbook, now available as an ebook at Smashwords.com for $7.99 US. It’s coming soon to Amazon, Apple iBooks, Kobo and other fine retailers. You can purchase and preview the book at our Smashwords.com page! If you like us here,“like” us on Facebook!

The All-Star Break Supplement to the Minor League Handbook is also available at Smashwords.com for only $2 US! Get an update on how your favourite players have been doing this season as well as a report on the 2014 draft!

All photos are copyright Blue Jays from Away (2013-2014) and may not be used without permission.

Toronto Blue Jays Arizona Fall League Update

Jon Berti
Jon Berti

Jon Berti

 

It was a Blue Jays bonanza yesterday as several Blue Jays’ farmhands saw action in the Arizona Fall League, including all four of the pitchers who are with the Mesa Solar Sox.

 

 

Sean Nolin got the start for the Solar Sox and promptly retired the first three batters he faced, two on called strikes. In the top of the second, things were more difficult for Nolin as he walked the first batter and the second reached on an error by New Hampshire Fisher Cats MVP Jon Berti. Nolin retired the next two batters (including Minnesota Twins outfield prospect Max Kepler), hit a batter with a pitch but got a ground out with the bases loaded to end the inning without any damage. That ended Nolin’s day as the Jays’ Roberto Osuna entered the game in the third.

 

Osuna also struck out the first batter he saw who took a third strike and he managed to get the remaining two outs after an Eddie Rosario single including a swinging strikeout of Peter O’Brien who hit 34 home runs this season between the Yankees and Diamondbacks organizations.

 

Osuna’s next inning was an unmitigated disaster. He gave up a solo home run to start the innings and allowed two more consecutive singles followed by a sacrifice fly. A wild pitch allowed a third run to score and the next three batters went walk, single, single and Dunedin teammate Arik Sikula came on to relieve him.

 

Sikula allowed Ryan Casteel to hit a double, driving in two more to bring Osuna’s charged runs to six. Sikula got the next two batters out to finish his day.

 

Blake McFarland pitched the ninth inning, allowing a double to Ryan Casteel and walking Peter O’Brien before getting a fly out and a double play to end the game for pitching side of things.

 

Dalton Pompey

Dalton Pompey

 

Dalton Pompey had a good game, going 2/3 with a pair of stolen bases while Jon Berti was 1/3 with a run, two walk and a stolen base but also committed an error. Sean Ochinko had a single, driving in a run in his only plate appearance but was lifted in the top of the inning. Word is that he might have injured a hamstring but nothing is definite.

 

After this game, a 7-3 loss to the Salt River Rafters (which hosted the Blue Jays players last season), all of the Blue Jays’ farmhands have made it into a game with the exception of Dwight Smith, Jr.

 

Who are these players? Find out in The 2014 Toronto Blue Jays Minor League Handbook, now available as an ebook at Smashwords.com for $7.99 US. It’s coming soon to Amazon, Apple iBooks, Kobo and other fine retailers. You can purchase and preview the book at our Smashwords.com page! If you like us here,“like” us on Facebook!

The All-Star Break Supplement to the Minor League Handbook is also available at Smashwords.com for only $2 US! Get an update on how your favourite players have been doing this season as well as a report on the 2014 draft!

All photos are copyright Blue Jays from Away (2013-2014) and may not be used without permission.

Buffalo Bisons 2014 Report, Part 4: Hitters

A.J. Jimenez
A.J. Jimenez

A.J. Jimenez

 

As usual, we’re going to go around the horn and discuss the hitters of the 2014 Buffalo Bisons.

 

 

While writers no longer consider A.J. Jimenez the Blue Jays’ top catching prospect (Max Pentecost has taken over that mantle), Jimenez is the closest to the majors and the 24-year-old Puerto Rican is getting people less excited about his potential to be a major league hitter thanks to a mediocre offensive season, spent mostly in Triple-A. Jimenez hit better in Buffalo than in his 25 games in New Hampshire but even his better line is only .260/.295/.356. Obviously, if he’s going to be more than a backup at the major league level, Jimenez is going to need to do more with the bat but his tremendous 42% caught-stealing percentage in Buffalo with just two passed balls shows off his defensive potential. Jimenez will be back in Buffalo next year to prove two things: 1) he can hit and 2) he can stay healthy.

 

Dan Johnson

Dan Johnson

 

First baseman Dan Johnson made his presence felt in the Buffalo lineup and the 35-year-old veteran was one of the team’s top two hitters all season. While the Blue Jays let Johnson pick up a big league paycheque without getting much playing time in September, he was an offensive force in Buffalo, posting a .381 OBP and hitting 18 home runs, tops on the club. Johnson’s amazing strikeout to walk rate should be an example for any young players out there: he walked 18.7% of the time in Buffalo and struck out in just 17.6% of the times he came to the plate. His big league ratios didn’t taper off too much despite the limited playing time. Johnson must not have taken his bench time in Toronto too well: he elected free agency at his first opportunity and probably won’t be back with Toronto in 2015.

 

Ryan Goins

Ryan Goins

 

26-year-old Ryan Goins played 97 games for the Bisons, split almost evenly between second base and shortstop. He actually put up some of his best offensive numbers, hitting .284/.337/.353 with 21 doubles and two triples but it’s his defense that makes Goins a big leaguer. Goins hit only .188/.209/.271 with a home run and 15 RBI in 193 big league plate appearances, showing some regression from what he did last year. Unfortunately, if Goins continues to be unable to hit big league pitching, the Blue Jays will look for help elsewhere. 2015 will probably be a make or break season for Goins. He’ll be given some kind of chance (depending on offseason moves) but more time in Buffalo awaits unless there are big changes next season.

 

Jared Goedert

Jared Goedert

 

29-year-old Jared Goedert was 2014’s Jim Negrych. A career minor leaguer entering the last part of his 20s, the former ninth-round pick of the Cleveland Indians in 2006 was brought in to help bolster the Bisons’ infield after a solid year with Indianapolis last year. This year, Goedert actually had a better season, hitting .250/.340/.384 with 10 home runs in 98 games. Goedert had a very solid walk rate and strikeout rate, contributing to his 90 point bump in OBP over his batting average. Goedert hasn’t elected free agency yet but since he wasn’t sent outright to the minors after the major league season (like some of the others who chose to become free agents), he has to wait until just after the World Series. I don’t really see Goedert coming back with Ryan Schimpf and Andy Burns in the wings looking to get a chance to play in Buffalo.

 

Jonathan Diaz

Jonathan Diaz

 

Jonathan Diaz led the way at shortstop for the Bisons and, like Goins, is a light-hitting defensive wizard on the infield. Diaz got the most big league time in his career — 23 games — this season, but still only hit .205/.319/.295 in Triple-A. The best thing about Diaz’s offensive game is his ability to take walks and avoid strikeouts: his well above-average numbers of a 12.2% walk rate and 14.2% strikeout rate attest to that. Diaz has already elected free agency and it’s unlikely we’ll see him back in Buffalo next year although there is always a chance that he could re-sign.

 

Kevin Pillar

Kevin Pillar

 

Kevin Pillar obviously had a tremendous season in Triple-A Buffalo but the best sign of the season for him was that he showed the first signs of being able to hit at the major league level. Pillar, 25, has always put up huge offensive numbers in the minors; coming into this season, his lowest batting average for any segment of a season was .299 which he hit in 52 games in Buffalo last year. This year, he did even better, hitting .323/.359/.509 with 10 home runs and a whopping 39 doubles in just 100 games. Playing in Toronto from the end of August until the end of the season, Pillar played in another 25 games and hit .289/.333/.447 with six doubles and two home runs over that stretch. Pillar took a few more walks but still struck out a lot (21.0% of the time, which is around average in today’s MLB). He acquitted himself well enough to earn some mention as the right-handed hitting half of a platoon with Anthony Gose that would replace Colby Rasmus in 2015. Look for him to at least be in the big as a fourth outfielder thanks to his outstanding defense at any of the three outfield positions and the positive presence he brings to the field and the clubhouse.

 

Darin Mastroianni

Darin Mastroianni

 

In the big picture, the end result of a game of waiver wire musical chairs this season was that the Blue Jays got Darin Mastroianni, 29, and lost Kenny Wilson. From a statistical perspective, that was the right move as Mastroianni was a key part of a strong Buffalo Bisons season in 2014, hitting .267/.349/.369 with 20 stolen bases in 88 games in Buffalo (he also played four games for Rochester, the Twins’ Triple-A affiliate). Mastroianni has also chosen free agency and may not necessarily be back next year.

 

First base coach and hitting coach Jon Nunnally greets Brad Glenn at first base in Buffalo in 2013

First base coach and hitting coach Jon Nunnally greets Brad Glenn at first base in Buffalo in 2013

 

2014 was a big year for Brad Glenn. The 27-year-old made his big league debut on June 27 this season but it was not the debut that Glenn wants to remember as he went one for 15, and struck out five times with just one walk. Glenn’s season was very different at every level he played at. Hitting .231/.311/.445 with nine home runs in New Hampshire, Glenn had a solid time there but really hit much better in Buffalo (albeit with a little less power), hitting .303/.360/.452 with six home runs in 61 games. It’s not a bad season for Glenn who was removed from the 40-man roster and passed through waivers to get back to the minor leagues, which means that he’s not assured of a big league spring training roster spot. With Dalton Pompey moving ahead of him on the depth chart, I’d bet on seeing Glenn back in Buffalo in 2015.

 

Ryan Schimpf

Ryan Schimpf

 

While he didn’t play the most games at any single position, Ryan Schimpf played in the seventh-most games of any Buffalo Bisons position player at 67. Schimpf has become somewhat of a utility man with some pop in his bat despite standing at only 5-foot-9. The 26 year old split his season this year with New Hampshire and Buffalo and tore apart the Eastern League before settling into his usual low-average, high-OBP, high-slugging pattern. While his .189 batting average in Buffalo was even low for Schimpf (thanks to a monumentally low .212 BABIP), he posted an OBP over 100 points higher (.290) and slugged .358 with nine home runs. Obviously these numbers were much better in his Double-A time with a .270/.370/.616 slash line with 17 doubles and 15 home runs in only 50 games. Schimpf’s ability to play second base, third base and left field will serve him well going into next year, the final year of his initial, seven-year professional contract.

 

Andy LaRoche probably had the quietest 60-game run in Buffalo this season, hitting .248/.309/.396 with only five home runs in 60 games. Hindered by injuries, LaRoche is now 31 and I can’t see him playing a regular role in the organization next year.

 

Matt Tuiasosopo

Matt Tuiasosopo

 

Hands up if you remember Matt Tuiasosopo! The 28-year-old outfielder and third baseman with the long name wasn’t hitting much with Buffalo after the Jays claimed him on waivers before the start of the season. His slash line of .206/.289/.271 over 59 games was just not very good although he did play much better for the White Sox’ Triple-A affiliate in Charlotte after he was traded to Chicago for cash in June.

 

Anthony Gose had his third straight up-and-down season between the Blue Jays and Triple-A this year, playing in 51 games in BUffalo and hitting .244/.305/.346 with 21 stolen bases. His decrease in times caught stealing percentage was encouraging (as was his increase in attempts) but he still didn’t blow anyone’s mind with his offense in Buffalo. In the big leagues, Gose didn’t do too much better although the improved OBP of .311 in 94 major league games was at least some improvement, as was his better stolen base percentage (75%). Gose’s value will likely come from his defense and if he’s a .226/.311/.293 player as a major leaguer, Dalton Pompey could be sneaking up behind him very quickly.

 

Backup catcher Mike Nickeas is the type of player who knows his role. Thanks to his years in the New York Mets’ system, the 31 year old has now spent parts of five seasons in Buffalo and this year, in 177 plate appearances, he broke through the Mendoza Line, hitting .207/.285/.280. Nickeas is the type of player every minor league team needs: a great defensive catcher who can lead on the diamond and in the clubhouse. He’s not going to wow you with his bat, nor are you going to expect him to. Can Nickeas make it six years in Buffalo?

 

Before being sent to the Kansas City Royals, Erik Kratz was the best option for catchers in Buffalo. The 34-year-old veteran hit .299/.354/.517 with three home runs and ten doubles in 100 plate appearances before hitting .276/.290/.517 in a back-up role in KC (in 31 plate appearances). I would have liked to have seen Kratz in Toronto all season rather than Josh Thole but I’m not in charge, am I?

 

Munenori Kawasaki

Munenori Kawasaki

 

In 44 games, Munenori Kawasaki was pretty good in Buffalo, hitting .276/.320/.388 with 11 doubles. A fan favourite everywhere he goes, I’m sure the Blue Jays will try to bring him back to the organization in some capacity.

 

The Blue Jays picked up several players mid-season including Brett Wallace who absolutely mashed in Buffalo, hitting .323/.404/.519 with seven home runs in 38 games, Cole Gillespie who played 26 games and hit .354/.423/.500 and Adron Chambers (.286/.347/.407 in 25 games). Matt Hague was also a late-season pickup and hit .377/.411/.566 in just 13 games while catcher George Kottaras hit .262/.367/.500 in 13 games.

 

Two players started the season with the Bisons but ended up with Toronto for most of the year. Steven Tolleson hit .236/.345/.333 in 19 games with the Bisons while Juan Francisco pounded the ball at the start of the season, hitting .341/.420/.568 in 12 games.

 

Brett Carroll played only 19 games for the Bisons, hitting .179/.242/.196 before getting released while Chris Getz voluntarily retired after 18 games with the Bisons (.309/.382/.338) and 10 unproductive games in the majors. Other players who played with the Bisons were Hector Gimenez (.286/.400/.286, three games) and Ricardo Nanita (.118/.118/.176 in six games).

 

Who are these players? Find out in The 2014 Toronto Blue Jays Minor League Handbook, now available as an ebook at Smashwords.com for $7.99 US. It’s coming soon to Amazon, Apple iBooks, Kobo and other fine retailers. You can purchase and preview the book at our Smashwords.com page! If you like us here,“like” us on Facebook!

The All-Star Break Supplement to the Minor League Handbook is also available at Smashwords.com for only $2 US! Get an update on how your favourite players have been doing this season as well as a report on the 2014 draft!

All photos are copyright Blue Jays from Away (2013-2014) and may not be used without permission.

Buffalo Bisons 2014 Report, Part 3: Relief Pitchers

Bobby Korecky
Bobby Korecky

Bobby Korecky

 

Having had a record number of players pass through the Buffalo Bisons’ roster, the relief pitching corps was extremely unstable from month to month as the Bisons went through their season. Still, some interesting names made appearances out of the bullpen for the Herd in 2014.

 

 

Bobby Korecky, our Reliever of the Year, was clearly the cream of the crop, accruing 22 saves over 55 appearances with a 1.97 ERA, 1.02 WHIP, 60 strikeouts and 18 walks in 64 innings. Korecky has chosen free agency and the 35-year-old Korecky will see what else is out there this winter.

 

Ryan Tepera

Ryan Tepera

 

Making the second most appearances for the Bisons was Ryan Tepera, a 26-year-old righty who was getting some attention (particularly from Fangraphs’ Marc Hulet) over the offseason. In his first full season coming out of the bullpen, Tepera made 51 appearances and threw 64 innings with a 3.66 ERA, 1.41 WHIP, 24 walks and 67 strikeouts over 64 innings. Tepera’s numbers have definitely improved over last season in Double-A when he was a starter for most of the season; his strikeout rate is up almost four percent and his walk rate is down over two percent. His FIP is even lower than his ERA (3.25) thanks to a somewhat high BABIP, meaning that with better defense around him, Tepera could have been a little more successful.

 

Rob Rasmussen

Rob Rasmussen

 

Lefty Rob Rasmussen, 25, is another pitcher who spent 2014 pitching his first season out of the bullpen. A starter in several organizations around the minors, Rasmussen’s Triple-A numbers were very strong thanks to his good stuff and his ability to throw strikes. The 2010 second rounder logged 43 innings for the Bisons, posting a 2.72 ERA and 1.14 WHIP with 17 walks and 44 strikeouts and he acquitted himself well in his first 10 big league outings, throwing 11 1/3 innings and posting a 3.18 ERA and 1.32 WHIP with 13 strikeouts and seven walks.

 

Righty Kyle Drabek may have found himself a home in the Buffalo (and hopefully Toronto) bullpen after converting to that role mid-season. While his ERA was fairly high (4.18), coming out of the bullpen, his numbers were much better with a 3.16 ERA and 1.37 WHIP (as opposed to a 1.51 WHIP as a starter). Drabek is still 26 and could certainly offer the Blue Jays a bullpen option going forward.

 

Lefty Mike Zagurski proved to be a valuable arm in the Buffalo Bullpen after coming over from the Cleveland organization at the end of May. The 31-year-old started off slowly by walking 12 batters in his first seven appearances for the Bisons but he was dominant from then on, walking only seven and striking out 46 the rest of the way over 34 innings, allowing just a 1.06 ERA and letting batters hit for a .528 OPS against him. Overall, Zagurski posted a 1.83 ERA and 1.13 WHIP over 44 1/3 innings for Buffalo but the veteran will likely be a free agent after the World Series ends.

 

John Stilson

John Stilson

 

John Stilson, the big, 24-year-old righty who was the Jays’ third-round pick in 2011, had a very solid start to the year, posting a 3.18 ERA and 1.62 WHIP over 34 innings, walking 18 and striking out 32 before getting shut down for the year with a shoulder injury. We later found out that Stilson underwent surgery for a torn labrum which is never a good thing. This surgery has a much lower success rate than Tommy John surgery and we’ll have to see what 2015 brings for Stilson.

 

Steve Delabar, the 31-year-old former big league All-Star struggled so much in 2014 that he was sent back to Buffalo and made 24 appearances, throwing 28 innings with a 2.89 ERA, 1.39 WHIP and 18 walks and 38 strikeouts. While his stuff appeared to be overpowering to Triple-A hitters, his walk rate was still very high at 14.6% in Buffalo, down from 16.7% in Toronto. Delabar is another big question mark for the Blue Jays’ 2015 bullpen.

 

Chad Jenkins didn’t have the best numbers in Buffalo with a 4.70 ERA, 1.23 WHIP and 27 strikeouts and nine walks in 44 innings although his 3.00 K/BB ratio is very good. Jenkins isn’t a strikeout pitcher as his very high, 57.3% ground ball rate in the major leagues this year attests and he was excellent in 31 2/3 innings for the Blue Jays, with a 2.56 ERA, solid 3.48 FIP and a 1.26 WHIP. Jenkins has been very good throughout his brief major league career and should merit much more consideration for the big league bullpen going forward.

 

Sergio Santos made 11 appearances with the Bisons, posting a tidy 0.00 ERA and 0.84 WHIP, striking out 16 batters and walking six over 10 2/3 innings. Lefty Colt Hynes was selected off waivers by the Blue Jays in mid-August from the Los Angeles Dodgers and the 29-year-old posted a 1.04 ERA and 0.58 WHIP over 8 2/3 innings with just one walk and seven strikeouts.

 

Several pitchers didn’t survive the season with the Blue Jays’ organization. 31-year-old Ryan Rowland-Smith posted a 5.14 ERA and 0.93 WHIP over 14 innings with the Bisons and his peripherals were very strong (11 strikeouts and only three walks) before he was released. Luis Ayala had a 5.40 ERA over 11 2/3 innings but his WHIP was much higher at 1.97 despite just four walks and nine strikeouts. Neil Wagner had some bad luck, tearing his UCL and requiring Tommy John surgery after nine innings with Buffalo. In order to make room on the 40-man roster for some the season’s late acquisitions, the Blue Jays released Wagner and he was promptly signed by the Tampa Bay Rays. Marcus Walden started the season with the Bisons but was quickly called up to the Blue Jays at the beginning of the season when they realized that they couldn’t recall any of the other pitchers who had been optioned at the end of spring training. Walden only threw four innings with Buffalo and was claimed by the A’s when he was put on waivers.

 

Who are these players? Find out in The 2014 Toronto Blue Jays Minor League Handbook, now available as an ebook at Smashwords.com for $7.99 US. It’s coming soon to Amazon, Apple iBooks, Kobo and other fine retailers. You can purchase and preview the book at our Smashwords.com page! If you like us here,“like” us on Facebook!

The All-Star Break Supplement to the Minor League Handbook is also available at Smashwords.com for only $2 US! Get an update on how your favourite players have been doing this season as well as a report on the 2014 draft!

All photos are copyright Blue Jays from Away (2013-2014) and may not be used without permission.

Arizona Fall League Begins with Eight Blue Jays; And Other News

Sean Ochinko
Sean Ochinko

Sean Ochinko

 

The eight Toronto Blue Jays dotting the roster of the Mesa Solar Sox got their Arizona Fall League season under way yesterday as the Solar Sox lost their season opener 9-3 to the Glendale Desert Dogs.

 

 

Only two Blue Jays’ farmhands saw action in the game as Dalton Pompey played center field and went 0/4 with a walk and a run while catcher Sean Ochinko was 0/2 coming in for starter Pedro Severino.

 

The Mesa roster also features starting pitchers Sean Nolin and Roberto Osuna (although we don’t know if either will be used in a starting role), relievers Blake McFarland and Arik Sikula, second baseman Jon Berti and outfielder Dwight Smith, Jr. Osuna is expected to start today’s game after he tweeted out that information in response to Gideon Turk’s question.

 

The Arizona Fall League is a great opportunity for the majors’ top prospects to play against each other and Pompey was in a lineup last night with Kaleb Cowart of the Angels, Addison Russell of the Cubs and he played against Corey Seager of the Dodgers.

 

Daniel Norris

Daniel Norris

 

In other Blue Jays news, top prospect Daniel Norris underwent arthroscopic surgery on his left (pitching) elbow to remove bone chips. The linked article suggests that Norris wasn’t at 100% when making his first major league start on September 25 and that a drop in velocity was due to the bone chips in his elbow. I could tell that Norris was favouring a curveball despite the general consensus that his slider is considered his best pitch and that could also be due to the injury. The usual recovery time for this type of surgery is six weeks and Norris is expected to be completely healthy by the time spring training opens up at the end of February.

 

Finally, the Blue Jays took advantage of having a few open spots on the 40-man roster by picking up right-handed reliever Bo Schultz off of waivers from the Arizona Diamondbacks. Schultz is a hard-thrower who averaged 95.3 mph on his fastball in 2014 but made his major league debut only this year at the age of 28 back in March with the D-backs. Now 29, Schultz could play a role in the Blue Jays’ bullpen in 2015 as they expect to see several openings. Schultz only pitched eight innings with the Diamondbacks but made 23 starts with their Triple-A club in Reno, logging 135 1/3 innings, striking out 82 and walking 46.

 

Who are these players? Find out in The 2014 Toronto Blue Jays Minor League Handbook, now available as an ebook at Smashwords.com for $7.99 US. It’s coming soon to Amazon, Apple iBooks, Kobo and other fine retailers. You can purchase and preview the book at our Smashwords.com page! If you like us here,“like” us on Facebook!

The All-Star Break Supplement to the Minor League Handbook is also available at Smashwords.com for only $2 US! Get an update on how your favourite players have been doing this season as well as a report on the 2014 draft!

All photos are copyright Blue Jays from Away (2013-2014) and may not be used without permission.

Buffalo Bisons 2014 Report, Part 2: Starting Pitchers

Marcus Stroman
Marcus Stroman

Marcus Stroman

 

The Bisons had a few starting pitchers who really made some waves and several who spent the season under the radar (or worse). There was enough veteran savvy on this team to keep them in the hunt for a wildcard race but, coming into the season, there was definitely more of an emphasis on the youth of the Buffalo Bisons pitching staff than the minor league free agents.

 

 

Sean Nolin

Sean Nolin

 

Sean Nolin, a forgotten man after all the commotion around Marcus Stroman, Aaron Sanchez, Daniel Norris and Kendall Graveman, made the most starts for the Buffalo Bisons and the big (6-foot-4) lefty had a very solid season despite losing part of it due to an injury. With a 3.50 ERA and 1.25 WHIP, Nolin posted strong numbers and increased his strikeout rate at the same level that he spent part of last year while bringing his walk rate down. While his numbers aren’t as good as his Double-A numbers from last year, they’re very good with a 20% strikeout rate and an okay 9.5% walk rate. Nolin had a slightly below average BABIP but overall had a good, quiet season. He’ll be headed to the Arizona Fall League to make up some lost innings before likely reporting back to Buffalo in 2015.

 

Australian righty Liam Hendriks was outstanding for the Bisons all season, at least until he was traded in late July. He led the Bisons with 108 1/3 innings with a 2.33 ERA and 0.91 WHIP while striking out 91 and walking only seven. That insanity led him to be selected as our Bisons Pitcher of the Year. We wish him the best of luck with the Royals organization and the 26-year-old should certainly get another chance in the big leagues after the way in which he dominated in Triple-A in 2015.

 

The Blue Jays picked up 36-year-old lefty Raul Valdes from the Houston Astros for cash or a player to be named later and he proved to be a valuable innings-eater for the Bisons. Throwing 81 innings over 23 appearances (12 of them starts), Valdes had a 4.00 ERA and 1.33 WHP with 78 strikeouts and 24 walks. Will Valdes be back? Not likely unless he’s willing to take a role in Buffalo with a potentially star-studded rotation.

 

2014 was yet another disappointment in the career of 29-year-old lefty Ricky Romero. The former first-round draft pick made nine starts with Buffalo before finally giving in to the chronic pain in his knees and undergoing season-ending surgery. Romero finished with an unimpressive stat line of a 5.50 ERA, 2.10 WHIP, 42 walks and 28 strikeouts in just 37 2/3 innings. Obviously Ricky has lost whatever he had and will probably have only one more chance to find it again with one more guaranteed year on his contract in 2015.

 

Esmil Rogers

Esmil Rogers

 

Another player who struggled in the major leagues but really took to the rotation in Buffalo was righty Esmil Rogers. Rogers posted a 3.14 ERA and 1.23 WHIP in 48 2/3 innings with the Bisons. With 18 walks and 41 strikeouts, the ratios were just fine when he was in the minors. Picked up by the Yankees off of waivers from the Jays, Rogers had a 1.28 WHIP and a 4.68 ERA over 25 innings with the Yankees coming out of the bullpen.

 

Marcus Stroman made seven starts in Buffalo, including on Opening Day, and logged just 35 2/3 innings in two stints around his major league call ups. It looks like Stroman is in the bigs to stay after Stroman posted some excellent numbers, starting 20 games in Toronto and posting a 3.29 ERA and 1.15 WHIP in those appearances. Stroman had comparable numbers in Triple-A (3.03 ERA, 1.15 WHIP, 5.00 K/BB ratio) but it doesn’t look like he’s going to be going back as he’s going to be an integral part of the Blue Jays’ 2015 rotation.

 

Claimed on waivers by the Blue Jays from the Oakland A’s, lefty Brad Mills helped solidify the Buffalo rotation down the stretch by throwing 32 1/3 innings over six starts with a 3.06 ERA and 0.96 WHIP, striking out 26 and walking only five. Despite that usefulness, the 29-year-old will look to another club in 2015 as he elected free agency at the end of the season.

 

Shawn Hill

Shawn Hill

 

Canadian right-hander Shawn Hill made several starts for the Bisons and a few for the New Hampshire Fisher Cats before being released by the Blue Jays and catching on with a couple of different organizations. With the Bisons, the 33-year-old righty had a 4.85 ERA and 1.52 WHIP over 29 2/3 innings, walking 14 and striking out 21 and the numbers were mixed in his 17 2/3 innings in New Hampshire. While his ERA was 5.09, he had a 1.02 WHIP with just three walks but only seven strikeouts.

 

Who are these players? Find out in The 2014 Toronto Blue Jays Minor League Handbook, now available as an ebook at Smashwords.com for $7.99 US. It’s coming soon to Amazon, Apple iBooks, Kobo and other fine retailers. You can purchase and preview the book at our Smashwords.com page! If you like us here,“like” us on Facebook!

The All-Star Break Supplement to the Minor League Handbook is also available at Smashwords.com for only $2 US! Get an update on how your favourite players have been doing this season as well as a report on the 2014 draft!

All photos are copyright Blue Jays from Away (2013-2014) and may not be used without permission.