Bluefield Blue Jays 2014 Report, Part 2: Starting Pitchers

Matt Smoral
Matt Smoral

Matt Smoral

 

It’s time to get to talking about the Bluefield Blue Jays starting staff. There were a couple of big names and many not so big ones but the Blue Jays’ more aggressive promotional strategy left the Bluefield Blue Jays in the lurch after several of their better starters were promoted midway through the season.

 

 

Once again, the Blue Jays were using a piggyback system for starters for much of the season and, to be included in this part of the team report, a pitcher needed to make about half of his appearances as a starter.

 

Jesus Tinoco

Jesus Tinoco

 

Leading the club in starts with 12 was Venezuelan righty Jesus Tinoco. Tinoco, just 19, held his own in the league, throwing 56 1/3 innings with a 4.95 ERA, 1.46 WHIP, 20 walks and 47 strikeouts, numbers that are very comparable to his season in 2013 in the GCL. When looking at his strikeout and walk rates, both went down as he jumped to a higher level and so, while the numbers aren’t fantastic, they’re not horrible either. Having seen Tinoco’s stuff in spring training, I can see definitely see him heading to Lansing next year (maybe in a bullpen role) in his Age-20 season, especially since he’s already pumped his season’s innings total up over 50.

 

Hawaiian Joey Aquino came to the Blue Jays in the 2014 draft (35th round) and was a stalwart for the Bluefield staff, throwing 54 1/3 innings and making 11 starts. He had a 2.48 ERA along with a 1.05 WHIP, 10 walks and 32 strikeouts. As a 23 year old coming out of a four-year college, Aquino’s peripherals (especially the strikeout numbers) are not impressive with only a 14.7% strikeout rate and he also benefited from a low, .253 BABIP and a relatively high LOB%. I can see Aquino in Vancouver next year.

 

Francisco Rios, a 19-year-old Mexican righty, jumped directly from the Dominican Summer League to Bluefield and didn’t miss a beat, putting up somewhat similar numbers that were bloated thanks to a high BABIP. While his overall stats don’t scream “prospect” (5.91 ERA, 1.82 WHIP, 18 BB, 38 K), the Blue Jays let him work through his propensity to get hit hard and kept sending him out to pitch, letting him rack up 53 1/3 innings. Since I didn’t get down to Bluefield this year, I’m not sure what to make of this young righty. His K% of 15.0% is a little low but he was definitely on the young side for the league. He could easily repeat the level to start next year and not be behind the eight-ball in his development, especially since most international pitchers his age were still in the Dominican league.

 

Evan Smith

Evan Smith

 

6-foot-5 lefty Evan Smith started his Age-18 season in the GCL but was quickly promoted to Bluefield as he dominated his competition in Florida. In the spring, I saw Smith throwing an 89-90 mph fastball with a very easy arm motion and a good slider in the 78-80-mph range. He obviously was able to locate the ball as he only walked 15 batters in 52 combined innings with 12 of those coming in 40 innings in Bluefield. In the Appalachian League, he struck out 34 batters with a 4.05 ERA and 1.35 WHIP, turning 19 on August 17. This fourth round draft pick of the Blue Jays in 2013 could either head to Vancouver next year or make the jump to Lansing. I see Smith as a guy who could be a dark horse in a couple of years, especially if he picks up a couple of ticks on his fastball.

 

If you’re looking for dark horses, look not further than to Ryan Borucki. The 20 year old was a 15th round pick coming out of the 2012 draft and had some serious talk about his mid-90s fastball. After injury troubles caused him to throw just six innings in 2012 and miss all of 2013, people told me to keep an eye on him in 2014. He obviously impressed with his command, posting a 5.00 K/BB ratio in Bluefield through 33 1/3 innings before being promoted to Vancouver where he actually improved that rate to 7.33. He walked only nine batters over 57 innings at both levels while striking out 52 and posting a 0.84 WHIP with a 2.37 ERA. I’m looking for Borucki to be used in a piggy-back role in Lansing next year to keep the strain on his arm down for one more year, but he’ll be 21 next year, an age where the Blue Jays typically take the training wheels off.

 

Another big name prospect started the 2014 season in Bluefield and finished in Vancouver. Matt Smoral was a supplemental round pick in the2012 draft but missed his whole draft year due to a broken foot. The Blue Jays didn’t want to rush the 6-foot-8 lefty and they kept him in the GCL last year where he put up some ugly numbers thanks to control issues that plague most tall pitchers. 2014, however, was the first year that the Blue Jays really allowed Smoral to go out and pitche regularly and he showed some flashes of his potential despite still struggling with his control. In Bluefield, Smoral had a 3.48 ERA, 1.45 WHIP to go with 18 walks and 51 strikeouts in 33 2/3 innings. Yep. Smoral struck out 32.5% of his opponents in Bluefield but had a high 11.5% walk rate. Those numbers both regressed in 20 innings in Vancouver that saw him walk 15 batters and strike out 19 (for an 18.3% BB rate and 23.2% K rate). Obviously Smoral wasn’t fooling the older competition quite as much in Vancouver and he still needs work on his control but he could start the year in Lansing, piggybacking and working with Vince Horsman, a highly regarded pitching coach who some credit with really helping Daniel Norris take that next step.

 

Like Francisco Rios, Miguel Burgos was a 19-year-old who made the jump from the Dominican Summer League to the Appalachian League. The short (5-foot-9), Venezuelan lefty started off strongly, throwing 16 innings with a 1.69 ERA, 1.00 WHIP, three walks and 14 strikeouts before he stopped pitching after his July 9 start in which he went only three innings. It looks like an injury cut Burgos’ season sort but it isn’t known what kind of injury it was.

 

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.

Bluefield Blue Jays 2014 Report, Part 1: Blue Jays from Away Awards

MiLB_Bluefield_BlueJays_Collection

MiLB_Bluefield_BlueJays_Collection

 

Moving up the ladder, it’s time to talk about the Bluefield Blue Jays, Toronto’s Advanced-Rookie affiliate in the Appalachian League.

 

 

Once again managed by Dennis Holmberg, the Bluefield Blue Jays fielded a decent team, finishing 33-35 over the course of the year but the talent level just couldn’t compare to last year’s playoff team (that was mostly gutted by the time the playoffs actually rolled around). That said, there were definitely some solid prospects as well as some under-the-radar guys who could be blossoming into very good players over the next few years.

 

Blue Jays from Away Player of the Game Champion

 

For those of you who followed the minor league reports here, you’ll know that I “awarded” Player of the Game (PotG) accolades on a game-by-game basis. It should comfort you to know that I’ve been keeping track of these daily awards and my rationale for the system is as follows.

 

The Player of the Game Awards were determined by a number of factors that included who I thought had the most impact on the game and who might have gone “above and beyond.” Most nights, there was just one Player of the Game. If there was, he earned one point. If I thought that either a) no one stood out enough to merit a single PotG, or b) two or more players were outstanding and deserved mention, I split the point up into two, three or four shares. If two players earned PotG mention, they each received 0.5 points and if three players earned mentions, they each received 0.3 points. There were occasions that I felt that no one merited the award and therefore, I did not give out any points.

 

Here are the final standings for Blue Jays from Away Player of the Game for the Bluefield Blue Jays:

 

Josh Almonte 5.5
Richard Urena 5.3
Rowdy Tellez 4.8
Gabriel Cenas 4
Ryan Borucki 3
Jesus Tinoco 3
Dan Jansen 2.5
Evan Smith 2.5
Lydell Moseby 2.5
Matt Smoral 2.3
Jesus Gonzalez 2.3
Oscar Cabrera 2
Angel Rojas 2
Joey Aquino 2
Lane Thomas 2
Kevin Garcia 2
Carlos Ramirez 1.5
Trent Miller 1.5
Austin Davis 1
Miguel Burgos 1
James Lynch 1
Aaron Attaway 1
Rolando Segovia 1
Conner Greene 0.8
Daniel Lietz 0.5
Francisco Rios 0.5
Jordan Romano 0.5
Sean Hurley 0.5
Conor Fisk 0.5
Grayson Huffman 0.5
Anthony Alford 0.3

 

Josh Almonte

Josh Almonte

 

Yep, there’s a dark horse at the top of the list. Josh Almonte had a great season for the Blue Jays, hitting .307/.343/.398 after two years of offensive futility in the GCL. Almonte was rumoured to have had a great spring training (I overheard some very positive comments about him while I was down there) and he followed through. With some pop in his bat (13 extra-base hits), speed in his legs (15 stolen bases) and some decent range in the outfield, Almonte could be making some noise in the near future.

 

Blue Jays from Away Player of the Year

 

If you read my post on predicting the R. Howard Webster Award winners, you would have noticed that I’m very high on catcher Dan Jansen who is my choice for the Bluefield Player of the year. The team’s co-leader in home runs with five, Jansen also hit 10 doubles, walked 16 times and only struck out 17 times, posting the highest on-base percentage and slugging percentage on the team despite having his season cut to 38 games due to an injury. The 2013 16th-round draft pick from Appleton, Wisconsin also threw out 34% of the runners trying to steal, giving him a solid defensive tool to go with his developing bat.

Honourable mentions went to Richard Urena and Rowdy Tellez who both had excellent seasons. Urena led the team in doubles (15) and Tellez really turned things on after the first few weeks of the season. If Tellez hadn’t had a slow start, he likely would have gotten the award himself.

 

Blue Jays from Away Pitcher of the Year

 

Splitting the season between Bluefield and Vancouver, Ryan Borucki made his return to pro ball after Tommy John surgery kept him out of the entire season in 2013. Borucki, 20, was absolutely dominant in Bluefield with a 2.70 ERA and 0.96 WHIP over 33 1/3 innings. He struck out 30 and walked only six and that 5:1 ratio elevated him above the other contenders.

Honourable Mention: Joey Aquino, the Jays’ 35th-round selection in 2014, had a strong year with a 2.48 ERA and he was second on the staff in innings pitched with 54 1/3. Aquino was 23 this year and his low strikeout total kept him from winning this award despite an excellent pro debut.

 

Blue Jays from Away Reliever of the Year

 

There were several outstanding candidates for this award but when the chips all fell, it was Chase Wellbrock whose utter dominance was just mind-blowing. The 33rd-round pick of the Jays in 2014 laid waste to the Appy League hitters, dominating them over 24 1/3 innings, allowing only 13 hits and one(!) intentional walk with 34 strikeouts for an insane 0.57 WHIP and 0.37 ERA.

Honourable Mention: 6-foot-2, Dominican lefty Oscar Cabrera was two years younger than Wellbrock and was very dominating himself, throwing 36 1/3 innings with a 1.98 ERA and 1.32 WHIP and Markham, Ontario native Jordan Romano, a 10th-round 2014 draft pick out of college, had a 2.16 ERA with 9 walks and 33 strikeouts over 25 innings with Bluefield.

 

Blue Jays from Away Most Improved Player

 

There were a couple of excellent choices for this award on this team but Josh Almonte went from being a sub-.200 hitter in the GCL to one of the Bluefield Blue Jays’ core players. Going from a .167/.229/.229 slash line in 2013 to a .307/.343/.398 line in 2014, Almonte also played in 62 games (by far the most on the team) and was the club’s center fielder for 56 of them.

Honourable Mention: Oscar Cabrera, our honourable mention for reliever of the year gets another honourable mention, going from a 6.93 ERA and an WHIP over 2.00 down to this year’s sub-2.00 ERA and 1.32 WHIP. He still has a long way to go in terms of command but even if the improved numbers were due to luck, he definitely had it on his side.

 

Blue Jays from Away Best Newcomer

 

This is a tough award to call but I’m going to hand it to Joey Aquino. His innings-eating approach (54 1/3 IP) as well as his solid numbers across the board (2.48 ERA, 1.05 WHIP, 10 BB, 32 K) are a great sign for a first-year pro.

Honourable Mention: Chase Wellbrock deserves mention again after his tremendous dominance that earned him a promotion to Lansing the end of the year. Outfielder Trent Miller had a solid year (.707 OPS) after being the Jays’ final selection in the draft this year (40th round). Jordan Romano and Conor Fisk (24th round) were also solid out of the bullpen for the Blue Jays.

 

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.

Jack Murphy, L.B. Dantzler and Christian Lopes Head Down Under

Jack Murphy

Jack Murphy

 

According to the Canberra Times, three Blue Jays farmhands are scheduled to be joining the Canberra Cavalry of the Australian Baseball League this winter: Jack Murphy, L.B. Dantzler and Christian Lopes.

 

 

Murphy is already an Australian baseball legend after leading the Cavalry to the league title in 2013 as well as an Asia Series title in early 2014. Murphy spent 2014 with New Hampshire and Buffalo and had a typical Jack Murphy season with the bat (.221/.310/.374) but the 26 year old has a knack for the dramatic and is well known among pitchers in the Jays’ system as being one of their favourite catchers to throw to. This season will be Murphy’s third with Canberra and he’s become almost an institution as well as a fan favourite. You can my interview with Murphy on our most recent podcast in which he discusses playing baseball in Australia.

 

L.B. Dantzler

L.B. Dantzler

 

Joining Murphy will be L.B. Dantzler who had a relatively disappointing season after winning the Northwest League MVP in 2013 as a member of the champion Vancouver Canadians. Dantzler, 23, hit just .245/.328/.361 evenly split between Lansing and Dunedin but fought through a recurring oblique injury all year. Dantzler did start to round into form in August, hitting .262/.333/.477 with all three of his Dunedin home runs over 19 games.

 

Christian Lopes

Christian Lopes

 

The third member of the Blue Jays’ organization to be mentioned is second baseman Christian Lopes. Lopes, who turns 22 on October 1, has been in the Blue Jays’ system since he was drafted in the seventh round of the 2011 draft and has put up some decent numbers in A-ball since 2013. Playing for Lansing in 2013, Lopes faded after a strong start and only hit .206/.285/.286 after June 1. In 2014 with Dunedin, Lopes had an inconsistent season but started to show more power as the season progressed, while also improving his batting average numbers. Year over year, Lopes increased his walk rate and power numbers, despite getting over 150 fewer plate appearances in 2014 and he’ll be heading down under to get some more at bats in the Australian Baseball League.

 

We’d like to thank Matt Percy (@mattpercy100), the stadium announcer for the Cavalry for alerting us to these players getting sent down to Canberra for the upcoming ABL season. Matt joined us last winter for a podcast and we’ll definitely have him back this year to let us know how the Blue Jays’ boys are doing down under!

 

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.

GCL Blue Jays 2014 Report, Part 4: Hitters

Yeltsin Gudino
Yeltsin Gudino

Yeltsin Gudino

 

As we do with the hitters, we’ll go around the horn starting with the catchers of this team.

 

 

2014 draftee Matt Morgan led the club in games behind the plate with 34 but had an uninspiring beginning to his professional career. Jumping out is the big 42.1% strikeout rate through 133 plate appearances that shows that he’s going to need a lot of work at the plate. Morgan didn’t do much in his time in Florida, hitting .092/.188/.322 but the 10.5% walk rate is very healthy. Defensively, it appears that Morgan will also need to do a lot of work, throwing out 18% of potential base stealers but with inexperienced pitchers holding on runners, the GCL CS% numbers can’t be seen as too reliable. If Morgan’s going to make up some ground in an organization that has several strong young catchers, the fourth-round pick is going to have to bring his A game in 2015, likely returning to the GCL unless he has a strong extended spring training.

 

Juan Kelly played the most games at first base but also split some of the catching duties for the Blue Jays and had a strong first season in the GCL. Kelly, who had played in the DSL over the last two years, hit for a healthy .287/.363/.383 slash line with 10 doubles and four triples. He didn’t steal many bases but was one of the most consistent contributors to the team. Kelly just turned 20 so you can bet that he’ll be in Rookie ball next year.

 

The every day second baseman was 19 year old Venezuelan Deiferson Barreto (who is not Franklin’s brother). This Barreto can also play shortstop and third base but got the bulk of his playing time at second thanks to the presence of Yeltsin Gudino on the club. Barreto had a very solid season in his first year in the US, hitting .288/.309/.314 with 15 doubles and two home runs. Obviously, his walk numbers will need to come up as Barreto only took five walks in 51 games but he rarely struck out, going down on strikes just 14 times. Either way, Barreto will probably move up a level to Advanced-Rookie ball next year.

 

Earning the most playing time at third base was 2012 draftee Trey Pascazi who was in his third year in the GCL. Pascazi continues to be ineffective at the plate, hitting .141/.239/.179 through 88 plate appearances. Unfortunately, this may be the end of the road for Pascazi with the Blue Jays as a 21 year old with three seasons of sub-.200 hitting in the Gulf Coast League and only one extra-base hit is not going to stick around long.

 

17-year-old Venezuelan shortstop Yeltsin Gudino is obviously going to be a work in progress. I think the Blue Jays were hoping they could catch lightning in a bottle again by skipping him over the DSL the way they did with Franklin Barreto last year. Things didn’t work out nearly as well with Gudino posting a .145/.219/.167 slash line over 155 plate appearances. From the limited amound that I saw Gudino in spring training, he really wasn’t hitting the ball very hard as can be seen from his lack of extra-base hits (only two doubles). That said, his walk rate (8.4%) and strikeout rate (18.1%) show some plate discipline and suggest that he’s not being completely overmatched. Look for Gudino to get another shot in 2014 as an 18 year old.

 

As our Player of the Game Champion, Juan Tejada, a 6-foot-3 Dominican outfielder appears to be the player on the GCL Jays with the most power. After two seasons in the DSL, Tejada, 20, came to the US to lead the GCL Blue Jays in slugging percentage (.420) and home runs (five). Tejada’s .241/.293/.420 slash line shows that he’s not nearly patient enough at the plate and his 31.9% strikeout rate shows that he may have some holes in his swing that need plugging. He could go a number of way but will likely get out of the GCL and move up next year.

 

Just a couple of months older than Yeltsin Gudino, outfielder Freddy Rodriguez fared better in his professional debut. Like Gudino, Rodriguez was coming over the GCL after never having played in the Dominican Summer League but still managed to hit .239/.306/.336 with four doubles, three triples and a home run over 129 plate appearances. His strikeout rate (23.3%) and walk rate (7.8%) are both very acceptable for a very young player who has more than just baseball related issues to deal with in coming to the US to play. Rodriguez probably starts the season back in the DSL unless he shows some big strides in the fall instructional league and spring training/extended spring training.

 

Seeing as how versatile Lane Thomas was, he doesn’t show up as having had played the most number of games at any single position. That’s also because the fifth-round pick of the 2014 draft also was impressive enough to get a late-season promotion to Bluefield after 34 games. Just turned 19 in August, Thomas hit .260/.362/.382 with eight doubles and four triples in the GCL while stealing seven bases (out of 10 attempts) before moving up to Bluefield and decimating the opposition with a .323/.384/.431 line over 18 more games. Playing center field and third base, Thomas is an athletic player who seems to have an advanced approach at the plate and could make the jump to Vancouver next year.

 

Edwin Fuentes, an infielder, also managed to get into quite a few games this season. In his second season with the GCL Jays, Fuentes, who just turned 20, hit only .203/.251/.285 in 175 plate appearances. While versatile, Fuentes will probably need to show more with the bat to keep a job in the Jays’ system.

 

6-foot-2 Puerto Rican Angel Gomez played for the Blue Jays’ organization for the first time since 2011 and really rewarded the Blue Jays’ faith in him. He played in 30 games, going .320/.411/.412 and striking out only 16 times in 113 plate appearances. It’ll likely be sink or swim for the 22 year old outfielder who will probably be given a chance to move up through the system at a quicker pace next year.

 

Dave Pepe, a 31st round pick of the Blue Jays in 2014, gets my vote for being this year’s Boomer Collins, a character guy coming out of college who is just too good for the GCL but didn’t have anywhere else to go. As a 22-year-old, Pepe’s .304/.430/.362 slash line shouldn’t be given too much weight but it’s nice to see a college guy come right in a play well despite limited opportunity throughout the year. Pepe will probably be with Vancouver next year as a fourth outfielder.

 

Other outfielders for the Blue Jays included 19-year-old Dominican outfielder Andres De Aza who regressed in his second year in the GCL, hitting .193/.244/.253 over 90 plate appearances. Cliff Brantley, on the other hand, was a 19th round pick this year and the 21-year-old with big league bloodlines put up some mediocre numbers, hitting .232/.284/.293 in 89 plate appearances. Canadian Nathan DeSouza, 20, finally started to hit, slashing .263/.344/.368 in his limited opportunities (64 plate appearances).

 

John Silviano, Dean Bell and Andrew Florides all subbed in on the infield. Silviano, who was released this season after hitting .154/.214/.154 in seven games, all at first base. Bell, 21, hit .191/.225/.206 in 21 games (71 PAs), playing second and third base. Florides, 19, had only one hit in 15 plate appearances.

 

Brett Wellman was the club’s third catcher after signing as a non-drafted free agent this year. Wellman got into nine games behind the plate, didn’t throw out either of the runners who tried to steal and hit .077/.294/.077 in 35 plate appearances.

 

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.

GCL Blue Jays 2014 Report, Part 3: Relief Pitchers

Spring Training Home

Spring Training Home

 

On we go to take a look at the relief pitchers for the GCL Blue Jays in 2014.

 

 

Leading the pack with 16 appearances was 20-year-old Dominican Francis Eduardo. The righty had an undistinguished season, throwing 26 innings and posting a 4.85 ERA with a  1.46 WHIP, but had a solid walk to strikeout rate, walking 12 and striking out 27.

 

34th-round pick Brandon Hinkle made his pro debut this year as a 23-year-old in the GCL, finishing with a 4.58 ERA and 1.32 WHIP in 19 2/3 innings, striking out 18 and walking nine. For me, this is an unimpressive pro debut for a seasoned, over-age collegiate pitcher playing in a young league. I see him in Vancouver next year.

 

Francisco Diaz has been around the Jays’ organization since last year and the 6-foot-5 righty had mixed results compared to his 2013 season spent mostly at the same level in the GCL. While Diaz, 21, dropped his ERA by almost two runs in 2014, he regressed in both walks and strikeouts, showing far more wildness in fewer innings than last year. His 2.57 ERA is nice but the 32 walks and 18 strikeouts in 28 innings are disappointing and only the fact that he gave up 16 hits saved his already bloated 1.71 WHIP. Of most concern is the increase in HBP to 5 and wild pitches to a whopping 16 on the season. At 21, Diaz may not have much more time to turn things around.

 

6-foot-3 college lefty Turner Lee came to the Blue Jays as a non-drafted free agent after this year’s draft. Lee was another over-age, collegiate pitcher who didn’t do much to really impress as he got lit up to the tune of a 7.89 ERA and 1.82 WHIP. His strikeout to walk ratio was pretty decent, walking 11 and striking out 23 over 29 2/3 innings but the 43 hits he allowed bloated all of his stats. That could be due to a .404 BABIP and Lee could certainly see some regression on that stat next year in a Vancouver or Bluefield assignment.

 

Joe Claver was another college pitcher to sign as a non-drafted free agent. His GCL season was certainly not the pro debut he was looking for as he posted an 11.95 ERA and 2.36 WHIP, walking 15 and striking out 11 over the course of 20 1/3 innings.

 

Angel Perdomo, a 20-year-old Dominican made his North American debut and earned the Blue Jays from Away Reliever of the Year award with a strong performance that outpaced many of the club’s starters. Making 13 appearances, Perdomo, a 6-foot-6 lefty, averaged over three innings per outing and posted a 2.54 ERA with a 1.24 WHIP over 46 innings, walking 21 and striking out 57. Judging by his strikeout numbers alone, Perdomo has electric stuff, striking out almost 30% (29.1% to be exact) of the batters he faced. I wouldn’t be surprised to see him in A-ball next year after extended spring training.

 

19-year-old Pickering native Sean Ratcliffe saw a little more action with the GCL Blue Jays in 2014 but was also allowed to go play with the Canadian Junior National team during the season. His overall numbers weren’t good in a small sample of 14 1/3 innings with an 8.16 ERA, 2.58 WHIP, 17 walks and seven strikeouts. Ratcliffe is still fairly new to pitching, having been mostly a catcher before being drafted and could take a couple more years to find himself on the mound.

 

6-foot-4 Venezuelan lefty Jonathan Torres made his GCL debut this year after 10 innings with the DSL Jays. He only threw 5 1/3 innings in Florida and the 19 year old walked 15 and struck out six. His numbers were much better in the DSL, striking out 11, walking four and posting a 1.80 ERA in 10 innings.

 

Jonathon Wandling moved around this season, making appearances with three clubs but he logged the most innings in the GCL. The 22-year-old, non-drafted free agent righty posted a 3.34 ERA overall this season through 29 2/3 innings split between the GCL Jays, the Vancouver Canadians and the Dunedin Blue Jays. In the GCL, he threw 12 1/3 of those innings, allowing just nine hits and three walks while striking out nine. In Dunedin, he didn’t allow an earned run (but four unearned runs) over 5 2/3 innings on ten hits with two walks and four strikeouts while he walked five in 11 2/3 innings closing out the regular season with the Vancouver Canadians. I don’t like to read too much into the numbers for collegiate pitchers in their draft year, particularly with Wandling who threw 99 1/3 innings with the University of Southern Indiana. I can see Wandling in full-season ball in 2015 easily.

 

6-foot-4 righty Patrick Murphy was just getting his feet wet in pro ball this summer after recovering from Tommy John surgery all of last year. In just three appearances, Murphy threw just four innings before being shut down again in mid-July. Time will tell on this 19-year-old former third round pick (2013).

 

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.

Gulf Coast League Blue Jays 2014 Report, Part 2: Starting Pitchers

Jake Brentz
Jake Brentz

Jake Brentz

 

As I mentioned in the last post, it’s hard to discern starters from relievers when the Blue Jays employ a piggy-back system. That said, I’m including pitchers who made around half of their appearances as starters in this category. I’ll use a similar structure to the pitchers’ post for the DSL Blue Jays: I’ll discuss pitchers starting with those who threw the most innings. There are also several pitchers who were promoted to Bluefield part way through the year and, going forward, I’ll include players with the team for which they played the most.

 

 

Who is Dalton Rodriguez and how in the world did he end up as the “starter” with the most innings with the GCL Blue Jays? Rodriguez was an international free agent signing out of Mexico and was 17 for most of the season with the Blue Jays. After tremendous success with the DSL Jays last year, Rodriguez made the jump to North America with very limited success, posting a 7.02 ERA and 1.88 WHIP over 41 innings. Some positive takeaways were the 12 walks that Rodriguez issued and his strikeout rate rose in his second year of pro ball. He also appeared to be bitten by the BABIP monster as hitters had a .425 BABIP, causing him to give up 65 hits. What to make of this? Rodriguez is just barely 18 and is still young enough to start 2015 in the GCL without being old for the level. Unless he improves enough by the end of extended spring training, he’ll likely return to Dunedin.

 

As mentioned in the last post, I thought that Jake Brentz was probably the most improved player for the GCL Blue Jays, leading me to believe that, after the fall instructional league and spring training next year, Brentz will be ready to start ascending through the organization a little bit more. While he saw more side work last year than actual game action, Brentz took on a full load in 2014, pitching in 12 games and starting six of them with an entirely respectable 4.08 ERA and 1.41 WHIP. His 26 walks in 39 2/3 innings is still very high but his numbers are far better than what they were a year ago and his strikeout rate was very solid at 19.3%, especially considering how raw Brentz is.

 

Despite only starting four games, lefty Nick Wells logged starter’s innings, throwing 34 2/3 innings. Drafted in the third round this year, Wells struggled in his first taste of pro ball, finishing the season with a 5.71 ERA and 1.59 WHIP. He only walked 11 batters but had a very low strikeout total of 18, which translates to an 11.3% rate. Again, it’s important to stress that the organization isn’t going to worry about the numbers too much, especially for a high-school player in his draft year. Wells will have a lot of time to work out any issues that might have plagued him and he’ll likely return to the GCL the start of 2015.

 

Another 2014 draft pick of the Jays, 26th rounder Bobby Wheatley, got plenty of time on the mound for the GCL Jays. A big, 6-foot-5 lefty who pitched for USC (Southern California, not South Carolina), I actually expected a lot more from the 22-year-old Wheatley than what he ended up doing, posting a 9.37 ERA and a 2.23 WHIP over 32 2/3 innings. He struggled with control (19 walks) and didn’t strike out a huge number of batters (24), which is particularly troubling considering that he was in his Age-22 season playing against a lot of younger players. The one caveat to Wheatley’s struggles is that, like a lot of college pitchers, he threw quite a few innings before he even got to the Blue Jays’ system, logging 58 1/3 with USC. I can see him in Vancouver next year, particularly if he has a solid time in extended spring training.

 

A high-school draftee in the seventh round of the 2013 draft by the Blue Jays, Conner Greene got his feet wet in pro ball last year with the GCL Jays. Starting there in 2014, Greene got out to a dominant start before the Jays decided to move him up to Bluefield to finish out the year. In Florida, Greene was outstanding, posting a 1.99 ERA and 0.98 WHIP over 31 2/3 innings, allowing just six walks and striking out 30. His numbers took a bit of a hit when he was promoted but were still solid, with a 4.23 ERA, 1.37 WHIP, 12 walks and 21 strikeouts over 27 2/3 innings. Greene is a 6-foot-3 righty who will probably continue to stay under the radar as he goes into his Age-20 season in 2015. I could see him starting in Vancouver but an aggressive, Lansing assignment might not be out of the question if he has a good showing in spring training.

 

Coming out of a Texas community college (coincidentally named Grayson County CC), Grayson Huffman had an outstanding first year with the Blue Jays’ organization after being selected in the sixth round of the 2014 draft. At the time of the draft, I compared him with Daniel Lietz, who the Jays drafted in the fifth round the year before and although Lietz wasn’t as dominant in his first year, both were 6-foot-2 lefties drafted after a year of community college ball. Huffman threw 27 innings over seven starts (eight games) with the GCL Blue Jays and had a 1.00 ERA and 0.74 WHIP, only allowing seven hits but walking 13 and striking out 23. His control issues followed him in Bluefield as he walked seven batters in 11 innings but struck out 11 batters and posted a 0.82 ERA despite the 1.64 WHIP. I can see Huffman starting the season back in Bluefield or even jumping to Vancouver next year.

 

Sean Reid-Foley came to the Blue Jays organization as a well regarded prep arm coming out of Florida. SRF had flashes of brilliance in his debut professional season but also had rookie moments as well but put together some solid numbers with a 4.76 ERA and 1.37 WHIP, walking 10 and striking out 25 over 22 2/3 innings. Reid-Foley was used in short stints of three innings or less, reaching the four-inning mark only once (allowing only two hits and striking out six on August 5). While he had a couple of small hiccups, walking three in a game twice, the overall body of work for an 18-year-old pitcher is very impressive. Look for Reid-Foley to pitch for Bluefield, logging 50-70 innings 2015.

 

Hansel Rodriguez was the other 17-year-old pitcher on the GCL Jays’ pitching staff (along with Daniel Rodriguez) and Hansel made some headlines when the Jays signed him over the winter, using some money that they got from the Angels’ international signing bonus pool when the Jays selected Brian Moran in the Rule 5 Draft and traded  him to LA. Rodriguez skipped the DSL and logged 19 innings in Florida, pitching to a 7.11 ERA and 1.58 WHIP. He walked 12 and struck out 13 but it’s important to remember that Rodriguez is still very young and will likely repeat in the GCL in 2015.

 

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.

Gulf Coast League Blue Jays 2014 Report, Part 1: Blue Jays from Away Awards

Spring Training Home

 

Spring Training Home

 

Now that we’ve wrapped up the Dominican Summer League Blue Jays, it’s time to tackle a team that’s a little closer to the big leagues, the Gulf Coast League Jays.

 

 

The GCL Blue Jays were pretty bad under first year manager Kenny Graham (who was the hitting coach in Lansing last year) with a record of 18-41. The club had some very good young talent but, overall, they only really showed glimpses of their potential abilities or were moved up in the system sooner rather than later. This year’s club didn’t have any Non-Drafted Free Agents dominate in the league like Boomer Collins, Corey Gorman or Chris Rowley did last year.

 

Blue Jays from Away Player of the Game Champion

 

For those of you who followed the minor league reports here, you’ll know that I “awarded” Player of the Game (PotG) accolades on a game-by-game basis. It should comfort you to know that I’ve been keeping track of these daily awards and my rationale for the system is as follows.

 

The Player of the Game Awards were determined by a number of factors that included who I thought had the most impact on the game and who might have gone “above and beyond.” Most nights, there was just one Player of the Game. If there was, he earned one point. If I thought that either a) no one stood out enough to merit a single PotG, or b) two or more players were outstanding and deserved mention, I split the point up into two, three or four shares. If two players earned PotG mention, they each received 0.5 points and if three players earned mentions, they each received 0.3 points. There were occasions that I felt that no one merited the award and therefore, I did not give out any points.

 

Here are the final standings for Blue Jays from Away Player of the Game for the DSL Blue Jays:

 

Juan Tejada 5.5
Grayson Huffman 4
Lane Thomas 3.5
Deiferson Barreto 3.5
Angel Perdomo 3.5
Conner Greene 3
Jake Brentz 2.8
Dave Pepe 2.8
Juan Kelly 2.5
Sean Reid-Foley 2.5
Freddy Rodriguez 2.3
Max Pentecost 2
Daniel Rodriguez 1.5
Angel Gomez 1.5
Trey Pascazi 1.5
Matt Morgan 1
Nathan DeSouza 1
Jonathon Wandling 1
Sean Nolin 1
Adam Lind 1
Bobby Wheatley 1
Nick Wells 0.5
Gunnar Heidt 0.5
Edwin Fuentes 0.5
Andres De Aza 0.5
Turner Lee 0.5
Kramer Champlin 0.5

 

Not what you expected, right? Juan Tejada wins the PotG Championship for the 2014 GCL Jays. I’ll talk about him more in the article on the hitters but he definitely accrued most of his points early on. The 20-year-old Dominican outfielder showed the most power on the team (his five home runs were the only number above two for anyone on the team) but when all was said and done, his .241 batting average and .293 OBP were not particularly great.

 

Blue Jays from Away Player of the Year

 

I’m going to be inconsistent here and call Juan Kelly the Player of the Year. The catcher/first baseman didn’t get my vote in my predictions for the Webster Awards but I think the fact that he played 54 games gives him the award over Lane Thomas who only played 34. Kelly came out on top when it came to better batting average although there was only a two point difference between the two players’ OPSs. The other thing that tips the scales in Kelly’s favour was the fact that his strikeout rate was almost 5% lower that Thomas’s.

 

Blue Jays from Away Pitcher of the Year

 

Again, with the lower levels of the minor leagues, distinguishing between starting pitchers and relievers is fairly difficult but I’m going to say that to qualify, a pitcher needs to make around half of his appearances as a starter. In that case, the best starting pitcher for the GCL Jays was 19-year-old lefty Grayson Huffman. Huffman, the Jays’ sixth-round pick in the 2014 draft, dominated at both the GCL level and in the Appalachian League, posting a 1.00 ERA in the GCL, allowing just seven hits over 27 innings while walking 13 and striking out 23.

 

Blue Jays from Away Reliever of the Year

 

By far the most reliable arm out of the pen was Angel Perdomo who made only three starts but threw 46 innings for the Blue Jays. After two seasons in the DSL, Perdomo, a 6-foot-6 lefty, came over to the US and posted a 2.54 ERA with 21 walks and 57 strikeouts through 46 innings.

 

Blue Jays from Away Most Improved Player

 

Lefty Jake Brentz came to the Jays highly-touted after being drafted in the 11th round of the 2013 draft but the raw youngster was always considered a work in progress due the fact that he started pitching late in his high school career. After posting a 10.57 ERA and walking 12 batters in 7 2/3 innings in 2013, Brentz started showing flashes of his capabilities in 2014, throwing 39 2/3 innings and striking out 34 batters with a 4.08 ERA. He still needs to work on his command and control with 26 walks but he’s well on the way to turning things around from a rocky start.

 

Blue Jays from Away Best Newcomer

 

This award goes to a player who was new to the Jays’ system who performed the best and this will have to go to Lane Thomas. The versatile player showed off his maturity at the plate as well as his capability to drive the ball to the gaps and steal bases. Sean Reid-Foley (2014 second round pick) was close behind but, although SRF has definitely shown some tantalizing flashes of his potential, his season had its ups and downs. I’m kind of disqualifying Huffman here after he already took home the Pitcher of the Year award.

 

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.

Dominican Summer League Blue Jays 2014 Report, Part 3: Hitters

toronto-blue-jays-logo

 

toronto-blue-jays-logo

 

In this part of the Dominican Summer League Blue Jays report, we’ll cover the hitters. Despite the absence of some of the top players from the 2013 International Free Agent class like Yeltsin Gudino and Freddy Rodriguez, both of whom skipped the DSL and played in Florida this year, there were several intriguing names who suited up for the DSL Blue Jays.

 

 

We’ll cover the DSL Blue Jays hitters, going around the horn by position, covering players who logged the most playing time at each position before we get to the substitutes a bit later on.

 

Behind the plate, the team leader was 17-year-old catcher Javier Hernandez who showed himself to be an outstanding defender, throwing out 40% of potential base stealers and earning a call up to the GCL by the end of the year. Hernandez hit .241/.290/.354 through 216 plate appearances with the DSL Jays and went 5/13 with a walk in six games in Dunedin. Hernandez is still very young and showed marked improvement over 2013, particularly in his developing power. He only had five extra-base hits in 2013 in the DSL but had 20 (18 doubles and two triples) in just three more games in 2014.

 

At first base, Enmanuel Moreta played the most by far, 65 games out of the club’s 71 matches. Moreta’s offensive production was outstanding as the 6-foot-3, 19-year-old right-handed hitter hit .287/.367/.437 in 286 plate appearances with 21 doubles, seven triples and one home run. With a pretty acceptable walk rate and strikeout rate (7.3% BB%, 20.3% K%), Moreta has probably done all he needs to do in the DSL and should see time in rookie ball next year.

 

Second base was generally manned by 17-year-old Miguel Almonte. In his first year as a pro, Almonte had some solid numbers, particularly when it came to his walk rate of 11.7% which elevated his .242 batting average to a .358 OBP and he was fairly successful when stealing bases, going 11 for 14 in attempts. Without a scouting report, it’s hard to tell if scouts think that he’s going to develop more power as he matures but he could definitely either return to the DSL for another year of development or he could jump over the GCL next year.

 

One of the better known prospects to sign with the Blue Jays in the last IFA signing period, third-baseman Bryan Lizardo had an up and down season, starting as a 16 year old. He played in almost every game for the Jays, getting almost 300 plate appearances (292 to be exact) and put up a respectable line of .263/.379/.375, showing signs of potential as a power hitter who has a good sense of the strike zone taking walks at a 14% rate (although walk numbers in the DSL don’t necessarily translate). He struck out a little much but the 25.7% rate isn’t too worrisome, particularly since Lizardo was one of the youngest players in the league. Lizardo finished the season very strongly, hitting .350/.443/.534 with 16 of his 22 extra-base hits over the final 28 games. Expect to see Lizardo with the GCL Jays for his Age-17 season in 2015.

 

The every day shortstop for the DSL Jays was Jesus Severino whose defense is likely still a work in progress (thanks to 32 errors in 62 games). Severino was also signed last year and had barely turned 17 before the season started. He’s a little more raw, hitting .211/.317/.260 with 10 stolen bases and just eight extra-base hits over 63 games and he’ll likely return to the Dominican Republic for another year.

 

I wouldn’t be surprised to see outfielder Rodrigo Orozco in rookie ball next year after his second consecutive solid year at the plate for the DSL Jays. The 19-year-old Panamanian switch hitter put up a .274/.385/.355 line with 20 stolen bases. From the numbers, Orozco’s defense is pretty solid with just one error and 10 assists in 59 games played in center field.

 

Playing the most games in right field was Edward Olivares, an 18-year-old, right-handed hitting Venezuelan who the Blue Jays signed quite late, on July 2, to be exact. Getting into 40 games with the DSL Jays, Olivares set the league on fire, hitting .314/.436/.414 with nine extra-base hits (including one home run) and 12 stolen bases. He also had eight outfield assists, good for second on the team, despite being fourth in games played. From his low strikeout rate (13.3%), solid walk rate (11.6%) and strong numbers all around, I would expect to see Olivares in the US next year in rookie ball.

 

Playing 49 games in the outfield was 20-year-old Eddy Alcantara. The 6-foot-3 Dominican appears to have regressed despite getting more than twice the amount of plate appearances that he had in 2013. He still took a lot of walks but his rate was down slowly from last year while his strikeout rate fell a bit too, though it was still somewhat high at 24.5%. His slash line was .244/.340/.298 without a home run and 10 stolen bases.

 

Francisco Rodriguez, a 19-year-old Dominican outfielder, had a solid season for the Blue Jays, hitting .259/.398/.387 with 21 extra-base hits and 10 stolen bases (but was caught stealing nine times). Rodriguez took a lot of walks (15.1%) and had a reasonable strikeout rate at 23%. Rodriguez could very well head to the GCL next year after being a steady contributor for the DSL Jays in 2014.

 

Switch hitter Ronniel Demorizi played a third season in the DSL and improved a bit over his numbers last year, cutting down on his strikeouts but regressed in walks, posting a .238/.325/.337 line.

 

The rest of the at bats went to a variety of back up players, all of whom were 18 or 19 years old. In just 38 plate appearances, back up outfielder Antony Fuentes hit .323/.447/.429 while catcher Manuel Herazo put up solid numbers, hitting .250/.330/.283 over 109 plate appearances. Herazo, 19, caught 22 games and threw out 30% of potential base stealers.

Dominican Summer League Blue Jays 2014 Report, Part 2: Pitchers

toronto-blue-jays-logo

toronto-blue-jays-logo

 

Once again, I’ll reiterate how difficult it is to project anything from box scores coming from the Dominican Summer League. There are so many inconsistencies with team defense, scoring and umpiring that anything resembling a strong understanding of who these players are will have to wait until they establish themselves at a higher level. That said, let’s look at the pitchers for the DSL Blue Jays and see how they did.

 

 

Defining “starting” pitchers in the low minors is very difficult and 14 of the Blue Jays’ 22 pitchers this year made at least one start. I’m going to organize this list in descending order by innings pitched and that way, we’ll at least talk about the pitchers who threw more innings while I’m still fresh!

 

Dominican righty Luis Sanchez led the club in innings pitched with 56. He’s already 20 years old and showed some solid numbers this season with a 3.38 ERA and a 1.32 WHIP. He struck out 48 and walked 17 and had a very solid season all around.

 

Denis Diaz, my pitcher of the year, is a 6-foot-1, Honduran righty who also ate up innings, this time as a 19-year-old in his second go-round in the league. He improved in every category and actually walked just one more batter (16) this year while throwing more than three times as many innings. His K/BB ratio was over 3 and he struck out 49 and walked 16 in 53 innings with a 3.91 ERA and 1.15 WHIP.

 

Yonardo Herdenez, a 6-foot-1 righty from Venezuela turns 19 on September 20 and posted some solid numbers in his second year with the DSL Jays. Another player who showed significant improvement over his previous year, Herdenez drastically lowered his walk rate, issuing 10 free passes over 50 innings while striking out 34. He really did well in the control categories as he didn’t hit a batter and threw only two wild pitches. His 4.14 ERA and 1.40 WHIP indicate that he’s probably not the hardest guy to hit as he surrendered 6 home runs and 60 hits.

 

Jose Nova, another 19-year-old Dominican is the first lefty that we’ve come across on this roster. Nova had a 3.97 ERA with a 1.45 WHIP, striking out 42 and walking 16 over 47 2/3 innings. Notably, he didn’t give up a home run but hit seven batters and had seven wild pitches.

 

In his third year with the DSL Blue Jays, 19-year-old Osman Gutierrez is one of the more imposing pitchers on this staff, standing at 6-foot-4 but weighing only 185 pounds. He throws from the right side and posted a solid strikeout ratio of 8.0/9 IP but also walked 25 batters over his 47 innings. The wildness also manifested itself with nine hit batters and five wild pitches. That said, it looks like Gutierrez is becoming a ground ball pitcher as he allowed 66 ground balls this year with just 52 other kinds of batted balls (fly balls, line drives and pop ups) combined. (Note: This information comes from mlbfarm.com and has different inning totals than Baseball Reference does).

 

Another 19 year old, 6-foot-1 Venezuelan lefty Juliandry Higuera (who actually just turned 20 a few days ago), actually regressed in his second year with the DSL Jays. Posting a 4.00 strikeout to walk rate in 2013, Higuera’s stats ballooned this year, seeing his ERA jump almost a point and his WHIP jumped 23 points. He did increase his strikeout rate but walked nine more batters in about the same number of innings. I’m not sure what to make of Mr. Higuera going forward.

 

6-foot-3 Dominican righty Luis Gomez is already 21 but made his professional debut with the DSL Jays and was one of the better pitchers on the staff with a 1.77 ERA, 1.18 WHIP to go with a 3.60 K/BB ratio over 40 2/3 innings.

 

The Blue Jays signed Dominican Erick Hurtado over the offseason and still hope that he’ll cash in on the promise he showed when he signed with the Astros, Cardinals and Yankees previously. He had signed with the Cardinals in February of 2012 but was suspended for steroids just a few weeks later. He must have had his contract annulled because he never pitched with the Cardinals organization but signed on with the Astros and made six appearances in 2012 and one appearance with the Yankees in 2013. This year, however, Hurtado finally got a full season at the age of 19 but threw well for the Blue Jays with a 2.87 ERA, but walked 20 over 37 2/3 innings which contributed to a 1.51 WHIP. He struck out 37 and could be interesting going forward; the willingness of teams to give him chances must reflect highly on his arm.

 

Another 20 year old serving a second stint in the DSL was Jairo Rosario who showed some regression despite improving a very poor walk rate. He had a 3.93 ERA with a 1.48 WHIP and 19 walks and 29 strikeouts through 34 1/3 innings.

 

One of the younger members of the pitching staff was 18-year-old Dominican lefty Wilfri Aleton who improved considerably in his second year with the DSL Jays. He threw 34 innings, walking 17 and striking out 27 and posted a 3.97 ERA and 1.35 WHIP.

 

Venezuelan righty Pedro Diaz logged 30 innings at the age of 19 and saw a huge spike in his strikeout numbers over his first year (last year) in the DSL. In 2013, he struck batters out at a rate of 5.3 K/9 IP but that number went up to 9.3 K/9 with only 13 walks. His solid 2.70 ERA and 1.17 WHIP round out the picture for someone who might be coming to North America next year.

 

Guillermo De La Cruz was the youngest member of the staff and the Dominican lefty doesn’t turn 18 until May. Cruz pitched relatively well for the Jays, throwing 21 2/3 innings with a 4.57 ERA, 13 walks and 17 strikeouts, essentially at the age of a high school senior.

 

Among the teenagers in this crop of pitchers, only lefty Jonathan Torres (19) pitched particularly well but he only made it into four games, striking out 11 and walking only four in 10 innings. With a 1.80 ERA and 1.00 WHIP, he was one of the best of the bunch but in small doses. Kelyn Jose (19), Manuel Cordova (19), Juan Nunez (18) and Luis Dominguez rounded out this group and none did much that was worthy of comment.

 

There were several remaining players who are all 20 years old or older: Wilmin Lara (20), Jose Diaz (21), William Zambrano (20), Jeffry Martinez (20) and Thony Vinicio (20). Lara missed all of last season and struggled with his control, walking 24 batters in 25 2/3 innings. Vinicio and Martinez both made their pro debuts with the Jays but weren’t particularly effective over 4 2/3 innings and 8 1/3 innings respectively. Zambrano made 13 appearances but posted an ERA over 10 in 10 2/3 innings, walking 13 but striking out 13. Finally, Diaz pitched 21 1/3 innings but walked almost as many as he struck out (16 BB, 18 K).

 

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.

Dominican Summer League 2014 Report, Part 1: Blue Jays from Away Awards

toronto-blue-jays-logo

toronto-blue-jays-logo

 

Welcome to the first part of our many recaps of the season that was in the Toronto Blue Jays’ minor league system.

 

 

Overall, under manager Jose Mateo, the DSL Blue Jays were 33-38 and was generally an older team with most of the youngest Blue Jays’ international prospects in the GCL or at higher levels. There were only two 17-year-olds and one 16-year-old among the position players and just one 17-year-old pitcher.

 

Blue Jays from Away Player of the Game Champion

 

For those of you who followed the minor league reports here, you’ll know that I “awarded” Player of the Game (PotG) accolades on a game-by-game basis. It should comfort you to know that I’ve been keeping track of these daily awards and my rationale for the system is as follows.

 

The Player of the Game Awards were determined by a number of factors that included who I thought had the most impact on the game and who might have gone “above and beyond.” Most nights, there was just one Player of the Game. If there was, he earned one point. If I thought that either a) no one stood out enough to merit a single PotG, or b) two or more players were outstanding and deserved mention, I split the point up into two, three or four shares. If two players earned PotG mention, they each received 0.5 points and if three players earned mentions, they each received 0.3 points. There were occasions that I felt that no one merited the award and therefore, I did not give out any points.

 

Here are the final standings for Blue Jays from Away Player of the Game for the DSL Blue Jays:

 

Rodrigo Orozco 6.1
Bryan Lizardo 6
Enmanuel Moreta 6
Edward Olivares 6
Denis Diaz 3.6
Jesus Severino 3.3
Jose Nova 2.5
Francisco Rodriguez 2.5
Javier Hernandez 2.5
Luis Sanchez 2.3
Juliandry Higuera 2
Luis Gomez 2
Jonathan Torres 1.5
Miguel Almonte 1.5
Osman Gutierrez 1.5
Ronniel Demorizi 1.5
Yonardo Herdenez 1.3
Antony Fuentes 1
Erick Hurtado 1
Wilfri Aleton 1
Eddy Alcantara 0.5
Pedro Diaz 0.5
Leudy Garcia 0.5
Wilmin Lara 0.5
Manuel Herazo 0.5
Guillermo De La Cruz 0.3

 

As you can see, there were four players in close contention for the honour of the Player of the Game Champion but, coming out on top by 1/10 of a point was outfielder Rodrigo Orozco. 16-year-old third baseman Bryan Lizardo was among the three players just one point back while Enmanuel Moreta and Edward Olivares shared the second spot. It’s important to note that Olivares’ success is very interesting considering that he was signed midway through the season and, with such success, could be on a fast track to the North American minor leagues next year when he turns 19.

 

Blue Jays from Away Player of the Year

 

This was a tough decision seeing as it’s hard to judge some of these players without ever having seen them. If Edward Olivares had played a full season (he only played 40 games), he would have easily been my Player of the Year but otherwise, I’m going to have to go with Enmanuel Moreta. The first baseman led the club in slugging with a .437 mark and, of the players who played all year, he was the most well rounded (although his speed seems non-existent). Moreta’s 21 doubles and seven triples led the club while he still managed to hit for a solid batting average of .287 with a good OBP of .367.

 

Blue Jays from Away Pitcher of the Year

 

This is another difficult choice because of how hard it is to differentiate between players with very similar statistics. In the end, however, I chose 19-year-old Honduran righty Denis Diaz who led the club in strikeouts. Diaz logged 53 innings and struck out 49 while walking only 16, posting a very good 3.06 strikeout to walk ratio. He also only allowed 45 hits, giving him a 1.15 WHIP, one of the lowest on the team. His weakness appears to be home runs but his ratio wasn’t at all horrible at 0.7 HR/9.

 

Because of the relative obscurity of the DSL players, I’ll only hand out these two awards but we’ll get into more detail with the players in the North American leagues, likely starting early next week.

 

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.