Small Sample Size Alert!
As we’re now a week into the shortest of the short seasons, we’ve had enough time to jump to some conclusions about what the Jays have on their hands at the lowest levels of the minor leagues.
“Oh, come on, Jay,” you say. “Be rational, don’t fall in love with players over a week or two of stats,” you say. Pshaw. Let’s have some fun making up our minds irrationally and far too early.
GCL Blue Jays
I’m on the fence about Matt Smoral. He pitched a third of an inning yesterday and gave up ONE RUN, making his ERA 27.00. He also has a 9.00 WHIP after walking three. He didn’t strike out anyone either, giving him a horrible 0.0 K/9 ratio. He did pitch a no-hit third of an inning so, there’s that. Untouchable.
Phil Kish, on the other hand, is going to be a superstar. In 5 2/3 innings, he’s given up only 2 hits and walked one while striking out 11. Move over Casey Janssen! Ok, a little more seriously, Kish is doing very well but he’s a college senior who signed as an undrafted free agent. He’ll be promoted soon and will be tested against better competition.
Two pitchers that I’m genuinely intrigued by are the Venezuelans Jesus Tinoco and Alejandro Solarte. I haven’t seen scouting reports on either, so I don’t really know what they throw, but they’re getting results. Tinoco pitched four very good innings of relief yesterday, striking out six batters and Solarte has pitched 6 1/3 innings and has given up only two hits (no walks) and has struck out 9. Both are only 18 years old and both are listed at 6’4″ with room in their frames to fill out and get stronger. These two guys could be the next Cardona/Tirado pair of Latin arms. Solarte’s even a lefty.
The first name that jumps out on the offensive side is Franklin Barreto. While he’s made 4 errors in the field, Barreto is only 17 years old and has bypassed the Dominican Summer League altogether. He’s hitting .367 and has walked 3 times (as many times as he’s struck out) and has 2 doubles among his 11 hits. I’m torn about whether I think the Blue Jays will be as aggressive moving him up as they were with Roberto Osuna (who finished the year in Vancouver in his Age-17 season). The 4 errors already makes me think that the Jays might want to keep him in Dunedin to really work on his fielding and there really is no rush with him. If he stays, look for his development with the bat to outstrip his fielding very soon.
While Anthony Alford is only hitting .227, he’s showing a lot of patience (6 walks) and some power (2 doubles and a triple). From what I’ve heard about the GCL, where there’s a lot of drills and instruction that goes on in the mornings before games, the Jays will probably want to keep Alford there to get as much instruction and work with the coaching staff as possible. I don’t expect him to really move up in the system this season.
Finally, showing up all over the place in the box scores is the mysterious Thomas Collins III. Known collegiately as “Boomer” Collins, he’s an undrafted free agent who was known in school for both his high character as well as his baseball skills. Again, he may a bit advanced for this level and his ceiling isn’t very high, but he’s hitting .350 (7 singles) and has walked 4 times and only struck out twice.
Bluefield Blue Jays
The Bluefield Blue Jays have some really interesting prospects and they start with SS Dawel Lugo. An international free agent from the Dominican, he’s been flashing power in his bat, hitting .342 with two doubles and two home runs in his 38 at bats. Like many Latin-American players, he doesn’t seem to have a lot of patience at the plate — he hasn’t walked yet and has struck out 5 times (which is actually a pretty acceptable number). Still, Lugo is only 18 and if his start is any indication, we have a great young player to look forward to watching.
Outfielder Derrick Loveless has also been mashing in Bluefield. He’s hitting .370 with 2 doubles, a triple and two home runs already. Unlike Lugo, Loveless appears to have a good eye, having 3 walks and 3 strikeouts in 27 at bats. Loveless has just turned 20, so he’s not really young, but not old for the level either.
19-year-old 3B Mitch Nay didn’t play all of last year due to injury so he’s actually making his in-game debut (although he’s been with the Jays through the fall instructional league last year and extended spring training this year). He’s hitting .276 with 4 walks and 5 strikeouts in 29 at bats. He also has a double and a home run for the Jays.
Matthew Dean is another 2012 high draft pick who had a rough time in Bluefield last year and is continuing that trend this year. He’s hitting only .219 in 32 at bats with 9 strikeouts already. He’s got 2 doubles but hasn’t done much hitting so far this season. He’s 20 years old this year and with another poor season in Rookie ball, his stock may fall considerably.
D.J. Davis is having a pretty decent season so far but is being plagued by the strikeout. He’s hitting .273 with a double and two triples in 33 at bats, but has struck out 10 times and walked only once. He’s going to need to even out those K/BB numbers in order to really move through the organization. He’s still only 18 though (he’ll be 19 on July 25) and there’s time for Davis to realize his potential.
Finally, Eric Arce, a 21 year old OF/1B/DH type player who just continues to be the epitome of the 3 True Outcome player, has gotten off to a great start. He leads the team with 3 home runs and, despite a .263 average, he’s walked 5 times (and struck out 5 times) in 24 plate appearances (giving him a .414 OBP). Arce’s repeating Bluefield and I can’t see him staying there much longer if he keeps raking. The problem is that Vancouver is pretty stocked at his position(s).
Right now, the top three pitchers in Bluefield are a trio that contains two expected prospects and guy who is showing huge improvement over last year.
Most writers had Dominican Jairo Labourt as a sleeper prospect among the loads of quality arms that the Jays have parked in Bluefield. The 19 year old lefty has been outstanding so far this year in his piggybacking with Canadian Tom Robson. Labourt has pitched 9 innings without giving up a run on four hits and three walks while striking out 7.
Robson, who just turned 20 on June 27, also hasn’t given up a run yet this year and has only allowed one hit and three walks in eight innings. He has only struck out 2 batters, showing that he may not have the dominant stuff that his piggy-mate Labourt has.
Chase DeJong has also been outstanding for the Blue Jays. Only 19, DeJong has given up 2 runs (only 1 earned run) in eight innings but may have been bitten by the BABIP monster. He’s given up 10 hits, but has only walked 1 and has 7 strikeouts to go along with his gaudy 1.13 ERA.
Alberto Tirado and Adonys Cardona were both highly touted Latin pitchers going into this season. Scouts love their stuff but they’ve both been off to (somewhat) rough starts. Tirado’s gotten 7 1/3 innings in and has given up 4 runs (2 earned) on 8 hits and 3 walks to go with 6 strikeouts. Tirado’s only 18 and from the Dominican while Cardona is 19 and from Venezuela. Cardona has gotten roughed up this season so far. He’s only managed to pitch 3 2/3 innings and has given up 9 runs on 11 hits and 3 walks while striking out 5. I’d advise against looking at his K and BB rate per 9 innings at this point. With 11 hits, he’s faced a lot of batters, so the 3 walks is really 12.5% (of the batters he’s faced) rather than a much less respectable figure of 7.36 BB/9 innings. Likewise, his figure of striking out 20.8% of batters is good but not nearly as great as the 12.27 K/9 stat might suggest.
One final sleeper prospect that I’ll leave you with is Yeyfry Del Rosario, a 19-year-old Dominican righty who has pitched 5 2/3 innings out of the bullpen. Del Rosario has given up 2 runs on 4 hits and 2 walks and struck out 7. He’s had strong numbers in the US (he was in the GCL last year) and is probably a guy who will start to make some noise if he keeps up his strong performances.