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Down on the Farm – Jays milb Thoughts – July 19, 2011

July 20, 2011

DSL Jays – In a game suspended after 3 innings, only one Jays’ farmhand stood out, that being 18-year-old RHP Eyerys Guerrero  (3 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 3 K). After a mediocre debut last year (a 3.23 ERA masking a poor K-rate 2.5/9, as he struck out only 11 batters in 39 innings. A big kid at 6-3″, 208, Guerrero has shown real progress in his second go-round, he has struck out 22 in 23 innings this season, against only 4 walks, for an awesome K/BB rate of 5.75. His higher ERA may have him ignored by the statistically uneducated, but these are signs of a much improved pitcher. Already recognized by the organization last year as their most valuable player DSL-affiliated player (obviously more for his control than his dominance), this progress is certainly something to keep an eye on.

GCL Jays – I thought about mentioned Jorge Vega-Rosado again, with a home run and playing both middle infield positions, but I’m sure I’ll have another chance to discuss him down the line. In his stead, today we can celebrate SS Dickie Joe Thon (2-3, HR (1), 2 RBI, R, K). Little Dickie Joe has hit his first career home run. Drafted last year out of a Puerto Rican high school in the 5th round, the son of Big Dickie was given $1.5 million to forego a scholarship to NCAA powerhouse Rice. He signed too late to play, and many commentators panned the dollars. One of the few to publicly praise the player was BP’s Jason Parks (subscription required) who mentions above average SS potential, with a good swing, projecting for average and power and enough fundamentals (the saving grace of all players with MLB blood-lines) to stay at SS even without the greatest natural defensive tools. Thon had yet to show much in-game power, with a mere 2 doubles before this home run (hit off a starting pitcher, BTW). He still has a lopsided slash line of .286/.408/.385 with all of his damage coming against right-handed pitcher (sample against southpaws is too small to worry).

Still the sole signee among Jays’ early 2011 draft picks, RHP Joseph Musgrove (2 IP, 3 H, 3 R (2 ER), 1 BB, 1 K) will likely get a mention every time he takes the mound. This was the second such time. Around 1 month ago, he was still in high school.  Barring an injury, he will finish the year one vital step ahead of his draft years, just for having received a few months of incredibly valuable professional instruction. Interesting question; The pitching coach for the GCL Jays is John Wesley, a massive man at 6-6″, 263. Joseph Musgrove is a big one as well, listed at 6-5″, 230. Wesley kicked around the low minors and the American Independent Leagues for 8 years until retiring in 2009. Anyway, the question on my mind is whether or not a big man – and the ensuing mechanical shenanigans – would have a better chance at imparting better mechanics on a big boy than would a smaller man?

Bluefield Blue Jays – In what looks like a bullpen start game, this is a good chance to discuss a sleeper of some interest in the Jays’ system in LHP Tyler Ybarra (3 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 0 BB, 3 K, 1 HR) who got things started for Bluefield. Drafted way back in the 43rd round of the 2008 draft, Ybarra, according to this article from the hometown Wellington Daily News, never really intended to go to college, but played hardball with the Jays on a signing bonus, as he was looking for 6 figures. He could touch 90 as an amateur, but struggled mightily in his 2009 pro debut (20.1 IP, 6.64 ERA, 10/11 BB/K rate), before an undiscolsed injury kept him on the sidelines for all of the 2010 season. Now 21 years old, Ybarra is being stretched out in long relief for Bluefield, with better results than ever, having struck out 18 batters in 17 innings against 7 walks. He has not yet faced enough lefties to gauge his skills as a potential LOOGY, but as Jo-Jo Reyes will tell you, 90 mph from the left side will ensure many opportunities.

Vancouver Canadians – LHP David Rollins (4 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 1 BB, 3 K) continues to succeed in all of the challenges placed before him in his professional debut. After making short work of the Appalachian League, his second start for Vancouver, in the more advanced Northwest League (usually older players, either 4-year college debutants, or 2nd year pros) was very similar to his 1st in terms of quality, if not length. His excellent ground ball rate, now a combined 1.46 ground-outs to air-outs, is promising.

Lansing Lugnuts – The Lugnuts had a day off today.

Dunedin Blue Jays – A player not yet discussed in this blog, with little fanfare and pedigree enough is former 4th round pick, SS Ryan Goins (2-4, 2B, 2 RBI, K). Listed at 5-10″, 170, Goins is slight, and as to be expected from most guys his size, shows little power. He can lace the odd double – tonight’s was his 17th of the season – but little more with but 6 triples and 5 home runs over 957 career professional plate appearances. On the positive side, he has suffered absolutely no degradation in his offensive production as he has advanced up the minor league ladder, with his current .790 OPS practically equal to his output last season in Lansing. He was actually lauded as a power guy coming into the draft out of Dallas Baptist, but that was back when the NCAA used aluminum bats. Goings has played exclusively as a short-stop thus far in his pro career. I expect Goings to continue to advance one level at a time, with his ultimate upside probably that of a utility player – provided that he can remain at short.

RHP Asher Wojciechowski (5 IP, 9 H, 6 ER, 1 BB, 6 K) had another rough outing, with 4 of his hits allowed going for extra bases. Wojciechowski allowed only 2 hits in his first time through the Fort Myers order (it should be noted that the Twins’ affiliate has a number of high end prospects on that roster. In his 2nd time through the order, he surrendered 5 hits. He was not allowed to complete a 3rd cycle. Just over a full season into his pro career, Wojciechowski’s age – 21.5 – dictated a moderately aggressive assignment to Duendin. It’s too earlyu to consign him to life in the bullpen, but the whispers of that role which accompanied him through the draft will continue to follow him with more performances of this ilk.

New Hampshire Fisher Cats – J.P. Ricciardi’s last 1st rounder, RHP Chad Jenkins (5 IP, 5 H, 4 R, 2 BB, 1 K, 1 HR), from the moment he entered the system, was seen as a 4th-5th starter down the road. To his benefit, he has thus far moved quickly. Signed late, he managed to graduate from Lansing to Dunedin in his first season, and followed with mid-season with a move up to New Hampshire. In all of those stages, his K/9 only topped 7.0/9 once, that being his first stop in Lansing. Since then, he has hovered in a tight band between 5.9-6.1. For comparison, Carlos Villanueva, not many’s idea of a dominant starting pitcher, currently sits at 6.4 K/9, including his time as a reliever. Jenkins has severely limited his walks, totaling 2.0/9, giving him a solid 3.19 K/BB. Villanueva hasn’t had a K/BB that low since his rookie season in 2006. In around equal opportunity in AA, Jenkins has allowed 5 HRs to lefties, but only 1 to righties while striking out 21 righties, compared to only 11 lefties. This trend bears watching.

Las Vegas 51s – RHP Kyle Drabek (6 IP, 5 H, 5 R, 5 BB, 3 K) has another rough stint in AAA.There have not been any reports about diminished stuff, so on the face of it, this seems to be a location/demeanor matter more than anything. He now has a 17/19 BB/K rate over 25.2 AAA IP. This is not the pitcher from the catalog that anyone here ordered. It’s not a Las Vegas thing, because much more of his damage occurred on the road. It seems especially difficult for him to pitch to left-handed batters, as they have walked 12 times in only 12 innings. He has  displayed a similar trend in the majors, having surrendered an .895 OPS against lefties, while holding righties to a more palatable OPS of .721.  He’s definitely worth the effort it looks to take to “fix” him, but it may not be as simple a case as Brett Cecil’s. Jesse Litsch is another matter altogether.

1B David Cooper (1-3, 2B, E; 3-3, RBI, BB) pads his lead in the race for Pacific Coast League Batting champ, a lone bright spot in a poor showing, both offensive and defensive in a double-header at Colorado Springs.

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. July 20, 2011 2:08 pm

    I can see your point re: Jenkins but to put Carlos Villanueva into proper context, he struck out nearly 9.0, with 484 K in 488 minor league innings.

    Jenkins lack of SO ability in the lower levels of the MILB worries me. If he can’t earn the K’s down in High-A & AA, he’ll have a tough time in the show.

    • July 20, 2011 2:27 pm

      Thanks for commenting. You are absolutely right. I brought up Villanueva for MLB context, as far as enabling someone to picture that level of modest dominance. Jenkins’ control has been good enough that his K/BB is still solid, but faced with two guys with similar K/BB rates, I would prefer the one who has more Ks – I think it’s easier to lower a BB rate than it is to increase the K rate.
      That all said, I don’t think anyone should give up on Jenkins, as he has had a great GB rate, and he has been moved along very quickly. He has not yet been anywhere long enough to consolidate his success.

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