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Down on the Farm – Jays MILB thoughts – August 23, 2011

August 24, 2011

GCL Blue Jays – I have been hoping to get the chance to write up CF Derrick Loveless, who I see as a big sleeper. He sat on the GCL bench for a few days after signing, thwarting my early hopes. And he is now without a hit in his first 7 at bats. I will have to wait on why I think Loveless is worth watching. Until then, we can still bask in the glory of RF Jacob Anderson‘s (3-4) debut. I mentioned yesterday how Anderson has yet to be tested by left-handed pitchers much. His first three at bats of this game were against a righty. After grounding out to SS in the 1st inning, Anderson repeated the feat in the 3rd. This time, though, he showed enough speed to beat the play to 1B. Both in the 5th and the 8th innings, Anderson lined a pitch the opposite way for a pair of singles. The former was off of the same right-handed starter he faced in his first two at bats and the latter was against an undersized Taiwanese lefty. With all of the noise over the big three pitchers who were the focus of the drama on deadline day last week, Anderson should not be ignored or forgotten. He is a keeper.

Bluefield Blue Jays – One of the few reminders that some good can come from among the position players in the Jays’ DSL affiliate, RF Carlos Ramirez (2-4, HR (2), RBI, BB, 2 K, 2 R) is having a better season here in Bluefield than he did two years ago as a professional debutant in the DSL. Not by much, but the simple fact that an athletic 20 year old can develop as a baseball player after struggling along to a .625 OPS in the DSL should provide some measure of hope to those there now. Ramirez has no obvious platoon splits, which is not necessarily a good thing as he struggled equally against pitchers of both persuasions. His plate approach has seemingly regressed from last season in the GCL – his K% has dropped from 31.7% of his at bats in the GCL to 35.2% in the Appy League, while his walk rate has staggered from 9.2% of his plate appearances down to 8.4%. His main form of compensation has been burgeoning power, as his isolated his risen from a lowly .080 last year up to this year’s current .157. He needs to turn a serious corner to remain in the professional ranks by the time he turns 22.

Vancouver Canadians – The most notable event for the Canadians in this game (other than C Garrett Maines pitching poorly in a blowout loss) was the SS-A debut of RHP Aaron Sanchez (1.2 IP, 4 H, 5 R, 4 BB, 2 K). It wasn’t a pretty debut, but neither was his first go-round for Bluefield earlier this summer. Sanchez ended the Appy League portion of his career with 42.2 innings pitched across 11 appearances (6 starts). He allowed 45 hits in that time (9.5 H/9), including 4 home runs (0.84 HR/9). He surrendered 27 runs, 26 of which were earned, for an ERA of 5.48. Not pretty, but looking at his pitching independent of the fielding behind him, his FIP is a much more impressive 3.74, with equal effectiveness against both left-handed and right-handed batters. Sanchez also walked 18 batters (3.8 BB/9) while striking out 43 (9.1 K/9), leaving him with a respectable rate of 2.4 K/BB. Room for improvement certainly exists, and having followed each start, I would say that it could be found in simply better start-to-start consistency, but at only 19 years old, the raw tools are in evidence.

Lansing Lugnuts – Not much to point out from this game, but a thought on the catcher shuffle that must be in store for the Jays’ organization. With Brian Jeroloman‘s anticipated promotion to the Majors coming a week early, the Las Vegas squad is left with only Ryan Budde behind the plate. It was widely expected that Alex Anthopoulos will allow Travis d’Arnaud to complete the season and likely playoffs with AA New Hampshire. I would think that neither Carlos Perez nor A.J. Jimenez would be rushed for a two week time-share. The Jays have already shown a willingness to shuttle Joseph Bowen and C/DH Jack Murphy (2-4, 2B, K) around the system according to short term need. As of this moment, as Bowen is on the DL, I think Yan Gomes will move up from New Hampshire and Murphy, who has already made 3 appearances for New Hampshire this year, will go back.And if not? Maybe Manny Mayorson can catch?

Dunedin Blue Jays – Another option for the catcher shuffle may be to borrow a backstop from Dunedin. Again, I doubt it would be Dunedin’s top dog, C A.J. Jimenez (2-4, 2B, HR (4), RBI, BB, 2 R) who hit his first home run since June. It must be said that power has never been a big part of his game, needing this game to push his SLG back above .400, now sitting at .411, a big drop from the .435 he posted last year in Lansing. His caught stealing rates have also dropped, from an otherworldly 53% for Lansing in 2010 to a mortal (although still great) 42% this time around. He’s actually caught the same amount, but it has taken him 14 more attempts to get there. His walk rate has made a marginal improvement and I think Jimenez will see New Hampshire in 2012, but should finish this season with Dunedin.

If not Jimenez, Dunedin has another catcher whose bat has produced a very similar OPS to that of Jimenez, but more power-centric. Not as gifted as Jiminez behind the plate, DH/C/1B/3B Sean Ochinko (3-4, 2 2B, 2 RBI) could nonetheless be rewarded for his season-long versatility. A poor mark on balls in play (BABIP) has held down his batting average this seaons, but his isolated patience has actually risen from .049 to .067, while his ISO jumped from .148 to .183. Ochinko could stand to drive more balls, as his seasonal groundball rate of 46.9% is not conducive to a man of his obvious lack of speed. In any case, a player versatile enough to play behind the plate even passably while showing decent in-game power will continue to get chances. If anything, I would move him up before Jimenez, as, turning 24 this offseason, Ochinko is already over-aged, while Jimenez is still only 21.

New Hampshire Fisher Cats – Listing to Alex Anthopoulos chat with Buck Martinez and Pat Tabler during the 5th inning of today’s Blue Jays’ game, discussing the big trade of the day as well as the farm system, what stood out most to me where to over-the-top praise heaped on RHP Nestor Molina (5 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 7 K). Not much has changed in his status since the last time I discussed him but the leaked knowledge that the Blue Jays refused to part with him in any trade offer that came their way in the recent trade deadline. Of all the amazing numbers put up by Hutchison, Syndergaard, McGuire, Nicolino, you name it, maybe the most impressive of all has been Molina’s combined K-BB rate of 139-15 (9.27 K/BB). He has not pitched enough to qualify for the lead in the Eastern League, but the leading qualifier, 27 year old Michael Ballard of the Orioles’ system, has a K/BB of 8.91. That’s good, but not Molinian. Molina left the Florida State League ranked second in that measurement, with the only man in front of him having pitched 40 fewer innings. So that testifies to Molina’s command. Anthopoulos spoke effusively about his stuff, too. If Molina is not added to the 40-man roster this off-season, he will be exposed to the Rule V draft. It therefore naturally follows Nestor Molina will join the Blue Jays’ 40-man roster within the next few months.

Las Vegas 51s – The focus of this game was (and should be) more on how the 51s’ roster changes in light of the needs of the parent Blue Jays than on single game AAA performance. I wrote about the recall of C Brian Jeroloman above. Earlier than expected, but not unexpected. In that same blurb yesterday, I also discussed my perceived unlikelihood of a recall for CF Darin Mastroianni (0-1). After two innings and a solitary at bat in this game, Mastroianni was lifted as part of a double switch that saw Adam Loewen shifted from RF to CF and Jason Lane enter the game to play RF. As of this writing, the move was only precautionary, but as it happened, Blue Jays’ CF Colby Rasmus hurt his wrist in the parent club’s loss at home to Kansas City (props t0 friend of Section 203, Joel Dembe, for throwing out the game’s first pitch in that one). While Rasmus hurt his wrist in the 3rd, he stuck around to finish out the game defensively. With Rajai Davis still rehabbing his torn hamstring, Mastroianni is the most experienced CF on the Jays’ 40-man roster. If Rasmus needs time off, Mastroianni may be recalled, proving me wrong. Stranger things have happened.

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One Comment leave one →
  1. Eye Floaters Treatment permalink
    August 27, 2011 5:50 pm

    The World Series is fast approaching and I’m thrilled for some playoff action. I think this year it will either be the Red Sox or the Diamondbacks who win it all. The baseball season is long, but when it comes to the playoffs, it is still the most wonderful sport to watch. I’m ready!

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