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Down on the Farm – Jays MILB Thoughts – August 26, 2011

August 27, 2011

GCL Blue Jays – A quietly impressive rookie prospect who has gotten rave reviews from Friend of Section 203, Bill Christie is 3B Seth Conner (3-4, 2B, 2 BB, K, CS (PO), 2 R). Unlike some recently highlit players who started the season strong and then collapsed, Conner started his season tepid (.380 OPS through the end of June) and then caught fire (.940 OPS in July), and is still smoking as the GCL season winds down (.898 OPS in August). The most impressive aspect of Conner’s game is his preternatural strike zone judgement. The 19 year old has a 29/36 BB/K ratio this season, with some gap power, as seen in his .148 isolated slugging mark. The Jays’ own internal opinion of him will be seen in his 2012 assignment. I think he could handle Vancouver (roster crunch notwithstanding), but at worst, he will be playing in Bluefield next year.

It’s still only 4.1 innings, but recent 2nd round RHP Jeremy Gabryszwski (2 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 1 K) has still yet to surrender a run as a professional. As the GCL regular season comes to a halt tomorrow afternoon, Gabryszwski will not pitch in anger again until next season. He does not yet have enough of a professional record to judge his next stop. As we were surprised to see neophyte Justin Nicolino debut at Vancouver this year, Gabryszwski may yet surprise everyone in instructional Fall ball and next year’s minor league Spring Training. I would hazard that he is most likely to be assigned to Bluefield, but Vancouver would not be out of the realm of possibility.

Bluefield Blue Jays – Another relative DSL success story, C Leo Hernandez (2-2, 3B, 2 RBI, R) has made the best out of a limited role for Bluefield this year, his first in the US after four seasons in the DSL. Hernandez did not show any particular offensive acumen across his DSL life, topping an OPS of .650 only once, when he put together a triple slash line of .292/.394/.392 over 143 plate appearances at age 19. Although he has played less this year than in any previous year in his career, he has been great when he does get a game, batting  .321 with a .330 OBP and a .429 SLG. The lack of walks is troubling – only 2 in 88 plate appearances, but the lack of splits is nice. The now 21 year-old Venezuelan has shown good catch-and-throw skills in 10 of 26 prospective base thieves (38%) and has averaged 3&% CS rate over the last four seasons (numbers are not available from 2007. Like lefthanded pitchers, catchers always get the benefit of the doubt. Hernandez has earned another year, assuming that he is not snatched up in this offseason’s Rule V draft (chance of that happening is not much greater than his being added to the Jays’ 40-man roster).

Young LHP Tyler Ybarra (5 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 3 BB, 8 K), a deep sleeper in the Jays’ system has the best start of his young career and has now struck out 54 in 46 innings for Bluefield (10.6 K/9) with far greater results against right handed hitters, a reverse split that bodes well for a future role more useful than that of a LOOGY. Ybarra hasn’t surrendered a run since the 4th inning of a game on August 9th, a span now at 14.2 innings. I am also impressed by the improvement in his control numbers since his debut when he walked almost as many as he struck out 10/11, albeit in only 20.1 innings. In double the playing time, Ybarra has nearly halved his walk rate down to 2.9 BB/9, giving him a solid K/BB of 3.4. Bearing in mind his washout of 2010, I have to think he will be given every chance to make the Lansing staff in 2012. His next start will be in a playoff game for Bluefield.

Vancouver Canadians – I will be perfectly honest – nothing of note happened in this game. RHP Jesse Hernandez (5 IP, 6 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 5 K) had another solid start (an MILB quality start), but it’s the type of pitching line he’s had many times before. I’ve written about him before and my thoughts on him haven’t changed. He’s still the minor league guy who helps to keep the bullpen arms fresh as his strike throwing ways (never had an assignment wherein which he walked more than 3 batters per 9 innings). Hernandez might have one more start this season before the Canadians begin their respective offseasons. My disparaging remarks aside, he probably should get a chance to throw strikes for Lansing next year.

Lansing Lugnuts – Another great game brings CF Jake Marisnick (3-4, 2 2B, HR (13), rBI, 2 R, E) up to 4th in the MWL in OPS at .894, a figure reached in equal measures due to both his on-base ability (.074 isolated patience) and power (.178 isolated power). Some of his 25 doubles should turn into home runs as his body matures into its frame, which will also likely bring the downside of slowing down his running game. In addition to ranking in the MWL’s top ten in OPS, AVG, OBP and SLG, Marisnick also ranks 7th in stolen bases, with 34 in 42 attempts, for an above average 81% success rate. While some, including Jason Parks see Marisnick as more of a RF than CF down the road, that does not negate his above-average starter ceiling. I think Marisnick will begin next season in Dunedin, but a continuation of this level of production will see him graduate mid-season to New Hampshire, especially if Anthony Gose is moved up to Las Vegas,

Dunedin Blue Jays – A few quick hits for a game where the hits came quickly (and often) for a surging Dunedin crew.

* RF Brad Glenn (2-3, HR (24),  4 RBI, BB, K, 2 R) extended his FSL lead in home runs to 2. Having struck out nearly 4 times as often as he’s walked (just over 30% of his at bats in total, up from 25.1% last season in Lansing), Glenn is absolutely an all or nothing player. The anmount of ‘all’ has been impressive in the FSL, known as a pitchers’ league. Of the top ten in the FSL in OPS (Glenn ranks 8th, at .836), his is by far the lowest OBP, which, at .326, is .018 points lower than the next on that filtered list.

* 1B Jon Talley (2-5, 2B, HR (16), 6 RBI, K, R) would be so much more impressive if he still donned the tools of ignorance, even if only on occasion. As is, he hasn’t suited at at catcher at all this year, after only playing behind the plate 23 times in 2011. The right handed batter has displayed heavy platoon splits this year, producing much better numbers against righties than lefties (.789-.627 in respective OPS). This home run, his 16th in 92 games this year, has doubled his career total, s Talley banged out 16 i his first 224 career games.  His current .747 OPS is the highest its been since an .841 mark in 42 games for the GCL affiliate in 2008.

* C A.J. Jimenez (3-36, RBI, BB, 2 R) has reached base 7 times in his last 12 plate appearances. But really, any time a player can reach base in each of 4 attempts in a given game, that is worth celebrating. I think Jimenez will have finally surpassed Carlos Perez among prospect hounds looking at the Jays’ young catching crop.

New Hampshire Fisher Cats – Earlier in the day, as the Eastern League announced its slightly early end-of-season awards, in addition to All-Star berths for SS Adeiny Hechevarria, and CF Anthony Gose, as well as Moustache of the Year, err…Manager of the Year award to Sal Fasano, C Travis d’Arnaud (DNP/0-2, K) was named as both the Easter League’s post-season All Star Catcher, as well as the League MVP. As Keith Law tweeted earlier in the day, “Minor league MVPs don’t always go to future stars … but this one did. ”

RHP Dustin McGowan (4.2 IP, 3 H, 2 R, 0 BB, 4 K, 1 HR) had what should have been his second to last tune-up before his wildly anticipated MLB return in September. According to Friend of Section 203, Dave Gershman, he lasted 68 pitches, throwing harder than he had yet in his rehab. Interestingly, small samples prevail, but McGowan has been far, far more effective against AA lefties than righties thus far, striking out 9 lefties and only 2 righties in similar opportunities. The vagaries of the sample size.

Once in a while, to prove that Section 203 is not entirely solipsistic, I discuss a performance of the opposing team. In the second game of New Hampshire’s double header, Harrisburg RHP Shairon Martis (7 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 9 K) faced the minimum in a shortened game, forcing a doubler play ground ball after walking his only baserunner of the game. Martis, who no longer would qualify as a rookie in the Show, as he pitched 85.2 innings for the Nationals in 2009, is still only 24. He rose to prominence in the first World Baseball Classic when he no-hit Team Panama (also a shortened 7 inning game) while pitching for the Curacao team. In spite of his occasional flashes of brilliance, Martis was not blessed with great stuff, walking more than he struck out with the Nationals (39 BB, 34 K) and has not been back to the Majors since then. He regressed to a mediocre performance in AAA last year but has found his level in AA now, striking out more than 1 batter per inning for the first time since his professional debut in teh Arizona League for the Giants organization in 2005.

Las Vegas 51s – Don`t let the door hit you on your way out. CF Darin Mastroianni (0-5, 2 K, R) made his MLB debut on Wednesday, missing on a dive play i the outfield and executing a sacrifice bunt successfully at the plate while otherwise going 0-2. Before game time on Thursday, he was demoted again as newcomer 2B Kelly Johnson reported to the Jays. Even though nominal MLB starting CF Colby Rasmus was subsequently placed on the disabled list, instead of recalling Mastroianni, the Jays recaptured DeWayne Wise, the permamnent prodigal son, for his 4th stint with the organization, and second this season. Wise will share time in CF with Mike McCoy until Rasmus returns.

Finally, every time SS Adeiny Hechevarria (2-4, BB, K, R) finishes another game with multiple hits (now 10 out of 15 in AAA), I quietly say Òle!) to myself in front of the computer. I still can`t beleive in this performance, but it sure is fun.

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