Archive for April, 2012

Blue Jays Prospect Report – April 30, 2012

Some more dominant pitching performances in the lower minors.

Hitters:

AAA (SS) Adeiny Hechavarria, 1-4, 2 RBI, .304, 2b (9), 2 SB (4)
AA (C) AJ Jimenez, 2-4, 2 RBI, .269, HR (2)
LoA (3B) Kellen Sweeney, 1-3, 1 RBI, .197, 2b (2)

Pitchers:

AA (SP) Chad Jenkins, 6 ip, 6 h, 3 er, 3 bb – 2 k, 5.53
HiA (SP) Asher Wojciechowski, 2 ip, 1 h, 0 er, 0 bb – 2 k, 3.09
LoA (SP) Justin Nicolino, 3 ip, 2 h, 0 er, 1 bb – 4 k, 0.00;scoreless streak continues
LoA (SP) Aaron Sanchez, 3 ip, 1 h, 0 er, 0 bb – 3 k, 0.00; better control

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Blue Jays Series Recap – A Near Sweep of Mariners

With one simple toss to first base from Brett Lawrie the Toronto Blue Jays would have swept the Seattle Mariners this weekend.  However, the team took two of three and rebounded very nicely from a tough three game sweep at the hands of the Baltimore Orioles.

The cold bats that had plagued the team in Baltimore finally awoken and the team scored nineteen runs in the three game set.  Again, with an error free ninth inning on Friday the Blue Jays would have easily handled a team (Seattle) coming off an impressive sweep of the Detroit Tigers.

Here are the recaps and boxscores.

Game 1 – Mariners 9, Blue Jays 5

Game 2 – Blue Jays 7, Mariners 0

Game 3 – Blue Jays 7, Mariners 2

American League Rumour Roundup – April 29, 2012

Thought we would take a look at some of the stories and rumours affecting our American League wildcard rivals.

From MLB trade rumours:

Dan Mennella looks at Erik Bedard, a possible trade candidate this season.  Could the Blue Jays be interested?

-The Angels have inquired on A’s pitcher Grant Balfour and he is becoming one of the more sought-after bullpen pieces.  The Halos have also shown interest in Joel Hanrahan of the Pirates and the Mariners’ Brandon League, but Balfour seems the most logical.

-If the Twins don’t turn things around by the trade deadline, Carl Pavano will be a highly sought-after pitcher.  The right-hander is earning $8.5MM in the final year of his contract and has limited no-trade protection. Jason Marquis, Matt Capps, and Francisco Liriano could also be used as chips to land prospects.

-Teams probably have their eye on Astros right-hander Brett Myers.  Many teams, such as the Angels and Red Sox, could use the 31-year-old’s arm right now.  He has also shown that he can pitch in a big market with his time in Philadelphia.

-If Tigers outfielder Delmon Young is convicted of a hate crime, it will be interesting to see whether the the club void his contract. They would be within their rights to do so under the collective bargaining agreement.  The 26-year-old earns $6.75MM this year and can become a free agent after the season.

-The A’s are a good bet to land Brandon Inge.

-Most baseball people feel there’s no way the Red Sox let Aaron Cook hit the open market by not calling him up May 1.  The 33-year-old will earn the prorated portion of $1.5MM if he is called up to the majors.

-The Angels’ busy Friday (releasing Abreu, calling up Mike Trout and elevating Scott Downs to the closer’s job over Jordan Walden) is a sign that the team is already feeling the pressure of high preseason expectations, writes ESPN Los Angeles’ Mike Saxon.

-Mike Axisa of the River Ave Blues blog thinks the Yankees might have an interest in Abreu as at least a short-term fix while Brett Gardner is on the DL.  New York tried to acquire Abreu for A.J. Burnett in the offseason, before Burnett blocked the deal to avoid playing on the west coast.

Yahoo! Sports Tim Brown takes a look at the crazy major  league debut of the phenom Bryce Harper.

The Irrational Fans Guide To Fixing Blue Jays

There is a fine line between a passionate fan and one who is panic driven.  Following the poor effort in a three game sweep at the hands of AL East foe Baltimore the latter had strong opinions on how to fix what ails the Toronto Blue Jays.

1) Eric Thames just has to go and Travis Snider must be called up

I’ll admit it, that terrible play on the Matt Wieters homerun has shined a giant, bright light on an undeniable fact – he is a lousy fielder.  This talk was silenced slightly when Thames hit a monster jack for the only Jays run in game one of the series and overall his hitting hasn’t been horrendous.  Travis Snider also recently came down with a wrist injury so this one isn’t likely to happen anytime soon.

2) Adam Lind needs to be released and David Cooper should be his temporary replacement.

This one might have legs as the Jays really don’t have much invested in Lind going forward and if you read the daily prospect updates on this site you know David Cooper is mashing in Triple-A Las Vegas.  However you have to give a veteran like Lind a bit more rope to turn his season around though patience will be thin if he can’t turn it around quickly.

3) JP Arencibia can’t hit, call up Travis D’Arnaud.

Catcher is the toughest position on the diamond and every manager with any savvy will require a catcher to focus on defence first – especially handling a pitching staff.  With the Blue Jays running out the youngest starting group in the majors it would almost be a disservice to their development if a rookie learning the ropes were forced into this role.

Couple that with the fact Aaron Cibia is coming off a 20+ homerun season and the starting gig is his for the foreseeable future.  Don’t be surprised if he hits right around .200-.220 all season with the occasional homerun – that is just the type of hitter he is.  Travis D’Arnaud is scuffling in Triple-A and will definitely need some more seasoning but I would expect him to be called up in September or possibly earlier if injury strikes one of Arencibia or Jeff Mathis.

4) Yunel Escobar is slumping so let’s see what Adeiny Hechavarria can do.

Escobar has not looked impressive at the top of the order and has even let his slumping bat affect his normally rock solid glove.  As I wrote yesterday he appears a bit more aloof than normal and noticeably sulked the past two nights when things did not go as planned.  We have the veteran presence in the dugout to help him past this and hopefully Joey Bats and Omar Vizquel handle this one internally.

Hechavarria is having a great start to the season in Triple-A but he still has some glaring weaknesses that could be exploited by big league pitchers, namely his plate discipline and patience.  Yunel Escobar is a proven commodity off to a slow start, once he stops trying to yank literally every pitch and starts to use the whole field he should produce.

5) Move Edwin Encarnacion up in the order, no down, no permanently in the cleanup spot, at first base, no designated hitter.

Look, Edwin Encarnacion is a fine player but after a hot start is coming back down to earth, close to what he actually is.  EE is a .270-.280 hitter capable of hitting 20-25 homeruns, adding depth to a major league line-up while batting anywhere from 5-7.  He is an awful defensive player who should be the DH nearly fulltime or spell Adam Lind occasionally. 

This season was never thought to be a year in which the Blue Jays were serious contenders but they came out of the gate in spring training and served noticed to the league – they are getting close.  The pitching staff has held up better than most had predicted with every starting pitcher lasting five innings to start the year.

With the New York Yankees struggling to put out five major league starters, the Boston Red Sox dealing with slow starts and injury problems suddenly the AL East beast looks a little easier.  If the Blue Jays can continue pitching well enough to stay in ballgames and the Jays key hitters (Bautista, Lind, Johnson, Escobar) begin to hit at their career levels this thing could get interesting.

Jayson Stark of ESPN wrote today:

There’s been a buzz about this team since the Blue Jays pulled into exotic Dunedin, Fla. And despite their messy sweeperoo this week in Baltimore, this remains a very intriguing team whose arrow is definitely pointing up.

“I like their club,” one exec said. “They’ve vastly improved that club. They’re going in the right direction. I’m not saying they’re going to win the division. But they’re making a lot of headway. And they’ve got a ton of good young players in the minor leagues.”

The Blue Jays run so many young works-in-progress out there, they’re probably the toughest team on this list to evaluate. Their rotation features three pitchers younger than 25 (Henderson Alvarez, Kyle Drabek, Drew Hutchison) who have made a total of 37 big league starts. No one in their lineup is older than 31. And they’re hunting diligently for another masher and another top-of-the-rotation arm. So they could easily get better as the season rampages along.

 Their biggest current worry, however, is that their new closer, Sergio Santos, just headed for the disabled list (inflamed shoulder) — and his replacement, Francisco Cordero, “really isn’t a closer anymore,” one scout said.

But in a division in which the Yankees and Red Sox both have issues, the Blue Jays are a team nobody should ignore. The verdict from one scout: “I think they’re for REAL. I might have gotten a little ahead of myself on how good their young players are. But I think they’ll be a fun team to watch. I don’t know if it’s all going to kick in the way I thought in spring training. But they should go by the Red Sox.”

So what is my advice?  Stay the course, it’s a long season and baseball is a game that will always even things out.  Rumours are floating that perhaps Alex Anthopoulos is interested in adding a veteran rotation piece and an accomplished slugger.  Maybe he too sees a division suddenly vulnerable, potentially winnable.

Blue Jays Prospect Report – April 27, 2012

Cooper continues to hit, D’Arnaud heating up and Syndergaard dominant.

Hitters:

AAA (1B) David Cooper, 3-4, 1 RBI, .325, 2 2b (9), BB (8)
AAA (SS) Adeiny Hechavarria, 2-5, 1 RBI, .315
AAA (RF) Moses Sierra, 2-5, 1 RBI, .315
AAA (C) Travis D’Arnaud, 2-4, 239, 2 2b (6)
AA (C) AJ Jimenez, 3-4, 1 RBI, .271, HR (1), BB (3)
HiA (LF) Marcus Knecht, 1-5, 1 RBI, .182, 3b (1); slumping
HiA (CF) Jake Marisnick, 3-4, 2 RBI, .253, HR (2), BB (9)

Pitchers:

MLB (SP) Drew Hutchison, 5 ip, 6 h, 2 er, 1 bb – 2 k, 6.10
LoA (SP) Noah Syndergaard, 3 ip, 1 h, 0 er, 0 bb – 3 k, 1.84

Blue Jays Series Recap – Swept By Baltimore

The Toronto Blue Jays can hardly wait to get to the airport and get out of dodge after a dreadful three game series in Baltimore.  After earning the first four-game sweep in franchise history against the Kansas City Royals (while in K.C.) they dropped all three contests to the Orioles. 

A few bad habits from the Royals series such as leaving too many base runners and relying on some crazy defensive efforts crept their way into the series against Baltimore.  Unfortunately the Orioles aren’t the Royals and capitalized when they had a chance.

The body language was pretty terrible for a lot of Blue Jays.  Yunel Escobar looked disinterested, distracted and almost defeated.  He made a couple uncharacteristic errors in the field and appeared to sulk when things didn’t go his way.

Jose Bautista struggled all series and while his body language was nowhere near as bad as Escobar he was definitely frustrated at the dish.  The Blue Jays batters couldn’t get anything going and the energy just wasn’t there.  Check out my updated post on Jose Bautista’s early season struggles including some key stats and ratios.

The Jays had a couple awful calls go against them, check out this strikezone plot and particularly the sixth pitch (a called third strike) to Colby Rasmus in the 7th inning:

Just a bit inside?  I didn’t even want to show the Arencibia called third strike as I am not sure it wouldn’t even register it was so low.

On the mound Drew Hutchison made his second career start and while he wasn’t spectacular he kept the Blue Jays in the game.  His line on Thursday night was 5.0+ IP, 6 hits, 2 earned, 1 walk and 2 strikeouts on 88 pitches.  His velocity was definitely down from his first start with his fastball averaging only 89.9  MPH (nearly 2 MPH slower than his MLB debut) but again he wasn’t the reason for the loss.

Here are the recaps and boxscores from the series.

Game 1 – Orioles 2, Jays 1.

Game 2 – Orioles 3, Jays 0.

Game 3 – Orioles 5, Jays 2.

Next up for the Jays are the Seattle Mariners who are fresh off of a surprising sweep of everyone’s favourite team in the offseason the Detroit Tigers.  They had better hope the score more than three runs over a three game series.

Aaron Sanchez Turning Heads

Toronto Blue Jays prized pitching prospect Aaron Sanchez is getting a lot of love from the scouting department and has gotten off to a great start in the Low-A minor league Jays affiliate.  Through 12 innings Sanchez has yet to give up an earned run and has struck out a ridiculous 17 batters while allowing only four hits.  The walk rate has been a bit high early on but he has truly been dominant.

12 ip, 4 h, 0 er, 8 bb – 17 k, 0.00 ERA, 2.37 FIP.

Here is what I wrote about him after ranking him 9th in the Blue Jays system:

Baseball America says Sanchez offers plenty of projection with his 6-foot-4, 180-pound frame, and he has present stuff to go with it. His fast arm generates fastballs that sit in the low 90s and touch 95. He adds in a high-70s curveball that has crisp rotation when it’s on. He shows feel for a changeup, though it needs refinement. Sanchez’s numbers don’t jump out because his command has been inconsistent.

Possible front-line starter if everything goes right.

Fangraphs prospect guru Mike Newman recently took a couple reader questions with respect to the Blue Jays farm system and Aaron Sanchez in particular and had this to say:

Q: Toronto is stocked with good young arms. Which one do you think makes the Big Show first and which one has the higher upside?

A: I heard ridiculously good things about Aaron Sanchez.  Like how the heck did this guy last to the draft slot good things.

Q: Sanchez, Nicolino or Syndergaard?

A: From what a contact said: Sanchez, Syndergaard and Nicolino a distant third.

Q: What type of play will Anthony Gose be in the bigs?

A: Gold glove quality CF with some power, walks and elite SB’s.

Just in case you needed another reason to remain optimistic about the Blue Jays future and farm system, an arm (Sanchez) not as highly touted as others coming into this season is already pushing himself into a prominent role among the systems best.


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