Top 50 Jays Prospects, Jays Journal Edition: #28 Michael McDade

If only this guy could spend a month or two learning about how to make consistent contact with Tony Gwynn or another great hitter. Since he hasn’t done so yet, he chimes in at #28, the highest rated 1B on our list…

#28: Michael McDade

image courtesy of www.daylife.com

Switch Hitting 1B / 21 years old / 6’1″ 260 lbs

Born: May 8th 1989, in Las Vegas Nevada

Bats Both   Throws Right

High School Team: Silverado HS (the Jays also drafted Eric Nielsen from the same school in the 12th rd of the ’04 draft – he last played in ’08 for AAA Syracuse)

College: NA

Drafted: in the 6th round of the 2007 draft, 1 spot after the Red Sox took Anthony Rizzo

Signed: on June 12th 2007 for an undisclosed amount

Jersey Number: #40 for the Dunedin Blue Jays

Quick Facts:

  • Was drafted as a catcher before making the move to 1B after the draft
  • Fields his position extremely well with a .992 fielding % in ’10
  • Won the R. Howard Webster Award in Dunedin, the award that is given to the MVP at each of the Jays minor league affiliates
  • Takes a ton of pride in playing D, most likely a result of being a catcher before turning pro
  • Likes to lead and maintain a does everything possible to provide a relaxed atmosphere in the clubhouse

Stats:

Yr Age Tm Lev G PA AB H 2B HR RBI BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS TB
07 18 GCL Rk 39 151 136 30 6 1 17 13 29 0.221 0.291 0.287 0.578 39
08 19 SS A- 52 216 191 49 8 3 27 22 53 0.257 0.333 0.356 0.689 68
08 19 LoA A 60 230 216 42 13 2 19 11 63 0.194 0.236 0.282 0.518 61
08 19 Total A-A- 112 446 407 91 21 5 46 33 116 0.224 0.283 0.317 0.6 129
09 20 LoA A 108 447 408 113 27 16 57 32 109 0.277 0.336 0.466 0.801 190
10 21 HiA A+ 128 517 480 128 22 21 64 27 141 0.267 0.315 0.448 0.763 215

Rankings amongst Dunedin, FSL, and AFL Players in 2010

  • Lead Dunedin in HRs with 21 and RBIs with 64, but also in strike outs with a whopping 141 total
  • 2nd in Dunedin in the following categories: ABs with 480 ABs, Hits with 128, Runs with 60, Doubles with 22, SLG with .448 and AVG with .267. Wait a minute, second in average with a .267 average? That tells you something about the hitting woes in Dunedin for the 2010 season (is the coaching staff to blame?) and adds to the speculations as to why Adeiny Hechavarria did better once he moved on to New Hampshire. Will the same happen to McDade if he moves up in 2011? I hope so!
  • Tied with Travis d’Arnaud for 8th in Dunedin with a .315 OBP amongst regulars
  • Led the FSL with 21 HRs but was way behind in RBIs. That’s no surprise when you know he was second in average with a .267 on the season. Barely anyone was ever on base for him!
  • Finished 4th in the FSL in strike outs, and also in slugging with .448
  • Ranked 9th in hits in the FSL with 128
  • Tied for the lead in doubles for the AFL with 11 and was tied for 2nd in hits with 33 despite having fewer ABs than most in the league
  • Finished 3rd in the AFL with a .375 average
  • Was 4th in the AFL with a .450 OBP
  • Tied for 11th in the AFL with a .557 Slugging %
  • Most importantly and most encouragingly, he had 11 walks to go with 13 SO in the AFL, making me look forward to what could be in store for us in 2011 if he begins the year in New Hampshire

Interviews/Videos:

  • Video of Michael signing autographs for fans
  • Interview with Jesse Goldberg-Strassler while he played for Lansing, where he speaks of his progression as a 1B, as a switch hitter, and the effort it took to get used to 1B instead of catching: Mike McDade Interview 1
  • A second interview with Jesse Goldberg-Strassler has him speaking about his success on the road in comparison to playing at home, another reason hitting stats at Dunedin may be worst than elsewhere. He also touches on why he has more success from the left side: Mike McDade Interview 2

Extra Information and previous experience:

  • In a very brief 12 spring training ABs in 2010, McDade had 6 hits for a .500 average. His short time included 3 doubles, 4 strike outs, and no walks, but left us with the impression that he could be ready for a jump to The Show at some point in 2011 if something forced the Jays hand.

I have to admit that I’m a sucker for underdog stories, and Michael McDade fits the profile fairly well. If you looked at his stats through 19 years old, you would wonder how he could ever blossom as he has to become arguably the best 1B talent in the Jays organization. While scouts trumpeted David Cooper‘s talent and potential, I really focused in on McDade’s performance in 2009 and immediately became a fan of his potential. His size, calm demeanor, work ethic, team first attitude and his drive to win are all attributes that make him a potential star. Some of these traits are missing from Cooper’s repertoire, which is why we have him lower in both the overall rankings and the 1B rankings. His defensive skills are also better than Cooper’s, as he is a lot more athletic as you would think for a player his size.

I’m not going to beat around the bush about this one because it is something that needs to be said in terms of Michael McDade‘s performance in HiA Dunedin. Aside from the times that had Travis d’Arnaud healthy and the end of the season when Anthony Gose joined the club, he had absolutely no offensive help on that roster and thus became the focal point of every single pitching staff in the FSL when they faced the Blue Jays. When you put that in context and still see him hit 21 HRs to lead the entire league, you can put aside the fact that he struck out at an alarming rate and chalk it up to “somebody trying too hard to do something with the nothing he was being thrown” aspect of hitting on a bad team.

Yes, McDade doe have some holes in his swing that I’m certain AA pitchers will focus on when he is promoted to the level, but they’re not as big as some make them out to be. He gets absolutely no love from Baseball America and other prospect evaluators, while they focus in on David Cooper (who was ranked 4th of all Jays prospects by BA in their 2010 edition of the handbook) and other Jays 1B prospects. I have yet to see the 2011 top 30 Jays from the Baseball America handbook, but if I see Cooper listed well above McDade again I will be very disappointed. He deserves higher rankings than he’s getting, he has a higher ceiling due to his power and defensive skills, and he’s not getting nearly enough coverage. After all, you don’t win MVP of your squad at a level above LoA by not having some real MLB potential, and if you have real MLB potential, you deserve to be within your squad’s top 30 as a minimum.

So, with that in mind, off goes Michael to the AFL to attempt to prove that both hitting in a pitcher’s ball park such as the one that exists in Dunedin and doing so on a bad offensive club were the reasons for his struggles in terms of strike outs. Did he ever prove that this may be the case. By striking out only 13 times in the AFL while walking 11 times, McDade showed us that he is more than willing to be patient as a hitter and that he has the potential to hit for average, not just power. He hit .439 with a .465 OBP, .634 SLG, and 1.099 OPS over his last 10 games in the AFL, showing what he can do when surrounded by talent. He did all of this while still maintaining some power with an extra base hit in close to 15% of his ABs.

It’s obvious that McDade’s mind was set on proving that the SO totals in Dunedin were not reflective of his skills at the plate. Still, he’ll have to prove that this is the case in New Hampshire before he can make the leap up the prospect ranking charts and become a viable alternative as a full time 1B in the majors. At a still very young 22 years old for his level, McDade should be promoted to what is rated as one of the best minor league environments and organizations in all of baseball in New Hampshire. He’ll be supported by much better hitters in AA, as he’ll have stars like Anthony Gose and Travis d’Arnaud coming up with him from Dunedin, and will join the likes of Brett Lawrie, Adam Loewen, Adeiny Hechavarria, and perhaps Eric Thames on the squad. Having more talent around him should help him succeed in 2011, but it doesn’t guarantee anything.

If he can lower his strike out numbers and increase his walks, McDade will soon become one of the favorite prospects for Jays fans all over. His power combined with great defensive abilities make him a force to be reckoned with if he can make better decisions at the plate. We’ll be watching how that develops in 2011 and do expect that he’ll open a lot of eyes after his promotion to AA.

Expected 2011 Team: AA New Hampshire Fishercats

Ultimate ceiling if he puts it all together: Excellent defensive 1B with Power

The Jays could definitely use him or Adam Lind as trade bait if both have good starts to the 2011 season. I expect that he will be in The Show by 2012 at the latest and that he’ll surprise many people who doubt he’ll ever hit for good enough average to be an every day 1B.

- MG

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Topics: Adeiny Hechavarria, Anthony Gose, David Cooper, Michael McDade, Travis D'Arnaud

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  • earlweaverfan

    So I get what you are saying about McDade and you have me equally excited. But help me understand what you mean about the batters who will be joining him at New Hampshire. How do you see Loewen, Lawrie and Thames not advancing to Las Vegas at the start of the season? Haven’t all three of those guys earned the right to start in AAA? Who would be ahead of them in the ladder?

    • Mat Germain

      Thanks for the comment earlweaverfan!

      Sometimes a move to AAA isn’t exactly a promotion, particularly in the case of the Jays who seem to want to fill AAA with MLB experienced players – such as they did last season with Chris Lubanski and others – or older and more seasoned prospects like Adam Calderone. Besides, in my books Darin Mastroianni has earned that right more than Thames has.

      I expect the 2011 AAA OF to include Daniel Perales (LF), Darin Mastroianni (CF), and Corey Patterson (RF).

      Thames had his first breakout season in AA and I give him full credit for it, but he still struck out 121 times. He is currently listed as being part of the AA roster.

      Lawrie, meanwhile, is only 20 years old (he turns 21 on Tuesday!) and needs to get a little more maturity off the field and more power at the plate in my opinion before he goes to AAA. On top of that, he’ll be changing positions on the field, placing even more pressure on him to perform well overall. So, starting him slowly in AA seems to make more sense to me than forcing a 21 yr old to learn a new position in AAA.

      I’d like to think that the Jays want to see players succeed as a group as well. The Fishercats are a very successful team that will have an excellent rotation in 2011 and a chance to take another run at a championship. There’s nothing wrong with breeding a winning attitude now, is there?

      Having said all of this, spring training can change a lot of things. Neither I, you, or the Jays staff can know exactly how things will play out at this point. All we can do is make educated guesses and hope for the best! And that’s what we’re doing with the top 50 and other predictions.

      • lolwut

        Thames was rushed to Double AA. He hasn’t played that much in the minors due to injuries and he did have a great year in AA when he was finally healthy. I do expect him to start at AAA and in that ballpark, I could definitely see him raking.

        Lawrie likes challenges but I agree that he’ll likely start at AA. It seems like he will get moved to 3B/OF sooner than later. I expect him to get promoted to AAA some time during the season.

        It would be epic if Lawrie tore up in spring training and made the team as a 2nd/3rd baseman. He certainly has the confidence, some may even say he is a little cocky but I like it.

  • Keith

    I definitely can see all 3 of those starting the year in Vegas. I also think Gose and D’Arnuad will start at Dunedin and make an appearance at AA by mid season. This is the make or break year for Loewen.

    I also like McDade way more than Cooper. Hopefully with Sal at AA, McDade will get some good coaching around pitch recognition and understanding the strike zone. If he does he could make an impact.

    Love the top 50. Great job so far. I’m really excited about some of our talent like marsnick, Hech, Lawrie and Gose

  • AG

    It’s a huge stretch to have McDade ahead of Jenkins even if you like the former and dislike the latter. Jenkins may not have the upside you like but he’s a pretty safe bet to be a productive major leaguer which is a lot more than you can say about McDade. At a deep position like first, McDade is a major longshot.

    • lolwut

      That’s my thoughts exactly. McDade hasn’t really had quality 1B numbers in the minors at all and he averages more than a strikeout per game. It will be very tough for McDade to make it to MLB as a 1st baseman with that low OBP and he doesn’t have extraordinary power to make up for it either. Jenkins will at least be a reliever and does have upside of a #3 starter and I don’t see how that’s a bad thing. McGuire himself has the upside of a mid-rotation or at best a #2.

      But it’s just a list, guys go up and down all the time.

      Next year will be a big year for McDade. If he can put up a great/breakout season with something like .300/.350/.500 then I would expect him to start getting noticed more and perhaps even become our future 1st baseman (seems like it’s Lind ATM).

  • http://www.jayjournal.com Jared Macdonald

    It’s really going to be an exciting year for all levels of 1B in the Jays system.

    MLB level, we have the well-publicized debuts of Lind and Encarnacion to watch and see how they do sharing time and adjusting to the position. David Cooper will likely get the nod at Triple-A Vegas, and it will be interesting to see if he carries over his hot finish to the 2010 season and whether or not he can actually show some value or not.

    McDade should be the most exciting to keep tabs on, just because he could be in store for a monster year at Double-A, and could easily threaten to pass Cooper on the depth chart. As a former catcher and first baseman myself, I always have a soft spot for guys like McDade.

    Lance Durham could get the starting nod in Lansing after posting a .839 OPS with Auburn this year, though he could share playing time with incumbent Balbino Fuenmayor.

  • Mylegacy

    Also a big fan of Mike The McDude. Great attitude, BUT – so many power guys like him fail. He’s GOT to get his OBP up there so when being pitched around he’s still producing runs and prolonging innings. While I think he can do it – and hope he can do it – only he and time will tell IF he can do it. I’m rooting for him.

    As to where he fits on the list – who cares. We’ve so much talent we have to find a place on the list for all of them – Jenkins COULD EASILY have a 10 year career as a mid-rotation stud, McDude would have a ten year career as a middle of the order, gold glove 1st baseman – time will tell for both. Lets just LOVE the list and the talent that makes these arguments happen!

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  • mutton chops

    Uhh, i’m not hating here, and I in-fact love this top 50 list, but pinning McDade’s 141 K’s on lineup protection doesn’t really make sense to me. I mean, we obviously don’t have batted-ball data for the minors, but 141 K’s seems like a TON of strikeouts to just brush away with a ‘well, he had minimal protection’. I’d like to see him cut down to at least 100 at NH next year. He strikes me as a very marginal prospect until he can do that.

    Also; the sample size at fall ball is tiny, i wouldn’t use that as a legitimate point in your article, though it is nice to see.

    Another thing, and i hope i’m not ragging here, but have you guys ever considered looking into sabrmetrics? it seems that they could really help with some of your statistical analysis. Again, love this list, keep up the good work.

    • Mat Germain

      Thanks for the comment mutton chops, and there’s no way we mind any “ragging” we get, in fact we welcome it! I honestly learn more about baseball from chatting with other baseball fans than I do from reading any on line material.

      The answers to your questions above are as follows:

      1- I absolutely do believe Mike was trying to do more than he could on that squad and absolutely do believe that he’ll be able to cut those numbers down when he reaches AA. Now, I’m not saying that he’ll strike out fewer than 100 times. What I am saying is that with more support, he may be able to strike out around 20% of the time, which is more than tolerable when you play outstanding D and can hit 30+ HRs. (he struck out 24% of the time in LoA -in 2009 – as opposed to 27% of the time in HiA – in 2010)

      2 – I would never put too much weight on AFL stats for a variety of reasons that could go on forever, BUT, when you have a guy that struck out as McDade did in 2010 turn things around to the point of almost having a walk for every SO, it makes you go hmmm. Add to that the fact that competition in the AFL was much higher than what he faced in HiA, and it’s a double hmmm.

      3 – The answer to this question is twofold. First, when it comes to minor league players, some of those Sabermetric stats are almost impossible to get. Second, the few times I have used in-depth sabermetrics I lost the majority of JJ readers and received a lot of emails asking me what all of this jargon meant! So, instead of putting in a ton of work analyzing complicated sabermetric stats and explaining them in the process, I decided to forgo them most of the time unless something was absolutely necessary to make an argument or needed to be pointed out.

      Having said that, please let us know which ones you do like, and perhaps we can make all attempts to include them in future posts. We’re always open to adding to JJ’s content, so long as it’s what the readers want!

      Thanks again for the comment, and I hope it makes sense!

    • http://www.jayjournal.com Jared Macdonald

      Mat literally took my exact words out of my mouth, and I couldn’t agree with him more on every point!

      I second that any kind of feedback or suggestion is more than welcome, and that it’s definitely exciting to learn and connect with many baseball readers and the readers of the site.

      For the AFL statistics, McDade appeared in 22 games, so, while small, it’s still a decent sample size at least. In regards to the sabermetric stats, it’s exactly as Mat said: extremely hard to find for Minor Leaguers, and sometimes confusing to readers.

      That being said though, definitely keep getting involved with comments and thanks for the support.

      Is it Spring Training yet?!

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