Jays Notes, 16-June-11: Stewart Shines, Assignments, and More

Here are some of the prominent, and not so prominent, notes of things happening within the Jays franchise and its affiliates:

Zach Stewart Shines in Debut

If you missed it, you should regret that you did. Stewart was outstanding during his debut and definitely earned the right to more starts based on this performance. From the first inning, when he stuck out 2 batters and had a 1-2-3 inning, it was obvious that he was poised and ready for this. He was in control from the beginning, and you could tell that partially from his velocity, which sat in the 87-90 MPH range against J.J. Hardy and Nick Markaikis before ramping up slightly thereafter (up to 93 MPH). There was no over-throwing going on, and he only threw 12 pitches to get out of the first inning.

Here’s the rest of what happened for those who missed it:

The second inning? Even better than the 1st, despite not striking anyone out, as he only needed 7 pitches to get out of the inning after getting 1 pop out and 2 line outs.

The third inning was the first that had him in trouble, as he allowed a walk, a single, and a double. Still, he didn’t allow a run due to a nice double-play and then getting Markaikis to ground out. Despite the troubles in the inning, he still only needed 15 pitches to make it through that one and was up to 34 pitches through 3 IP. At this point, he sat in the 91-93 MPH range and was using a ton of 2-seam or 4-seam fastballs, with a few sliders sprinkled in there.

The fourth inning was uneventful aside from a Vladdy single and a balk from Stewart. He threw 12 pitches in this one, getting 2 fly-outs and 1 ground out.

The fifth inning was just as uneventful for Stewart, as he allowed 1 single, got Adams to hit into a double play – which had Jose Bautista making a nice play to get Reynolds at 1st, and a line out. He needed only 9 pitches to get out of this inning.

At this point, he had thrown 55 pitches: 34 of these were 4-seam fastballs, 10 were 2-seam fastballs, 10 were sliders, and he threw 1 change up.

The sixth inning was where things broke down for Stewart. He was able to get out of the inning with a couple of pop outs and 1 strike out, but Hardy had already led off the inning with a HR, Markaikis had singled and scored on a Vladdy double. He threw 19 pitches in the inning, despite all of the troubles, and was now up to only 74 pitches on the start.

I don’t know if Stewart was frustrated, but he plunked Mark Reynolds on the first pitch of the 7th inning, something that may have given the next 2 hitters something to think about since Adams grounded into a double play and Tatum struck out, allowing Stewart to finish his first start with only 86 pitches thrown overall. The vast majority of these pitches (56 of them) were four-seam fastballs, so we can see that he definitely leaned on that pitch quite a bit in his first start.

Of note is that Jose Molina was thrown out in this inning for arguing balls and strikes with……YOU KNOW WHO!! Bob Davidson, Mr. Anti-Jays. I would have never thought that any umpire could be so disliked by one fan base. I guess we should be thankful he hasn’t ruined a no-hitter for the Jays…..yet!

He threw 55 pitches for strikes of his 86 pitches (64%), and was able to get 4 ground outs, 5 fly-outs, and 4 strike outs overall.

Unfortunately for Stewart, that was the end of his day. The pen, or should I say Jon Rauch, wound up letting the Orioles break through in the 9th after Jason Frasor pitched a scoreless inning. He took the loss, and Stewart will have to wait another day for his first win of his career. I do believe he could have gone at least 1 more inning, but it wouldn’t have mattered, as Rauch most likely would have still been the guy called upon to pitch the 9th.

I was very impressed with Stewart’s performance overall. However, I will caution that as of this start, a book will begin to be built on what his strengths and weaknesses are in all clubhouses based on this start. They’ll watch video, look at his pitch selections, and will be much more ready to face him as opponents than the Orioles could have been. Speaking of the Orioles, doing well against them is a whole lot easier than most AL teams, so Stewart still has a ways to go to prove he belongs in the rotation long-term in 2011. Did he do well? Definitely. Has he earned 2-3 more starts? Obviously. But, it doesn’t guarantee anything.

Having said that, I’m very happy for him, hope it’s the start of a long and productive career, and that he builds on this start to continue to do well from here on out. Hopefully Jose Molina can continue to be a good influence on him, as he always seems to be with the staff!

Assignments

There are a very expected flurry of assignments taking place in the minors, so here’s a list of the latest:

  • Jonathan Jones assigned to Vancouver from Lansing;
  • Garis Pena assigned to Lansing from extended Spring Training;
  • Bryan Kervin assigned to Vancouver;
  • Nicholas Purdy assigned to Vancouver;
  • Shane Opitz assigned to Vancouver;
  • Justin Nicolino assigned to Vancouver;
  • Brandon Kaye assigned to Vancouver;
  • Eli Boike assigned to Vancouver;
  • Nicholas Baligod assigned to Vancouver;
  • Zach Breault assigned to Vancouver;
  • Shane Davis assigned to Vancouver;
  • Blake McFarland assigned to Vancouver;
  • Pierce Rankin assigned to Vancouver;
  • Jonathon Berti assigned to Vancouver;
  • Roan Salas assigned to Vancouver;
  • Balbino Fuenmayor assigned to Vancouver from Lansing;
  • Luis Hurtado assigned to Vancouver;
  • Philip Brua assigned to Vancouver; and
  • Eric Brown assigned to Vancouver.

 

Other Fodder

  • With John McDonald coming off the DL tomorrow, meaning another healthy body to use, the Jays are placing Casey Janssen on it, making it par for the course.
  • The Jays are being linked to a ton of International talent. With the July 2nd signing period close to arriving, it’ll be interesting to see where the Jays are going to spend the most money: signing draft picks from the 2011 class, or the international market.
  • There are rumors swirling that the Jays already had an agreement in place (in principle) with 1st round pick Tyler Beede, something that apparently happens often in MLB but is definitely against the rules. It’ll be interesting to see if the rumors are correct, as they place his bonus in the $3 million range.
  • The Jays haven’t announced any new signings since they announced the Joe Musgrove signing, but most should come around fairly soon.

- MG

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Tags: Casey Janssen John McDonald Jose Molina Nicholas Purdy Shane Opitz Zach Stewart

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