Now that all minor league All-Star games/breaks have concluded, it’s time to get back to recapping the all the excitement in the minors on a regular basis. All seven Jays affiliates played games on Friday and Saturday, going 8-6 overall in those 14 games.
Highlights include starts by rehabbing Jays right-handers Jesse Litsch and Dustin McGowan, Henderson Alvarez and Travis d’Arnaud dazzling in New Hampshire, Nestor Molina continuing to make his case for a promotion from Dunedin, two strong wins in Lansing, and Aaron Sanchez (among others) in Bluefield showing a glimpse of the dominant pitcher he could become.
Wins/Losses: 48-45 | Streak: W1 | 2nd in PCL Pacific South (6.0 GB)
July 16: Las Vegas 51s 4, Tucson Padres 1 (WP: Henn | S: Farquhar)
After being blanked for the game’s first six innings, the 51s managed to tie the game in the seventh and score three late runs in the ninth to walk away with the victory over the Tucson Padres on Saturday.
Jayson Nix doubled his season batting average in one game, going from .125 to .250 after a 2-for-4 night including a game-tying solo home run, and Chris Woodward and Ramon Vasquez both went 2-for-4 as well.
Ricardo Nanita led off the ninth inning with a solo home run and finished 2-for-4 on the night. Nanita, who hit .299/.341/.408 in 58 games with Double-A New Hampshire this season, has gone 12-for-29 (.414) with a 1.127 OPS in the seven games he has played for Vegas since being promoted. At 29 years old, he’s definitely not in the Jays plans, but it’s been nice to see him do well this season regardless.
51s starter Robert Ray was phenomenal in this one, allowing just one earned run on five hits in seven strong innings. He pitched with zero run support in six of his seven innings, and walked none while striking out four. His success was a pleasant surprise for the 51s, considering it was his first Triple-A start this season after compiling a 6.27 ERA in 6 starts with New Hampshire this season.
July 15: Tucson Padres 5, Las Vegas 51s 3 (LP: Farquhar)
After leading the game and holding the Padres scoreless for the game’s first six innings, Tucson wound up taking the lead in the seventh and never looked back, dropping the 51s 5-3 on Friday.
Despite only managing four hits, the 51s were able to hit three sacrifice flies that accounted for all of the runs they scored. Leadoff hitter Darin Mastroianni went 2-for-4 with two runs scored and a stolen base, Manny Mayorson and Adam Loewen each had a hit, and David Cooper had a pair of RBIs.
Jesse Litsch looked solid in his third Triple-A start on his current rehab stint, allowing just two hits in six scoreless innings of work. He walked three and struck out seven, and it was his first Triple-A start this season where he did not allow a run.
Wil Ledezma did what he does best – giving up runs in relief – after allowing three earned runs on three hits in just one third of an inning, and Danny Farquhar was tagged with the loss after allowing a pair of runs on three hits in the eighth inning.
Wins/Losses: 53-39 | Streak: L1 | 1st in EAS Eastern (0.0 GB)
July 16: Binghamton Mets 2, New Hampshire Fisher Cats 1 (LP: Beck)
Despite limiting the Mets to only two runs, the Fisher Cats’ offense also went silent, and the team ultimately was ultimately handed the tough 2-1 loss on Saturday.
The positives in this game were Sierra and Anthony Gose though. On top of smacking a double, Sierra threw out Padres first-round pick Allan Dykstra at home plate to get the assist. Gose notched an outfield assist as well, throwing out Brahiam Maldonado at third base, and stole his 43rd base of the season, too.
Fisher Cats starter Chad Beck pitched only four innings, allowing two earned runs on eight hits while walking three and striking out three. Rehabbing Blue Jays reliever Casey Janssen pitched a perfect fifth inning with a pair of strikeouts, and has now allowed an earned run in four appearances with New Hampshire so far this season.
It’s interesting to note that right-hander Rey Gonzalez, demoted from Triple-A Las Vegas after an 11.69 ERA in five starts there, appeared out of the bullpen for the Fisher Cats, pitching 1.2 shutout innings with a pair of walks. It will be interesting to see whether or not Gonzalez remains in the bullpen going forward.
July 15: New Hampshire Fisher Cats 4, Binghamton Mets 2 (WP: Alvarez | S: Korecky)
After scoring four early runs, the Fisher Cats coasted the rest of the way thanks to strong pitching to top the Mets 4-2 on Friday.
Cleanup hitter Travis d’Arnaud led the way, going 3-for-4 with a pair of RBIs, and leadoff hitter Adeiny Hechavarria went 3-for-4 to raise his season average to a paltry .223. Anthony Gose and Mike McDade each went 1-for-4 with a double, and McDade notched two RBIs, bringing his season total to 64.
Fielding/baserunning-wise, Gose was picked off for his 12th caught stealing of the season, and d’Arnaud was charged with his 10th passed ball of the season.
Fisher Cats starter Henderson Alvarez was solid once again, this time allowing just a pair of earned runs on six hits in seven innings of work. Both of the runs Alvarez allowed came off solo home runs, and he walked one while striking out five. Matt Daly and Bobby Korecky combined to throw two perfect innings, and Korecky earned his seventh save of the season.
Wins/Losses: 11-11 | Streak: W1 | T-2nd in FSL North (1.0 GB)
July 16: Dunedin Blue Jays 3, Bradenton Marauders 2 (WP: Molina | S: Etheridge)
Despite only scoring three runs, the D-Jays were able to squeak out a win over the Marauders thanks to strong pitching on Saturday.
Chris Hopkins went 2-for-4 with a double and a pair of RBIs, Jon Talley and Brian Van Kirk both went 2-for-4 as well, and A.J. Jimenez went 2-for-5. Leadoff hitter Brad McElroy went 1-for-4 with a walk, RBI, and stolen base.
Rehabbing soon-to-be Blue Jays third baseman Brett Lawrie went 0-for-2, but got on base twice after being hit by a pitch in two at-bats.
D-Jays starter Nestor Molina was great once again, tossing five shutout frames and limiting Bradenton to just three hits, walking one and striking out four.
Making his Blue Jays organizational debut, Harold Mozingo tossed a scoreless frame in relief, Aaron Loup did the same, and Wes Etheridge snagged his 31st save of the season with a scoreless ninth inning.
July 15: Bradenton Marauders 8, Dunedin Blue Jays 1 (LP: Tepera)
There were plenty of reasons to attend this game, considering Dustin McGowan was starting and Brett Lawrie was manning third base, but it turned ugly in a five-run Bradenton fourth inning, as they went on to defeat the D-Jays 8-1 on Friday.
Dunedin managed only five hits in this contest, with second baseman Ivan Contreras getting the only RBI of the game with a double. Brad McElroy went 2-for-4 with a double and A.J. Jimenez also had two hits.
After registering a hit in his Dunedin debut on July 14, Lawrie went 0-for-3 with two ground outs and a pop out.
McGowan showed promise once again, as he allowed just one hit in 2.2 scoreless innings of work, walking one and striking out three. He induced five groundouts and zero flyouts, and has allowed just one earned run in his last three “starts” with Dunedin (6.2 innings).
Wins/Losses: 14-8 | Streak: W4 | T-1st in MID Eastern (0.0GB)
July 16: Lansing Lugnuts 8, Clinton LumberKings 5 (WP: Griffith | S: Barnes)
Both teams combined for 27 hits in this extra-innings affair, but Lansing got the last laugh with a three-run 11th inning to win their fourth straight and improve to 6-1 on their season-high nine game road trip.
Catcher Carlos Perez led the way with a 4-for-6 night with four RBIs including the go-ahead single in the 11th inning, and Garis Pena went 3-for-5 with a double. Michael Crouse, in the leadoff spot, went 2-for-5 with an outfield assist and a stolen base, his 28th of the season, and fellow Canadian Marcus Knecht went 2-for-6 with a solo home run. After arguing a caught stealing call, Jake Marisnick was ejected in the ninth inning.
Lugnuts starter Egan Smith allowed four earned runs on eight hits in six adequate innings of work, walking one and striking out four. Tyler Powell allowed one run off a solo homer in 2.2 innings of work, Shawn Griffith got the win after pitching 1.1 scoreless innings, and Danny Barnes earned his 7th save of the season with a scoreless bottom half of the 11th inning after the Lugnuts took the lead.
July 15: Lansing Lugnuts 3, Kane County Cougars 2 (WP: Liebel | S: Marze)
Behind an offensive showing of three runs on nine hits, the Lugnuts were able to sneak past the Kane County Cougars on Friday to complete the three-game sweep on the road.
Garis Pena and Jake Marisnick both homered in the third inning, and Jack Murphy and Matt Nuzzo both went 2-for-4. Marcus Knecht notched the Lugnuts’ other RBI, and finished 0-for-2 on the night with a walk and
Lugnuts starter Andrew Liebel made his Midwest League debut and allowed one earned run on three hits in six strong innings of work to earn the win, walking none and striking out six. Liebel, the Jays’ third-round pick in 2008, initially skipped Lansing when he was working his way up the minor league ladder in 2009, but is making a return from shoulder surgery.
Wins/Losses: 18-11 | Streak: W1 | 2nd in NOR West (4.0 GB)
July 16: Vancouver Canadians 6, Boise Hawks 2 (WP: Nicolino)
In a rain-shortened game that last just five innings, the Canadians were able to top the Boise Hawks thanks to offense from the heart of their lineup, and earned their fourth win in five games.
The Mighty Balbino (Fuenmayor) led the way with a solo home run in the first inning to finish 2-for-3 on the night with two RBIs, Yaico Aponte went 2-for-2 with an RBI, and Shane Opitz notched an RBI as well.
You’ve probably heard of Canadians starter Justin Nicolino, as both Mat and I are big fans of his, but if you haven’t, I’d suggest you start keeping track of this kid. He allowed two earned runs on six hits in five strong innings, striking out six and walking one. His ERA on the season is now 1.55 through six starts, and Saturday’s start was only his second start of the season where he has allowed more than one earned run.
July 15: Boise Hawks 7, Vancouver Canadians 6 (LP: Garrett)
Despite rallying to tie the game in the seventh inning, the Canadians were bitten in the 11th and were handed the extra-innings loss to Boise on Friday. With the loss,Vancouver fell to 0-4 in extra-innings games already this season.
Vancouver left fielder Stephen McQuail had the big hit, a three-run, two-out home run in the sixth inning, his eighth of the season. Roan Salas and Bryan Kervin each went 1-for-4 with a double, Nicholas Baligod went 2-for-5, and Balbino Fuenmayor went 1-for-4 with an RBI and a walk.
Canadians starter Jesse Hernandez allowed three runs (one earned) on six hits in five strong innings, walking two and striking out six to bring his ERA on the season down to 2.45. Nicholas Purdy allowed a solo home run while striking out three in 1.1 innings of work, and Drew Permison, a personal favorite of mine, pitched two scoreless frames with four strikeouts.
Wins/Losses: 14-11 | Streak: W2 | 1st in APP East (0.0 GB)
July 16: Bluefield Blue Jays 5, Kingsport Mets 1 (WP: Meyer)
Thanks to dominant pitching yet again, Bluefield was able to limit the Kingsport Mets to one run for the second consecutive night on Saturday to improve to 14-11 on the season and guarantee the series victory.
B-Jays starter Ajay Meyer earned his first win of the season after pitching five shutout frames and allowing just five hits, walking one and striking out three. Bluefield’s bullpen combined to allow just one earned run on four hits in four strong innings of relief.
July 15: Bluefield Blue Jays 3, Kingsport Mets 1 (WP: Sanchez | S: Jaye)
Thanks to dominant pitching, three runs were all Bluefield needed to take the first game of a three-game series against the Kingsport Mets on Friday.
Chris Hawkins continued to produce, going 3-for-4 with a double and two runs scored, leadoff hitter Daniel Arcila went 1-for-3 with a walk and two RBIs, and Aaron Munoz went 1-for-1 with two walks and an RBI.
Bluefield starter Aaron Sanchez finally earned his first win of the season and appears to be turning the corner after a rough first start to the season. He allowed just three hits in five shutout innings of work on Friday, walking none and striking out seven. It was his second straight start without allowing an earned run, and first start where he has not walked a batter so far this season.
Myles Jaye came on in relief and definitely should not be overlooked, as he allowed just three hits as well and only one earned run in four strong innings of work. Although he walked a season-high three batters, Jaye is now sporting a crisp 2.95 ERA through five appearances (21.1 innings) so far this season, and the 19-year-old could prove to be quite a steal as a 17th round pick if he keeps this up.
Wins/Losses: 6-17 | Streak: L4 | 6th in GCL North (9.5 GB)
July 16: GCL Yankees 14, GCL Blue Jays 12 (LP: Mella)
It’s very rare that a team cranks out 12 runs on 20 hits and loses, but that’s exactly what happened to the GCL Jays on Saturday, as they fell to the GCL Yankees 14-12. The teams combined to score 26 runs on 36 hits in this slugfest, and the loss is representative of the kind of season the 6-17 GCL Jays are having so far.
Every Jays starter notched at least one hit, and Alexys Rodriguez led the way with four RBIs on a 2-for-7 night. Dickie Thon went 2-for-5 with a pair of RBIs and two walks, Canadian Dalton Pompey went 2-for-7 with two walks and an RBI, and Jorge Vega-Rosado went 4-for-6 with a double and a triple.
Jays starter Griffin Murphy lasted just three innings after allowing eight runs on nine hits, though only two of the runs were earned. Colby Broussard pitched three shutout innings in relief and has yet to allow an earned run in eight appearances so far this season.
July 15: GCL Yankees 12, GCL Blue Jays 6 (LP: Vargas)
Despite scoring four runs in the top of the first inning, GCL Jays pitching allowed 12 runs to the Yankees and lost yet another game on Friday.
It was a solid day at the plate for the most well known players on the GCL roster, Dickie Thon, Santiago Nessy, and Dalton Pompey. Thon went 2-for-4 with a double and two RBIs, Nessy went 2-for-4 as well with a double and an RBI, and Pompey went 2-for-4 with a walk and a stolen base. Over his last 10 games, Pompey has hit .286/.375/.357.
Jays starter Jose Vargas, making his first Gulf Coast League start after being demoted from Bluefield following a 10.22 ERA in four starts, lasted just one third of an inning and was shelled for six earned runs on six hits, including two home runs. The lone bright spot in relief was Jorge Navarette, who tossed three shutout frames.