Along with Opening Day for the Blue Jays came season openers for the Blue Jays’ four full-season minor league clubs, which also marked the return of my complete minor league prospect report as well. In addition to providing some extra insight, all of the results have been organized into one convenient article to save you the hassle of sifting through box scores on four different sites. If you’d still like to view the actual box scores, clicking the team logos below will direct you to that club’s official site.
Below the team logos is a stat line that will display wins and losses, a win/loss streak counter and what place that team is currently in their division, along with how many games back (if applicable) they are. If you click on the division name, a new tab will open with the appropriate and up-to-date standings page in case you want to see how the rest of the division stacks up. I’ve added pitcher win/loss records and save totals to the individual game stats lines as well, and if there’s anything else you’d like included in these articles, feel free to send me an email.
All four minor league clubs played on Thursday night, though only three played official games, going 2-1 overall. The Lansing Lugnuts played an exhibition game against Michigan State’s baseball team, an annual tradition, so I included a quick recap of that game as well.
Wins/Losses: 0-1 | Streak: L1 | T-3rd in PCL Pacific South division (1.0 GB)
Sacramento River Cats 11, Las Vegas 51s 6 (LP: Laffey, 0-1)
Despite scoring six runs and going 6-for-16 with runners in scoring position, lackluster pitching ultimately doomed the 51s as they fell to the Sacramento River Cats in their season opener at Cashman Field on Thursday.
Making their Triple-A debuts, Anthony Gose and Travis d’Arnaud both failed to record a hit, combining to go 0-for-8 at the dish, though d’Arnaud did draw a pair of walks while hitting in the cleanup spot ahead of reigning Pacific Coast League batting champion David Cooper. Adeiny Hechavarria, batting second behind Gose, went 2-for-5 with a pair of doubles, Travis Snider, hitting third, also went 2-for-5 with a RBI and Cooper picked up right where he left off last season with a 3-for-5 showing that included a double and a pair of RBIs.
Yan Gomes, who received attention last month after putting together a strong spring at major league camp, has been a catcher his entire professional career except for last season, when he tried his hand at first base in 20 games for the New Hampshire Fisher Cats. Well, he can now add third base to his resume, as he was at the hot corner last night for the 51s, going 4-for-5 at the plate with a double and a RBI while hitting eighth.
We all know that the Blue Jays don’t exactly like to send pitching prospects of worth to the Las Vegas 51s, so it wasn’t surprising to see their pitchers struggle in the hitter-friendly Pacific Coast League. 51s starter Aaron Laffey lasted just 4 2/3 innings, yielding seven earned runs on 11 hits with one walk and five strikeouts. He threw 96 pitches (63 for strikes) and induced seven groundouts compared to zero flyouts, though the three fly balls that were hit off of him all left the park and accounted for four Sacramento runs. Laffey also committed a fielding error and hit a batter.
The bullpen didn’t fare much better, as Scott Richmond surrendered three earned runs on four hits with a walk in a rough seventh inning. Bobby Korecky closed out the final two frames, allowing one earned run on a pair of hits with one walk and a strikeout.
Wins/Losses: 1-0 | Streak: W1 | T-2nd in EAS Eastern division (0.5 GB)
New Hampshire Fisher Cats 5, Trenton Thunder 3 (WP: Hutchison, 1-0 | S: Uviedo, 1)
Five runs of support proved to be enough, as Fisher Cats pitchers limited Thunder hitters to just one run in the game’s final eight frames as they went on to spoil Trenton’s home opener and defeat them 5-3 on Thursday.
The star of the game was standout catcher A.J. Jimenez, who went 3-for-5 hitting third in his Double-A debut, with a RBI and a stolen base. Justin Jackson went 2-for-4 with a RBI in the 9-spot, while Jonathan Diaz went 1-for-3 with a pair of walks in the two-hole. John Tolisano, Brian Van Kirk, Brad Glenn and Mark Sobolewski all managed a hit as well, though the Fisher Cats went 2-for-12 with runners in scoring position.
It took four hitters for New Hampshire starter Drew Hutchison to record his first out, as the Thunder led off the game with back-to-back doubles and a walk before Hutchison followed that up with a pair of strikeouts. After an RBI single put the Fisher Cats down 2-0, Hutchison was able to induce a force out and end the inning. It seemed that Hutchison wasn’t too pleased with his first inning of the season, as it fueled him to retire the next 12 hitters he faced in four shutout frames of work.
After Yohan Pino tossed a scoreless sixth that saw Jimenez throw out his first runner of the year, lefty Evan Crawford gave up a walk and a pair of singles in the seventh but managed to escape the inning unfazed. In the eighth, after a fielding error by Fisher Cats second baseman Diaz, Crawford struck out the next two batters but was pulled from the game after issuing a walk after that.
Fernando Hernandez, a 27-year-old right-hander that was signed by the Jays after playing the 2011 season in the Yankees’ system, came on to give up a RBI single to the first batter he faced. The run that would have been charged to Crawford was unearned as a result of Diaz’s error, and Hernandez struck out the next batter he faced to end the inning with the Fisher Cats ahead 5-3. Ronald Uviedo, yes that Ronald Uviedo that the Jays received from the Pirates in exchange for Dana Eveland two years ago, notched his first save of the season with a scoreless ninth that included a pair of strikeouts.
Wins/Losses: 1-0 | Streak: W1 | T-1st in FSL North division (0.0 GB)
Dunedin Blue Jays 6, Clearwater Threshers 3 (WP: Lawrence, 1-0 | S: Barnes, 1)
Though the Threshers made things interesting with a three-run sixth, the D-Jays scored early and held the lead the entire game, defeating their regional rivals of Clearwater 6-3 on Thursday.
After a walk and two wild pitches from former big leaguer Jose Contreras gift-wrapped the D-Jays first run of the game, Canadian Marcus Knecht, in traditional cleanup-hitter fashion, stepped in and ripped a two-run home run to left field to chase Contreras from the game and put the D-Jays up 3-0 early. Jonathan Jones, Jon Talley and Kevin Nolan all had multi-hit games, and Ryan Schimpf went 1-for-3 with a double and a walk.
Making his MUCH-anticipated professional debut (I capitalized much because I’m personally quite high on him and was excited for his first start), right-hander John Stilson looked spectacular, limiting Clearwater to just one hit in three scoreless innings of work with one walk and three strikeouts. Stilson could have gone deeper into the game, but given his injury history and special arm, Dunedin manager Mike Redmond likely erred on the cautious side and pulled him after just 20 pitches. That’s right, Stilson needed only 20 pitches in three innings of work, throwing 15 strikes and inducing four groundouts as well.
After earning a promotion to Dunedin last year, Casey Lawrence tossed three innings of relief for the D-Jays, breezing through the fourth and the fifth before running into a bit of trouble in the top of the sixth. The Threshers opened the frame with back-to-back singles and a double, but Lawrence fanned the next two batters he faced. The straw that broke the camel’s back, so to speak, was the next hitter, who ripped a two-out, two-run double to left field before the inning ended.
Scott Gracey got the hold after tossing two scoreless innings with three strikeouts, and Danny Barnes, No. 37 on our top 50 prospects list, pitched a scoreless ninth to register his first save of the season.
Wins/Losses: 0-0 | Streak: N/A | T-2nd in MID Eastern division (0.5 GB)
Lansing Lugnuts 7, Michigan State Spartans 0
In the Lugnuts’ annual “Crosstown Showdown” that pits them against Michgan State University’ s baseball team, the Lugnuts went on to win 7-0 in front of a record crowd of 12,992. Although it wasn’t an official game, I figured I’d give a quick rundown of what happened anyway.
Lugnuts hitters managed just one hit in the game’s first six innings, but broke out with seven runs on six hits in the bottom of the seventh that went single-double-single-double-single-RBI groundout.
Lugnuts starter and top Blue Jays prospect Aaron Sanchez struck out two but walked two in the first inning. Jesse Hernandez followed him with five shutout frames, striking out four and allowing just one hit. Top international signing Roberto Osuna earned the win after pitching a scoreless seventh, where he hit the first batter he faced but struck out the next three. Highly-touted left-hander Daniel Norris worked a perfect eighth while Kevin Comer tossed a scoreless ninth.