My apologizes for the delay in posting, but I was out of town and off the grid for Canada Day weekend, and only returned home on Tuesday evening. Despite my shenanigans the farm teams didn’t stop playing, and a number of players who could be bantered about in trade talks leading up to this month’s trade deadline had very strong weeks. That’s excellent for the Blue Jays, as when you have two players with equal talent, it’s much easier to convince another team to take the player on a hot streak. From June 25th through to July 1st, here are the system’s hottest six prospects.
1. RF Moises Sierra (LAS): 30 AB, .433/.500/.833 (1.333 OPS), 3 2B, 0 3B, 3 HR, 13 RBI, 0 SB, 4/4 BB/K
While there have been many eyes on the 51s outfield this year, the focus has been on Anthony Gose, Travis Snider, and Eric Thames. Rightfully so, as Gose is one of the team’s top prospects, while Snider and Thames have been in a year-long battle for Toronto’s left field job that Rajai Davis is suddenly winning. Over in right field, however, Moises Sierra is quietly having a very solid year. His latest outburst this week pushed his season batting average back over .300, and with an ISO nearing 200 and walk rate over 9%, the average is anything but empty. It’s becoming very difficult to see any kind of future for Sierra in this organization, however, as despite a solid .860 OPS and .376 wOBA on the season, Snider has him bested in both categories at .977 and .405 respectively. With the trade deadline looming and the team apparently interested in being buyers, Sierra could be someone the Blue Jays include as an accessory piece in a deal.
2. 1B Art Charles (BLU): 21 AB, .286/.464/.857 (1.321 OPS), 1 2B, 0 3B, 3 HR, 7 RBI, 1 SB, 7/6 BB/K
Despite a start studded roster, the Bluefield Blue Jays are off to a very slow start at 6-8. A lot of that blame can be placed at the feet of the offense, as the team is only 6th in runs (in a 10 team league) with a .219/.336/.371 slash line. The lone offensive bright spot is Charles, whose powerful week boosted his season line to .275/.492/.700. Much like the 2011 season, which Charles also spent with Bluefield, power and patience has been his calling card. He has 11 hits on the year, and 8 of them have gone for extra base hits. He’s played in 14 games, and he’s walked 15 times. After producing an .819 OPS in 68 games last year, I didn’t understand why Charles was sent back to the Appalachian League. With his opening month performance, hopefully his stay will be short, and he can head to Lansing to give the team a much needed offensive spark.
3. RHP Aaron Sanchez (LAN): 1-0, 10 IP, 5 H, 0 ER, 2 BB, 9 K
After spending nearly three months piggybacking with Justin Nicolino, Sanchez finally received his own spot in the rotation, and has not wasted the opportunity. As he’s done all season, Sanchez continued to rack up strikeouts while keeping hits and runs to a minimum. He took it a step further this week, however, as he displayed control that we’d yet to see this season. In each of his two five inning starts, he walked only one batter, which was a drastic improvement upon his 5.36 BB/9 entering games this week. If Sanchez has discovered his command, then my heart goes out to the rest of the Midwest League. He’s already throwing two devastating pitches in his fastball and curveball, and if he could actually start placing them where he wants? Watch out.
4. RHP Asher Wojciechowski (DUN): 1-0, 12 IP, 6 H, 0 ER, 2 BB, 10 K
When a player repeats a level in the minor leagues, you expect to see significant improvements upon the previous year. For a while, that wasn’t looking like the case with Wojciechowski. He really turned things on in June however, going 3-1 across five starts with an impressive 2.20 ERA and 1.12 WHIP. The performance was highlighted by his games this week, as Asher pitched back to back six inning shutouts to close out the month. While both his strikeout rate and walk rate have improved, the biggest difference between this year and last is home runs allowed. Wojciechowski allowed 15 in 130.1 innings last season (1.04 HR/9), but has trimmed that number to nearly a third, with just 3 in 75.1 innings (0.36 HR/9) so far.
5. C Yan Gomes (LAS): 26 AB, .385/448/.615 (1.063 OPS), 3 2B, 0 3B, 1 HR, 4 RBI, 0 SB, 3/9 BB/K
Yan Gomes has sort of become this year’s Mike McCoy, as anytime an injury occurs or the team needs an extra bat on the bench, Gomes is the man. Despite the constant shifting of location and role, he continues to find success anytime he’s sent back down to Triple-A. The latest trip has been highlighted by Gomes’ 1.063 OPS across his seven games this week. He is obviously more than capable of handling Triple-A pitching, and much like this week’s number one prospect Moises Sierra, Gomes could be an attractive piece to other teams as the deadline approaches. With the injury to Travis d’Arnaud, Gomes has shifted back to his natural position of catcher, only further enhancing his value.
6. RHP Kevin Comer (BLU): 1-0, 8 IP, 4 H, 1 ER, 0 BB, 7 K
Bluefield has an extremely deep pitching staff, and sitting near the top of the depth chart is Kevin Comer. He has a solid but unspectacular season debut, but has been near unhittable since. Relying primarily on his fastball / curveball combination, Comer has simply overmatched the Appalachian League hitters. Like many pitchers coming out of the northeast (in this case, New Jersey), Comer didn’t have a whole lot of experience under his belt, so the Bluefield assignment was far riskier for him than for Daniel Norris or Joe Musgrove, who both threw a lot of innings for their respective high school teams. The sample size is still extremely small, but the fact Comer is handling himself is a very good sign that he may not take five or six years to develop after all.