First and foremost, if the title I have picked for this series is dumb, please let me know. I’ll endeavour to come up with something slightly more clever.
Despite the mauling the Jays farm system took this off-season, a worthwhile mauling mind, judging by both the interest and excitement generated for the 2013 version of the big club, there is still quite a few prospects within the system that bear monitoring. And since I’m a fully fledged member of the prospect porn community I’d like to build on my off-season draft review pieces by keeping tabs on the the seven minor league teams in the Jays organization. I believe I’ve mentioned this before, but no harm in saying again. I’m not a scout. I’ll be deferring to expert opinions on any individual players.
The series will be a weekly offering, looking at the system from top to bottom. A lot of readers may be smelling a redundancy with Colleague Kyle’s excellent prospect hot sheets. It won’t be. Where Kyle picks out individual performances for his hot sheets, I’ll be focusing more on the teams as a whole. With any player references geared towards longer term trends and movement within the system.
As mentioned, it is my intention to look at the entire organization. However, if I was to be perfectly honest, it is the lower level teams that interest me the most. Those are where the bulk of the Jays upper tier prospects reside. But hey, after what was a pretty 2012 season as far as player development is concerned, one can only hope 2013 is different, which means some of the younger players start advancing to, and making a difference in, New Hampshire and Buffalo.
In the interests of not letting this post drag on, a brief snapshot below of the full season teams that are about to kick off their 2013 seasons and who may be worth keeping an eye on:
Buffalo Bisons – kick off their season tomorrow at home to Rochester. Manager Marty Brown has named his roster. As the Bisons are essentially a taxi squad of replacement level players there is not a ton to get excited for prospect purposes. Obviously Anthony Gose is the big fish here. As scouts debate whether Gose will ever be a serviceable major league hitter, you have to remember, he is still only 22. He can only get better. And the other tools he brings to the table will make him a valuable center fielder in the future.
New Hampshire Fisher Cats – This team is old, nor does it contain any true ‘blue-chip’ prospects. Still, the lineup does contain quite a few names that could make a contribution in Toronto.
The outfield especially bears watching. Kevin Pillar has become a hitting machine over the past couple of years and is everybody’s favourite sleeper prospect. Kenny Wilson gets on base at a decent clip then steals a ton of them once there. And Adam Loewen is just someone I cheer for.
In the infield, both Kevin Nolan and Ryan Schimpf had nice seasons last year with the latter making my aforementioned sleeper prospect list. Failed power prospect Kevin Ahrens makes his double-A debut. He’s listed as a back up, but you never know, crazier things have happened.
Pitching wise, there is plenty of major league experience in Evan Crawford, Chad Jenkins (both starting the year on the DL), Joel Carreno, and Chad Beck. Makes you wonder what all the fuss was about with sending pitching prospects to Las Vegas. It seems the Jays are still sending them to New Hampshire despite the Triple-A franchise now residing in the International League.
Dunedin Blue Jays – only in the Florida State league can you have a home and home series (well, I suppose in the Arizona League you could as well) which is how the D-Jays kick off the season with Clearwater.
The pitching staff will be the primary focus in Dunedin as you have two very different storylines to keep an eye one. Ricky
I’ll also be very interested in how the middle infield shakes out. Andy Burns made the sleeper prospect list and Peter Mooney had himself a very nice pro debut last year before having it cut short by injury. Both are ostensibly shortstops, will wait and see which one is shifted to third or second.
Lansing – ahhhhh, Lansing, I swoon for you. Not only because you’re the closest to my true love Vancouver Canadians, but also because you have got one hell of a roster to start 2013. Where to begin?
Pitching – how about super prospects Robert Osuna and Daniel Norris? Move on to two guys that dominated the Northwest League last year in Javier Avendano and Taylor Cole. Then throw in a young, but very big, lefty in Alonzo Gonzales. That’s a staff worth keeping an eye on.
Catchers – Two guys that I desperately wanted to see in Vancouver this year. Santiago Nessy has pushed himself to the top of the Jays list in the position, but it shouldn’t be considered as addition through subtraction. He has genuine pop in his bat. And Seth Conner, in his brief pro career, has proven to be no slouch with the bat.
Infield – Emilio Guerrero is a very aggressive promotion considering his struggles at the plate last year. Will be curious to see how he is used to start the year. Christian Lopes is the org’s best second base prospect and quite highly rated overall. Mix in fading prospect but still useful third basemen Kellen Sweeney and the Single Digit Assassin Jorge Flores, and the infield holds plenty of interest.
Outfield – Readers of my work, both here at JJ and over at yourvancs.com, will know that I have a bit of a crush on Dalton Pompey. I am really pulling for him to get over his injury shortened 2012 and get off to a fast start this season. A Dunedin assignment half way through the year may not be out of the realm of possibility. Another looking to advance is Lansing repeater Chris Hawkins. He’ll need to up his power numbers a bit to do it.
Right, there we have it. All the above teams get things started tonight so this series is now live. Now, if I can just figure out how I am going to keep track of all these teams/players, things will be far less stressful.