As the title hints at, week one of the minor league season is in the books. After a great start by all the Jays feeder teams, things started to balance out a bit as the week progressed. Served to remind ourselves that the season is a marathon, not a sprint (cliche alert), same for the minor leagues as it is for the big club. I’ll back away from the cliff then, and try to convince myself that surely Brett Lawrie will return some day and save the season.
As this is a new feature this season, I’m still trying to work out the mechanics of how it will play on a week to week basis. Giving it a structure makes my life easier as can fill in the blanks so to speak. My current thinking is to discuss three or so themes of the week, which is what we’ll do today. This format, as always, is subject to change.
I tried my best (honestly) to treat all four of the farm teams equally in week one, but I’d be lying if I said I was successful. As I mentioned in the intro post, it is the lower levels that interest me the most, specifically Lansing’s pitching staff. The Jays threw me a curve ball (see what I did there) by not having their starters piggy-back to begin the season. As it stands, the Lugs are going with a five man rotation out of the gate. I would still think, especially the younger guys, the starters will be subject to an innings ceiling. I’m trying to find out how that will work in practice and will pass that information along as I receive it.
The first time through the rotation was, aside from one start, pretty spectacular. The highlights:
Javier Avendano – 5 IP, 2 Hits, 2 BBs, 6 Ks, 0 ERs
Taylor Cole – 6 IP, 1 Hit, 1 BB, 7 Ks, 0 ERs
Roberto Osuna – 5 IP, 2 Hits, 0 BBs, 8 Ks, 1 ER
Alonzo Gonzalez- 6 IP, 3 Hits, 2 BBs, 6 Ks, 0 ERs
Not bad when your first four starters only allow 1 earned run. And by all accounts, it was on a fluke inside the park home run. Unbelievable numbers really. Twenty-seven K’s and a WHIP of 0.59.
Unfortunately the one rough start was the fifth, as Daniel Norris got knocked around a bit, giving up six hits and two walks in three innings of work. The most worrisome aspect being the inability to miss bats as Norris went K-less. Not something you would expect from a power pitcher in low A ball. I asked the Lugs radio man Jesse Goldberg-Strassler if he saw anything concerning.
@charliecaskey Early-season command woes.He just needs to get the ball down, but that’s easier said than done.
— Jesse G-S (@jgoldstrass) April 10, 2013
I know it’s early, but it’s hard not to get frustrated with Norris’ for not producing the odd dominating outing. If you read the article I linked above, all accounts have Norris having made a lot of improvements, leading to a great spring training. Buck Martinez (and this is a stretch as I rarely trust what Bucky says) was even comparing him to Clayton Kershaw when discussing the left-hander with Shi Davidi in the booth the other day. An overstatement, sure, but I don’t think anyone believes that Norris should struggle in the lower minors. The season is young, his next start may very well put a lot of my doubts to rest.
Sticking with Lansing for now (should I just change title to Lansing Filler In?) some of the young hitters have gotten off to nice starts as well. Small sample size and all.
This being Gustavo Pierre‘s third shot with Lansing, it’s hard to get excited about him as a prospect. That being said, he is still only 21 and at 6’2″ 185 pounds, there is room for a bit more growth. With five of his nine hits going for extra bases, including two home runs, we may have a slugging shortstop on our hands.
Christian Lopes has also had a great start. The Jays top second base prospect has ten hits to start the season, good for a .983 OPS. He is only striking out at a 15.4% clip, which may be more telling. If you look through the Lansing roster, you’re seeing some pretty high K rates. You hope this is only an early season phenomenon as these kids get used to a higher level.
What more can you say about Kevin Pillar? The ultimate sleeper prospect got off to a rough start in double A with two hit-less games out of the shoot. Since then though, he has nine hits in five games, including three in last night’s game versus Tampa. One of those was a double, which was his first extra base hit of the season. Hopefully that’s just the start for Kevin. I don’t think he’ll be a big home run hitter, but, as a gap to gap hitter, he should hit quite a few doubles. His plate coverage has been good so far as well with a 1.50 BB/K ratio. A hitting machine, I wonder how much the Jays will need to see before Buffalo comes calling.
Two interesting starters schedule to go today. The system’s number one prospect Aaron Sanchez goes to the hill against the New York Yankees high A affiliate while in Binghamton, 2012 first rounder and current AA batting practice pitcher, Deck McGuire attempts to a rebound from a very poor first start.