Weather had to be the overriding theme of week two in the Jays minor league system. All the east coast teams were hit by inclement weather, aside from Dunedin of course, causing postponements across the board. Writing this piece while sitting on my deck in the west coast sunshine, I truly feel sorry for my east coast brethren. I hope things turn around for you soon.
The Bisons were rained out over four straight days last week, and again on Tuesday, meaning I don’t have a ton of material to work with. I do have questions as to how they are going to manage their outfield situation going forward. With the designation of Casper Wells, it is getting crowded in Buffalo. I still think that if Kevin Pillar continues to hit like he has so far in New Hampshire, the Jays are better served to promote him and have three prospects patrolling the Coca-Cola outfield. I will not disagree with those that argue Pillar and Moises Sierra are minor prospects at best, however, we know what we have in Langerhans and Wells (in fact, I was surprised Wells was DFA’d in the first place). Giving them at bats over Pillar seems a waste.
As I’m a day late finishing this, am able to include today’s Buffalo result which is noteworthy simply for the sheer monstrosity of it. The Bisons cranked out twenty-nine hits, good for a mere twenty-seven runs. The highlights? Five home runs. Six hits for Sierra, five for Luis Jimenez, and four apiece for Josh Thole and Jim Negrych. In fact, looking at the line, Negrych hit for the cycle. Not only that, he tacked on a strike-out and walk. Surely that’s a super cycle or something.
In New Hampshire, Deck McGuire followed up a great start and my All Hands on Deck article with another strong outing, going six, giving up one earned, with five K’s and two walks. His strike out rates are not quite as good as his 2011 numbers but they are not far off. He’s also lowered his home run totals and WHIP. A reasonable recipe for success.
Speaking of N.H. pitchers, there are two in the ‘pen who saw time in Toronto last year. Both Chad Beck and Joel Carreno are enjoying success so far this season, with 19.3 and 17.1 K/9 ratios respectively. Carreno has only given up one hit and one walk to boot while Beck has been a bit more generous with his base runners giving up eight and three in seven innings pitched.
Sporting the best record of the Jays affiliates, it’s the pitchers we always discuss when it comes to the Dunedin Blue Jays, and rightfully so. The staff leads the Florida State League in WHIP and are second in ERA. But, for the sake of fairness, let’s talk about the hitters.
Kevin Pillar Sleeper Prospect member Andy Burns and honourable mention Matt Newman have both gotten off to great starts. In my KPSP article I said of Burns ‘he could stand cutting down on his strike outs, but if he maintains his slugging percentage in the notoriously unfriendly Florida State League, then people will start to take more notice.’ I’m not sure if people are taking notice after only thirteen games (not including Thursdays extra innings pitchers duel) but with a .560 slugging percentage, good for a .974 OPS and 1.40 BB/K ratio they soon will be. His .240 ISO is an improvement on last season and he’s doing it all with a realistic .302 BABIP.
As opposed to Newman who is trundling along with an unsustainable .435 BABIP. Still, Newman is a nice story. An undersized left fielder, Matt skipped Lansing this year, ostensibly to be a back up outfielder in Dunedin. With Michael Crouse going down (I’m attempting to find out why) Newman has stepped in with ten hits, including five doubles in nine games. He also has a positive BB/K ratio at 1.20.
Speaking of Crouse, he had gotten off to a great start. I know it was only four games, but after a terrible 2012, anything positive would have done him wonders. Unfortunately the same can’t be said of fellow Canadian Marcus Knecht. Similar to Crouse, Knecht is repeating the level after a tough 2012. So far 2013 doesn’t look much better, as he is striking out at a 31.1% clip and sports .024 ISO. Ugly.
To carry on the hitters theme, let’s take a look at how the kids in Lansing are doing. The Lugnuts were hit by the nasty weather as well, losing five games to rain since I last posted. Of the three games they did get in, the first two were losses which finished off a five game losing streak where the offense only managed nine runs. Not hard to see what the issue was. The nadir was on Sunday when they wasted a solid performance from Roberto Osuna being no hit by Kyle Schepel and the South Bend Silver Hawks.
The streak was only broken by a dominating Javier Avendano performance against West Michigan when the Lugs hitters could only manage four hits but were helped by two Whitecaps errors.
As I mentioned above, this is a young team, with the bulk of the roster at twenty one and under. And three of those players, if looking at OPS, are putting up decent numbers. They are all striking out too much though. With only the two shortstops Emilio Guerrero and Jorge Flores coming in with a K% under 20. There are going to be ups and downs, no doubt, but it sure would be nice to see players like Dalton Pompey and Kellen Sweeney pick it up a bit.
There is a ton of potential in Lansing, and so far, aside from a few rough starts (will look at Daniel Norris separately) the pitching staff has lived up to its billing. Once the hitters catch up, and the weather may part of the issue here, this should be a very good team. Let’s revisit in a week, or three, as I am out of town for the next couple of weeks. I will have limited access to internet, if I can post I will.
Better late than never, Dunedin’s broadcaster, Tyler Murray, gives us the scoop on Michael Crouse’s injury:
@charliecaskey He’s got an oblique injury but he’ll be back within the next two weeks. Our outfield is banged up!
— L. Tyler Murray (@Lt_Murk) April 19, 2013