Toronto Blue Jays – Organizational Filler (In) – Lansing Lugnuts Edition


As part of my newly acquired accreditation with the Vancouver Canadians I attended their media day yesterday.  It was fun, I learned very quickly that if you are part of a media scrum, there are no ‘turns’ as far as questions are concerned.  Just get in there.  The pros must have been having a good chuckle at my idiocy.  Anyways, the roster.  Ummmm, meh.  It’s pretty boring.  I think there is more to come, but at the moment, there isn’t a ton of prospects to get that excited about.

Which brings me to an argument I always have (with myself).  For most fans, especially in Vancouver, do they really care about prospects?  No, probably not.  They want to drink beer, hang out in the sun, and watch the C’s win.  For prospect junkies like myself though, I’d rather see the future (or at least my version of the future) of the Jays.  Although I’m disappointed now, that is subject to change.  I was just as disappointed at the beginning of last season.  Yet when the C’s were in the hunt for the second half division title, prospects started to arrive.  Provided this veteran lineup proves it can win games, the kids will come.

Which, in a roundabout fashion, brings me to Lansing.  When the full-season minor league teams were announced, all eyes shifted to the Lugnuts.  Prospect-wise they were stacked.  How has that translated?  Not well.  After a win on Wednesday, they sit at 30 and 35, and a bunch of games back of the South Bend Silver Hawks in the Eastern Division of the Midwest League.

Dwight Smith Jr. heading to the batting cage during minor league spring training, 2012 (Image via MLBProspectPortal.com)

Still, there are a lot of narratives in Michigan, so let’s dedicate this week’s edition of Org Filler (In) to the Lugs.

You don’t need to be Bill James to see that Dwight Smith Jr has struggled so far in his pro career.  And even with my inexpert eyes, you could see that Dwight was over-matched in Vancouver last year.  The 2011 first rounder was headed towards another season of short season ball and well on his way to bust territory.  Something must have happened at both normal and extended spring training though.  Surprisingly, Smith Jr. was sent to Lansing as injury cover in late April and has done nothing but hit since arriving.  A slash line of .274/.351/.360 has his OPS almost 100 points better than last season’s Appalachian League totals (this despite being 1 for his last 16).

Is it a mirage?  Tough to say.  His strike out rate has actually increased 7%, but his BB% has gone up 4.  His BABIP has jumped from a low .241 to maybe a slightly high .355.  His ISO has decreased, so ya, things may start to level out soon.  Let’s just stick to the positive.  A jump from the Appy to the Midwest is pretty large, and hey he’s getting on base.  And once there, he’s putting a up a pretty spectacular 1.4 wSB.  First time I’ve ever looked at that stat, will actually try and study it.

Speaking of positives, here’s a few more quick hits:

Org Filler (In) favourite Dalton Pompey has had a nice week, going 11 for 28 with two doubles and two triples.  Zero walks though.  For someone with a 3.6 wSB (there’s that stat again), that needs to be rectified.

After being shut down for just over a month with elbow troubles, which may still require Tommy John surgery, Roberto Osuna made his return memorable.  Over five innings Osuna gave up a mere two hits while striking out five.  I’m not a religious man, but I pray for this guy’s elbow.

Converted infielder/outfielder Justin Jackson, who topped out in double-A in 2012, has been a nice surprise since his move to the mound.  Over 17.1 innings pitched, Jackson has struck out a very reasonable 7.27/9 and his LOB% is an excellent 72.7%.  He could stand to walk a few less, but in the last week, over two appearances he has only walked one in four innings pitched.  Better.

And, on a final positive note, after his one hit masterpiece last Saturday:

Sorry, one more positive note came across my desk:

Of course, with the positive, also comes the negative.  We’ll keep this section short and sweet, as who likes to dwell on the negative.

As Pompey has heated up, another Org Filler (in) favourite has gone in the opposite direction.  Christian Lopes has had a tough week, with only four hits, all of them singles, in his twenty-six plate appearances.  In fact, looking at the first two weeks of June, Lopes has been ice cold with a .140/.224/.186 slash line.  He has been working some walks, just struggling to make contact.  Interestingly, if you look at his home/road splits, the second basemen has really struggled (aside from his power numbers) away from Cooley Law School Stadium and eight of the twelve games played so far this month have been away from home.  Don’t think that explains all the problems, but hopefully the recent dip is not the start of a long term trend.

After a recent surge, something I wrote about two weeks ago, Daniel Norris‘ second start in June ended early, followed by a trip to the disabled list.  Not ideal.

A regular twitter correspondent of mine was watching the game and gave me this:

Hopefully it is not too serious, as Norris was really starting to make some headway in his second season of pro ball.

Finally, I’d be remiss not to mention Emilio Guerrero.  After lauding him last week as the only real shortstop prospect in the Jays system at the moment, he went out and rewarded me with a .143/217/.190 line in six games.  Ugly.  Similar to Lopes, let’s hope these are just slumps and not the start of a season long malaise.  Both are at or near their games played from a year ago.  Fatigue may be a factor.

And for those that care, directly from Fangraphs, the definition of wSB.  Dalton Pompey is currently tied for third in the Midwest League in this particular stat.  And the youngest of the four.  The kid can flat out fly.  Turns out Smith’s numbers in the category are not that ‘spectacular’.

 

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