Usually I like to use this forum to look at a few of the weekly themes throughout the Toronto Blue Jays minor league organization. However, after focusing on the prospects in Lansing last week, I think it would be re-miss not to celebrate the Dunedin Blue Jays winning the Florida State League’s North division first half title, with a post of their own. By winning the division the D-Jays are guaranteed a playoff berth. An experience the Blue Jays organization are keen to provide for their prospects. And since Dunedin doesn’t really have a ton of blue chip prospects, it could mean we’re in for some internal movement.
Dunedin wrapped up the title yesterday with an 8-4 win over the Yankees Tampa affiliate (nice to beat the Yanks to something, no matter the level). After losing five games last week to give their chances a dent, a sweep of Tampa put things right.
As mentioned above, Dunedin isn’t laden with prospects. The pitching staff, minus one very important name, are all old for this level. If you take out the rehabbing major leaguers, the average age of the those that have started five or more games is just under twenty-five. That number is skewed by twenty year old Aaron Sanchez. He hasn’t been much help lately, having made his last start on May the 18th, as the Jays are being ultra-conservative with his shoulder injury. I won’t spend to much extolling the virtues of Sanchez as a google search will bring up any number of scouting reports. Of the rest, Scott Copeland, Casey Lawrence, and Jesse Hernandez all made the FSL all-star game. Looking at the stats, nothing from the three really jump out at you. I have an affinity for Hernandez, but that is simply because he pitched the Northwest League clincher for the Vancouver Canadians in 2011. If I’m honest, he’s not a prospect. Nor are the other two, as per this first-hand report.
On the hitting side of the ledger, the D-Jays had one all-star and it was much deserved. Andy Burns has been, well, pretty good
so far this season. Top ten in the league in wOBA, wRC+, OPS, Average, triples, stolen bases, and probably a few more categories if I were so inclined to look. This is Andy’s third season in pro ball and he has improved at each level. It is hard to say he’ll continue to do so as he moves up the ladder but I think there is no doubt he will appear on every off-season Jays ‘top’ prospect list.
Burns has been the undisputed offensive leader, but he has had some support from some unexpected sources. Derrick Chung and Nick Baligod are probably no more than organizational filler, but both have been surprisingly good this season. Both spend the bulk of 2012 in Vancouver, so Dunedin is quite the jump. Neither will hit for a ton of power, both with ISOs under .100, but they are getting on base and scoring runs.
Another nice surprise has been the bounce-back season (of sorts) for CanCon representative Michael Crouse. After an abysmal 2012, Crouse has improved his OPS by over 100 points this year, despite being slowed by an injury earlier in the season. Still, it’s hard to imagine Michael making much headway in the organization in the next couple of seasons.
So, aside from waiting expectantly for Aaron Sanchez to make his return, then get nervous every time he starts. Or checking how many hits Andy Burns had on the night. There is really not a lot to get excited about in Dunedin.
Clinching the first half flag does change things though. The halfway points of full-season leagues do tend to see a bit of activity anyway, throw in the fact that Dunedin are guaranteed a playoff berth and the Jays brass may react accordingly.
I was at the Vancouver Canadians game Wednesday and got the chance to catch up with third basemen Jason Leblebijian as he packed his bags for a flight to Lansing (or Bowling Green, wherever they are). With his promotion, it stands to reason that Burns may be on his way to New Hampshire, which potentially sends Gustavo Pierre to Dunedin, with Leblebijian replacing him.
I’m only speculating, and don’t see any way that Lansing’s young pitching studs see Florida any time soon, but the deck is going to get a bit of a shuffle in the near future.