Quick thoughts on Blue Jays Minor League camp


This morning, I was able to make it out to the Englebert Complex in Dunedin to watch some of the Jays prospects in various drills. I arrived later than I would have liked so my time was cut short, but I was still able to see a lot prospects take swings in BP on four of the fields.

While I didn’t see entire groups on all of the fields, two consisted primarily of A/A-Advanced guys  like Jake Marisnick and Marcus Knecht, while the others were made up of either recently drafted or short-season guys like Christian Lopes, Chino Vega and Shane Opitz.

I hope to have more in-depth observations with quotes after tomorrow morning, but here’s a look at what I noticed this morning. It’s important to note that these observations all came in a practice/BP setting, which can be different and not as good as live game situations.

– Christian Lopes, who was ranked No. 43 on our pre-2012 top 50 list, starts his partly open stance with a raised heel on his left (front) foot and then strides closed as the pitcher is about to release the ball.

Christopher Hawkins‘ frame is a lot thicker than I had thought. When he was ranked No. 25 on our pre-2011 top 50 prospects list back in January 2011, he was listed as 6-foot-2 and 195 pounds. As of right now, both his MiLB.com and Baseball-Reference pages list the same figures, though it looks like he’s added some weight, specifically in his legs. Standing next to Canadian outfielder Michael Crouse, who is 6-foot-4 and roughly 215 pounds, Hawkins didn’t look that much shorter and had more lower-half girth than Crouse, and not just because he was a few inches shorter.

In the cage, Hawkins’ swing was beautiful. His back (left) foot was almost on the edge of the batter’s box and he has a nice, clean stance. A group of hitters on the diamond that he was on played an elimination power game, where the hitter had to smack a ball a certain distance in the outfield to stay alive, and Hawkins won. Even in a short time at the complex, Hawkins was one guy that really stood out to me.

– As for Crouse, who is also quite a physical specimen, he was showing exactly how he managed to hit 26 doubles and 14 home runs around an injury last season with Lansing. I was, however, somewhat shocked how busy his hands were before pitches and how wide his stance was. Marisnick and Knecht’s stances were also quite wide, but they both displayed their extra-base power with Lansing in 2011 — a testament to their upper body strength.

– It was in BP and a small sample, but Mark Sobolewski‘s swing looked really good and he had some solid knocks, drawing praise from the coach throwing BP. The 25-year-old spent all of 2011 with Double-A New Hampshire.

Koby Clemens (yes, the son of Roger), isn’t tall, but is he ever built. The first thing I noticed was how thick his lower half was — the clear source of his power. Built on tree-trunk legs, Clemens has plenty of upper body strength and it’s easy to see now why he has hit 88 doubles and 64 home runs in his last three minor league seasons. For more information on Clemens, check out my article on him from back on February 9.

– Joe Musgrove was the only pitcher I was able to see on a mound (I saw John Stilson but didn’t see him pitch, unfortunately) and he didn’t throw a ball at all. He worked with two coaches on his mechanics, holding a towel while going through the motions repeatedly as he was critiqued.

The entire camp left to go back and do group running drills on the front/main diamond, but Musgrove stayed back for a few minutes and continued what he was working on. I couldn’t hear what the coaches were telling him, but he was working on his delivery.

I hope these nuggets helped and I’ll try to get a summary of tomorrow’s events up before my flight home — which I’d definitely be fine missing to stay another week here.

– JM

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