Now into the fourth week of the Blue Jays prospect hot sheet here at Jays Journal, some early season trends are becoming readily apparent; Las Vegas has hot hitters, and Lansing has hot pitchers. The High-A and Double-A affiliates have been lacking in contributions despite some legitimate talent on their rosters, but hopefully that trend will be bucked as the year progresses. For the week of April 30 to May 6, here are the system’s hottest five prospects.
1. C/1B/3B Yan Gomes (LAS): 27 AB, .519/.552/.815 (1.367 OPS), 2 2B, 0 3B, 2 HR, 7 RBI, 0 SB, 2/4 BB/K
We’re barely a month into the season, yet Yan Gomes has already taken the “hottest Blue Jays prospect” title on two occasions. Gomes played in all seven of Las Vegas’ games last week, and produced multi-hit efforts in five of them – including three 3-hit games! He had struggled with his plate discipline in previous weeks, but his two walks here improved his walk rate to a slightly more acceptable 4.8% for the year. The power continued to flow from Gomes’ bat, as his four extra base hits this week raised his season total to 14 (11 walks, 3 home runs). Gomes has struggled to find playing time in the past, with his 290 at-bats last season setting a career high. Things have changed this year, as his defensive versatility have given him the opportunity to play in 27 of Las Vegas’ first 32 games, totaling 108 at-bats. With the offensive numbers continuing to pile up –- including away from the friendly confines of Cashman Field –- one has to ponder if the former 10th round pick has more of a big league future than people gave him the potential for.
2. 1B David Cooper (LAS): 20 AB, .350/.435/.850 (1.285 OPS), 1 2B, 0 3B, 3 HR, 7 RBI, 0 SB, 3/1 BB/K
For the second consecutive week, David Cooper is named to the Blue Jays prospect hot sheet, and actually improved his numbers from the last edition. Despite playing in only five games –- for 20 at-bats –- Cooper smashed three home runs, accumulating seven RBI. He continued to show his usual impressive plate discipline, walking three times against only one strikeout. This dominant stretch of games couldn’t have come at a better time for Cooper, as the ineptitude of Adam Lind in Toronto has many fans actively calling for an alternative. If the Blue Jays prefer to look in-house for a replacement, David Cooper could be the guy.
3. RHP/LHP Jaron Nanchez (LAN): 2-0, 14 IP, 5 H, 0 ER, 4 BB, 14 K
I mentioned in last week’s prospect hot sheet that both Sanchez and Nicolino had been throwing in the bullpen after their in-game work, and that four inning appearances could be on the near horizon. Well, they came a bit sooner than I expected, as in Lansing’s May 5th game against West Michigan, both Aaron Sanchez and Justin Nicolino were stretched out to four innings a piece. The two pitchers were the driving force in yet another shutout victory for the Single-A affiliate, as the Lugnuts won the game 2-0. There were some suggestions entering the season that playing in the larger Low-A Vancouver park may have falsely boosted the statistics of the young trio, but their domination of the Midwest League should lay those claims to rest.
4. 1B Mike McDade (NH): 28 AB, .429/.529/.679 (1.208 OPS), 1 2B, 0 3B, 2 HR, 7 RBI, 1 SB, 6/5 BB/K
The second first baseman on the hot sheet is the only representative from the Double-A Affiliate this week, as Mike “Big Mac” McDade finally began swinging the bat with authority. Through his first 76 at-bats of the year, McDade had 22 hits (.289 average), but only four went for extra bases (.368 slugging) –- an uninspiring 79 ISO. In his seven games this week, he slugged one double and two home runs, boosting his season numbers to a .327 average and a .452 slugging, for an improved 125 ISO. He’s also now accumulated 16 walks in 28 games (13.3% walk rate) this year, which is a massive improvement upon his 2011 total of 28 walks in 125 games (5.3%).
5. CF Anthony Gose (LAS): 28 AB, .321/.441/.429 (.870 OPS), 0 2B, 0 3B, 1 HR, 5 RBI, 4 SB, 6/6 BB/K
Anthony Gose has had an underwhelming start to the season, falling well below the lofty expectations placed upon him after a breakthrough 2011 season. The past week was a bit of a turnaround for him, however, as he finally managed consistent contact, knocking at least one base hit in each of his seven games, while striking out only six times –- an acceptable number for a developmental project like Gose. After setting a career high with 43 extra base hits last season, most people –- myself included –- saw the potential for a significant power spike while moving to the Pacific Coast League. He’s been a bit of a disappointment in that regard, with only six extra base hits through his first 30 games. Hopefully this week is a step in the right direction, and the numbers will arrive with some more regularity.
Honorable mention: Travis d’Arnaud (LAS)