The penultimate paragraph of last week’s Org Filler (In) edition made a few player movement predictions predicated on Jason Leblebijian‘s promotion from Vancouver to Lansing. The fact that they were probably the easiest predictions of the season won’t stop me from gloating for getting them right. Another promotion took place that I have been calling for all season but still caught me off guard somewhat. So ya, mix in the number one prospect making his return, the rest of the short-season teams opening their campaigns, and some fairly big names doing some rehabbing and it was a big week for the Jays organization.
I’m only going to gloss over the rehabbing major leaguers as they’ve been written about enough. Jose Reyes looked good over his stints in both Dunedin and Buffalo (as an aside, if anyone wants to purchase one of these great Bisons hats for me, I’m a 7 and 3/8s), with twelve hits in his twenty-nine at bats, with the big team announcing Monday that the shortstop would be activated for Wednesday’s series finale against the Rays.
There’s light at the end of the tunnel, as the first of 2012’s three hurlers who underwent Tommy John surgery made their long anticipated return. Saturday saw Kyle Drabek start for Dunedin versus the Daytona Cubs. It’s going to be a long process for Kyle so Saturday’s result doesn’t mean much. What interests me is how the scheduled starter prepares for being pushed two innings. Jesse Hernandezobviously had an idea, relieving Drabek, throwing 3.2 innings of perfect ball with five strike-outs. Dunedin is rehab central. Could be why there are not a ton of pitching prospects there.
Jun 13, 2012; Toronto, ON, Canada; Toronto Blue Jays starting pitcher Kyle Drabek (4) delivers a pitch against the Washington Nationals at the Rogers Centre. The Nationals beat the Blue Jays 6-2. Mandatory Credit: Tom Szczerbowski-USA TODAY Sports
Speaking of rehab, as alluded to above, Aaron Sanchez made his long anticipated return to the D-Jays on Friday. As it turns out, it was a bit of a prospect showcase for the Jays that night with Marcus Stroman, Sanchez, 2011 2nd rounder Jeremy Gabryszwski, and Zakery Wasilewski all on the bump for their respective teams. Wasilewski is not really a prospect but thought he should be there as part of the all name team.
The rotations allowed all those names to make another start Wednesday, so let’s look a them together, minus Zakery:
Sanchez is obviously on a tight innings/pitch count on his return to the lineup so will wait and see how he does once he starts to get stretched out. That being said, is nice to see him back and pitching well.
The Jays superb bullpen is probably the best thing to happen to Marcus Stroman. With the big club locked down, there is no need to rush the 2012 first rounder along. That allows the Jays to leave him in AA and see what they have as a starter. After serving the rest of his 2012 PED suspension, Stroman has pitched thirty-six innings over eight starts. The numbers have been good, especially the 9.25 K/9 and 3.36 K/BB ratios. His FIP is high-ish at 4.39 which is a product of the 1.50 HR/9 he gives up.
I haven’t read many scouting reports on him this season, but it sounds like he is leaving a few balls up in the zone.
On the hitting side of the ledger, this season’s two sexy sleeper prospects both got their much deserved promotions. Kevin Pillar finally shuffled off to Buffalo while Ryan Langerhans was released to make room. Pillar, as is his wont, has done nothing but rake since he arrived in New York putting up a .391/.462/.652 slash line. Wednesday night, KP had a game, going four for five with four doubles. If he keeps this up (he will regress some, I can’t see him putting up an OPS over 1100 for the season) there is a good chance that the twenty-four year old sees more reps with the Jays come September than struggling number one outfield prospect Anthony Gose.
Taking Kevin’s place as the first name I check in New Hampshire’s boxscores is recently promoted third basemen Andy Burns. Burns got off to a very hot start with the Fisher Cats, going three for five with a double and triple in his first game. Unfortunately, unlike Pillar in Buffalo, that’s where the hot streak ends, as the twenty-two year old 2011 11th round pick has only managed one hit since then. In my Kevin Pillar Sleeper Prospect List I said ‘if he maintains his slugging percentage in the notoriously unfriendly Florida State League, then people will start to take notice.’
Not only did he maintain it, he improved on it. I also said he could stand to cut down on his strike outs. Done. As his K% dropped from 23.1% in Lansing to 13.5% in Dunedin. It’s too small of a sample size to read into anything from his week in New Hampshire, but the K rate has continued to drop while his BABIP is a very low .190. Hits will start to fall in for Andy, and once again I’ll be swooning over him. Although, don’t think you’ll be finding him on any ‘sleeper’ prospect lists next year. He’ll have graduated to the main ones.
The rest of the rookie ball teams started their seasons within the last week, making my job exponentially harder. There’s a ton of players to keep track now, so will try and pick one or two a week and check in on how they are doing.
After a rookie season that saw 2012 first rounder, and seventeenth pick overall, D.J. Davis make appearances over three levels, the center fielder was assigned to Bluefield in the Appalachian League. D.J. had quite a bit of success in the Appy last season, albeit in a very small sample size. So far this year, his play has been inconsistent, putting together three multi-hit games versus three O’fers. Judging by his 28.6% K rate and 0% Walk rate, his pitch recognition and plate coverage still need some work. Is that something that can be worked on? Tough to say. Davis is still only eighteen, and the Jays knew they were getting someone who was toolsy, but very raw. Will be very interested to see what kind of strides Davis makes this season.
On the opposite side of the spectrum is Bluefield corner outfielder, and another member of the all-name team, Derrick Loveless. The 2011 27th round pick out of Iowa had a putrid season in the Gulf Coast League last year, with only 19 hits in 133 plate appearances. He did flash a bit of power however, putting up a .139 ISO and his 12% walk rate was nothing to sneeze at.
This year is a different story altogether, as Loveless has flown out of the traps putting up a .417/.462/.833 slash line in his first six games. The .400 BABIP means it won’t last, but with an ISO of .417 (despite the high batting average) and only two strike-outs in twenty-six plate appearances there are some very encouraging signs.
When watching these kids, you can’t let the highs get to high or the lows get you too down. Up the middle Charlie.