Toronto Blue Jays – Organizational Filler (In) – Blue Rinse Edition
Maybe I’m feeling a bit down. After the eleven game winning streak gave a glimmer of hope, a poor road trip against AL East rivals, and the Jays are right back where we started. Hitters we thought were turning a corner have regressed. Pitchers who were getting by on smoke and mirrors have been found out. Whatever it is, the negativity I’ve been feeling towards the big team has permeated its way down the affiliates. I used to love checking all the daily milb scores. Now it feels more like a chore.
‘A chore’ may be a bit harsh. It just seems I am looking for the same players night in night out and there is nothing else to consider, or get excited about.
I was at the Vancouver Canadians game on Tuesday night, and happened to have a chat with one of the myriad of infielders on their roster. He was lamenting the lack of opportunities within the organization and youth not being served.
That got me to thinking. Throughout this series, prospect-wise I have mainly focused on one team. Aside from the odd player on Buffalo, New Hampshire, and Dunedin, I have concentrated on Lansing’s roster as far as future potential. Once the short-season rosters were announced, it was pretty apparent that Bluefield would be the second team to keep any eye on.
It’s pretty obvious that youth = greater chance of prospect. When reading scouting reports, you always run across the expression ‘he’s a bit old/young for the level’. It’s difficult to quantify exactly how old is too old, especially given players are entering pro ball at different ages, but it’s easy to see that someone who is pitching in High A at 28, like Austin Bibens-Dirkx, is too old for the level.
Back to the youth not being served comment. BaseballReference.com has a nice AvgAge feature when looking at team stats. So, I did one of my poorly formatted tables:
Baseball reference weight the hitters age by AB + Games Played and pitchers by 3*GS + G + SV. As the formulas are a function of ABs the ages and rankings are pretty fluid. I did the table Tuesday night, so only taking it account games up to and including Monday. Still, gives a fair reference point.
As for Lansing, they are right in the middle (hitting wise) of a 16 team league. That being said, the spread between youngest and oldest is not that wide. Unlike some of the other teams who are a full year older than their closest competitors.
There is no doubting that the Jays have an old organization. I understand off-season trades gutted it somewhat and guys had to be signed to fill holes. Doesn’t make it any easier though, when trying to look for positive storylines every night. Looking at the teams individually:
Buffalo: I can almost understand the thinking here. It’s the first year of the agreement, Buffalo had been struggling with attendance, and Toronto wanted to put a winning product on the field. There are those that think AAA should just be a taxi squad for the big team anyway, so quite a few quad-A players were acquired and parked in Buffalo. Given the litany of injuries the Jays suffered through, and the fact that some of those players weren’t called up to compensate, shows us they were brought in simply to win in Buffalo.
Now that the Bisons are dropping further behind in the North division of the International League, we may see a few prospects sneaking up to Buffalo, which started with Kevin Pillar‘s recent promotion and thirty-three year old Ryan Langerhan’s release to make room.
That leaves a hand-full of players to keep an eye on in Buffalo. On the offensive side, we have Anthony Gose, Kevin Pillar, and to a lesser extent Moises Sierra and Ryan Goins (speaking of which, Ryan has been pretty hot as of late, putting up .320/.333/.480 slash line over the past week. If I was doing normal hot/not post, he’d be on it).
Sep 28, 2012; Toronto, ON, Canada; Toronto Blue Jays right fielder Moises Sierra (14) looks on from the dugout against the New York Yankees at the Rogers Centre. The Yankees beat the Blue Jays 11-4. Mandatory Credit: Tom Szczerbowski-USA TODAY Sports
Pitching-wise, there’s not much. I think 22 year old John Stilson has a future, and Joel Carreno is throwing well.
New Hampshire: This is probably the most frustrating of the lot. If you’re going to run a taxi squad in AAA, then your double A team should be the future. Hey, I love Adam Loewen‘s story, but at twenty-nine, should he really be taking at bats away from someone younger? As an aside, Loewen has been absolutely scorching over the last month, putting up an OPS of 1.057.
Who is there to see then? I look at what Andy Burns and A.J. Jimenez have done. Ryan Shimpf is on my sleeper prospect list, so he gets a look. That’s it. Kevin Ahrens was the Jays first rounder in ’07 so for masochistic reasons I’ll check his line. It’s not so good.
On the mound, New Hampshire does have a couple of names worth getting excited about. Sean Nolin and Marcus Stroman are both under the league average age of 24.6 and will one day wear a Blue Jay uniform (I know Nolin already has, but that start was a poor decision). They only throw two of five days though, the rest of the rotation does not get the pulse racing. Marcus Walden, Deck McGuire, and Ryan Tepera are all right around twenty-five and all allow about 1.5 base-runners due to hits and walks per inning. Not exactly a formula for success.
Dunedin: The D-Jays got hit the hardest by the off-season wheeling and dealing as the proposed Dunedin Legion of Doom was reduced to Aaron Sanchez. The only ‘untouchable’ this off-season has pitched well in his first go ’round of the Florida State League, putting up a 0.949 WHIP. I’m sure most prospecters would prefer to see a higher K/BB ratio, but Sanchez has struggled through some injuries this year, so will give him a pass. Unfortunately, with the injury, and overly conservative rehab program, we went quite a while of checking on only crap-ballers in Dunedin.
The D-Jays average pitching age is a full year older than the second last team on the list and 1.7 years older than the average. As a staff, they lead the league in WHIP but it’s hard to take that seriously when you have twenty-eight year olds pitching to A ball hitters.
Offensively? Old and mediocre. Peter Mooney is a nice story, Michael Crouse and Marcus Knecht are both Canadians. Fisher Cat fans must look at Dunedin and think who the hell are we going to have next season? They are praying some of the younger Lansing hitters can make the jump.
Lansing: This team is young and full of prospects. They don’t win a ton, and their number one pitching prospect, who is also number two in the organization is getting lit up these days, but still, when you open their boxscores you are checking through the entire lineup. Except for Kellen Sweeney, he’s a bust.
Vancouver: My other writing gig is full time with the C’s so they are the roster I’m most familiar with. It’s boring. Full of re-treads and 2013 drafted college seniors. This seems to be the trend in Vancouver until early August when some of the younger prospects in Bluefield are promoted to give them a taste of Canada, playoff atmosphere, big crowds, etc etc. One can only hope the pattern repeats itself this year.
That all said, there are two names worth keeping an eye on. Canadian catcher Mike Reeves, a 21st rounder out of Florida Gulf Coast, has hit the ground running in pro baseball. Before continuing though, we’ll get two things out of the way, it’s a small sample size, and his .517 BABIP is obviously unsustainable. Still, when most college players go through an adjustment period, Reeves putting up a slash line of .441/.568/.471 is fun to watch. What’s most impressive is his 22.7% walk rate, good for BB/K ratio of 2. If qualified, the Peterborough native would lead the Northwest League in a lot of offensive categories. He doesn’t hit for a ton of power, just where they aren’t.
2011 2nd rounder Jeremy Gabryszwski has also made a nice start to his Northwest League career. After four starts he is leading the league in WHIP at 0.696. He hasn’t missed a lot of bats thus far with 3.9 K/BB ratio but nor is he putting runners on, having only walked one in twenty-three innings pitched.
A big lad at 6’4″ 195 pounds, he doesn’t scorch the radar gun, usually sitting in the upper 80s. I haven’t seen him from the press box to give a more advanced scouting report. Just nice to see someone who could be considered ‘young’ for the league succeeding.
Bluefield and the GCL: I’ll research these teams further and do full posts they deserve.
There it is, a bit of a rant this week in Org Filler (In). Cathartic some might say, not quite in J.P. Arencibia territory, but served its purposes nonetheless.