Adonys Cardona warms up during Spring Training 2012 (Image via MLBProspectPortal.com)
One month of play is a significantly small window to judge progress on. However, we’ve already seen some solid improvements in some of the Toronto Blue Jays top prospects, while others have had noticeable slides.
After already talking about the progress of those players that we considered honorable mentions, we’re ready to move forward and break down how the Jays Journal 2014 Top Prospects numbers 26-30 have done in the season’s first month.
Name: Christian Lopes (21)
Team: Dunedin Blue Jays
Position: Second base
The Dunedin Blue Jays have been on fire to start the season; however, Christian Lopes has seen his season get off to a slow start. He is competing with Jorge Flores and Emilio Guerrero (Top Prospect Honourable Mention) for playing time. Lopes continues to show a good eye at the plate with a 11.3 BB% and 22.6 K%, which is in line with his minor league numbers of 7.3 BB% and 15 K%. It is still early in the season, but Lopes doesn’t seem to be over-matched with A+ Florida State League pitching.
Lopes is 8/29 with runners on base, which is good for .276/.333/.646 and is showing good extra base power with five of his twelve hits going for doubles. He seems to be heating up with eight hits in his past ten games.
Lopes, still 21 year old, will have to continue to show improvements in all facets of the game if he wishes to remain relevant to the Blue Jays future plans or risks being over taken by the likes of Richard Urena, Franklin Barreto, and Emilio Guerrero.
Name Deck McGuire (24)
Team: New Hampshire
Position Starting Pitcher
Deck McGuire just can’t seem to solve Double-A ball, as this is his fourth year at this level. Namely, McGuire continues to struggle with high-pitch counts and isn’t going deep into games, with only two starts lasting six innings or more. Deck’s K/9 and BB/9 are down from last year, his WHIP is up, and his BABIP is up. His BB/9 going down is a good sign, but there is still lots of baseball to played. He has not shown any consistency thus far with two bad starts and two so-so starts to go with his two quality starts.
It is still too early to determine the direction Deck’s season will go, but this writer has not been impressed with anything he’s seen, especially Deck’s ground-out/fly-out percentage of 0.74. For Deck to take the next step he will have to get more ground-outs than fly-outs, which should decrease the number of hits he allows (39 in 33.2 IP).
Name: Richard Urena (18)
Team: GCL Blue Jays
Top prospect rank: 28th in 2014
Richard Urena is part of a group of three quality infielders signed as International Free-Agents. Unlike Dawel Lugo and Franklin Barreto, Urena has all the tools to stick at shortstop. Expect Urena to spend the entire season in the Gulf Coast League, since there is no need to rush his development with Lugo in Lansing and Barreto in short-season Bluefield.
Check out this clip of Urena taking a recent spring training at-bat.
Name: Adonys Cardona (20)
Team: Lansing Lugnuts
Things have not been going well for the Venezuelan power RHP who the Blue Jays signed for 2.8M as an international free-agent in 2010. Cardona has all the makings of a top of the rotation starter but the way he has pitched in 2013 and to start 2014 he might end up being relegated to the bullpen.
In 2013, Cardona pitched in Bluefield and got shelled. He still had solid strike out numbers but was not able to limit the number of hits, which ultimately hurt his season. Even with the poor showing Cardona has moved up to full season Low A-Ball Lansing Lugnuts. So far in 2014 the story looks a lot like it did in 2013.
Cardona has appeared in 5 games and made 3 starts. He is 0-3 with an impressing 8.44 ERA, but he continues to strike out a batter an inning…..silver linings. Cardona has only pitched 10+ inning, so the it is still early, but this is still cause for concern. As a starter, Cardona has been atrocious. As a reliever, Cardona has been a little less atrocious. As a starter he has amassing a 0-1 record and a 10.33 ERA while only pitching 6.2 innings over 3 starts. As a reliever he is 0-2 with a 4.25 ERA but opponents are hitting .278 compared to .298
Command continues to be an issue for a Cardona with 6.75 BB/9 and 4 wild pitches. Opponents are hitting .289 with a BABIP of.382, so opponents haven’t been fooled. Also, I am not sure if they are protecting him or he has just been really bad, but he has yet to pitch more than 4 inning in any of his appearances.
Adonys Cardona is still only 20 years old so he still has time, but progress will be put on hold for the near future. As per Shi Davidi, Cardona recently broke his elbow throwing a pitch and required surgery to repair the olecranon bone in his pitching elbow and will miss the remainder of 2014.
Name: Jake Brentz (19)
Team: Gulf Coast League Blue Jays
Top prospect rank: 26th in 2014
Jake Brentz or Jacob Brentz is currently in Extended Spring Training. He is expected to start the season for the GCL Blue Jays. In 2013 Brentz showed that he still needed to develop a finish to his pitches as he walked 12 batters in 7 innings; however, he held opponents average to .192. I expect Brentz won’t spend much time in the GCL if he is able to improve upon 2013 numbers.