On Tuesday I looked at the Buffalo Bisons outfield for who might be able to step up and play in Toronto should either Melky Cabrera or Colby Rasmus (or both) leave via free agency (click to read that article). It is the New Hampshire Fisher Cats turn to be placed under the Mueller Microscope.
(Update: Darin Mastroianni has been called up to Toronto to take the place of Kevin Pillar who was sent back down to Buffalo. In actuality, Darin and Bobby Korecky trade places but we really know Korecky wasn’t going to be here long.)
Let’s quickly go over some assumptions I made for the Buffalo Bisons Edition: first, all players on the minor league roster will be back with Toronto’s minor league system in 2015; secondly, the Blue Jays will make no trades or free agent signings to fill a potential hole in the outfield in the offseason or at the trade deadline; third, one of Pillar or Gose will be the starting LF/CF for the Jays next season in place of either Rasmus or Cabrera or at the very least be the teams 4th outfielder.
The Fisher Cats has a couple interesting outfielders on their roster but none that have any power to get excited about.
Melky Mesa (27)- Mesa comes to the Jays system after spending 9 season in the New York Yankees system. During that time Mesa amassed over a 100 minor league home runs and over 115 minor league stolen bases. The trouble with Mesa is the lack of consistent contact. He strikes out far too much. If he were to ever figured that part of the game out he could produce a 20-20 or 15-15 season as a full-time major leaguer.
Mike Crouse (23)- The Port Moody, BC native’s projections are similar to Mesa….with less power. Crouse has slowly been moving up the Jays minor league ladder. 2014 will be Crouse’s 7th season in the minors, but at 23 he still has some time to reach his potential. In his first attempt at solving Double-A pitching Crouse seems to be hitting with more consistency than his first attempts at any other level. Could this be a result of maturity, I sure hope so. Crouse has had a solid BABIP the past two season, so if he could just increase his walks and cut down his strikeouts he could start drawing the attention of Jays management.
Jonathan Jones (24)- Jones has more plate discipline and makes more consistent contact than either Mesa or Crouse, but doesn’t hit for the same power as the aforementioned outfielders. Jones has hit a grand total of 2 home runs over 5 years. Jones is another athletic outfielder that fields his position well and runs the bases well. He has appeared in 32 games in 2013 due to injuries and has already surpassed that total in 2014. I expect to see Jones spend all of 2014 with the Fisher Cats, but if he does well he could find himself in Buffalo to start 2015.
Matt Newman (25)- In 4 seasons Newman has 19 home runs and has hit .270/.338/.427. He started the season with Dunedin and earned a promotion after 25 games that saw him hit .292/.381/.416. Newman has hit well since his promotion but his plate discipline has really taken a hit, something his track record suggests will improve. Newman differs from Mesa, Crouse and Jones in that he doesn’t possess the same base stealing skills., but has good extra base power and a solid speed.
Of the four candidates, I give Mike Crouse the best chance of making it to Toronto at some point in 2015. None of Matt Newman’s or Jonathan Jones’ stats jump off the page; however, both could eventually make a major league club as a 4th outfielder or on a part-time basis…..likely in 2016. It would be nice to have a prospect in Double-A with more projectable power, but that is something that the entire team lacks.