Mandatory Credit: David Kohl-USA TODAY Sports
On Tuesday and Thursday I looked at the Buffalo Bisons and New Hampshire Fisher Cats 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. It is the Dunedin Blue Jays turn to be placed under the Mueller Microscope.
Roster update: Melky Mesa moved up to Buffalo and Kenny Wilson sent down to New Hampshire.
Let’s make a couple of assumption: 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.
Looking at the D-Jays for possible 2014 outfield replacements might be a stretch at the moment, but we could actually see one or two guys being called up from AAA at some point in 2015. Dalton Pompey and Dwight Smith Jr. have been spark plugs at the top of the lineup for a very good team.
Dwight Smith Jr. (21)- Smith Jr. started the year off with a .330/.405/.464 May, but has cooled off since and is hitting .267/.348/.407. What has impressed me about Smith Jr. is his ability to take a walk(11.0%) and limit his strike outs (11.0%) at 21 years old. He has demonstrated the ability to hit the ball to the gaps with power and good base running skills, but not a base stealer. With Smith’s recent struggles at the plate it is possible that management will leave him in Dunedin for the year or at least until he figures out how to dominate the league like he did in May.
Dalton Pompey (21)- Pompey is another 21 year old outfield prospect that has been lighting it up in the FSL. Pompey leads the league with 22 SB and tied for 2nd with 4 triples(with Smith Jr). Pompey is in the top 10 in most offensive categories and has dominated with a .318/.395/.479 line in 55 games. Pompey strikes out more than Smith Jr and it’s an area that will need to be improved if Pompey is to have success at the higher levels. Pompey will walk about half as many times as he strikes out, which about 11% of the time. Pompey was impressive in 2013, but more importantly he was able to stay healthy. He continues to make strides in 2014 and has been able to stay healthy so far.
Nick Baligod (26)- Baligod is a contact hitter with a good eye at the plate and consistent fielder. Baligod is average to below average in all areas of the game. These type of players are very useful in the National League but not so much in the American League. Baligod is more of a organizational role player than a realistic major league option.
Marcus Knecht (23)- Oh Marcus Knecht, I had such high hopes this Toronto native. He seemed to be blowing through the system early in his career and destined for Toronto. But Dunedin has not been kind to Knecht as he has spent his past three summers there. Knecht has struggled to develop the plate discipline required to take the next step. This season Knecht hasn’t shown enough home run power, but continues to collect extra base hits with some regularity.
Just like the options currently playing in Triple-A and Double-A the D-Jays don’t have much home run power patrolling the outfield. If Dalton Pompey continues to dominate the FSL he should finish this season in New Hampshire. In 2014 Jays management has been aggressively moving pitchers up, but have been less aggressive with positional players. If Pompey starts 2015 with the Bisons than is it possible to see Pompey at some point in 2015.
Overall, the Jays farm system doesn’t really have any outfield prospects that could adequately fill the void that would be left by the departure of either Colby Rasmus or Melky Cabrera. The Bisons are filled with 4th outfielders. New Hampshire has Mike Crouse who still has a chance to develop into a regular major league, but we will have to see how he does once promoted to Buffalo. The D-Jays have Dalton Pompey and Dwight Smith Jr. that could both make it to the majors as regulars one day; however, they both need to prove they can hit at Double-A and Triple-A before this writer considers them as a viable solution in 2015.
What are your feels about the future of the Blue Jays outfield?