Blue Jays MiLB Recap – Greene struggles in AA; Vancouver offence dominates

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Buffalo Bisons (64-61) @ Rochester Red Wings (65-60) – 6-5 L

The Bisons dropped a close one Tuesday evening, failing to complete the comeback after being down 6-0. Jeff Francis uncharacteristically struggled in this one, giving up 6 ER through 4 innings of work. It was the first time in his 12 starts at AAA that he allowed more than 2 ER. He surrendered 9 hits, leading to 4 runs in the first and 2 more in the fourth inning.

The Bisons offence responded with 3 runs in the top half of the fifth inning, and 2 more runs in the top of the eighth to make it a one run ball game. Alex Hassan and Caleb Gindl delivered multi-hit games, both going 2/4. Hassan added 2 RBI and a BB.

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Dalton Pompey didn’t register a hit in this one, but he worked a walk and drove in a run with a sacrifice fly. Chris Heisey went 0/5 in this one, continuing to struggle in a Bison uniform. Since he’s joined the Blue Jays AAA affiliate, he’s gone 4/25 (.160), with 1 HR, and a 3:9 BB:K ratio.

Bobby Korecky and Ben Rowen combined to shut down the Red Wings offence after the departure of Francis, allowing only 4 baserunners (3H, 1 BB) while notching 2 K’s.

New Hampshire Fisher Cats (59-60) @ Reading Phillies (71-51) – 6-5 L

Conner Greene, the breakout prospect in the Jays system this year, struggled for the first time in what feels like forever. In his last four starts between New Hampshire and Dunedin, he threw 25 scoreless innings while striking out 18 and walking only 5, but things weren’t the same last night.

Facing the Phillies AA squad that sits 20 games above .500, which includes a lineup with top prospects J.P. Crawford and Nick Williams (recently acquired in the Hamels deal) and a number of players enjoying successful AA campaigns, Greene laboured through 4.2 IP, giving up 5 H, 5 ER, 3 BB, 1 HR, while striking out 6.

A start like this from Greene was bound to happen eventually. He’s a 20-year-old prospect who’s at his third minor league stop this season, and very young for AA. He’s had a fantastic season, one that’s thrusted him into the talk of the Jays top prospects and potentially allowed Alex Anthopoulos to part with some top arms. His season long numbers between low-A, high-A and AA are still very good: 118 IP, 3.36 ERA, 119 H, 6 HR, 33 BB, 107 K. Hopefully it’s a blip in the radar for Greene and he can continue to have a strong season.

Chad Girodo followed Greene, throwing 2.1 IP, allowing only one baserunner and striking out 2. The 24-year-old lefty is putting up some terrific numbers at AA: 25 IP, 0.72 ERA, 24 H, 0 HR, 2 BB, 19 K. He’s improved upon his already great numbers from earlier in the year in Dunedin. He seems to be following a similar path that Aaron Loup took to the majors. Could be someone who vies for a spot in next year’s bullpen.

The Fisher Cats offence scored 5 runs despite only getting 5 base hits; however, 3 of those hits went for extra bases, and they managed to work 4 BB’s. Jorge Flores hit his first home run of the year, improving his slash rate to a tidy .287/.367/.363/.730. Not bad for a middle infielder drafted in the 19th round in 2012.

Roemon Fields has struggled as of late, only notching 5 base hits in his last 37 AB’s (.135), but he delivered two hits in this one, leading to a R and an RBI and 2 SB.

Clearwater Threshers (69-53) @ Dunedin Blue Jays (53-67) – 9-4 L

The Dunedin staff really had a rough go in this one, as Alonzo Gonzalez, Matt Dermody, and Colton Turner combined to give up 14 hits and 3 walks, leading to the 9 ER. Chris Smith was the only Dunedin pitcher to have any sort of success against the Clearwater team, throwing a clean inning of work with a strikeout.

On the offensive side of things, Anthony Alford continued to be a terrific leadoff hitter, getting on base twice via a single and a walk, scoring a run and stealing his 12th base of the year. He’s struckout a lot lately, 14 times in the last ten games, but his 18.8% BB% in Dunedin is better than expected, improved from his 25.9% rate in Lansing, and pretty damn good for a 21-year-old who missed a ton of development time before this season.

Christian Lopes and L.B. Dantzler were the only Dunedin hitters to notch multi-hit games. Dantzler led the way, going 2/4, 2B, HR, 3 RBI, BB.

Lake County Captains (60-57) @ Lansing Lugnuts (66-54) – 7-4 L

Another loss for the Blue Jays minor league system yesterday, as the Lugnuts fell apart in the 9th inning against Lake County, leading to the 7-4 loss.

Lugnut starter, Jon Wandling, threw together a quality start, going: 7 IP, 4 H, 1 ER, 3 BB, 4 K, and he left the game with the lead, 3-2.

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Phil Kish following Wandling, but issued a run in the top half of the 8th to tie the game. The Lugnuts responded by getting the lead back in the bottom half. Kish fell apart in the 9th, allowing 4 runs to cross and delivering the loss for the Lugnuts. Lake County LF, Anthony Santander delivered the final blow, a 3-run home run.

Kish finished with a brutal line of 2 IP, 5 H, 4 ER, 1 BB, 1 K, bringing his season long ERA to 6.21.

The Lugnuts offence got 12 hits, but only two of which were of the extra base variety, limiting the damage they could have done. Richard Urena and D.J. Davis had multi-hit efforts, as the two top prospects have hopefully shaken off their recent slumps.

Josh Almonte and Michael De La Cruz also had multi-hit games including 2B’s, with De La Cruz driving in two of the Lugnuts runs.

Tri-City Dust Devils (31-27) @ Vancouver Canadians (26-32) – 11-6 W

The Canadians offence absolutely exploded in this one, scoring 8 runs in the first three innings, including 5 in the first inning. They only managed 9 hits in the game, which is odd for an 11 run game, but three of those hits were home runs, supplying all the damage they needed.

Along with the 9 hits, they worked 9 walks, leading to the 3-run, 2-run, and 2-run home runs from Juan Kelly, Andrew Guillotte, and Gunnar Heidt.

None of the Vancouver pitchers faired too well in this one, as the offence carried them to victory last night.

Bluefield Blue Jays (20-34) @ Bristol Pirates (25-25) – 3-2 L

Not much to note in this one, as the Bluefield squad only managed three base hits, all of which were singles.

On the pitching side of things, Matthew Smoral threw 1.2 innings, allowing a hit, 2 BB, and 1 ER. The 2012 first rounder has been an absolute disaster this season, back in rookie ball due to serious control problems: 19 BB in 13 IP between Bluefield and Dunedin.

Smoral seemed to take a step in the right direction last year, moving up to Vancouver, having a solid 3.19 ERA between two levels despite the control issues, and showing promise by striking out 70 batters in 53.2 IP. I’m not sure if it’s injuries holding him back this year, or mechanical issues, or injury woes, but whatever it is, it’s not good news for the 21-year-old lefty.

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