Blue Jays MiLB Recap – Let’s get started!
By Craig Borden
Three of the Toronto Blue Jays Minor League Affiliates kicked things off for their 2018 season on Thursday. They are off and running hot out of the gate as the 9th best MiLB system in baseball.
Buffalo Bisons – Season starts Friday
The Buffalo Bisons will kick things off for the 2018 season Friday against the Red Wings in my hometown of Rochester, NY. The weather has been frigid here and waaaay to windy. It will be interesting to see if the Herd gets to battle their way through their rival Wings. The expected high for Friday here in Rochester is 44 degrees Fahrenheit with scattered snow showers. Yes, I did indeed type snow for the forecast in the “Spring”.
Joe Biagini is slated to be the Opening Day starter for the Bisons. He is going to be remaining in the starting rotation for the foreseeable future. He is stretched out after a decent Spring Training and looking to get a chance to show what he has consistently. He will be leading an exciting group of MLB ready talent on the Bisons roster. For the entire preview, you can click here to see the entire MiLB System Preview. Biagini will be facing Aaron Slegers who had a great 2017 with the Wings and got a short audition with the Twins last season.
New Hampshire Fisher Cats at Hartford Yard Goats (Rockies)
The offense clearly was not slowed down by the freezing temperatures in Hartford Thursday. The Fisher Cats mashed eleven hits in the season opener. Vlad Guerrero Jr. went 1-4 with a double and a pair of runs scored. Clean up hitter Lourdes Gurriel had a pair of hard-hit doubles, and drove in a pair of runs, while scoring once himself. Cavan Biggio also had a pair of hits and scored a run along with an RBI. Connor Panas joined the hit parade with two hits and an RBI as the Cats poured it on in the middle innings. Bo Bichette was the only Fisher Cat to not record a hit, but he did draw a walk and later scored. This is going to be an interesting offense all season if they perform like this.
On the mound, Fransico Rios was masterful through four innings of work. He allowed only four hits and struck out five. He had all his pitches working, but neither team had their starter pitch more than four innings in the 39 degree weather. Justin Shaffer was brought in for the next four outs and it took him six batters to collect those outs, but he did strike out three. Craig Breslow sat down the two batters he faced all by himself as he had his pitches dancing. Dusty Issacs walked three batters in his 1.2 innings of work, but managed to not get hurt by it. Jose Fernandez pitched the 9th and completed the shutout.
Jordan Romano will make his Double-A debut on Friday as the Cats will look to get their second win of the young season.
MVFC – Lourdes Gurriel – 2-4 with 2 doubles, a run scored, and a pair of RBIs
Dunedin Blue Jays at Clearwater Threshers (Phillies)
The D-Jays held on to the win for their first game of the season. T.J. Zeuch got the Opening Day start and was great. The only issue he had was with the long ball that tagged him twice. The homers totalled for three of the four earned runs that Zeuch allowed. He did gave up just four hits and a pair of walks, while striking out five. Justin Dillon, Travis Bergen, and Kirby Snead threw the final three innings without allowing a hit, and just one baserunner, while striking out three. The bullpen was critical in this one to maintain the lead.
The offense had just enough going to squeeze out the victory. The offense got started early with back to back singles by Joshua Palacios and Logan Warmoth. Palacios would later score on a groundout in the inning. In the second Nash Knight showed off his power with a big home run to right-centre field. The D-Jays would score a pair in the 3rd as well. A double from Riley Adams drove in a run and John La Prise then singled to drive in Adams. The Threshers would strike back with a three run inning off of Zeuch to tie the game up at four. In the 7th Ivan Castillo tripled with one out and later scored on a wild pitch to give the D-Jays the lead. They held the lead and Kirby Snead picked up the save for Zeuch’s first win of the season.
Tayler Saucedo will kick off the weekend for the D-Jays Friday evening in Clearwater against the Threshers.
MVDJ – Ivan Castillo – 2-4 with a double, a triple, and a run scored
Lansing Lugnuts at Great Lakes Loons (Dodgers)
The Lugnuts had the right state of mind to brave the cold and try and just start the Spring. The offense was clearly feeling warm as they proceeded to wallop the Loons’ pitchers. A steady stream of offense occurred throughout the game but the Lugnuts sealed the deal with a big 9th inning. The first run of the 2018 season was scored off of a ground out by Kevin Smith which scored Kacy Clemens. In the 2nd, Ridge Smith scored on a passed ball. He had singled earlier in the inning and advanced to third on a Reggie Pruit single.
In the 5th Samad Taylor singled with two outs. He would promptly advance to third on a pair of wild pitches from Loons pitcher Andre Scrubb. Kevin Vicuna and Kacy Clemens both took walks to load the bases. Ryan Noda then singled on a line to left to drive in a pair and put the Lugnuts up by four. Ridge Smith would drive in another run on a single in the 8th inning.
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Onto the crazy 9th inning in which the Lugnuts scored six! Samad Taylor acted as the catalyst with a leadoff single. Vicuna then doubled, which was followed by another Clemens walk to load the bases. Noda would then reach on an error that scored Taylor. Two outs later Smith struck again with another single to drive in a pair. Pruit then doubled to keep the line moving and drove in Noda. After a walk to Chavez Young, Taylor who led off the inning, singled for a pair of RBIs. This brought us to the final score of 11-1.
While the offense might have been a huge story in this game Yennsy Diaz got the start and was incredible. He pitched 5.2 innings and struck out ten batters! He also struck out the side twice during this one as he proceeded to dominate the Loons’ hitters. He allowed just one baserunner during the outing and did not walk a batter. This is a great sign for Diaz who has electric stuff, but showed issues with command last season. The only Loons hit was a double by catcher Ramon Rodriguez.
Zach Logue will get the start the second game of the season. He will look to keep the Loons hitters stuck in migration mode and off the bases Friday evening.