Friday, 11 December 2009

Farm Report 2009: The Third Basemen

You know when you are trying to raise a crop in the midst of a historic five year drought? It's kinda like that for the Jays at 3B down on the farm. there are at least three guys who were considered legitimate major league prospects and all of them failed to impress this year, with only age offering a counter-point to what is otherwise unending bleakness at this position.

See the 2008 list here)

1. Kevin Aherns: 4-26-1989 / 6'1", 195 / 1st Round, 2007

Make no mistake - Aherns did nothing to ear the #1 spot. He holds it entirely be default, being that he was a former first rounder and the highest rated 3B prospect last year, and neither of the potential challengers did anything to take it from him. There's really no point in trying to parse Ahrens' results, but what the heck. in may, June, and August Aherns was just bad at the plate, in April and July he was awesomely disastrous. I suppose one could take some encouragement from the less bad months.

If you want some tiny bit of encouragement to cling to, keep in mind that aherns was just 20 and really shouldn't have been playing at high A after the unimpressive work at Lansing last year. Especially given that the Florida State league is said to be a pitcher's league.

There's some indication the new management will take things slower with Aherns and some other struggling hitters next year. Hopefully Aherns can develop a bit of a rhythm repeating the level.

2. Mark Sobolewski: 12-24-1986 / 6', 190" / 4th round, 2008

Sobo is the one of this trio who can't entirely point to his age as a mitigating factor. Playing at 22 in Lo-A ball, you're supposed to do fairly well if you don't want to be called a disappointment. His .666 OPS certainly doesn't get close to "fairly well."

A well regarded hitter in college ball at Miami, some observers considered him a bit of a steal when the Jays signed him as a fourth round pick as they word was that he could move into the first round if he'd gone back for his senior year. but the Jays have yet to see a potential first rounder in his work. He did show improvement in his walk and strikeout rates, but it's time for him to take a step forward if he wants to stay in the conversation.

3. Balbino Fuenmayor: 11-26-1989 / 6'3", 235 / Signed as free agent.

A cool name will only get a guy so far, and the big Venezuelan - who had a mild breakout in 2008 for the Jays' Gulf Coast League affiliate - didn't offer much more than that in 2009.

The team was said this time last year to be considering moving him across the diamond to first base but that switch didn't come. Wherever he plays, a BB:K ratio of 9:119 won't get it done.

Also worth noting, the Jays tried second base prospect Scott Campbell at 3B in 2009, but - while he's a better hitter than any of these guys at this point, he doesn't have the power potential most teams look for in a 3B. It would be somewhat akin to someone like one-time Jays' prospect Chris Stynes being your full time third baseman - the sort of thing teams not even trying to contend do.

You can take heart for future lists though, it can only get better from here.

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