Sunday, September 11, 2011
2011 in Review: The GC Blue Jays
The GCL team can in many ways be the hardest team to do such a review on because of a couple of circumstances which are more common at this level than at the higher levels. First, it's much more transitory. Depending on age, a good prospect might just wet their feet here before moving on, or he might be a regular who accumulates a lot of playing time. Secondly, it can serve as a sort of taxi squad to the upper level teams.
Fortunately, this isn't going to get in my way too much because those who were promoted after a small sample can usually be addressed on their other team, and the "taxi squad" guys are almost always simply organizational filler anyway.
I'm going to begin this review with the offensive side of the game. I'm really not in a position to tell you much of anything about defense beyond what may be inferred by who played what position the most, but that can tell us something about how the Blue Jays organization views their abilities, and we can then move on to the accumulated offensive stats. This, then, is one writers take on the top prospects among non-pitchers.
1. Jake Anderson, RF, 18, 6'4" - 190
Anderson was the Blue jays' 2nd overall pick in the 2011 draft and, as seems obligatory for a draftee of his station, was compelled to "hold out" until the signing deadline but when he finally got on the field, he was an absolute star. There's a sample size caveat here, because some considered Anderson a bit of a signability choice at that pick, and it was only nine games. Still, a 1.098 OPS from such a highly drafted player has to be respected. It will be interesting to see if the Jays advance him to Vancouver or even Lansing next spring as the aggressively advanced Marcus Kenect or if they will send him to Bluefield in a more measured approach.
2. DJ Thon, SS, 19, 6'2" - 185
Thon was, as you know if you are one of the few regular readers of this blog (or one of the many readers of sites like those in the sidebar) considered a late-first round talent who was unsignable last year when the Jays stole him in the 5th round and accomplished the supposed impossible by getting his name on a contract. He didn't play at all last spring, and he reportedly missed a lot of time in extended spring training with what the Blue jays reported as a "blood disorder." While the details are unreported, I'm going to presume until I've heard differently that it's because of this that Thon seemed to lack endurance this year. He was good in June, excellent in July (.911 OPS while starting almost as many games at DH as at SS) and helpless in August (.385 OPS while playing 15 of 17 starts at SS). it seems reasonable to give him a mulligan on that August and continue to expect big things.
3. Eric Arce, LF, 19, 5'9" - 204
Physically evocative of Matt Stairs, Arce was the most prolific hitter to play essentially the full season for the GCL squad. Though apparently not a polished defender (he was the guy who appeared most at DH as well as in LF) that might be because he was drafted as a catcher.The LH hitting Arce was drafted by the Jays in the latter rounds (27th and 25th respectively) of both the 2010 and 2011 draft (Arce walked away from his college team in time to retain his ability to re-enter the draft). While you have to take anything done by such a late pick at the lower levels with a huge grain of salt, you have to respect Arce - after all he did only set a league record for home runs with 14 (which would be more impressive if you'd ever heard of the previous record holder). More impressively, he drew 38 walks in 49 games which is eye-catching for a power hitter. He was promoted to Bluefield at the very end of the season no doubt for the playoff ride. Expect him to move slowly through the system as the Jays explore whether he's legit, or a mirage.
4. Dalton Pompey, CF, 18, 6'1" - 170
The Ontario native was drafted in the 16th round of the 2010 draft and is viewed by some as an interesting sleeper. Reportedly an impressive defender, a skilled base-runner (19 steals, never caught in the GCL this year, he was 4 for 5 in Bluefield) and able to draw a walk (24 in 42 games), Pompey does need to increase his contact rate to really put himself on the map, but he has plenty of time. He struggled to put the bat on the ball after his August 10 promotion to Bluefield, but the good eye continued to be apparent. look for him back there in 2012.
5. Santiago Nessy, C, 18, 6'2" - 230
The conundrum with Nessy is obvious - can a guy his size stay behind the plate? That which constitutes solid offensive development for a catcher can become very mediocre if that same player is at 1B or DH. At this point Nessy has doubles power and strikes out far too often, but he had a respectable OPS for a Venezuelan bonus baby playing in his first year stateside. Given what they paid him, the jays surely see something in him but my guess is by the time he hits Dunedin, the tools of ignorance will be in his past.
6. Jorge Vega-Rosado, SS/2B, 19, 5'8" - 175
AKA Chino Vega (which I shall henceforth call him so get used to it). Vega would seem, at first glance, to be an insignificant guy. A slender 5'8" guy drafted in the 28th round, how good could he be, right? Well, the Jays thought enough of his potential to give him a offer for $200,000 which enticed him out of college by mid-June. Playing mostly 2B out of deference to Thon, Vega rewarded that decision with solid contact (.317 BA) respectable pop and solid speed (22 SB in 26 attempts) while playing reportedly solid defense. Little guys will always have to earn respect but Vega has nothing to apologize for so far.
Others to watch: Nico Taylor (OF), Justin Atkinson (3B/SS), and Seth Conner (3B)
Turning to the pitchers . . .
1. Adonys Cardona, RHSP, 17
The Venezuelan bonus baby - recipient of a #2.8 million contract in 2010 - was not lights out this year, his first in the states, but it was more than respectable for a 17 year old who's clearly the brightest light among pitchers on this roster. The figure to look at here, rather than ERA, is the almost 3:1 ratio of K's to walks. He also struck out more than a hitter per IP and had a solid ground out ratio. He's overshadowed by the plethora of more advances pitching prospects in the system so far, which is proper - but don'tforget his name.
2. Griffin Murphy, LHSP, 20, 6'3" - 200
Murphy was selected as a highly regarded 2nd round pick in 2010 and had an inconsistent year overall in 2011, especially for a pitcher who was 20 on opening day in the GCL. Some of his ending numbers were respectable, but the opposition made too much contact against him. On this squad, he remains highly ranked because of his draft status, but as he advances he will have to step up his game if he wants to remain in the "best of" conversations.
3. Joe Musgrove, RHSP, 18, 6'5" 230
Musgrove was the Blue Jays third overall pick in this years draft, and signed quickly. Mostly regarded as something of a sign-ability reach, that doesn't mean he's without talent. Musgrove put up a WHIP under 1.00 in the GCL and a solid BAA. That combined with his draft position earns him this much respect.
4. Tucker Jensen, 22, 6'2" - 205
Jensen was signed as an undrafted free agent out of the independent leagues and the climb for such players is always incredibly steep and few there be that make it. Jensen was moved to higher levels twice and stumbled each time, but - while he was old for the GCL - his stats there clearly outpaced those of anyone else on his team and absent another highly regarded teammate with a significant sample size, I'll tip my metaphorical cap to him here.
Other names you might hear again: Colby Brussard (RHRP), Jeremy Gabryszwski (RHSP), Randall Thompson (RHSP)
Next up: The Bluefield Blue Jays