Thursday, September 29, 2011

2011 in Review: Lansing Lugnuts

In the afterglow of what was likely the best regular seasons night in professional sports history, made all the more enjoyable by several rather remarkable sub-plots (and the fact that one of the Evil Empires was so throughly humiliated) it seems very anti-climatic to be doing another write up on the Jays minor league teams, but the roads must roll and there’s a lot of things on my calendar at this time of year so I had better start making up some ground.

It’s made a bit better because we no arrive at one of the more fascinating affiliates to talk about. There’s some real heft to this list, as you will see.

1. Jake Marisnick, CF, 20, 6'4" 200
It’s probably impossible for me to overstate just how much I love me some Jake Marisnick.  He’s easily a Top 5 prospect in the Blue Jays organization, and he was ranked third in the MWL by Baseball America (though they also commented that any of the top five could have been #1). Not only did he have an outstanding offensive and defensive year, while accumulating sterling reports from every scout who saw him, but from May onward, he got better and better as the season progressed, posting a .983 OPS in August. Overall his final OPS was .888 and, to add to the juicy goodness here, he stole 37 bases.  Given their situation in CF and RF, the Jays can afford to be patient with Marisnick, taking him one level at a time. But I don’t know if I can stand to wait until 2015 to see him competing for a job in Toronto.

2. Marcus Knecht, 21, OF, 6'1" 200
Overshadowed somewhat by Marisnick, the RH hitting Knecht is a fine hitter and a fine prospect in his own right. Pushed to LF not because he’s a poor defender but because his teammates are just that good, Knecht wore down a bit in August but overall had a fine season. The Toronto native and third round pick in the 2010 draft finished the year with an .851 OPS and solid marks across the board, with the exception of a too-high strikeout rate.

3. Michael Crouse, 20, RF, 6'4" 215
A 16th round sleeper from the 2008 draft, Crouse carries the tag of having great tools but needing polish. Coming into 2011 he had an impressive half season on his second try at the GCL to brag about, and not much else statistically speaking. It was something of a surprise that he started the year in Lansing but clearly he was up to the challenge. August was even less kind to him than to Knecht, as he missed all but six games but consider the final stat line for these three guys:

M: 118 G, 462 AB, 148 H, 27 D, 6 T, 14 HR, 77 RBI, 43 BB, 91 K, 37 SB, 8 CS
K: 121 G, 439 AB, 120 H, 34 D, 3 T, 16 HR, 86 RBI, 67 BB, 124 K, 4 BB, 3 CS
C: 101 G, 364 AB, 95 H, 26 D, 5 T, 14 HR, 55 RBI, 44 BB, 113 K, 38 SB, 8 CS

M: .320/.392/.496/..888
K: .273/.377/.474/.851
C: .261/.352/.475/.827

Clearly Jake has a much better contact rate at this point, and Knecht is considerably slower than the other two, but beyond that it’s remarkable how similar the results are in many ways. For instance, Crouse actually had a better walk rate and XBH rate than Marisnick did, despite the lower contact rate. Crouse is reportedly quite the physical specimen too.He was right there with Marisnick all season, with the exception of a noticeable slump in June.

4. Carlos Perez, 20, C, 6'0" 193
2011 was a year Perez would probably like to forget. In may ways, he got untracked offensively in only one month (July) and reportedly had some rough patches on defense as well. Overal he finished with a .675 OPS, but he came into the season with such good numbers that it’s probably wise to give him a mulligan on this season. If it’s anything the Jays have, it’s the luxury of taking their time with catching prospects.

And on the mound...

1. Sean Nolin, LHP, 21
Nolin doesn’t just have good stats but he’s got a good story to go with it. Seems the 6'5", 235 horse, who was drafted in the 6th round in 2010, had shown up after signing last year pretty out of shape, and he didn’t have much on-field success in six starts for the rookie level squad. The Jays were pleasantly surprised when a different Nolin showed up for spring training in 2011. Toned up, and pitching much more crisply, Nolin earned a spot on the Lansing roster and never looked back. He racked up 113 K in 108 IP, while posting a 3.6 ratio of strikeouts to walks and a 1.23 WHIP. Between solid results and having made an impression with his work effort, the Jays think they have something to be proud of in Nolin.

2. Casey Lawrence, RHP, 22
Ok, let me be frank - Lawrence is probably not really a prospect. His entire career will be an uphill battle against that perception. He was an undrafted free agent, signed by the Jays after the 2010 draft. Then he went right out and kicked serious ass in the NYP league, built around impeccable control. In 2011, pitching most of the year for Lansing, he maintained solid     rate stats in every area, except that he gave up a much higher HR rate than in 2010. This might have been a fluke, or it might be a sign that he’s one of those guys who’s skills play well at the lower level but gets exposed as they move up. He’s one of those guys you want to root for, and that’s why i tip my rhetorical hat to him here, but he’s got a lot to overcome yet.

3. Danny Barnes, RHRP, 21
I really hesitate to include a reliever on a list like this, particularly at such a low level. As a general rule relief prospects below AA probably aren’t prospects at all. But Barnes was dominant. He struck out 13.5 per 9, while having a WHIP of 0.97 and an ERA of 2.32. He might be the exception. Impressive work for a 35th round pick.

Drew Hutchison pitched about half a season here too, but look for him on the Dunedin list. Syndergaard and Nicolino also had a few starts here but they’ve been covered.

As much as I hate to trap myself into a deadline I don’t meet, I’m hoping to get the Dunedin review up over the weekend.


   

Saturday, September 24, 2011

2011 in Review: Vancouver Canadians

Like Bluefield, it's really kind of remarkable this club made the playoffs  (and in this case won a championship). In both cases the premium talent isn't very deep. both have just a bare handful  of studs, some interesting sleepers, and a bunch of organizational player type. both suffered a good bit from their best players being promoted. But the September results were there. The Canadians were particularly ordinary on the offensive side.

1. Kevin Patterson, 1B, 22, 6'4", 220
Patterson was the Blue Jays 30th round pick in 2011, and any enthusiasm about his hitting has to be tempered with another look at his age. A 22 year old with any skill at all SHOULD be knocking around opposing pitching at this level. Still, Patterson was the best hitter on this team in 2011 with an OPS that would have ranked 4th in the league (.859) had he enough at bats to qualify. Patterson played in roughly half of the teams games (after destroying GCL pitching for 15 games) so one might double his counting stats to get an idea what a full season might have looked like.

2. Jon Berti, 2B, 21, 5'10", 175
There's a rule of thumb that suggests that if you are drafted as a 2B, particularly beyond the first couple of rounds (Berti was selected in the 18th in this years draft) you are really on the margins of having a future. Berti is at very best a sleeper. But he did post an impressive OPS and stole 23 bases (against five CS) and being the best hitter over the full season of the team's play, he deserves to at least be noticed.

3. Jon Jones, CF, 22, 5'' 11", 185
The speedy Jones, a 29th rounder from 2010, didn't really hit that well except for power. He's started the year in Lansing but with that impressive OF he lost out. Perhaps he resented the demotion? He did, however, hit much better after the break, and he led the team in home runs while also stealing 18. He's probably still got a better chance than some guys above him like Marcus Brisker and Kenny Wilson.

And on the mound...

1. Noah Syndergaard, RHP, 19 (pitched virtually entire season at 18)
It's difficult to overstate just how well regarded Syndergaard is. After seven appearance in Bluefield he made 4 excellent starts in Vancouver and then got the call to bolster the Lansing squad in the playoffs (he made 2 starts at that level). Over the three levels combined he threw 59 innings and compiled a 1.83 ERA, a 1.08 WHIP, and 3.78 K/BB - and opponents hit .211 off of him. He's a classic power pitcher in a classic power pitcher's body, working off a fastball with excellent movement. Reportedly his secondary pitches are raw but show plenty of promise. The kid is a top 10 prospect in the Jays system  and given the depth he's competing against, that's high praise. but hes worthy of it.

2.Justin Nicolino, LHP, 19
Nicolino was chosen by the staff at Baseball America as the best overall prospect in the Northwest League (Syndergaard didn't meet the playing time limits in any of the leagues he played in) and they called him a pitcher with #2 starter projection in the majors. It's easy to see why. A 2nd round pick in last years draft, the 6'3" lefty is still listed at just 160 pounds so he has room yet to grow and perhaps improve on his already impressive ability. Check out this stat line from his 12 appearances for the Canadians:
1.03 ERA, 0.75 WHIP, 5.82 K/BB, 1.89 BB/9, 11 K/9, .156 BAA
He was truly a man among boys  and it's puzzling that the jays didn't advance him to lansing before the very end of August.

The list for the VanCans is a short one, particularly for a playoff team. There are likely some sleepers there that haven't posted gaudy stats yet but whom we will be talking about in years to come - Remember Nestor Molina was my #46 prospect a year ago! But it's the nature of such things that it's difficult to know who that might be. Here's a combined list for the Vancouver and Bluefield teams:

1. Noah Syndergaard
2. Aaron Sanchez
3. Justin Nicolino
4. Chris Hawkins
5. Kevin Pillar
6. Tyler Ybarra
7. Mitch Taylor
8. Dave Rollins
9/10 (tie) Kevin Patterson and Art Charles

Next up, the mighty Lansing Lugnuts.

Monday, September 19, 2011

He's Smarter Than You

And don't you forget it.



Hot off the presses today (well, yesterday by the time I get this posted) comes a story by John Tomase of the Boston Herald about Alex Anthopoulos and his philosophy of team building with some remarkable quotes from AA which are sure to spark a lot of discussion among rosterbating fans pining away to see Rogers' cash dispersed liberally on the Free Agent market.

It was only a few days before when local writer Jeff Blair kindle the fire when he stated (without a supporting quote) that Paul Beeston would not sign off on a contract longer than five years, now AA seems to add more fuel to the flame with comments which can't be music to the ears of those penciling Fielder or Pujols (and every once in a while both!) into the Blue Jays 2012 lineup.



Here's the direct quote:



I think we’ve had a lot of really good players here,” Anthopoulos said. “Obviously it’s hard to get the great ones, especially in free agency. One, they don’t get to free agency. Two, you normally pay them more years and more dollars than you have to. And three, you’re getting them — not at the end of their careers — but a little bit older. It’s what we need to do with the division we’re in and the parameters we have to work with.


If I was the GM of some other team in some other division, everything would be different. Everything we do is tailored to the parameters of Toronto, Rogers (Centre), Canada, AL East, Boston, New York, Tampa, Baltimore. Put it all in a pot and say, ‘OK, what’s the best game plan?’ ”
 
The trade route where we are right now is important for us,” Anthopoulos said. “It’s going to be a big part of what we’re doing and it is. Free agency is the last route we want to go. At some point we’ll have to start delving into it a little more, but I still want to try to avoid it at all costs. If we try to do this through the draft, it’s going to be a while. And it’s not going to work and we’re not going to get it to time properly.”
How much clearer does he need to make it? Don't get me wrong, would I love to see Pujols play out a Hall-of-Fame career in a Jays uniform? Heck yes. And I'm not worried about the price. But given these comments, it's hard to see AA getting in on any premium FA with the possible exception of Darvish who's obviously not your conventional situation. And even that is possibly a long shot.



So I, for one, am going to quit entertaining that kind of speculation. If he wants to surprise me I'll enjoy it but until then, I'm going with the assumption that any FA signing would be something similar to the signings of Rauch and Dotel last winter and any premium acquisition will come, as he indicates, via trade. And I'm ok with that. I admit it's kind of irrational, but I really had rather slay the dragons with guys who feel like “real” Blue Jays – the ones who we're acquired with genius, and not just cash – than to have to concede a big portion of the credit to some FA import.



So, in solidarity with his comment, let me suggest who thoughts regarding potential deals which are in the forefront of my off-season daydreams:



  1. Joey Votto/Yonder Alonso – Votto is THE answer, trade wise, to the Pujols/Fielder meme. He's also not necessarily available and will be very expensive if he can be had. Still, with the Reds sitting on a premium 1B prospect, looking at the potential that Votto would leave via FA in two years (or require a mega-deal) and calculating that there's much more value in dealing him with two years of control rather than one, I certainly think it's possible. And one doesn't need to go even that deep in calculating why the Blue Jays would covet a premium talent who's a native of the area. On the other hand, if the Reds insist on trying to keep Votto for years to come, then it's time they faced the reality that Alonso is no outfielder (let alone a 3B). The jays would certainly have to be interested in a premium prospect who fell more in the age range of the other young core players they have assembled. He'd also come considerably cheaper.
  2. Gordon Beckham - This one falls much more in the area of reclamation projects, and only really makes sense if the ChiSox are at the end of their patience with the young 2B. It would be a gamble, for sure, but AA is known to like the guy a lot and I'm kind of the opinion that it's better ultimately to try to get him back on an upward path than to hope and pray Johnson or Hill can put together a good year.
I'm sure I could scrounge up some other intriguing possibilities – the biggest argument against these two is they make so much sense that AA will probably be doing something else entirely – but as much as I'm sure at some point we'll have to give up a prospect I really love, I still like the trade plan myself, much more so that the idea of throwing big cash at free agents. Over the entire history of the Jays, the number of premium free agent signings I have swooned over has been very very small. I haven't found a reason to change that preference.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

2011 in Review: The Bluefield Blue Jays

The Blue Jays affiliates boasted an impressive five teams in the playoffs this year and Bluefield was among them. all props to the team, and kudos to Dennis Holmberg for winning Manager of the Year. But while there is real player development value in giving the kids playoff experience, ultimately for the purposes of this review is targeted to individual results, and that's where I'm going to focus my attention lest I bloviate even more than usual.

1. Chris Hawkins, LF, 20, 6''2", 195
Hawkins played most of the season at 19, and while he was the 2nd best hitter on the team, in terms of results, Hawkins was a third round pick (in 2010) and the other guy went in the 32nd round so I'm gonna give Hawkins the benefit of the doubt here. He has nothing to apologize for on his results though. The k's are not a bit high as one might expect given his age and experience, he showed good power and a very respectable OBP. There's a lot to like here.

2. Kevin Pillar, RF, 22, 6'0" ,200
The "other guy" is Pillar. Pillar hit for more power, made more contact, and struck out less than Hawkins. so why is he not #1? Besides the relative draft positions - age. Pillar had a bunch of success, but he spent the whole season at a level 2-3 spots lower than a 22 year old normally finds himself. Which raises questions about how seriously the Jays see him as a prospect. Still, the Blue Jays minor league field coordinator Doug Davis said in a Batter's Box interview that Pillar has an off-the-charts make-up which made him a tremendous leader in the clubhouse. Sometimes these guys do come from unexpected places and mate reasonable talent with tremendous drive and turn out to be something worth watching. By rights, he ought to be skipped all the way to Dunedin next year but he probably has to establish himself at Lansing first. Still, if he's not in Dunedin by the end of 2012 you know he's one of those low-level mirages.

3. Art Charles, 1B, 20, 6'6", 221
The big man on the team led the squad in homers, and RBI, but also posted well over a strikeout per game which is a rate which will expose him badly as he moves up the ladder. He did also lead the team in walks, so there may well be something there, but I'm sure the Jays are really going to be working on better contact without losing the power. As with Pillar, I have no real information on his defensive skills.

4. Dan Arcila, 2B/SS, 21, 6'1" 170
Listed as a SS, he played 2B most of the time for Bluefield to accommodate slow-developing bonus-baby Gus Pierre. I can't really tell you whether or not Arcila has the defensive chops to play SS if the opportunity were available. I can tell you that he had a higher slugging percentage than Charles (though with considerably fewer walks and K's).

5. Gutavo Pierre, SS, 19, 6'2", 193
Pierre opened the season in Lansing where his defense completely disappeared (an incredible 36 in 56 games) and his bat was, as you might expect, non-existent. Shifted to Bluefield after the short-season teams began play, Pierre worked from the DH position for many games early on as the team decided to let him focus on one side of the ballgame. His bat did recover moderately, (though he did fade over the course of the season) and his error rate fell to 8, but with so many games at DH, that has to be understood in context. There's still a ton of work to do here.


And on the mound . . .

1. Aaron Sanchez, RHSP, 19
Stat aside, the obviously most talented arm in Bluefield, once Syndergaard moved up at least, was Sanchez. The pitcher Mel Queen said was the best prospect he'd seen since Chris Carpenter was brilliant at times, and wobbly at others. Overall the biggest concern is refining his command.

2. Tyler Ybarra,  LHP, 21
Ybarra was a lowly 46th round choice in the 2008 draft, albeit understood as a potential sleeper. He got a mere 20 innings in 2009 in the GCL and lost all of 2010 to injury. He was working his way back in 2011 and boy did he ever. He started out in relief, then worked his way into a "tandem start" arrangment in which he pitched several innings as would a SP. down the stretch he did get five starts and the Jays seem likely to continue to use him in that role.He's notable for his nifty 2.15 ERA, 1.08 WHIP, .200 BAA, and 3.38 K/BB ratio. Ybarra certainly doesn't have the pedigree, but he put himself on the radar at est in 2011.

3. Mitch Taylor, LHSP, 19
The 7th round selection in the 2010 draft contrast with Sanchez in that his calling card is a much better refined strike-throwing ability. His stats are somewhat reminiscent of Bobby Bell's from a couple of years back though being left handed should give him a higher ceiling. On the other hand, he was sent home early and unofficial reports suggested it was a discipline/coaching issue.

4. Dave Rollins, LHSP, 21
Being somewhat older, and having been a 24th round choice, I'm a bit more skeptical of Rollins than of the two above him. However, on the other side, Rollins is more advanced than Joe Musgrove who was taken much higher so he deserves props. Rollins pitched almost 36 innings over two levels and walked a mere 3 batters while striking out 29.

There are fewer names here partly because most of the high achievers didn't stick around and will appear on the Vancouver or Lansing list and partly because with a newly created level within the Jays farm system, there is a bit more filler on this team (and Vancouver) than would be ideal.. But don't be surprised if some sleepers from this bunch emerge.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

2011 in Review: The GC Blue Jays

[First in a Series]


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)


Combined ranking:
1. Cardona
2. Anderson
3. Thon
4. Murphy
5. Musgrove
6. Arce
7. Pompey
8. Nessy
9. Vega
10. Jensen




Next up: The Bluefield Blue Jays



Monday, September 5, 2011

Out of Innings?

At this time of year, in recent seasons, the minds of the obsessive followers of teams out of contention (and some of those fans of teams in contention) begin to muse about whether a given young pitchers is being worked to hard. This became a front burner issue for the fans after SI's Tom Verducci several years ago detailing what he called the YAE (Year After Effect). Verducci made the case that for pitchers under 25, a team should not expect them to exceed 30IP over their previous career high. to do so, he argues (not unpersuasively) invites injury in the year after they are pushed to an excessive high.

The Jays management have discussed a somewhat modified position on this, in that they try to limit an increase in workload to 20% over the previous career high, though this is not set in stone, and not necessarily limited to those under 25 (they applied the limit to Brandon Morrow last year).

So with that in mind, let's review the important pitchers in the Blue Jays system and see where they stand:

Toronto-

Romero is very safe. Morrow and Cecil both have about 30 IP left and should not exceed that by any significant amount. Luis Perez is almost 60 IP short of his previous career high. Henderson Alvarez has about 3 more starts in him before he hits his theoretical ceiling (he shouldn't exceed 150 IP) - this means someone else should take his last turn.
If we assume Kyle Drabek is a Toronto pitcher for the purpose of this exercise, he's got about 30 more IP in the tank so there's no issue there.

Las Vegas-

Their season is finished, and no one there really matters except Brad Mills anyway. He did not exceed his previous career high this year.

New Hampshire-

Begins their playoff run tomorrow, and has no less than 4 pitchers worth worrying about.
Chad Jenkins: Jenkins has about 3 IP until he gets to 120%, but he's a horse and the Jays will surely let him pitch as long as he's effective in the playoffs (which would only be two starts in any case). In theory he could exceed the "cap" by a dozen innings or so.
Deck McGuire: Thanks to a recent injury, Deck has about 10 IP in the tank. One assumes he will be handled gently in his first playoff start and any excess of the cap will be insignificant.
Nestor Molina: Is already almost 50 IP past his previous career high (81 IP). whatever damage will be done has been done.
Drew Hutchison: Has more than doubled his total from last year. i think it's safe to assume he's well beyond any he might have accumulated in high school. It's worth remembering that in his case, as well as Molina's, we are not privy to how many innings they may have pitched in unofficial settings.

Dunedin-
Only one guy in the playoff rotation to worry about here, everyone else is a fringe prospect, and that is
Asher Wojciechowski: Combining his last year of college and the 12 IP he got as a pro in 2010, he still has about 7 IP in the tank. Any exceeding of the cap will be in the single digits.

Lansing-
We're down to dealing with high schoolers here. There's no way to find out how many IP Noah Syndergaard or Aaron Sanchez had in high school. But I don't think the Verducci rule is generally applied in this context, since it's hardly practical to limit a first pros season to 75 IP or some such.

So, in summation, give someone else Alvarez's last start and there is no real issue which remains to be addressed. We'll have to watch Molina and hutch next year to see if there's some ill effect.

by the way, random thought -

  • McGowan was activated today, Huzzah! He's available to pitch tomorrow, and I, for one, would like to see Perez given the first five IP and (unless he's doing something special) give way to McGowan to start the sixth.
  • Brett Lawrie delivered the walk-off win with an 11th inning HR just now. is there nothing this young man can't do? (It's sure not defense either).
  • Speaking of today's game - kudos to Henderson Alvarez (and the bullpen) for stifling the league's best offense today. He's making a heck of a case to break camp in the rotation next year.

Upcoming plans - It is my intention to do a fairly through review of each minor league squad, starting at the lowest level (not counting the Dominican) and working my way up. This will take a bit of time and research to do right, but I hope to be able to do no less than one a week and preferably two. Stay tuned.

UPDATE
: September recalls

Shi Davidi has the scoop on what players the jays will add on the September recalls and it provokes some questions. All the conversations I've seen on this subject proceed from the assumption that such players have to be added to the 40 man roster if they are not already on it. After this morning's addition of Dustin McGowan, the Blue Jays only had one opening, yet three of the recalls were not previously on the 40 man roster. Either these assumptions were wrong (unlikely) or the Jays have other roster maneuvers afoot to open up space.

Here's the list:

Kyle Drabek
Brad Mills
Danny Farquhar
Chad Beck
David Cooper
Adam Loewen

Loewen, Farquhar, and Beck were not previously on the 40 man roster. My tentitive speculation is that PJ Walters may have been cut (a reliever already on the 40 who didn't get a recall while two others did seems vulnerable) and Travis Snider was moved to the 60-day DL (assuming that can happen this late in the season). That would create the room necessary. There doesn't seem to be another obvious candidate to be cut, unless you read a lot into the glaring fact that Darin Mastroianni isn't on that list.