Sunday, 19 February 2012

First Look: Minor League Rosters, Part 3

The third and final installment of my preview of minor league rosters will be a bit more complex. As I noted in the last post, the further down the chain you go the more uncertainty you encounter for various reasons. First, the body of information a writer has to evaluate what the team is doing with a particular players gets much smaller, second there are simply more moving parts (while it's true the team is usually overstocked with veteran relievers at the upper levels, otherwise there's just 2 or 3 extra guys in play, on lower levels there's uncertainty in many places), and finally it's difficult to project where the organization will place the marginal guys let alone the filler. Sometimes the best you can do is accurately place the prospects.

Fortunately, that's all that really matters in the final analysis.

In regards to the short-season teams, you have two further considerations - what kind of progress the remaining players make in extended spring training, and what the team will do with 2012 draftees.

With all that in mind, this post will necessarily be somewhat different from the others. in this case i will discuss the players in the organizations that i did not "assign" to a full season team. when I put them on a roster, it is obviously without the benefit of the XST information so it reflects last year's work, any buzz I might have heard, and the players age and experience level. Also, I'll consider the team's demonstrated tendencies (for instance, the tendency to start a 16 year old Latin signing in the DSL, or the tendency to start a college draftee at a more advanced level.
This leads to a lot of speculation regarding players acquired last year but who have not yet played a professional game. one constant for me, the undrafted free-agent filler, no matter how well he did, takes a back seat to high round draftees

Finally, I'll note that I will not attempt a DSL roster, I'll just mention who will be there that needs to be watched.

Bottom line, don't get too committed to these rosters, there's simply too many moving parts, bt do be impressed with this - one could make up a pretty solid Top 25 prospect list JUST from players listed in this post.

[important guys in italics]

Vancouver Canadians


Daniel Norris - The highest short-season team is a bit aggressive for a high schooler, normally, and it would not be an insult to him to start him lower. But he has gotten a ton of praise, and the Jays started Nicolino here last year so there is precedent.

Joe Musgrove - Big RH was a supplemental first round pick in 2011, got 7 starts in the GCL and a tiny taste of Bluefield. Listed here because of draft pedigree but certainly could be at Blefield again to start the year.

Anthony DeSclafini - College pedigree says he'll be advanced, but the need to shift him from relief back to the rotation says he will probably be held back in XST. This is the logical squad.

Mitchell Taylor - This assumes he doesn't get the break he needs to make the cut with Lansing. Proved himself in Bluefield.

Griffin Murphy - Mixed results in the GCL last year, but it doesn't take a lot of intuition to know the team would like him to come to spring training motivated to do much better. since he's 21, this would keep him on a tighter promotion schedule, but he will need to prove he deserves it.

Dave Rollins - Short season teams tend to use more than the regular five starters, and Rollins would get plenty of work even if the five above him are on the team. He was a 24th round choice in 2011 so he doesn't have the pedigree, but he pitched very well in 7 starts split between Bluefield and Vancouver.

Taylor Cole - A college pitcher like Rollins, he was a 29th round pick last year. Cole went immediately to Vancouver but was just so-so in 11 appearances (8 starts). Given the flood of higher profile young pitchers, if he doesn't make the cut here he's probably going to find himself in the bullpen.

Kramer Champlin - A 33rd round pick last year, also out of college, almost all his work last year was at Vancouver, but it wasn't so impressive that he climbs this depth chart. Like Cole, he may well find himself in the bullpen.

Ajay Meyer - an undrafted free agent, Meyer was surprisingly good in Bluefield last year while leading that squad in games started. Still, given that background he's got an uphill climb to break into that rotation. Meyer has a chance to jump to Lansing at any given time including from opening day because this is his age 24 season and the Jays tend to be less deliberate with promotions on the "non-prospect" guys.

Other starters for last year's Canadian squad four unsigned free agents - McFarland, White Hernandez and Breault - three of whom pitched poorly and can't possibly compete with the guys above, and the fourth, Jesse Hernandez did well enough he can probably hang around as a reliever and hope for a break.

I'm not going to waste time discussing the bullpen on these teams because if any of them are some kind of gee-whiz closer candidate they are either (a) still starting; or (b) haven't shown it yet.

This group will be made up of some combination of guys who don't make the rotation, last year's squad (Brown, Permisson, Longre, Brua, Garrett, Kaye, Davis, Escelante, Pepe, Purdy) and the quality performers in Bluefield and the GCL (Kadish, Lucas, Sikula, Elliot, Brussard). some 2-4 of these might break with Lansing, the next 7 or 8 most advanced will be at Vancouver - no way to know who will be where but at this point it's too early to consider any of them "prospects."


C - Santiago Nessy - Was decent in the GCL and has promise, might be considered too raw for this level but he's a legit prospect so we'll pencil him in (lightly) on this squad.

1B - Art Charles - solid season at Bluefield, no reason at all not to move up.

2B - Dan Arcilla - Arcilla had a good year at Bluefield playing mostly SS, this guess is driven by the logistics of the available middle infielders but . . .

SS - Andrew Burns - these two guys could be reversed depending on how the team views Burns' defense. Burns was a college SS drafted in the 11th round last year who began his pro-career in Vancouver and hit fairly poorly but the sample is completely irrelevant.

3B - Gustavo Pierre - completely guess that the begin to look for a defensive home for him, but he was incredibly bad as a SS last year and you can't let that affect his hitting forever. this is the most logical move but if his problem is grounders you might well see him in CF instead.

LF - Dwight Smith, Jr. - highly regarded 2011 supplemental pick seems likely to land here.

CF - Steve McQuail - placehoder, nothing to worry about

RF - Jake Anderson - in my last post I aggressively put him in Lansing but I've reconsidered (a testament to how fluid these decisions can be) - there's probably value in starting the two highly touted OF draftees start their journey together.

DH - Eric Arce - He was dominant in the GCL, setting a league record for homers (which is as much a reflection of his pedestrian pedigree as his power tool) and while not physically imposing, seems well situated for this role. He can play in the outfield and can handle 1B (albeit no one really wants a 5'9" 1B) so he's not regulated to just DH.

Bench: Pierce Rankin, Tim Mahler - catchers; Balbino Fuenmayor - 1B/3B; Andy Fermin - 2B/SS; Bryson Namba - 3B; some filler OF.

Bluefield Blue Jays


Adonys Cardona - Very young and pretty raw, but very good and highly regarded. Preformed very well as a starter in the GCL.

Kevin Comer - another bonus baby draftee from the 2011 draft, on a more "normal" schedule than Norris.

Jeremy Gabryzwski - less well known 2011 draftee, but he was a 3rd rounder and i put him here out of deference to the reality that 2012 draftees will take up a lot of the room on the GCL squad.

Tom Robson - Similar situation to Gaby, save the "well known" thing - Canadian guy will be a lot of peoples "pet project"

Mark Biggs - drafted in the 8th round, paid 2nd round money to sign - that should tell you all you need to know.

Brady Dragmire - The last of the relatively high (17th round) 2011 draftees I haven't mentioned yet. My understanding is he's more raw than some of those ahead of him and he might end up in the GCL.

Misual Diaz - Made the Lansing roster last spring and struggled there before fighting injuries all year. last good work was at this level and given the crowding, they may drop him back here to get his feet under him. If he does he would be in line to skip up to Lansing in the right situation.

Deivy Estrada - his history is good numbers is belied by reports that his stuff is quite short (particularly low velocity) and it may be that he was getting exposed already in Bluefield. This will be an important spring for him as the illusion may have dissipated.

Starters who don't make the rotation, along with the leftovers from the guys listed for Vancouver above, as well as potentially Leslie Williams and Shane Farrell from last year's draft, any left-over starters who missed any of these rotations, Adaric Kelly and Zach Adams from the 2010 draft, and undrafted free agents Tucker Jensen and Randall Thompson who did good work as a part-time starter for the GCL squad last year. Again, impossible to predict the exact crew.


Catcher - Alexsys Rodriguez - might turn into an interesting guy but was quite ordinary in the GCL in 2011, still be best guy for the job.

First Base - Seth Conner - more a third baseman but there's an actual prospect over there and there's really no 1B of any sort for this job unless the jays draft one in 2012 and sign him right away. I'm just guessing here but if it was me, I'd reward Connor's good offensive year last year with the job here unless his better comes along.

Second Base - Chino Vega - Player of the year in the GCL, splitting time at SS but hissmall stature and the presence of actual top-prospects at SS would seem to be enough pressure to push him here. He might turn into something, but he's a 5'8' guy drafted in the 33rd round so lets take our time.

Shortstop - DJ Thon - Jays have the luxury of taking it slow with him and letting him build some momentum so he will probably start here,, but with no major prospect for three levels above him and another well regarded guy behind him, he will advance if he's ready.

Third Base - Matt Dean - My "pet prospect" from the 2011 crop, I can't be unbiased about this guy. Vancouver has a project, essentially, and Sweeney is the only other well regarded guy between Dean and the majors. but because those two are just in front of him in progression, this is where he fits. but I would not be at all shocked to see him advance. Particularly if Pierre struggles with the position defensively.

Left Field - Derrick Loveless - tiny sample size for the 2011 draftee (32nd round) - might flip with Taylor.

Center Field - Dalton Pompey - for a guy with modest accomplishments, this Canadian kid has a lot of buzz. of course maybe I just answered my own question. He did steal 23 in 24 attempts last year.

Right Field - Nico Taylor - surprisingly excellent offense (for a 42nd round pick) in the GCL, I'm not sure which outfield position was his regular home normally but he played left in deference to Anderson. But before Anderson signed Taylor player RF so I'm going with that.

DH - no one that matters unless its a 2012 draftee.

Bench: Aaron Munoz - Catcher; Cody Bartlett SS; Justin Atkinson - IF; Javan Williams, Ron Melendez - OF;

Gulf Coast Blue Jays


Jario Labourt - Often overlooked Dominican signing, because he wasn't signed in the mid-summer rush, Labourt is a 6'4" lefty who's name might be on everyone's lips a year from now.

Yeyfry Del Rosario - another bonus baby, 7 weeks younger than labourt but pitched just as well in the DSL last year. He's not quite as big but neither are through growing yet.

Cesar Sanchez - not really a prospect, but pitched fairly well in the DSL and can at least serve as filler until the 2012 guys start signing. also, since starters only go about 3 innings at this level the organization tends to use "tandem" starts so more than five starters are needed.

the rest of the rotation will be undrafted free agent filler (possibly including holdovers from last year like Jensen and Thompson) and 2012 draftees.

A bunch of guys you never heard of, low round draft picks from 2012, and free agents, but there is one name to watch:

Ericdavis Marquez - no, that's not a typo. Marquez will be 21 next month and he will advance a couple of levels pretty quickly if he preforms so as to figure out if it's just a case of being too old for the level. That said, he was dominant in the DSL last year with a 1.22 ERA and the supporting stats to back it up. He pitched for the Pittsburgh farm team in Venezuela the previous two years and was ordinary to bad. Apparently the light went on in 2011 and now the Jays need to see if it's for real.


Really nothing to report on here except Christian Lopes. He was a 12th rounder last year but was another of those picks who was taken low but paid high because he only fell because of contract issues. He's been a shortstop but some feel his pro future is at 2B. IF the jays want to make that move immediately, he'll be playing 2B in Bluefield. IF the Blue jays want to push either him or Thon along to Vancouver, then that would be the best outcome. but they are resolved not to rush the real prospects and so there's a significant chance Lopes starts the year in the GCL.
To be clear, he's much better than some of his peers from his draft class who are plugged in at higher levels, but he's a high school player which makes a difference, more importantly he needs a clean opportunity to play every day and not have to split time with, for instance, Thon.

Beyond him, there's little grounds to make a prediction. No hitter in the DSL demands a promotion, none of the potential holdovers are worth even knowing their names, and of course, we don't know who will be drafted yet.

Dominican Blue Jays

Normally I would not even mention this roster because it's always 95% filler.but not this year. The Blue Jays blew the doors off on the International free agent market and all those guys seem likely to start the year in the DSL. Here's the guys who matter:


Roberto Osuna - might conceivably make it in the GCL since he played decently in the Mexican League (considered a rough equivalent to AA) at the age of 15. but the conservative approach works for one of such a young age (he turns 17 on July 2) so he will get surely six weeks or so at least in the DSL. When Baseball American projected the highest bonuses which would be paid to international free agents, which serves as a rough estimation of how the scouts viewed the players, Osuna was #4.

Manuel Cordova - another 16 year old who'll turn 17 this year who was a highly rated signing last summer. He was #33 on the BA list.

Alberto Tirado - same song, next verse.

Jesus Tinoco - Ditto. I've listed these guys in descending order relative to their buzz and bonus.

Greylor Conde - I know very little about this guy but he's 17


Dewal Lugo - very well regarded, he was #6 on the BA list.

Ronnie Demorizi - just signed last month, more of an unknown.


Wilmer Beccara - Has been a SS, most see him moving immediately to CF and eventually to RF. He was #5 on the BA list.

Jesus Gonzalez - big strong RF with a lot of offensive potential. #21 on the BA list.

Francisco Tejada - less is known about this guy.

The idea that there's seven or more players to watch on the DSL team is simply mind-boggling.


gabriel said...

I generally think that guys will be more aggressively advanced than you do, so I think Norris and Anderson will more-likely-than-not start in Lansing, despite the general conservative temperament in among the Jays literati.

On the international signees, some will get the Adonys treatment: straight to North America. It's hard to know exactly which, though. Osuna is the most likely, and he could even be assigned to full-season ball. I suspect Wuilmer Becerra, Jesus Gonzalez, Greylor Conde and another pitcher stick around in the US this season.

Two other international signees to watch: Osman Gutierrez out of Nicaragua; and Miguel Castro.

The Southpaw said...

forgot about Castro, didn't know about the other one.

Mylegacy said...

Tammy - is we loaded or is we loaded?

FINALLY - (and I agree with you seeing him up in the States) my favorite name in ALL baseball Ericdavis Marquez will make his N. American debut!

Why don't the Orioles just loan us their AA team and their HiA and Low A teams so we can stock them with our worthy guys that we've no teams left for them to play on.

On a more serious note - Tammy, great work! Last winter you flew a balloon about doing a book about fifty or so of our prospects - I can see from your comments in these three articles that the book would have been quite the tour de force. Keep up the good work!

Is it April yet?