1. (tie) Aaron Sanchez and Justin Nicolino - Two halves of one whole, RH Sanchez and LH Nicolino have been paired in a tandem starting arrangement in Lansing this year, one of two such arrangements being employed by the pitching rich team. According to sources, the powers that be in the Jays farm system intend to run the tandem for a while longer yet (it was originally described as "eight starts at 3 innings each, eight at 4 innings each, and the remainder at 5 or more" but on their sixth turn "Sachilino" was bumped up to 4 innings each, and there will probably be another 4-6 weeks at that level. So far, it's working like a house-afire. Over a combined 38 innings of work, the pair have not allowed a single run to score. They've allowed 32 baserunners via a hit or a walk, and struck out 44. Nicolino yields a few more hits, Sanchez a few more walks, but the combined effect is impressive. With all due respect to other pitchers in the system, there's a real possibility these guys will be the #1 and #2 pitching prospects in the Ssytem by the end of the season.
3. Noah Syndergaard - The big RH Texan is just a tic behind his rotation mates. He's also part of a tandem start pairing (with Anthony DeSclafani) and has thrown a mere 17.2 innings in six appearances. but he's only given up 2 earned runs over that body of work and struck out 25. Syndergaard/DeSclafani are scheduled to pitch Monday for the Lugnuts and we will see if they, too, are advanced to 4 innings each.
4. Dave Rollins - Not considered a prospect on the same level with the guys listed above him by most scouts and observers, Rollins has nevertheless held his own in the rarefied atmosphere in Lansing. Not being paired with another, he has more innings than the top-shelf guys, and he's been almost asd efficent with them. in 27 IP he's struck out 31, while allowing 30 baserunners (H+BB) and given up five earned runs.
5. Sean Nolin - The big lefty in Dunedin also has more highly regarded teammates sharing a rotation with him and like Rollins, chooses not to take a back seat. Nolin is putting up great K numbers (though, in fairness, boosted by an 11 K performance in his second start of the year) and has shown pretty good control. He's not a top shelf guy but don't sleep on him. Guys like this can have surprsing careers, or turn out to be valuable major league relievers.
6. Jesse Hernandez - the most noon-prospect guy on this list, but like Rollins, he's held his own in the shadow of the mega-prospects he shares a rotation with. Hernandez and Rollins have the exact same ERA (1.84) but he has a bit lower whip, on the other hand Rollins has a noticeably better strikeout ratio. Probably Hernadeez will fade at some point but you never know. Right now, the five Lansing starters i have mentioned have combined for 105 IP and 14 earned runs, that's an ERA of 1.20 if you are scoring at home. Oh, and they have struck out 122 while walking a mere 36 over that stretch.
7. John Stilson - Starting his pro-career in Dunedin should tell you something, Stilson IS considered a legit prospect and for the most part, he's pitched like it. Stilson was a reliever during much of his college years and many scouts still believe his ceiling is as a stud closer, not as a mid-back of the rotation starter. So far the 21 year old RHP has been a touch inconsistent, but the results in total look good (he sorts a 2.18 ERA in
HM: Jesse Chavez - a major league veteran who's not remotely eligible for a prospect list, Chavez has nevertheless raised eyebrows with his early season work in Las Vegas.
1. Yan Gomes - Catcher turned third baseman (though, as understood, he's not abandoning catching but expanding his flexibility) may indeed by playing in hitter friendly las Vegas but he's never done anything to make you expect this level of production. He's always had home-run pop in the bat that was disguised by the limited playing time a reserve catcher would get in this system, but as of this writing he has a batting average of .388 (third in the PCL behind a couple of stiffs named Snider and Trout) and an OPS of 1.005 (which is good for 9th). If Gomes proves to be a legitimate option, then it will give John Farrell a lot of options to have a guy on his bench who can sub at both infield corners AND serve as a third string catcher.
2. David Cooper - Ever so quietly the 51's first baseman is right back where he left off last year. He might not be considered much of a prospect by scouts, and it's true he is on his second tour of a league he had little trouble with in '11, but it is worth noting that in the early going his home run pop seems to be returnign after taking the year off last year. In a season with few remarkable offensive stories, Cooper gets the nod.
3. Mike McDade - it's not stunning the big NH 1B, also repeating a level, is posting the best OPS in NH. After a fairly slow start he's caught fire, hitting a robuist .971 (OPS) in the last ten games.
4. Ryan Goins - here, on the other hand, is a bit of a surprise.The SS is running right behind McDade on the New Hampshire leader board. This might not last (See for Reference: Jackson, Justin) but it bears watching.
5. Jake Marisnick - struggled with this one, a lot of good candidates for the one. Marisnick is the brightest prospect of the group (play his cards right and he could easily be the Blue Jays #1 prospect this winter.Still, he's in a 5/25 slump over his last 8 games which drug what had been spectacular stats back to the pack some.
HM: Kevin Patterason has been the best hitter in Lansing so far; Jack Murphy, reserve catcher in Dunedin, who's sporting a robust (particularly for the league) .955 OPS, albeit in only part time opportunities; Travis Snider - no rookie but he was tearing to cover off the ball before injuring his wrist (again!) playing defense. Before that he was dominating the league.