So. Back to .500 - le sigh. They will be more than a little fortunate to not fall below by the time the sun sets on Sunday.
The stuff I mentioned in the title being some interesting correlation of pitching news this week. Both Daniel Norris and Jeff Hoffman pitched on Tuesday night and pitched well, more on both of them when I get to the list. Felix Dourbront pitched well for the Jays, but we've seen the "kick-ass in your first game" phenomena twice before so we need to see what he does in KC on Sunday to begin to get a read. Meanwhile, Alex Sanchez made his first rehab outing in the GCL hours before those other games and threw 2 innings. Alex Anthopoulos was on the radio the next day and reported no difficulties. He said Alex would pitch again on three days rest and then go on a regular starter's 5th day rotation. While some may speculate that he might not need a long re-hab, I'm sure he'll get one and here's why.
There's only one start left in his turn before the break which obviously he's not going to make, and after that the team doesn't absolutely have to have a fifth starter until July 25 which is right at the end of the 20 days he's allowed to stay on re-hab assignment. He'll have 4 starts, if all goes well, under his belt by then but that day wouldn't fall on his turn. Which means he can either go on the 26th at Seattle, bumping Estrada (at least temporarily) or he can skip the long plane ride - which only makes sense given the nature of his injury - and start on the 28th in Philadelphia. The answer seems obvious. Technically it might be a day or two after that depending on hos the team wants to sort out the rest schedule for the other four but you get the idea. Of course, other roster machinations flow from this too. No later than that point they'll need a read on Doubront who'll surely be lost if they try to demote him. The trade picture will be much clearer, the endurance of Marco Estrada vs. his value in the 'pen vs. the progress of Daniel Norris will have more data. Plus two of Hutchinson's next three are on the road which...yeah...about that.
Drew Hutchinson has insane splits this year in just about every way you can split stats and one of those is that he's aces at home, and an abomination on the road. There is, in my opinion, a very real possibility that if he doesn't pitch in a most excellent fashion, consistently, and quick, he could find himself in Buffalo (or traded if anyone will count him as valuable) before July is done. And despite the respectable FIP/xFIP numbers (he leads Blue Jays starters in both), it would be hard to object.
(I wrote that in my first draft before Wednesday's start
against the punchless White Sox and...no progress on the bottom line,
though the rain contributed to a couple of runs that might not otherwise
have scored so maybe he gets a mulligan from the F.O.)
The real problem with the rotation is Dickey but whatchagonnado? (I'm aware he did well against the Sox but the peripheral trend is very troubling as others have noted)
Anyway, on to the rankings.
There is more witchcraft that science to someone like me, who is neither a trained scout nor at the games, ranking prospects in the best of times. I base my lists on what I read elsewhere and hold the conceit that possibly the way that I integrate that stream of info will produce something that maybe passes along to you something you didn't already know from having read all the same sources yourself - along with an ego-stroking opinion of my own...opinions. But another big part of that sauce is the stats and scouting the minors via stats can be a fool's errand because you don't know whether the team has a player purposely working on some task rather than striving for the best statistical bottom line. Worse, the short-season teams have only been playing for 3 weeks or less.Which means the potential for sample-size error is too great to even do that (not that I don't occasionally overlook that principle). In short, I do this mostly because I like making lists and I like it when on occasion I'm the first one you heard pimping a particular guy, not to be authoritative.
The list is 30 names, with sporadic commentary, and a handful of names to watch at the end.
1. Jeff Hoffman (RHP) - with all due respect to #2, this is the guy who was under consideration for 1:1 with how he'd recover his stuff and I'm satisfied that answer is positive. I'm expecting that after Sunday's game, he's likely done in Dunedin. The story all along has been that he'd move fairly quickly and the mid-season break seems a natural time to take the next step.
2. Daniel Norris (LHP) - Had possibly his best AAA game this year on Tuesday, and has been under control more often than not for 7 starts now. Will surely get at least two more turns and needs to keep his focus while he waits for roster maneuverings to play out over the rest of the month.
3. Dalton Pompey (CF) - Killing it in AA, at some point he'll get kicked back to Buffalo for another test there. With Pillar's recent success the Jays won't feel rushed, unless Saunders has another setback and which...has anyone heard anything new on him? Maybe I assume too much.
4. Anthony Alford (CF) - seemingly the more he's challenged, the better he gets. At this point I wouldn't even be mildly shocked if he were a September call up next year. If not before.
5. Vlad Guerrero, Jr (OF) - Maybe I'm running high on him here, particularly given he lacks some of his dad's defensive promise, but I'm giddy on him.
6. Miguel Castro (RHP) - there's maybe a little hiccup at Buffalo for some reason, possibly a self-imposed pressure thing, possibly it's a BABiP thing I'm unaware of, but there's still so much to love here. I'm rooting for him to do well either to be a key component of the upcoming trade, or to show enough in the major league 'pen to give the Jays the option to work Osuna as a rotation candidate next Spring.
7. Sean Reid-Foley (RHP) - Another guy who's become a serious potential trade chip. He's still a bit wild, but for a 19 year old high school pitcher drafted last June, it's hard to ask for more progress. If he's still in the system on August 1, look for the Jays to slow him down until he refines his walk rate a bit.
8. Max Pentecost (C) - been a while since we had a report but barring a setback, he should be close to getting back into real games.
9. Richard Urena (SS) - Unexpected power surge in Lansing joined a solid average and sterling defense, but the BB/K ratio shows there's still work to do. Promotion to Dunedin as much about Lugo's struggles needing relief as Urena forcing their hand. Still, he's in the Toip 10 for a reason.
10. Jon Harris (RHP) - he's no Hoffman but he was a steal where he was drafted and he was described as a polished guy who'd move fast.
11. Rowdy Tellez (1B) - I've been the high one on this guy from day one (and no it has almost nothing to do with his being named "Rowdy"). He was having trouble getting his doubles over the fence over his last month in Lansing but the Jays saw reason to promote him and he's proven that wise so far.
12. DJ Davis (CF) - OTOH, I punished him hard for his abysmal 2014 but he's turned it around nicely this year. He still needs a lot more polish but you can at least see what the Jays were thinking now.
13. Matt Smoral (LHP) - clinging to this spot more for lack of others blowing by him than anything. In danger of having injuries knock him out of the top 20. Needs to get, and stay, on the field.
14. Matt Boyd (LHP) - I had him at 28 coming into the season, a noticeable and unexpected uptick in velocity, and the results that followed, shoved him towards the top. Viable trade candidate. If he handles AAA as he did AA, might climb another couple of spots by season's end.
15. Alberto Tirado (RHP) - wilder, still, than you'd like, particularly since the team resolved to let him pitch in relief all year in order to make some progress. Hard to hit stuff, but needs fewer walks.
16. Clint Hollon (RHP) - like Hoffman, recovering from TJS, he started the year with Vancouver's season opener and has been well ahead of league hitters. My guess is that when Hoffman moves up and another Lansing starter goes to Dunedin (there are two solid candidates) that Hollon is Lansing bound after his start upcoming on Monday.
17. Dawel Lugo (SS) - He wasn't an accomplished hitter in Lansing last year, but pressure from Urena and the team's apparent impression with his tools pushed him up to Dunedin to start this season. That didn't work out and he pretty completely failed the challenge. Scouts still report the potential is there but the team is clearly going to have to go a lot slower with him.
18. Jario Labourt (LHP) - Control issues continue to plague the big lefty. The Jays thought he could handle Dunedin coming out of Spring but the hits are up, the strikeouts are down and the walks are intolerably high. in all but 2 of his first 12 games it appeared he had made a step forward on that issue, but over his last 5 starts the wheels really came off. First the walks went back up and then, while he corralled that he started getting hit around. He's said to be a hard worker and good student so possibly he can find the handle again soon. But he'll need some consistency.
19. Mitch Nay (3B) - he's trying the patience of a lot of people at this point. Jays people said earlier in the year that they had him working on some things and they were confident his power would come. Well it ain't came yet. He homered in back-to-back games May 17-18, and only 2 times since. He's only just not got his batting average to .250 for the first time this year, and it took a torrid 15 for 31 streak over his last eight games to do that.
20. Lane Thomas (2B) - can field several positions, they are using him exclusively at 2B so far, and while he's off to a slow start the SS factor keeps me from worrying.
21. Jesus Tinoco (RHP) - Doing all you'd want a 20 year old Latin pitcher to do in A ball. On his way up.
22. Dwight Smith, Jr. (LF) - really very ordinary season and he didn't have a big margin with me.
23. Matt Dean (1B) - Like Nay, he's shown less power than he needs to if he's o be highly regarded.
24. Brady Singer (RHP) - the second player drafted by the Jays in 2015 remains unsigned, though everyone says he will.
25. Nick Wells (LHP) - 3rd round pick from 2014, still in short-season ball.
26. Connor Greene (RHP) - one of the "punt" picks in 2013, just before Kendell Graveman, recently earned a mid-season promotion to Dunedin.
27. Justin Maese (RHP) - this years 3rd rounder, just assigned to the GCL last week.
28. Carl Wise (3B) - waited on his Visa at Bluefield before moving up to the VanCans. Shows they consider the 4th rounder from this year fairly polished.
29. Shane Dawson (LHP) - Owned the Midwest league for much of this year, worthy of promotion but something's going on - he missed time without public explanation lately.[Edit: Per Mike Wilner, Jeff Francis in Buffalo was placed on the "Temporarily Inactive List" in order to play for Team Canada - one may easily assume that's what is going on with Dawson]
30. Roemon Fields (CF) - Tim Raines says he's the best fielding and running CF in the system. He's probably always going to be a fringy hitter but he impressed them enough in Dunedin to get the promotion to AA when Alford moved up to High-A. In a tiny sample he's off to a hot start with the bat at his new level.
Here are some other names from further down my list that I'm keeping a particular eye on.
Ryan Broucki and Tom Robson, two SP coming off injury who are considered legitimate prospects
Danny Jansen, catcher, was considered one to watch out of spring, before he started slow and then got hurt - no idea on the timetable for a return.
John Stilson - like Smoral, he needs to stay healthy, and maybe has even less chance of doing so.
Reggie Pruitt - the draftee they supposedly couldn't sign and did
Danny Barnes - you don't usually pay too much attention to effective minor league relievers but I have a hunch about this guy.
Juliandry Higurea - not considered a big win when he was signed as an IFA but in the early going at Bluefield he's been excellent, and was so before that in the DSL. Plus, I have it in my head he's Teddy Higuera's kid (I can't confirm that - need to get JSG to ask the Blefield broadcaster about that sometime. Teddy was a favorite of mine back in the day.
Why do these things always get so LONG? At least that explains why it takes me three days to finish one.