Archive for the ‘Prospecting’ Category

Marcus Stroman: 80-grade genetics

Blue Jays minor league field coordinator Doug Davis traverses the treacherous terrain of the Virginia mountainside en route to Saturday’s Appalachian League contest between the Bluefield Blue Jays and the Princeton Rays.  It’s a journey fraught with lousy cell phone reception, a reality that assumes heightened levels of annoyance when there’s an overzealous Jays fan — unconvincingly posing as a journalist —  on the phone.

Then again, any man who endures 790 career minor-league games for 14 plate appearances in the majors is, presumably, far more adept at handling adversity than the average person.  And so, when I propose a fairly comprehensive prospect round-up, Davis is more than happy to oblige.

Jonah Birenbaum: Marcus Stroman was obviously very polished coming out of Duke, and he’s been dominant in Double-A this year, with a 3.22 ERA with 103 Ks in just over 89 innings.  But scouts are sort of torn on him, with his build and the lack of downward plane that he generates with his fastball, is home run susceptibility going to prevent him from making it as a starter in the big leagues?

Doug Davis: I think that’s a question everybody has.  I think if you just ask a number of people, half of them are going to say he can start and half of them will say he can’t.  And I don’t know whether we’re going to find out until we actually give him the opportunity.  I feel like he can start.  I think he’s got enough pitches.  I think he’ll learn how to pitch with his fastball, even though his stature — you know, he’s not a tall guy — and he doesn’t create a lot of plane.  I think there’s other ways to get around that and I think he’ll learn how to do it.  He’s a very smart kid, and the pitches themselves — you know, he’s got the potential to have, really, all plus pitches — and because of that, with velocity, I still think he’s going to be able to start and utilize four different pitches.  That’s kind of where I’m at.  You know, he’s done great in Double-A; I think everybody’s seen the positives, and I think the negatives have surfaced, too, a little bit, but again, the guy hasn’t been pitching very long professionally, and I think we’ve got to give him time, got to give him the opportunity to gain more experience against better hitters.  Again, I think because of his makeup and his intelligence, he’s going to learn how to make adjustments and become a better pitcher.

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dannorris3

Dan Norris: still awesome.

As I mentioned yesterday, there’s all kinds of prospect-y goodness I’ve been sitting on, and with everybody getting excited-ish about the Jays’ youngsters again, I think it’s high time I unleashed it. So, with as little rhyme or reason as possible, here’s some prospect stuff, which I’ll bookend with items out of Keith Law’s chat with readers yesterday at ESPN.com:

Jake (Toronto)
Seeing the struggles of Daniel Norris, would he be better off in the bullpen? Maybe shutdown closer?
Klaw
Little early to give up on him, but that’s a fair long-term outlook. Poor command guy who has always struggled to repeat the arm action.

Shawn (Toronto)
Might as well get this one over with.Can Kevin Pillar have an impact in the majors?
Klaw
I think he’s an extra outfielder. Not to say he won’t do much in the next six weeks, but over the course of a full year I think he’d be below-average for a corner outfielder.

The Klawchat excerpts that I’ll save for the end of the post focus on guys who are no longer– or never were– in the Jays system, while the ones on Norris and Pillar seem as good a place to start as any, as there are other items those two– both of which offer maybe a little more hope than Keith’s cold realism (though, to be fair, putting the shutdown closer tag on Norris ain’t nothing).

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Hello Kevin Pillar?

pillar

Literally the only image of Kevin Pillar in our subscription service’s archive.

I sat down just now with the intention of writing a post involving some prospect miscellany, as several interesting Jays-related prospect items have hit the web in the last week or so– none of which, if you must know, that I thought was particularly worthy of its own post, so I’ve been saving them up. One of the smaller ones had to do with Kevin Pillar, the outfielder at Buffalo who some had seen as having passed Anthony Gose on the depth chart this summer, especially after Alex Anthopoulos had name dropped him as a player in the system who would be ready to help the big club whenever he was next pressed into duty.

And that time looks increasingly like it’s going to be today.

This is all quite unofficial as yet, but– thanks to @StivBators– we can see a tweet from an account reportedly (and pretty legitimately-seeming) from Jays scout Steve Springer.

You can see Springer listed in the Jays’ front office directory, and when asked about the tweet, “Springer” confirmed that Pillar indeed would be in the big leagues tonight. Another tweet suggests that Bisons catcher Sean Ochinko had congratulated him on the promotion as well. So, I’m thinking…

HELLO KEVIN PILLAR!!!!

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Rowdy-Tellez

Me a bad athlete? ME?? A bad athlete??? I just… I’ll have him eaten for that! By me. After brunch.

Once again this week, after the release of his mid-season top prospects list, which we discussed in the previous post, it seems a worthy venture to once again lay down some Law, as there were a few Jays-related tidbits in today’s Keith Law chat with readers at ESPN.com.

As always, I have not read any of Griffin’s answers.

Erich (CT)
How do you project AJ Jimenez’s future in the majors? Average regular? Star? I ask because I cant take Arencibia behind the plate anymore.
Klaw
Backup.

This seems, generally, to be the take on Jimenez. Kiley McDaniel tweeted the same sentiment yesterday, as well. However, at Baseball Prospectus, Jason Parks had a different take– albeit, with a caveat:

I thought his batting practice was outstanding, as he showed off more power than I expected, sending rockets to the pull side and making the “sound” off the ball that I originally confused for another player. I like the bat a lot. The glove was good, but the arm action on the throws was long and the throws lacked zip. Limited sample.

Works for me, so… I’m just going to go ahead and believe the guy who’s telling me what I want to hear.

Speaking of what I want to hear, this isn’t it:

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SiriusXM All-Star Futures Game - World Team v United States

Several of the usual suspects have posted updated prospect rankings over the past week or so, and as always it’s a fascinating exercise to see how the players the Jays have brought into their system are doing. Of late the scouting stuff been all the more intriguing, of course, not because of our salivating on the arrival dates on some of these kids, but because of the ones that got away in this off-season’s wheelings and/or dealings.

Naturally, the most contentious comparison is between Aaron Sanchez and Noah Syndergaard, the club’s top prospect and the top prospect they dealt over the winter, and there is definitely some divergence of opinion on the two.

That’s nothing new, obviously, but what does seem to be new is that in more eyes than we’re used to– at least as far as I can remember– Syndergaard seems to be separating himself from Sanchez and moving up some of the lists. Does that mean a whole lot? I don’t think so, apart from the fact that Sanchez has been hurt and has struggled with command and health a bit this year, I think.

What it makes one wonder, though– or, at least, it makes me wonder– is whether the much-lauded concept of the Jays having a shit-tonne of scouts is maybe a bit flawed. I mean, aren’t there always going to be voices from the scouting department saying one thing, and always voices saying the other? And might that not turn every decision into an either-or proposition in which there essentially is no right answer? I suppose that’s probably be true of scouting departments regardless of size, though, so perhaps I’m overreacting to concerns about Syndergaard having been the true keeper among the Jays’ former “Big Three”– especially since there’s still a lot of love out there for Sanchez.

So… let’s see who is saying what among the five big, recent mid-season top prospect rankings– the ones from John Sickels at SB Nation’s Minor League Ball, Keith Law at ESPN.com, Mark Hulet at FanGraphs, the staff at Baseball America, and Jason Parks at Baseball Prospectus.

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hollon

Clinton Hollon

Jim Callis of Baseball America has been tweeting out a wealth of draft-related stuff pertaining to all teams over the last month, but over the weekend, his tweets took a decidedly Jays-related turn, with several tidbids surfacing as the idea of the Jays making a serious run at a couple of big talent late round prep guys who were passed over due to signability concerns and strong college commitments grows stronger.

Don’t believe me? See for yourselves.

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tellez

Rowdy Tellez

Here’s something that I nearly added as simple scuttlebutt on tonight’s Game Threat, but which expanded enough to make me reconsider and give it a post of its own.

From a tweet by Jim Callis of Baseball America, the Jays have signed second round pick Clinton Hollon– and, rather crucially, have done so at 40% of his slot recommendation ($467,280, to be specific), because of elbow issues. In particular, there was a UCL problem in his MRI, though the fact that Hollon has been hurt was known at the time he was selected.

Chris Crawford of MLB Draft Insider tweets that “With the Hollon signing, the Blue Jays have a crap-load (official term) to spend on their remaining picks.” He continues in a later tweet that “If they signed Bickford for $3 [million], they could still offer Brentz, Lauer, Tellez, etc. over-slot deals. Very interesting.”

FYI, Tellez is the one I’ve been most curious about, and not just because his first name is Rowdy. He’s a big prep bat at first base out of high school in California and ranked 49th on the top 50 draft prospects list at Baseball America heading into the draft.

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