This week BP Toronto is bringing back the Weekly Minor League Update. The format is slightly revised but if you followed the old Blue Jays Plus site, you’ll recognize the framework. What’s different? I’ll be choosing up to three top hitters and pitchers each week, instead of one. And the Other minor league notes section will lean towards placing recent performance in the context of year-to-date work rather than just being a snapshot of some random hot or cold streak. Of course, for this first edition, with a full month worth of states, I’m probably going to say a lot about the entire month this time, not just the most recent week. In this and future entries, which beginning with next week will be appearing on Saturdays, all references to current stats are through the games of the previous Wednesday. For this post, I used game stats through Sunday.
Pitchers of the Week/Month
1. Francisco Rios – RHP – Lansing (Low A)
6 G – 30 IP – 1.20 ERA – 0.97 WHIP – 12.9 K/9 – 2.4 BB/9
In the time I spent reviewing Top Prospect lists in preparation for last week’s Aggregate List, some of them 30 or more names deep, only one of them made mention of Rios. To be fair, a look at his stats coming into this season would not have indicated there was any reason to. But the 2012 signee out of Mexico seems to have discovered something as he’s completely dominated the Midwest League in the first month of 2016. He had his best outing yet on Friday, which happened to be his 21st birthday, striking out 10 betters in 5.1 IP. Coming into the season, his K/9 was 7.6, and his BB/9 was 3.3 and a completely unimpressive 4.84 ERA over three years. Whether or not this is something promising, or a mirage, remains to be seen. Reports say he’s using four quality pitches now and the Blue Jays have decided to let him try his luck at Dunedin. His promotion was announced earlier in the week.
2. Sean Reid-Foley – RHP – Lansing
4 G – 18.2 IP – 1.93 ERA – 1.13 WHIP – 9.6 K/9 – 4.8 BB/9
In contrast to the unheralded Rios, Reid-Foley has had one of the highest profiles in the organization as a 2014 draftee out of high school, and he was surprisingly assigned to full season last spring. The book on him is well known and a not-unfamiliar tale for pitchers with his ability. If he can minimize the free pass and control the strike zone he’ll earn the considerable praise that’s being heaped on him. The hidden story of the season so far is the (small sample caveat obviously in force) trend in a positive direction on that front. In his last two outings he struck out 12 and walked 2 over 8 innings. He’s just off a stint on the 7-Day DL.
3. Angel Perdomo – LHP – Lansing
6 G – 23.1 IP – 2.31 ERA – 1.03 WHIP – 12.4 K/9 – 4.6 BB/9
Perdomo was a huge (6’6”) specimen signed out of the DR in December 2011, and he was brought along quite slowly. He accumulated almost 80 IP over three seasons on the lowest level (two in the Dominican Summer League, then another in the Gulf Coast League) and one might have been forgiven for assuming the team saw something they didn’t like. However, he broke out last year in a season split between Bluefield and Vancouver and he’s only increased that dominance in 2016. That said, he suffered his first setback Saturday on his 22nd birthday, so watch to see how he deals with that adversity.
Hitters of the Week/
1. Juan Kelly – C/1B – Lansing
99 PA – .293/.353/.522 – 2 HR – 2/2 SB – 7 BB – 21 K
A slender 21 year old Dominican who, like Perdomo, got his first professional work in 2012, Kelly is a relatively light hitter but he has lots of room to get stronger. His best talent so far is a robust career .358 OBP (though his walk rate is down a bit this year). At the moment, he’s part of a trio of hitters (along with Gunner Heidt and Andrew Guillote) carrying the Lugnuts offense. He’s listed as a catcher, but also gets time at 1B when others are behind the dish.
2. Jonathan Davis – OF – Dunedin (High A)
115 PA – .269/.424/.484 – 4 HR – 9/10 SB – 22 BB – 28 K
One of the other Davises playing the outfield in the Toronto minor leagues (there are 3 in all), the 2013 15th round selection is another unheralded player but in a month of largely ordinary, or worse, hitting performances he’s the one doing almost everything right. Even though he’s tied with Rowdy Tellez for most walks in April, and only Dom Brown has more homers, he’s never shown a particular talent for either before, so he won’t be climbing the prospect lists just yet.
3. Jon Berti – 2B – New Hampshire (AA)
91 PA – .291/.411/.405 – 1 HR – 14/18 SB – 12 BB – 13 K (AA)
22 PA – .150/.227/.350 – 1 HR – 2/2 SB – 2 BB – 3 K (AAA)
Berti is a guy who, if you made a long enough prospect list, you’d start considering once you got into the 40s or so. And that’s only because he’s a gifted fielder and a very skilled baserunner with enough speed to steal 30 or more bases every year (his career high was 56 for Dunedin in 2013) and he already has 16 this year in the first month of the season alone. Berti, a college draftee, was moving one level at a time, reaching AA in 2014 at the age of 24. He started 2015 back there, before receiving a mid-season promotion to AAA Buffalo. He didn’t put the bat on the ball as well at the higher level, but one would have assumed the natural move would have been to assign him there, rather than back in AA this season, but with the Jays having packed the AAA roster with veteran talent, there was no room. All this is to express a bit of caution about his April performance. He’s 26 now, having his third go at AA, so it’s not a true reflection of his ability anymore. Still, under the right circumstances, probably in a different organization, he could get at least a little occasional major league time one of these years.
Other Minor Notes
Dalton Pompey – OF – Buffalo (AAA)
59 PA – .226/.305/.264 – 0 HR – 2/2 SB – 6 BB – 11 K
Open the season sidelined with a foot injury suffered in late spring, played a week, had to sit again for five days, came back for 2 games then sat again for eight days. He’s on his third game back and went 2/4 on Sunday to break up a disjointed stretch of games in which he went 1 for 28. Badly needs an extended run of games to get on track.
Dustin Antolin – RP – Buffalo
10 G – 18 IP – 3.00 ERA – 1.39 WHIP – 11.5 K/9 – 5 BB/9
If you don’t count the fact that he was technically a minor league free agent last winter, Antolin is the longest serving player in the Jays minor league system (and only Brett Cecil outranks him on the major league squad), having been selected in the 11th round in 2008. The 26 year old Hawaiian has moved through the system with excruciating slowness. That was largely due to elevated walk rates which he seemed to have conquered in the two most recent previous seasons. He needs to get back to that if he wants to work his way into a crowded shuttle reliever contingent.
Anthony Alford – CF – Dunedin
7 G – 27 PA – .111/.200/.111 – 0 HR – 1/1 SB – 3 BB – 16 K
Alford has only been back a week from a leg injury suffered on Opening Day on a play at the plate. So far he hasn’t gotten on track at all, and of course we can’t know if he’s still playing in some discomfort. Obviously we can’t read anything significant into the first week back after a month long layoff.
Other Stat Lines of Interest
Lead Photo: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports