The two major news items of the past week are not earth shaking news. One is the trade which sent Bluefield RHP Hansel Rodriguez to the Padres. Rodriguez is a slender, big armed right-hander who, most optimistically, is four years away from the majors. While he has potential, it’s easy to identify 10-15 other SP in the Blue Jays minor league system with at least as much (or more) potential.
The other is the publication this week of MLB.com’s mid-season Top 30 list revision. The list contains some surprises, not the least of which was the elevation of SS Richard Urena from #7 pre-season to the #1 spot (not where I’d have spotted him for sure). They slotted in three 2016 draftees into the top 11 which plays a major part in pushing Max Pentecost down to #12, which is something else I wouldn’t have done. The entire last third of the list has points of curiosity (for example, why keep clinging to hope for D.J. Davis?) but if nothing else it provides conversation and scouting reports for players beyond the Top 10.
Pitchers of the Week
1. Justin Maese (19) – RHP – Lansing (A)
Week: 2 GS , 11 IP, 13 H, 1 ER, 2 BB, 8 K
YTD: 8 G , 43.1 IP, 41 H, 11 ER, 4 BB, 28 K 2.28 ERA, 1.04 WHIP, 5.8 K/9, 0.8 BB/9
It was kind of a slow week for outstanding pitching in the system this week. There were a few “good but not amazing” performances, but I’ll take the opportunity to point again to a young man that might not yet be on everyone’s radar. Maese essentially outclassed Northwest League competition in five starts for Vancouver in which he walked exactly one guy in 26 innings. Upon promotion to Lansing after the major leaguers too their break, he wobbled a bit giving up 4 runs in 6 IP (for comparison, he only gave up four in 35.2 IP at Bluefield last year) but his two outings this week were much better. Smart money says there’s more to come.
2. Wilfri Alerton (20) – LHP – Gulf Coast Jays (rookie)
Week: 1 GS , 6 IP, 4 H, 0 ER, 1 BB, 7 K
YTD: 6 GS, 32 IP, 24 H, 6 ER, 5 BB, 34 K, 1.69 ERA, 0.91 WHIP, 10.1 K/9, 1.4 BB/9
Here’s a player who didn’t make that MLB mid-season Top 30 list who most likely should have. He’s following a similar career path to Angel Perdomo, having been signed out of the Dominican in his first year of eligibility in 2012, he spent his first three seasons playing in the DSL, only making his stateside debut this year at age 20. But he’s developed both the ability to strike out opposing hitters at a high rate, and also limit the free pass. at 6’3″ and a slender (listed) 195, he’s not as big a physical presence as Perdomo, but by the time he hits full season ball, his name will be on those lists.
3. T.J. Zuech (20) – RHP – Vancouver (Rookie Advanced)
Week: 2 GS , 6 IP, 3 H, 0 ER, 1 BB, 4 K
YTD: 4 GS, 12 IP, 7 H, 2 ER, 3 BB, 8 K, 1.50 ERA, 0.83 WHIP, 6.0 K/9, 2.3 BB/9
Another effect of the “just ok” week of pitching performances is that it gives me an opening to highlight the Blue Jays most recent first round pick. Reports from those around the organization is that the right hander has made very good first impression on everyone off the field and on, and the numbers (in a microscopic sample) agree. He got one start in the GCL as he got introduced to the professional system then, as is typical for highly regarded college picks, was advanced to the highest short-season team. The organization has him tightly restricted to 3 innings per outing, so far, regardless of how well he’s doing. It’s unclear if this will remain in place for the rest of this season or not. Or whether they’ll give him any taste of Lansing a month from now.
Hitters of the Week
1. Max Pentecost (23) – DH/C – Lansing
Week: 9/19, 3 2B, 0 3B, 1 HR, 1 SB, 2 BB, 6 K, .474 AVG, .524 OBP, .789 SLG
Season: 67/215, 13 2B, 0 3B, 7 HR, 4 SB, 21 BB, 46 K .312 AVG, .376 OBP, .470 SLG
Pentecost joins Rowdy Tellez as being the hitter most often recognized in this space, making his fourth featured appearance. The only real line of demarcation in his season is that it took him almost a month to get his power stroke worked out. After homering in his first game, he didn’t go for extra bases again until June 9. However, from June 9th until today, he’s not only hit .352, but also posted an OPS of 1.013 in 33 games.
2. J.B. Woodman (21) – CF – Vancouver
Week: 10/28, 2 2B, 1 3B, 0 HR, 3 SB, 6 BB, 7 K, .357 AVG, .470 OBP, .500 SLG
YTD: 35/118, 12 2B, 1 3B, 0 HR, 7 SB, 21 BB, 38 K, .297 AVG, .406 OBP, .415 SLG
Of the Blue Jays higher round draft choices, I’ll admit that Woodman was the pick that concerned me. Descriptions of him as a high floor/low ceiling guy made me think of him as a hitting equivilant of Chad Jenkins. But you have to give him credit for doing just what you’d want a college player to do. He took a couple of weeks to get acclimated, then proceeded to demonstrate the skills that made the Jays choose him. In the month of July, he’s slashed .344/.445/.489/.934 and he’s also stolen 7 bases in 8 attempts and apparently playing solid CF defense. The missing element so far is over-the-fence power. We’ll have to wait and see how that develops.
3. Anthony Alford (22) – CF – Dunedin (A Advanced)
Week: 7/22, 2 2B, 2 3B, 1 HR, 1 SB, 5 BB, 4 K, .318 AVG, .444 OBP, .727 SLG
YTD: 49/229, 11 2B, 2 3B, 4 HR, 13 SB, 33 BB, 81 K, .214 AVG, .320 OBP, .332 SLG
The Top 30 list I mentioned above seems to have penalized Alford a bit for the succession of injuries that have impeded his progress this season. Alford missed all but one game of April with a knee injury, then anther 12 days in the heart of June recovering from a concussion. In between, he got hot over the second half of May hitting .339 over that span with an .819 OPS. After he came back from the concussion, again it took couple of weeks to recover is stroke but since July 10 his OPS is a robust 1.022. For my money, he’s still be best hitting/fielding prospect in the system, with all due respect to the experts. Urena’s continued improvement notwithstanding, Alford’s walk rate is still twice that of the shortstop even if his most difficult season, which is a fairly strong indicator he still has the eye that made him #1 last year.
Other Minor Notes
The note this week includes a couple of minor items and a bit of housekeeping. The last two players signed from the 2016 draft class have now been assigned to the GCL squad, 15th round RHP Josh Winchowski and CF Dom Abbodassa, drafted in the 23rd round. Also 2015 first rounder Jon Harris was promoted to Dunedin
Now, you’ll no doubt notice a format change below. It occurred to me that the stat charts we were providing you were simply not adequate. I was giving you only the tiniest sample of relevant stats and if you really were provoked to interest, you’d only go over to their MiLB.com page and read more. So the charts are gone and in their place are links to their MiLB player page with a small blurb telling you why you might be interested. This gives you direct access to much more info than I could ever put into a chart.
Other Stat Lines of Interest
Dalton Pompey – CF – came into the week hot, but it wasn’t a good week.
Rowdy Tellez – 1B – back after nine days on the DL
Jason Leblebijian – IF – hasn’t fallen off yet in AA
Richard Urena – SS – The new #1 had a great week too.
Juan Kelly – 1B – has been playing some 3B lately
Joshua Palacios - CF – since he made the list
Cavan Biggio – 2B – kinda gone south lately
Vlad Guerrero, Jr – 3B – Because Duh.
Nash Knight – 2B/3B – as long as he keeps hitting .400 . . .
(Bo Bichette didn’t play this week)
Drew Hutchison – RHP – bounced back fine from a horrible outing on 7/18
Conner Greene – RHP – Had his best AA start this year.
Sean Reid- Foley – RHP – Ranked the #1 pitching prospect in the system
Jon Harris – RHP – Stumbled in first High A start, but recovered well in 2nd
Francisco Rios – RHP – Had his first bad outing of the season this week
Ange Perdomo – LHP – had his worst outing in six weeks
Ryan Borucki - LHP – didn’t pitch this week
Jordan Romano – RHP – had a weird one with neither a K or a BB
Patrick Murphy – RHP – Made the Top 20 on that list above.
Lead Photo: Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports