Obviously the biggest news this week was the fallout from the non-waiver trade deadline deals. A couple of talented but raw Latin players in rookie ball got dealt – Hansel Rodriguez and Guadolupe Chavez guys who by any reasonable projection were five or more years away even if they pan out, and rather surprisingly two of the Top 10 prospects in the Pittsburgh Pirates organization were obtained: 2013 first round pick Reese McGuire (C) and Columbian bonus baby outfielder Harold Ramirez. MLB.com slotted them right into rankings at #4 and #5 respectively, but I’d suggest that’s pretty aggressive, particularly on Ramirez. On my amateur list, McGuire is grudgingly at #5 (I still think there’s a good chance Pentecost will ultimately be a better all around bet, but McGuire is safer because of his defense) and Ramirez is #10 though I could easily have put him a couple of spots lower as well. I’m reasonably high on McGuire in that coaches still think that there’s a hit tool there to work with, but I wonder if Ramirez isn’t more a complementary guy more than a first division starter. Both players were assigned to AA where the F’Cats are now a fairly loaded squad with not only those two imports, but also the promotion of MLB’s #1 prospect, SS Richard Urena up from Dunedin. The New Hampshire team now boasts five of the top 10 prospects on the above mentioned list, and eight of the top 30.
To change the subject, as August arrives, it’s fair to speculate about the extent to which playoff possibilities for various teams might affect player promotion decisions, since teams typically like to give their best prospects playoff experience. In the upper minors it’s a non-factor. Neither Buffalo or the newly reinforced Fisher Cats in AA are anywhere close to a playoff race. However, in Dunedin the D-Jays are a half game out of first place in a very tight four team race for the 2nd half title.
Meanwhile in Lansing, the sub-.500 (in the second half) Lugnuts actually hold a playoff spot at the moment due to a relatively complex circumstance. But three other teams are within 2.5 games of their shaky grip. The VanCans still have 29 of 37 second half games to play and literally everyone is a playoff contender at this point. Similarly, with 27 games left in their season, Bluefield is 1 game out of a playoff spot. The GCL Jays are 4 games up, with 23 to play, and feature a ridiculous .806 winning percentage. I would not expect to see a lot of prominent moves as long as all five teams have a shot, except where a string of reciprocal moves makes sense, but that might change in a couple of weeks as the picture clears.
Pitchers of the Week
1. Sean Reid-Foley (20) – RHP – Dunedin (A Advanced)
Week: 1 GS , 6.2 IP, 1 H, 1 ER, 4 BB, 9 K
YTD: 20 G ,113.1 IP, 71 H, 31 ER, 37 BB, 127 K 2.46 ERA, 0.95 WHIP, 10.1 K/9, 2.9 BB/9
Like last week, it was kind of a slow week for outstanding pitching in the system this week. With Hutch now out of the system, there’s really no starter of interest in Buffalo, Vancouver was on their all star break for much of the previous week, and only three starters in the system had 2 starts this week. So we may as well direct our attention first to the newly recognized #1 pitching prospect in the system (per MLB.com) and see how he did. Turns out, he had a fine game. Admittedly he walked 4, which is the first time he’s reached that level in Dunedin, but 1 hit over against 9 strikeouts is nothing to sneeze at. His ERA there (in only 2.2 fewer IP) is now a full run lower than it was in Lansing with fewer hits, fewer walks and more strikeouts. Part of this is no doubt park factor but still.
2. Yennsy Diaz (19) – RHP – Bluefield (Rookie)
Week: 1 GS , 6 IP, 2 H, 0 ER, 1 BB, 8 K
YTD: 7 G, 34.2 IP, 35 H, 18 ER, 11 BB, 32 K, 4.67 ERA, 1.33 WHIP, 8.3 K/9, 2.9 BB/9
It’s pronounced “Jensy” in case you were wondering. This is the first appearance in this space for one of the two Diaz’s on the Bluefield staff. He’s the more talented of the 2, being ranked #29 in the system on both MLB.com and Baseball America’s off-season list, and #15 by Fangraphs. He was up to #21 on MLB’s mid-season rankings. Like the recently traded Hansel Rodriguez (and in many respects the also dealt Lupe Chavez) Diaz is a big-armed-but-raw Latin pitcher with room to grow and develop. At 6’1″, he’s listed at a mere 160 and teams typically think that adding muscle to such a narrow from tends to lead to a velocity spike. Take out his worst appearance and you shave almost an entire run off his ERA, and while there’s obvious inconsistency such as is common at this level, there’s something to watch here too.
3. Jon Harris (22) – RHP – Dunedin
Week: 1 GS , 7.2 IP, 5 H, 1 ER, 2 BB, 4 K
YTD: 18 GS, 97.1 IP, 88 H, 27 ER, 30 BB, 80 K, 2.50 ERA, 1.21 WHIP, 7.4 K/9, 2.8 BB/9
Harris fared better in his second start for Dunedin this week after having a rough outing (against the same team) in his first start at the level. Twice in 2016 Harris has given up 3 runs, twice he’s given up more than that – fourteen times he’s given up fewer. I don’t think he’s going to be exposed by the Florida State League.
Hitters of the Week
1. Richard Urena (20) – SS – New Hampshire (AA)
Week: 12/26, 0 2B, 1 3B, 0 HR, 0 SB, 2 BB, 2 K, .452 AVG, .500 OBP, .538 SLG
Season: 125/404, 18 2B, 8 3B, 8 HR, 9 SB, 25 BB, 65 K .312 AVG, .376 OBP, .470 SLG
My top 2 guys this week were both deserving terms of statistical production, but I’ll give MLB.com’s #1 ranked Jays prospect the nod in recognition of his promotion this week. He was promoted Tuesday and got into two games for the Fisher Cats and his hot stretch never slowed. His first AA hit was, in fact, a triple. He’s been on base in all but 2 games since Canada Day, and he’s on a streak of 4 multi-hit games.
2. Anthony Alford (22) – CF – Dunedin
Week: 10/25, 4 2B, 0 3B, 1 HR, 1 SB, 4 BB, 5 K, .400 AVG, .483 OBP, .680 SLG
YTD: 59/254, 15 2B, 2 3B, 5 HR, 13 SB, 37 BB, 86 K, .232 AVG, .336 OBP, .366 SLG
Given my effusive praise for Alford last week, I gave Urena his due but AA had another monster week this week. Let’s update that “since July 10″ AEP slash line: .342/.458/.608 in a not-insignificant 22 games. If you want a longer view, you can go back to before the concussion when he got his stroke back after the knee injury and his OPS is .782 (since May 16) which is not terribly far off of his breakout year last season. And remember, he just played his 200th minor league game this past week. For comparison, newly acquired Harold Ramirez had 337 games when the Blue Jays picked him up.
3. Joshua Palacios (21) – CF – Vancouver (Rookie Advanced)
Week: 8/15, 2 2B, 0 3B, 0 HR, 1 SB, 4 BB, 2 K, .533 AVG, .632 OBP, .666 SLG
YTD: 26/89, 7 2B, 0 3B, 0 HR, 6 SB, 14 BB, 14 K, .292 AVG, .394 OBP, .371 SLG
This is the 5th 2016 draftee to show up in this space in 2016, the CF was the Blue Jays 4th round selection in June was originally assigned to the GCL for the first 13 games of his pro career before being promoted to Vancouver. His OPS in the Gulf Coast League was only .647 but since being promoted he’s hitting .896 (albeit in a tiny sample). Still 11 walks in 11 games is worth a tip of the cap.
Other Minor Notes
I don’t customarily spend a lot of time on negative highlights in this column but the rough stretch Angel Perdomo has been on gives me a moment to briefly mention again one of the limits of “stat scouting.” Up until three weeks ago Perdomo had allowed more than 2 earned runs in a game only one time. Since then it’s been 3/4/2/4 and walked four twice in those four games which was also a first for the season. One possible reason for this? It’s his first full-season year. His career high in games coming into this year was 14, as of this writing he’s up to 21. Another reason might be organizational priorities. Jesse Goldberg-Strassler notes that all the priority pitcher prospects have a mandate to throw a certain percentage of whatever secondary pitches they are working on, and it stands to reason that those might change over the course of a season. If a pitcher isn’t as effective with, say, a change-up but he’s under orders to work on it then obviously that impacts the stats. So take some results with a grain of salt.
In other items of note, Bo Bichette remains on the DL recovering from an emergency appendectomy. Max Pentecost injured his (non-surgically repaired) left shoulder in a home plat collision this week which sends him to the DL for what is expected to be a short stay, meanwhile Lansing CF prospect Lane Thomas who’s been on the DL since early June has been activated from his rehab assignment in the GCL. Also rehabbing in the GCL is New Hampshire 2B Jon Berti who’s been out with concussion symptoms and corner infielder Matt Dean, also from New Hampshire. Dean missed all of July but he wasn’t hitting well before that and is seemingly slipping off the prospect radar.
Finally, a little heralded promotion to note in the wake of m’boy Danny Barnes finally getting his promotion is a guy with similar ratios. Colton Turner is admittedly 25 which made him old for the leagues that he has pitched in this year but, like Barnes, he lost a season to injury. He seems to have come back stronger though, as he’s sitting on a 0.81 ERA, a 0.92 WHIP, and 12.7 K/9 – might be a name you hear more of in a year or so. Especially given that he’s a lefty.
Here’s your weekly links . . .
Other Stat Lines of Interest
Dalton Pompey – CF – 2nd consecutive poor week.
Rowdy Tellez - 1B – seems to have picked up right where he left off.
Jason Leblebijian – IF – productive, not spectacular, on the week.
Reese McGuire – C – Good start as Jays like to develop his hitting.
Harold Ramirez - OF – not a week where it’s good to draw any impressions.
Max Pentecost – C/DH – triple in three consecutive games
Juan Kelly - 1B – Was recognized this week as best defensive 1B in the league.
JB Woodman – CF – cooled a bit
Cavan Biggio – 2B – back from the league All Star game
Vlad Guerrero, Jr – 3B – stole 4 bases in last 2 games
Conner Greene – RHP – Took a step back.
Francisco Rios – RHP – rebounded somewhat from previous disaster start.
Ange Perdomo – LHP – second bad start in last 3 outings
Ryan Borucki - LHP – seven innings, only one run
Jordan Romano – RHP – had his worst start, possible fatigue setting in?
Justin Maese RHP – mixed results.
TJ Zuech - RHP – moved up to 4 IP, after having been limited by the team to three.
Patrick Murphy – RHP – mixed results
Wilfri Alerton – LHP – Another 5.2 shutout innings.
Lead Photo: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports