As of this writing, there are less than 20 hours left before the MLB non-waiver trade deadline which arrives at 4 p.m. EDT today. Also as of this writing, the Blue Jays have yet to trade for any new prospects so should that change, the discussion of those players will be found in a separate article.
Hottest Pitcher: Josh DeGraaf
DeGraaf began the year in the Dunedin bullpen, having lost out on the fifth starter job to Conner Fisk. He showed well and in the early days of May ot moved up to New Hampshire. After a stint in the NH bullpen, he came back down to Dunedin to step into the rotation after TJ Zuech went on the DL and since his return, in 11 appearances and nine starts he’s accumulated a 1.98 ERA with nice underlying ratios. As a 24 year old at High A ball, he still has a lot to prove but credit where due. DeGraaf is likely going to be caught in a similar situation to that which kept Chris Rowley back a bit – he’s not as highly regarded as a “real prospect” as pitchers who have fared much worse statistically in some cases so development energy is focused more on the more highly regarded players.
However, remember that minor league “second tier” starters often become quality major league relievers (e.g. Ryan Tepera) so there might be some “there” there with DeGraaf too.
That brings us to Harris. You can see in the dominant games what the organization sees in him but all three of these well regarded prospects have taken a huge step backwards on the consistency front.
Hottest Hitter: Connor Panas
Home country prospects in the Blue Jays system always seem to become fan favorites, even more so when they come right out of the GTA and that’s exactly what you have in Panas. We have to be clear here, at no point has Panas shown up on anyone’s Top Prospect list. He was a ninth round choice in 2015, one of those famous budget manipulating choices (which is to say, take a guy you know you can sign cheaply in the back end of the top 10 picks in order to accumulate bonus money for harder signs). In his first two seasons of pro-ball he was a fine, if ordinary, little player with “organizational filler” already metaphorically stamped on his forehead.
In 2017 he was fairing considerably worse when he decided to make some changes. Everything from changing his walk-up music to creating a “charging station” for his bats.And also he modified his approach at the plate, eliminating the large leg-kick he’d been using n the first half and in July the results from one of those changes manifested in sudden success at the plate. In 29 July games he’s hitting .356 with a 1.083 OPS. Being a Toronto native, if he can continue success and make it to the big league team, you’ll see his name everywhere.
5 Other Stat Lines
- Dominic Abbadessa – it can be easy to get a bit distracted by some of the great names in the organization right now, and Abbadassa is one of those guys. He was the GCL player that the team routinely shuttled across town whenever the D-Jays bench was thin so he pops up on the radar a bit from that too, though he’s a rather anonymous 23rd round choice from last year’s draft. But why mention him here? Well, hes hitting .395 in July with a .926 OPS so you might see his name again.
- Tim Lopes – while not really regarded as a major league prospect, Lopes is riding a very hot streak at the moment he’s added over 100 pints of OPS since June 25 and has an OPS of 1.020 and he’s hitting over .400 n the month.
- Jon Harris – Going into play on 6/29 Harris, the 2015 first round selection, had a 6.47 ERA he’d had the same issues as the other members of New Hampshire’s supposed “Big Three” starter prospects, inconsistency. Four great outings three where he got completely crushed and a smattering of mediocre results. From that night, though, for five starts in a row he was a beast. He accumulated 31.2 IP, walking only five while striking out 28 and allowing only six earned runs (that’s a 1.71 ERA). I was enthusiastic to write about him as this week’s Hottest Pitcher and then – he got crushed again Saturday night. For the fourth time this season he gave up as many as six earned runs (7 in 4.2 IP). When they are on, all three of Conner Greene, Sean Reid-Foley, and Harris can show you hat the organization sees in them – but they all have hills to climb on the consistency front.
- Ryan Borucki – if I hadn’t already written him up once before this season he’d likely have been featured this week. In two starts for AA he’s got a .64 ERA and I’ve heard it said he might get his feet wet in Toronto in September. Gibbons is a noted fan of them man who’s goal is to be Mark Buehrle 2.0
- Logan Warmoth – I could have featured him this week, but it’s still just 11 games in the Northwest League so I’ll let the story develop a bit. Still, you’ll probably want to know that he’s hitting .388 with a 1.056 OPS
In the last couple of weeks the Bisons have been 6-7 which is a step up from previous play but nothing that’s going to drag them towards the playoffs.
The Cats have the worst record in the EL. The return of Anthony Alford, along with the promotion of Lourdes Gurriel and Ryan Borucki should help some but wins and losses really don’t matter at this point.
The D-Jays are 14-2 in home games since the All Star Break and are in 2nd place by 4.5 games in second half standings, but due to playoff procedures in the FSL, are in good shape for the post-season run. Watch this race if you care about minor league teams making the playoffs.Particularly with three of the teams top five hitting prospects in the line-up most nights.
Stop me if you’ve heard this before – the Lugnuts are underwater because most night’s they get a garbage fire performance from the nights’ starting pitcher. That particular situation stands to get better, as Patrick Murphy is scheduled to return from the DL Tuesday night (he looked very impressive in GCL rehab appearances) and Justin Maese likely two or three days thereafter. But the hole is likely too deep at this point for the wins to matter, with the team now 12 back in the second half standings.
The VanCans secured their post-season berth by winning the Northwest League first half and, for now may rival the D-Jays for the most exciting line-up to watch. With 11 of the top 14 draft choices from the most recent draft, talent abounds here.
This team, though with fewer recognizable names, has won two of every three games they’ve played so far and sit half a game out of first place.
The Baby Jays are playing .700 ball so far so they must be doing something right…right?
Lead Photo: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports