As of this writing, the non-waiver trade deadline is about six hours in the past. You have probably read a fair amount of reporting on the six players that the Blue Jays acquired in July before today, and at least a little on the two new farmhands brought in just before today’s deadline.
On the whole, Ross Atkins did quite well in adding to an already strong farm system. At least five of the six added might slot into the team’s top 40 prospects, with hard-throwing 22-year-old Hector Perez described as the best of the lot, falling just outside the system’s top 10 by most estimates. Perez went through a rough three-game skid in early May, giving up 14 earned runs over 10 innings, but has turned it up since then. He followed that hiccup with nine games that produced a 2.33 ERA in 46.1 IP allowing only 27 hits and 19 walks to go with 50 strikeouts. That sort of success has so far followed him to Double A, and one assumes he will slide right into the Fisher-Cats rotation.
The other part of the Osuna trade, 24-year-old David Paulino, has been rehabbing a shoulder injury for the GCL Astros but hasn’t recorded an appearance in almost two weeks. If he fully recovers before the season’s end, you can look for him to land in Buffalo. Given the lengthy absence, it’s difficult to guess what kind of pitcher the Bisons will see when he does.
Billy McKinney, who came over in the Happ trade, has already been assigned to the Bisons, and Jeff Blair reported that the front office has designs on bringing him to Toronto sooner rather than later. Just looking at the raw numbers, I can’t see a reason for the urgency, but obviously there’s more than stats informing their choices.
Center fielder Forrest Wall, obtained in the Oh deal, has played three games for the Fisher-Cats so far. His trade-mate Chad Spanberger has played three games for Lansing, assuming the role of their starting first baseman. Santiago Espinal, the middle infielder obtained from Boston for Steve Pearce, has moved up to the Fisher-Cats as well. Sample size considerations would make it foolish for me to offer a progress report on the performances of any of these players.
The two deadline day acquisitions, both 24-year-old right-handed pitchers, are both only recently arrived at the Triple A level. Corey Copping, who came in return for John Axford, is a pure reliever with strikeout stuff and a history of walking too many batters. In his last 14 appearances he’s walked eight over 19 IP with 19 strikeouts. However, he only allowed two earned runs over that span. He’s already been assigned to New Hampshire.
Jacob Waguespack spent his first two pro seasons in the bullpen before moving into the rotation a couple of months into the 2017 season, his first at the Class A Advanced level. He ran off a string of 10 starts with a better than 4:1 strikeout to walk ratio and a 3.26 ERA, which earned him a promotion to Double A. His control slipped away again at the higher level, though, and he walked 16 in 37 IP over seven inconsistent starts. This year, he’s bounced between Double A and Triple A about as much as Tim Mayza has ridden the shuttle for the Blue Jays, and been similarly yanked between starting and relief roles. With the Jays having recalled Brandon Crumpton (heaven only knows why) from an already thin Bisons rotation and seemingly resistant to promoting players with actual promise, I’d assume Waguespack will slide into the Buffalo rotation on Thursday.
Hottest Pitcher: Jordan Romano
The local boy made good is, in most respects, having his best year yet. Having mastered a change, the one thing that every observer had said would be necessary to avoid finding himself destined for the bullpen as he moved up the ladder, makes him a legitimate starting pitching prospect.
The oddity of his season was that he completely lost his groove in June. On June 7, 13, and 24 he gave up six, seven, and seven earned runs respectively (with a good outing in between on the 19th). His ERA over those three weeks was 9.48. In all other games this year it’s 2.08. Put another way, he’s allowed 44 earned runs in 2018 — exactly half of those in that four game episode, and the other half in the remaining 16 games and 95 IP. He has an ERA of 1.04 in four July starts, and seems long overdue for promotion.
Hottest Hitter: Brock Lundquist
I had three equally qualified candidates for this honor this time around. The tie breaker was to go with the one doing it at the most difficult level. Don’t be surprised if one of the others is here next time. For now, though, the owner of the system’s best mustache continues to defy the FSL’s reputation as a pitcher’s league.
In 22 games since joining the Dunedin Jays, Lundquist has hit .361/.455/.528 — better than he was doing in Lansing, where his line was bogged down by a terrible April. The sample size is small enough that it’s too early to get a firm read on what his Dunedin hot streak means for his future, absent some comments from actual scouts. But he’s definitely on the radar.
6 Other Stat Lines
- Dalton Pompey: After one plate appearance on Sunday, Pompey was pulled from the game for reasons still unreported. In his last 10 games, including that one, he was hitting .345 with a .484 OBP. I continue to be greatly frustrated that he’s not in Toronto.
- Mc Gregory Contreras – On fire right now, the 19-year-old bag ‘o tools Contreras has an .891 OPS for July, but is hitting a crisp .458 in his last six games entering Tuesday night. Over half of his extra-base hits on the season have come in his last seven games.
- Cal Stevenson – You might remember that this 21-year-old center fielder was the Jays’ 10th-round selection in June. He entered play on Tuesday night with a .939 OPS in July and a .344 average over his last 10 games. He has 10 steals on the year without being caught, and 39 walks over against only 11 strikeouts combined over two levels. Keep your eye on this guy.
- Jordan Groshans – Speaking of the most recent draft, that first selection is working out nicely so far. He’s hitting .380 with a 1.032 OPS in 28 games. I can’t fathom why he hasn’t been promoted, unless they think there’s value in having him still in Vancouver when or if his friend Kloffenstien is activated.
- Zach Logue – Runner-up for the pitcher honors this time, he has a 1.47 ERA over his last five starts with 25 strikeouts against only four walks.
- Travis Bergen - Another injury-plagued pitcher has turned into someone to watch for the Blue Jays. Bergen was drafted in the 7th round in 2015, and some observers marked him as a prospect to watch. But over his first three seasons he accumulated fewer than 30 IP. The initial observers were right, though: In just over 45 IP split almost evenly between Dunedin and NH, Bergen has an ERA of 0.99 and 12.3 K/9. Oh, and he’s a lefty too. If he holds together you might see him in a Jays uniform by next spring.
The Bisons welcomed Vladito to their lineup Tuesday night, and they needed him. They’re 7-14 since the International League All-Star break. To be fair, that might have as much to do with having to rely on scrubs like Nick Tepesch (8 ER in 2 IP in Guerrero’s debut) than anything the Kid can do for them.
The Cats are riding a six-game win streak and are 12-6 since their All-Star break. They continue to hold onto first place in the league.
They went 19-10 in July, and in so doing maintained their grip on first place in the second-half FSL standings.
A nine-game losing streak earlier in the month dropped the ‘Nuts under .500 for the second-half. They have since recovered to go 6-2, getting them back to break-even point.
A slow start to the year sank the C’s first-half chances. Despite a valiant recovery attempt, they finished .500, which was one game short of tying for first place and a playoff position. They are 4-3 in second-half play.
After a blazing start, the Baby Jays have come back to earth, going 4-8 in the last couple of weeks and slipping three games back of first place.
In closing, here is your periodic update on the complex teams: the GCL Jays are 16-16, thanks largely to Groshans, and the DSL squad is 28-22.
Lead Photo © Gregory Fisher – USA Today Sports