Following our post on the New Hampshire Fisher Cats’ pitchers is, of course, the post on the New Hampshire Fisher Cats’ hitters.
I think have a fairly good idea of who’s going to be on the team, but there always some surprises and one of them comes behind the plate.
Despite a strong finish in 2018, I don’t think that Max Pentecost is going to be able to start in Buffalo in 2019. I think he’ll get the bulk of the at bats behind the plate for the Fisher Cats, at least for the first half of the season, and look to build on his strong finish. I think that there could be a point where he does join Reese McGuire in Triple-A but that may happen later on in the season.
Alberto Mineo had one of the best seasons of his career in 2018 with Dunedin, mostly, albeit in a backup role. The Italian-born 24 year old played 47 games in Dunedin and another four in Buffalo with a .294/.377/.406 slash line. While he has limited power, he’s a solid defender and is ready for a move up the ladder.
Ryan Hissey will likely be the third catcher when necessary in New Hampshire. He played that role last year and only got into 36 games. He’ll only get more action this year if there are injuries or he gets red hot.
Chad Spanberger was acquired from Colorado last year in the Seung-hwan Oh deal and is known for his prodigious power. In Class-A Asheville, he hit 22 home runs in just 380 plate appearances but that power tailed off when he came to Jays’ with two home runs in nine games in Lansing and just three dingers in 22 games with Dunedin. He could actually stay back in A-ball in Dunedin but the Jays have a couple of other first basemen who will likely stay at a lower level (like Kacy Clemens and Christian Williams), meaning that Spanberger may be the one to get kicked up the ladder.
Kevin Smith had a huge season in Lansing and Dunedin last year, combining for a .302/.358/.528 slash line with 25 home runs and 29 stolen bases. Combining those offensive numbers with solid defense, there’s no reason for the 22 year old not to move up for a test.
I expect Santiago Espinal to get the bulk of the time joining with Smith up the middle. Acquired for Steve Pearce last year, Espinal had a solid offensive season, hitting a combined .297/.356/.444 with 27 doubles, six triples and 10 home runs with three teams at two levels. He’ll return to New Hampshire, where he played 42 games last year.
Gunnar Heidt has filled a utility role in New Hampshire and Buffalo in the past and I think the infield is going to be crowded in Buffalo, so he’ll have to stay in New Hampshire. He grinds out at bats and can help a team in a number of different ways but the 26 year old will have to post a better line than the .229/.297/.342 he had last year (although he hit .286/.357/.460 in 18 games with Buffalo).
Nash Knight is the ultimate utility player, getting to play all nine positions for the Dunedin Blue Jays last year. Also 26, Knight put up modest numbers in Dunedin and doesn’t have a lot of power, He hit even worse in New Hampshire (.161/.212/.258 in 31 at bats) but I think that he gets pushed up because of crowding in the infield in Dunedin.
On the Bubble
Logan Warmoth could move up to New Hampshire after a full season in Dunedin last year. He’s a former first-round draft pick and did show signs of figuring some things out. He’s also got as many home runs in big league spring training this year (one) as he had all of last year.
Yeltsin Gudino is another versatile defensive player who could get some time in New Hampshire this year. Will he? That remains to be seen.
Joshua Palacios had a really strong year in Dunedin last year with a .292/.357/.418 line with 30 doubles, five triples and eight home runs. The power was a bit of a surprise and, as a lefthanded hitter, could really benefit from playing in Northeast Delta Dental Stadium. The 23-year-old New Yorker gets the nod after being promoted last year for the playoffs.
Forrest Wall came over from Colorado in the same deal that brought Spanberger over and he was hitting well in Advanced-A Lancaster before getting promoted to Hartford in the Eastern League (.206/.289/.359 for Hartford). The change of scenery to New Hampshire may have helped as he hit .271/.354/.380 with 10 stolen bases (and 38 on the season) and those type of numbers may be what we see from Wall over the course of a full season. A second baseman until just a couple of years ago, his outfield defense is still a work in progress, which is another reason to keep him from getting moved up sooner rather than later.
Rodrigo Orozco owned a share of the Florida State League batting title last year, hitting .304/.375/.389 with 23 doubles, three triples and one home run. He doesn’t have much power to speak of but he stole 18 bases last year too. He’ll probably play a fair bit for New Hampshire.
Andrew Guillotte has been up and down to New Hampshire and Buffalo for the last couple of years and he adds some flexibility in that he can play in the infield as well as the outfield. With one of the stronger outfield arms in the organization, he had 14 outfield assists in 100 games for New Hampshire (and none in four games with Buffalo). Like Orozco, he can get on base, hitting .251/.336/.326 with the Fisher Cats, hitting just 17 doubles, a triple and two home runs in 386 plate appearances. He may wind up as a backup but he can help out a team in a number of different ways if he’s playing regularly.
On the Bubble
Roemon Fields is a speedy, excellent defensive outfielder who’s now 28. He regressed at the plate last year in Buffalo, hitting .238/.307/.305 and he only stole 25 bases while getting caught 16 times (after stealing 50 bases the previous season). Another outfielder with little power to speak of, Fields may find himself in New Hampshire if things shake out to his detriment in Buffalo in Toronto. If Dwight Smith Jr. is claimed on waivers, there could be a spot open for him on the Bisons but if Smith gets through, and especially if Pompey is still in the organization after the season starts, Fields could be hard pressed to return to Buffalo.
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