The Blue Jays, over the past few days, have been shuffling their minor league rosters, bringing them more in line with what I had been predicting before the season got started. The moves have been made thanks to some great pitching performances as well as some players getting hot and making it easier to move them up a level.
Moving up to the Toronto Blue Jays have been Andrew Albers and Jonathan Diaz. Neither of these players were expected to get too much time in the big leagues but the struggles of Daniel Norris and the injury to Jose Reyes have made it necessary. While Diaz isn’t going to do much with his bat, his glove is elite level. Albers adds some depth in the bullpen as Marco Estrada moves into the starting rotation.
In: Andrew Albers, Jonathan Diaz
Out: Daniel Norris (to Buffalo), Jose Reyes (DL)
Heading to Buffalo on the downward slide is Daniel Norris. Norris struggled to start the year and while his ERA is at a respectable 3.86, his strikeout rate is low at 17.5%, his walk rate at 11.7% is very high and his FIP is 5.12 and xFIP is 5.39.
Also moving up to Buffalo is Austin Bibens-Dirkx who actually only pitched one inning for New Hampshire after he was sent back down when Luis Perez moved up to Buffalo. The Blue Jays also moved center fielder Melky Mesa up to Buffalo after he started to heat up with the bat, hitting two home runs in back-to-back games on April 27 and 28. Mesa has always been a big swing and miss player and we’ll see if his strikeout numbers keep rising as he moves up.
Also moving up to Buffalo was shortstop Kevin Nolan who will, presumably, fill the space left by the promotion of Jonathan Diaz. Nolan had a .304/.322/.393 slash line when he was promoted and has struck out in only 8.5% of plate appearances at a level (Double-A) that he’s been at for two years now.
To make room, Austin Bibens-Dirkx was sent to New Hampshire (and back to Buffalo), while Chris Dickerson went on the DL. Lefty Scott Barnes was sent down to New Hampshire to make room for Bibens-Dirkx (again).
In: Austin Bibens-Dirkx, Kevin Nolan, Melky Mesa, Daniel Norris
Out: Austin Bibens-Dirkx (briefly), Andrew Albers (to Toronto), Scott Barnes (to New Hampshire), Chris Dickerson (DL)
Of course, like Newton’s third law of motion, for every move, there is a counter move. In New Hampshire, several of the club’s more experienced players are moving up and other, less experienced ones are taking their place. The most recent move, sending Bibens-Dirkx back to Buffalo, is reciprocated by the promotion of Tiago Da Silva, the Brazilian righty who I had originally predicted would start the season with New Hampshire. In 15 1/3 innings with Dunedin, Da Silva had some pretty outstanding peripheral numbers with a 3.52 ERA, a 0.91 WHIP, a 35.6% K rate and a 5.1% walk rate. He also had a FIP of 1.09, showing that he probably is ready for better competition, particularly since he’d been playing in tougher environments in Mexico and Venezuela over the past two years.
Scott Barnes, who pitched for parts of two seasons in the majors, pitched only 4 1/3 innings for the Buffalo Bisons, allowing just one hit and no walks so his demotion to New Hampshire can’t be because of his performance. It was likely a result of a great need in Double-A for a lefty. With Kevin Nolan and Melky Mesa going up, the Fisher Cats received two younger players from Dunedin: Emilio Guerrero and Christian Lopes. One might think that Guerrero will be put to use at shortstop for the departed Nolan but the presence of Lopes (a second baseman), who joins existing infielders Jorge Flores, Shane Opitz and Jon Berti, and the promotion of Mesa are strong indicators that the Blue Jays intend to continue to experiment with Guerrero in the outfield, where he began playing last year. Neither player was off to a fantastic start with the bat and I’m sure that the club is hoping that this will kick start their season.
In: Scott Barnes, Emilio Guerrero, Christian Lopes, Tiago Da Silva
Out: Austin Bibens-Dirkx (to Buffalo), Melky Mesa (to Buffalo), Kevin Nolan (to Buffalo), Luis Perez (to Buffalo)
Moving down to Dunedin, the Blue Jays lose a couple of 2014’s regulars in Guerrero and Lopes while Da Silva also moves up. Dickie Joe Thon, who was hitting at a torrid pace to start the season, gets his first action for the Dunedin Blue Jays after hitting .315/.403/.519. Thon probably wasn’t pleased to return to Lansing at the age of 23 this year and I had predicted that he would be with Dunedin this season. L.B. Dantzler comes off the DL as well for the D-Jays.
Moving up with Thon will be Justin Shafer who has been very impressive in Lansing. A relatively new-to-pitching draft pick last season, Shafer doesn’t overpower hitters but his ability to keep the ball down and get ground balls will serve him well in Dunedin. (Stay tuned for a full scouting report on Shafer for premium subscribers!) Over the weekend, Alonzo Gonzalez also came up from Lansing after a very strong start there (where he has pitched in parts of three seasons now).
It appears that the Blue Jays are taking their time restocking the Lansing Lugnuts (at least officially), as the Lugs have lost Thon, Gonzalez and Shafer over the past several days without getting anyone back. Colton Turner was activated off the DL when Gonzalez was promoted but aside from that move, the Lugnuts a little undermanned for tonight’s game against Bowling Green. By moving Gonzalez and Shafer, it looks like the Lugnuts will lose much of their piggybacking, likely with Shane Dawson and Starlyn Suriel getting days of their own and (possibly) Chase Mallard taking the spot vacated by Shafer, piggybacking with Sean Reid-Foley. This leaves Conner Greene and Chase De Jong as the club’s other starters.
In: Colton Turner
Out: Alonzo Gonzalez (to Dunedin), Dickie Joe Thon (to Dunedin), Justin Shafer (to Dunedin)
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