A Flurry of News


Today has been a busy day in Blue Jays Land. Not only is it day two of the MLB Amateur Draft, but there has been a flurry of transactions today.


The first piece of news was expected: 3B Andy LaRoche had his contract selected by the major league squad to take the roster spot opened up when CF Anthony Gose was returned to Buffalo.


In 177 ABs in Buffalo, the 29-year-old LaRoche has a .282/.358/.463 triple slash line with 7 home runs. Significantly, he’s walked 19 times while striking out 23 times. In 1332 major league plate appearances with the Dodgers, Pirates and A’s, he’s put up a .226/.305/.337 slash line. Compared to the man he’s replacing, Brett Lawrie, even his poor major league numbers are superior to what Lawrie has done this season, particularly in his ability to take walks. Get used to seeing more productive at bats if he gets the chance to play frequently. He’s not in the lineup tonight.


Catcher Josh Thole finally gets a chance to show what he can do in the major leagues (again). He was the guy who everyone thought would be on the major league club catching R.A. Dickey but instead was beaten out for the job by Henry Blanco who had an excellent spring. I have to admit it. I was convinced by Blanco in the spring. I saw him hit some balls really hard, but clearly that ability hasn’t carried over in the season. The 41-year-old Blanco has played himself out of a job by hitting .184/.262/.263.  Blanco was designated for assignment by the Blue Jays in order to bring up Thole.

Catcher Josh Thole signs an autograph for a young fan.
Catcher Josh Thole signs an autograph for a young fan.


Thole, by comparison, has done everything the team has asked of him. I heard him on the radio on Wednesday night with Jeff Sammut and he was saying all the right things. The fact that he was hitting .322/.383.510 with 7 home runs is just icing on the cake. I’m hoping he gets a little bit more time than the once a week Dickey start that Blanco got. With his ML track record (.261/.331/.333 career major league slash line) and the fact that he’s actually YOUNGER than J.P. Arencibia, I would suggest that there is some room for improvement on his career line if he gets some playing time. He won’t hit more home runs than J.P.A. will, but he will CERTAINLY get on base more. And, if you look at the picture of him here, he’s signing a program for some kids, he seems like a nice dude.


In a corresponding move, New Hampshire catcher Sean Ochinko is being promoted to Buffalo and, I hope, will be able to take every-day reps there over Mike Nickeas who hasn’t hit at all this season. I have no idea who might move up from Dunedin to take Ochinko’s place. The most likely candidate, Derrick Chung, is injured, as is A.J. Jimenez (who was in New Hampshire before his TJ surgery last year). Pierce Rankin hasn’t been great defensively and Chris Schaeffer was just recently promoted from Extended Spring Training and only has 21 at bats at any level above Class A. Further down, the Jays have Aaron Munoz who started the season in Dunedin and would be fine defensively in AA but the bat hasn’t been tested at that level yet.  There’s also Santiago Nessy who is very young and was struggling in Lansing before his concussion and Seth Conner who hasn’t been great either with the bat or with the glove.


Another piece of big news coming out of Ken Rosenthal is that the Blue Jays have signed former major leaguer Chien-Ming Wang to a major league contract. He’s going to start on Tuesday after being released from his minor league contract with the Yankees. To read more on Wang, follow the link to his Baseball Reference page. He has been excellent in AAA this season and I think he’s a better option than anyone else the Jays would have on-hand to take the reigns.


This is actually a move I had heard pundits talking about last month when discussing several former major league pitchers coming up to their June release dates in their minor league contracts. Wang was certainly one of the best of the bunch, and this move keeps Chad Jenkins in the minors to polish his stuff a bit more.


Also, there’s some good news coming out of the Blue Jays minor league camps with Roberto Osuna tweeting that he’s headed back to Lansing. We hope that he’ll be pitching.


Finally, an update on the draft.  Through the first 8 rounds, the Blue Jays have selected 8 pitchers. Among them are 5 righties and 3 lefties and 5 are high schoolers with two college seniors and one 19-year-old pitcher who finished his first year in community college.


Round 1: Phillip Bickford – HS (Age 17) – RHP
Round 2: Clinton Hollon – HS (Age 18) – RHP
Round 3: Patrick Murphy – HS (Age 17) – RHP
Round 4: Evan Smith – HS (Age 17) – LHP
Round 5: Daniel Lietz – CC (Age 19) – LHP
Round 6: Matt Boyd – COL (Age 22) – LHP
Round 7: Conner Greene – HS (Age 18) – RHP
Round 8: Kendall Graveman – COL (Age 22) – RHP