We go around the horn as we take a look at the Bluefield Blue Jays’ hitters in 2014. We start behind the plate.
In 2014, the Blue Jays drafted two catchers in the first four rounds of the draft getting Max Pentecost (11th overall) and Matt Morgan (fourth round). Where did this leave 19-year-old Dan Jansen, the Jays’ 16th-round pick in 2013? Obviously with something to prove to the Blue Jays’ brass as well as himself. Already showing that he has excellent bat control in his debut season with the GCL Blue Jays last year, Jansen took things a step further, leading the club in several offensive categories, hitting .282/.390/.484 (with 10 doubles and five home runs) before an injury cut short his season at 38 games. Jansen is showing advanced plate discipline, striking out only 17 times this year but walking 16 times and slugging extremely well. His defense appeared to be very solid, as he threw out 34% of potential base stealers. He’ll be 20 next year and, could be moved up slowly in order to allow Pentecost to play the full year in Lansing. I’d look for Jansen to get a taste of Canada with the Vancouver Canadians.
At first base, Rowdy Tellez has been written about a lot in this blog and I won’t over-burden you with the obvious: this guy can hit. Despite a slow start to the year, Tellez finished with very strong numbers with a .293/.358/.424 line (with 11 doubles, a triple and four home runs) in Bluefield before moving up to Lansing and hitting .357/.449/.500 with a pair of home runs in 49 plate appearances. He’s already showing the ability to take a walk and his strikeout rate, even in Lansing, wasn’t all that bad. Defensively, Tellez is far from a finished product and should get plenty of work through the instructional league and spring training. Look for him to spend at least the first half of the season with the Lugnuts next year as a 20 year old.
Rolando Segovia, a 19 year old from Venezuela, was the every day second baseman for the Blue Jays and the 5-foot-11 switch hitter had a solid year, hitting .244/.335/.372 with 12 doubles and three home runs. His solid walk rate (10.3%) and decent strikeout rate (21.5%) bode well for the future and, as a second baseman, there isn’t much competition in the organization. That said, I think that he’ll be in Vancouver next year, only moving up one rung in the ladder and not really taking anyone by storm.
20-year-old Venezuelan third baseman and catcher Gabriel Cenas ended up with the most time at third this season for the Blue Jays. As one of the better hitters on the GCL Blue Jays last year, I thought that he’d be more productive this year but the 6-foot-1 right-handed hitter only had eight extra-base hits (six doubles and two home runs) while hitting .221/.294/.282. If he doesn’t repeat the level next year, look for him in Vancouver.
One of the youngest players on the team, 18-year-old Richard Urena was the going to get every day reps at shortstop. The Dominican is probably the best-fielding shortstop that the Blue Jays have among their lower-level international free agent shortstops and, in 2014, provided some offensive thump to go with the glove. Urena hit .318/.363/.433 with 15 doubles, two triples and two home runs before moving up to Vancouver for another nine games where he dropped off, hitting .242/.297/.364. Still, If Urena can hit as well in Vancouver next year as he did in Bluefield this year, the Jays will have an embarrassment of riches at that position going forward.
Center fielder Josh Almonte logged the most games in the outfield with 61 and, as I mentioned in Part 1 of this report, he was one of the key players on the club. Almonte, a 2012 22nd-round pick, hit .307/.343/.398 with 15 stolen bases, six doubles, four triples and a home run. The biggest concern with Almonte is his very low walk rate which, in 2014, dipped to 3.0% to go with a 25.9% strikeout rate (which has actually improved every year as a pro). There is raw power there and if he learns how to tap into while showing better command of the strike zone, he could be an up and comer. He’ll be 21 next year and could make the jump to Lansing with three years of short-season ball under his belt.
It’s hard to believe that Jesus Gonzalez, the every day right fielder for the Bluefield club, is still only 19. The toolsy player is still just that: toolsy. He has a great arm as well as solid raw power but he still hasn’t been able to put things together in games. In his second year in Bluefield, Gonzalez didn’t make any strides, hitting .188/.227/.265, posting a sub-.500 OPS for the second consecutive year. He has extreme problems with plate discipline, walking only 4.9% of the time and striking out 37.4%. Gonzalez’s time to show the Blue Jays what he’s got is now because after three poor seasons, patience must be wearing thin.
Trent Miller, the Blue Jays’ last pick in the 2014 draft (40th round) had a solid campaign with the Bluefield Blue Jays, hitting .257/.307/.400 before moving up to Vancouver for eight games. Miller is now 23 and will probably be in Vancouver for 2014.
Austin Davis, son of Blue Jays’ minor league field coordinator Doug Davis, signed on with the Jays as a non-drafted free agent after the draft concluded. The 21 year old played in 46 games, getting plenty of opportunity to play, but didn’t make the most of his experience, hitting only .216/.268/.216 without any extra-base hits and striking out four times as much as he walked.
Backing up Dan Jansen behind the plate were Kevin Garcia (30th-round pick in 2014) and Andres Sotillo (international FA from Venezuela). Garcia, 21, did more with the bat, hitting .255/.324/.316 over 112 plate appearances split between Vancouver and Bluefield with 80 of those plate appearances coming in Bluefield. Sotillo, 20, split his time almost evenly between the GCL and Bluefield, getting 65 plate appearances between the two with 33 of those in Bluefield. He hit .155/.246/.207 over those 22 games.
Three players got some additional time on the infield with Lydell Moseby (son of Lloyd) benefiting the most from Rowdy Tellez’s late season promotion to Lansing. While his batting average left a lot to be desired (.211), he took quite a few walks (12) without striking out a lot (24 times) and, despite only playing in 30 games and getting 110 plate appearances, he showed the power that’s latent inside his 6-foot-6 frame, tying Dan Jansen for the club lead in home runs (5) with four of those blasts coming in August. 2014 20th-round pick Aaron Attaway, 22, got into 36 games, playing second, third and short, hitting .206/.355/.309. 21-year-old Venezuelan Angel Rojas got 114 plate appearances over 34 games, playing all four infield positions, and hitting .250/.315/.310.
In the outfield, 39th-round pick James Lynch had a rough start to his pro career, hitting .132/.177/.189 with three doubles and a home run among his 14 hits. He only walked five times and struck out 37 times with Bluefield. Sean Hurley, drafted in the 24th round in 2013, played in 41 games combined between Vancouver and Bluefield with 23 games at the lower level. He also struggled with the bat, hitting a combined .157/.267/.270 over 136 plate appearances. 2012 third-rounder Anthony Alford played in a career-high 14 games in 2014 before leaving to rejoin his football team at Ole Miss. He played nine games in Bluefield and five in Lansing, hitting a combined .259/.333/.389, hitting two home runs and stealing five bases in just 60 plate appearances. His better numbers came from his five-game stint in Lansing. Finally, Jake Anderson continues to have a giant question mark beside his name in the prospect ledger. Anderson, playing for the first time since 2012 thanks to injury issues, only got into three games, going 1/10.
Who are these players? Find out in The 2014 Toronto Blue Jays Minor League Handbook, now available as an ebook at Smashwords.com for $7.99 US. It’s coming soon to Amazon, Apple iBooks, Kobo and other fine retailers. You can purchase and preview the book at our Smashwords.com page! If you like us here,“like” us on Facebook!
The All-Star Break Supplement to the Minor League Handbook is also available at Smashwords.com for only $2 US! Get an update on how your favourite players have been doing this season as well as a report on the 2014 draft!
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