We conclude our in-depth look at the DSL Blue Jays by looking at the hitters.
Gustavo Ruiz led the club with 30 games caught and the 19-year-old Mexican completed his second professional season with some marginal improvements over his first. He hit .200/.268/.273 in 124 plate appearances and while his overall OPS went up by 10 points over his 2018 results, his OBP went down significantly despite a 14-point increase in batting average. Ruiz hit eight doubles and swiped three bases while walking in 7.3% of his plate appearances (down from 10.3% in 2018) and struck out in 14.5% (down from 14.7% in 2018). I think that he’ll likely move up to the GCL but it may be a tough go and he had one of the weakest rates of throwing out potential base stealers on the club at 19%.
17-year-old Dominican Junior Ramos also struggled with the bat in his professional debut, hitting just .184/.232/.228 in 35 games and 125 plate appearances. He hit five doubles and stole three bases, walking in 5.6% of plate appearances and striking out in 15.2%. Ramos had a solid 26% rate in throwing out base runners but I think he’ll remain in the DSL next year.
Leonel Callez, 18, led the DSL Blue Jays in games at first base, with 35 but also played 15 at third base and posted some solid numbers at the plate in his pro debut. He hit .272/.335/.353 with nine doubles, a triple and a home run while stealing six bases in 11 attempts, walking in 5.2% of his 194 plate appearances and striking out in 14.9%. Callez could move up next year, allowing the Venezuelan to get a taste of Florida.
18-year-old Panamanian Adrian Montero was the club’s second baseman for most of the games this season, getting into 36 at the position, hitting .322/.459/.398, showing some of the most plate discipline with a 16.2% walk rate and just a 7.4% strikeout rate, which helped him earn the Blue Jays from Away Player of the Year award. He also showed some speed, stealing 17 bases in 22 attempts. Look for him to move up, possibly skipping the GCL and moving straight to Bluefield.
Third baseman Gustavo Gutierrez, a 17-year-old Venezuelan had a decent year, showing some potential. He hit .227/.301/.311 in 135 plate appearances, stealing nine bases in 14 attempts and walked in 7.4% of plate appearances, walking in 17.8%. He had three doubles, two triples and a home run and played third and second with one game at shortstop. I think he might repeat the level in 2020.
Shortstop Glenn Santiago was a rare draft pick who went to start his pro career in the DSL. The Puerto Rican infielder was selected in the 10th round out of the International Baseball Academy and posted solid numbers as an 18 year old with a .237/.361/.351 slash line, hitting seven doubles and four triples while stealing 13 bases in 15 attempts. He also sported a strong 11.9% walk rate in 160 plate appearances and a 14.4% strikeout rate. Look for him in the GCL or Appalachian League next year.
19-year-old infielder Francisco Fajardo got a lot of playing time in his firs pro season, hitting .300/.368/.393 with 24 stolen bases (in 28 attempts) while hitting six doubles, two triples and a home run. Fajardo also struck out in only 9.6% of his 156 plate appearances while walking in 9.0%. Look for the Dominican in the GCL or higher in 2020.
Venezuelan Willfrann Astudillo turned 18 in August and he played a grand total of eight positions in his first year of pro ball. Most of his time was spent at first base where he played in 23 games but he also saw some time at shortstop (11 games, five starts) with time at third, second and parts of seven games in the outfield (at all three positions, including one start). He even played three innings behind the plate. Astudillo’s strong batting eye helped him to a .238/.353/.285 slash line but he didn’t show a lot of power hitting three doubles and a home run in 153 plate appearances with seven stolen bases in eight attempts. Astudillo did walk in 11.1% of the time and struck out in only 10.5% of his plate appearances. I think he’ll be back in the DSL but could move up at some point in 2020.
Venezuelan catcher/first baseman Gary David (not to be confused with Larry David) got into 38 games in his Age-17 season with some decent numbers, hitting .248/.342/.286 but only hit one double and one home run in 120 plate appearances. He walked 9.2% of the time and struck out 13.3% of the time, giving him some solid rookie numbers. I’d expect to see him back in the DSL in 2020.
18-year-old Emmanuel Sanchez came to the Jays from the Dominican Republic and hit a respectable .264/.345/.339 with seven doubles and three triples in his pro debut, getting 200 plate appearances. He walked in 10.0% of those plate appearances and struck out in 11.5% and, while he got into the most games at shortstop (30 games), he also played 12 at third base and two more at second. I can see Sanchez moving up next year.
17-year-old Dominican shortstop Marcos De La Rosa was signed late and only got into seven games with the DSL Blue Jays, hitting .250/.444/.350 with seven walks and 10 strikeouts over just 27 plate appearances, adding a triple and two stolen bases. He will probably be back with the DSL in 2020.
18-year-old Dominican Yeison Jimenez made his pro debut with some thump, hitting .252/.338/.407 with eight doubles, four triples and a home run, adding four stolen bases. He did strike out in 29.6% of his 142 plate appearances but also walked in 10.6%. I can see Jimenez moving up to the GCL in 2020.
Amell Brazoban, a 17-year-old Dominican, played in 56 games and had 233 plate appearances, second most on the team. He did struggle at the plate, hitting .181/.236/.264 with eight doubles, two triples and two home runs while stealing 13 bases in 16 attempts but strikeouts were a huge problem. Brazoban had a 26.2% strikeout rate and a 4.3% walk rate. I can see Brazoban returning to the DSL for another year.
Gabriel Martinez, 17, was our Player of the Game Champion and had some experience in the Venezuelan Winter League before coming into the Blue Jays’ system. He hit .239/.317/.347 in 245 plate appearances, leading the club in that category while hitting 13 doubles, two triples and two home runs. He struggled to steal bases successfully, getting caught nine times with just eight successful steals. Martinez had a decent, 8.6% walk rate and a low, 10.6% strikeout rate. Combined with his fairly low .259 BABIP, I can see him moving up to the GCL in 2020.
Another 17 year old, Daniel Oliva, got over 200 plate appearances as an outfielder. Oliva, from the Dominican Republic, hit .273/.419/.355 with nine doubles, a triple and a home run, posting a stellar 14.7% walk rate but struck out quite a lot at 25.3% of the time. I’d see Oliva in the GCL next year.
Colombian outfielder Juan Pizarro is our final DSL player to consider and he had a solid year, hitting .284/.346/.379 with five doubles, five triples and a home run, stealing 24 bases (leading the team) in 33 attempts. Pizarro walked in 7.2% of his 208 plate appearances and struck out in 21.2%, leading me to believe that he’s going to get the promotion to the GCL.
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