We turn to the hitters of the Dunedin Blue Jays to see who did what in 2018. We’ll start with the catchers and go around the horn to the infield and then to the outfield.
We’ll start with Riley Adams who got the most reps behind the plate, catching 93 games and throwing out an incredible 46% of potential base stealers. Adams jumped over Lansing after playing in Vancouver last year and the 22 year old hit .246/.352/.361 with 26 doubles, a triple and four home runs in 409 plate appearances. Adams saw a drop in his ISO while also seeing his BABIP fall almost 70 points (corresponding almost exactly with his batting average’s 59-point drop) but saw his walk rate rise to 12.2% while he only struck out 0.7% more at 22.7%. Look for Adams to reach Double-A at some point next season but he might have to wait until after the season starts.
Italian Alberto Mineo was acquired by the Blue Jays in the minor league phase of the Rule 5 draft last year and, after coming off a breakout year (offensively) with the Cubs’ A-ball team in South Bend in 2017, he posted another strong offensive season in his Age-23 year with Dunedin. In 34 games, he hit .294/.377/.406 with 14 doubles, a triple and two home runs while throwing out a very solid 37% of potential base stealers. Mineo struck out only 17.5% of the time while walking in 10.9% of plate appearances and he hit .462/.533/.692 with a home run in 15 at bats with Buffalo. Look for Mineo to be a backup in the high minors at the age of 24 in 2019.
Kacy Clemens played first base every day after his promotion from Lansing but the offensive environment in Dunedin and the Florida State wasn’t kind to the 24-year-old slugger. In his second year as a pro, the 2017 eight-round pick started off by destroying the Midwest League, hitting .301/.454/.624 with five doubles, two triples and seven home runs in 27 games, surrounding a one-game call up to Dunedin on April 15. Promoted to Dunedin for good on May 7, but things went south quickly. He hit .222 (with a solid, .351 OBP) for the rest of May but hit .169/.262/.225 in June, rebounded to hit .266/.297/.404 in July but returned to the sub-.200 club in August, hitting .192/.281/.269. In total, Clemens hit just .211/.292/.307 with 15 doubles, a triple and five home runs in 383 plate appearances (more than three times as many as he had in Lansing). Clemens walked at a 21.0% rate in Lansing but that rate dropped to 9.9% in Dunedin while his strikeout rate jumped from 18.5% in Lansing to 24.5% in Dunedin. Interestingly, his BABIP wasn’t unsustainably high in Lansing (at .328) and it dropped to .272 in Dunedin which doesn’t account for the 90-point drop in batting average. Look for Kacy back in Dunedin to start and hopefully he’ll regain that stroke that saw him dominating in Lansing.
Ivan Castillo was a versatile player for the Dunedin Blue Jays, playing 39 games at second base, 31 at third, 11 at shortstop and 19 in the outfield. The 23-year-old Dominican, also acquired in the Rule 5 draft in 2017 not only led the team in games played at second base but he also tied for the league lead in batting average, hitting .304/.345/.448 with 25 doubles, eight triples and five home runs while stealing eight bases in 16 attempts. Castillo has never struck out much and he continued that trend with a 12.2% strikeout rate while walking in only 5.5% of his 418 plate appearances. Look for him either in Dunedin or New Hampshire next year.
26-year-old infielder Nash Knight was more than just a utility man for the Dunedin Blue Jays: he got to play all nine positions on the final day of the year. Knight played 99 games for the Blue Jays, hitting .246/.335/.317 with 14 doubles, a triple and three home runs and he got into 11 games with New Hampshire, hitting .161/.212/.258 with a home run. Knight had a 9.8% walk rate while striking out in 16.8% of his plate appearances. Knight also became a go-to pitcher, getting into four games and giving up one run on four hits in 2 1/3 innings and he tossed an inning in New Hampshire, allowing a run on three hits. Knight should be back with Dunedin next year.
Shortstop Kevin Smith capped off a tremendous season in his second year as a pro, starting by dominating Lansing and finishing with a strong year in Dunedin. First, Smith hit .355/.407/.639 with 23 doubles, four triples and seven home runs in just 204 plate appearances in Lansing, stealing 12 bases while walking in 8.3% of his plate appearances and striking out in 16.2%. His BABIP of .397 was probably quite unsustainable and he saw a 78-point drop when he went to Dunedin which corresponded to an 81-point drop in batting average. While his batting average fell, he still hit .274/.332/.468 with eight doubles, two triples and 18 home runs to give him 25 dingers on the season and he also stole another 17 bases to give him 29 on the year. Smith did see a decline in his walk rate to 6.2% in Dunedin while his strikeout rate rose to 23.7%. With several other infielders in the way, he might not start 2019 in New Hampshire but you can bet that he’l be there by year’s end.
The Blue Jays’ first-round pick of 2017, Logan Warmoth, 23, skipped over Lansing to start his season in Dunedin but he never really found his groove, with a slow April and may, followed my missing most of June and part of July and not quite getting things back in August. Warmoth hit .248/.322/.319 in 75 games, hitting 13 doubles, two triples and a home run, striking out in 21.4% of plate appearances and walking in 9.3%. He did play four games on the rehab trail in the GCL, going 3/11 with two walks and four strikeouts, getting hit by pitches three times. Warmoth might stay in Dunedin trying to find the swing that had him hitting much better in 2017 with Vancouver to start 2019.
Chad Spanberger, acquired by the Blue Jays in the deal to send Seung-hwan Oh to the Colorado Rockies, played 22 games with the Dunedin Blue Jays after hitting .315/.363/.579 with 22 home runs in 92 games with Colorado’s Class-A affiliate. He then hit .278/.289/.500 with the Lansing Lugnuts in nine games, hitting a triple and two home runs before he came to Dunedin for the remainder of the year, hitting .231/.348/.372 with two doubles and three home runs in 92 plate appearances. The 22-year-old first baseman struck out 18.5% of the time in Dunedin and walked 15.2% and brings outstanding raw power to the organization. He’ll probably start back in Dunedin in 2019.
David Jacob was one of a number of Dunedin Blue Jays who retired in the course of the 2018 season. Jacob 23, struggled to make contact when he was in the lineup, striking out in 27.0% of his plate appearances but he did walk in 9.8% and hit .205/.310/.344 with six doubles and five home runs in 174 plate appearances. Jacob started injured, not seeing action until the beginning of June and he played until August 6 when he retired.
Another retiree, 23-year-old Bradley Jones, wasn’t playing badly, hitting .248/.291/.392 with 13 doubles, two triples and five home runs in 237 plate appearances when he retired in the middle of June. Jones struggled with the strikeout even more than Jacob, going down on strikes in 30.0% of his plate appearances while walking in 5.1%
John La Prise has been snake bitten with injuries since he was drafted in the 19th round of the 2015 draft, so much so that he, too, retired during the season. La Prise, who didn’t even play in 2017, hit .230/.327/.296 with four doubles, a triple and a home run in 156 plate appearances, striking out 33.3% of the time and walking 12.2%. La Prise retired in early July.
Infielder Yeltsin Gudino split his time between Lansing and Dunedin, starting in Dunedin and hitting quite poorly in 16 games before getting sent back to Lansing. He got into 38 games with the Lugnuts, hitting .321/.392/.373 with seven doubles before moving back up and hitting .238/.310/.250 in 188 plate appearances with Dunedin, hitting just two doubles over the course of the whole season. Gudino, still just 21, struck out in just 3.8% of his plate appearances in Lansing but that number bumped up to a still-low 13.8% in Dunedin while he kept a steady walk rate, going from 9.6% in Lansing to 9.0% in Dunedin. I think Gudino will be back in Dunedin in 2019.
J.C. Cardenas started the year on the DL and played in one game, going 1/4 with two strikeouts when he was released in June.
Eduardo Pinto played 38 games in left field and 63 games overall with the Dunedin Blue Jays, hitting .308/.356/.410 with 15 doubles, a triple and two home runs, striking out in just 6.0% of his 251 plate appearances and walking in 6.0%. He got into 35 games in New Hampshire, seeing a big drop-off in performance, hitting .218/.242/.290 with three doubles and two home runs, walking in 3.1% of his 130 plate appearances and striking out in 13.1%.
Joshua Palacios had a strong season for the Dunedin Blue Jays, riding his hot streaks and pushing through the cold ones to compile a .292/.357/.418 slash line with 30 doubles, five triples and eight home runs with 15 stolen bases in 24 attempts in 562 plate appearances, walking in 8.4% of his plate appearances and striking out in 22.2%. He got into one game with the Fisher Cats before the end of the season, going 0/3 but played in six games in the postseason, helping the Fisher Cats to a championship, hitting .250/.304/.350 with a triple, a walk and six RBI. I can see Palacios starting 2019 in New Hampshire.
Rodrigo Orozco played 112 games in his Age-23 season with the Dunedin Blue Jays, hitting a solid .304/.375/.389, tying teammate Ivan Castillo for the batting championship while hitting 23 doubles, three triples and a home run and stealing 18 bases in 22 attempts. Orozco didn’t strike out much, sitting down in 12.5% of his plate appearances while walking in 9.4%. He could also move up to New Hampshire next year.
In his third go-round with the Dunedin Blue Jays, 23-year-old D.J. Davis hit .239/.308/.358 in 36 games, hitting five doubles, a triple and two home runs before the former first-round pick was released on June 15.
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