Like the pitchers, I’ll divide up the hitters into four categories: those repeating at the level, 2013 draftees, 2013 undrafted free agents and guys from the Dominican Summer League team.
Repeating the Level: Will Dupont, Gabriel Cenas, Anthony Alford, Nathan DeSouza, Josh Almonte, Daniel Devonshire, Trey Pascazi
2013 draftees: Rowdy Tellez, Dan Jansen, Sean Hurley, Andrew Florides
2013 undrafted free agents: Boomer Collins, Koby Kraemer
Dominican Summer Leagers: Richard Urena, Franklin Barreto, Andres Sotillo, Michael De La Cruz, Andres De Aza, Rolando Segovia, Edwin Fuentes, Rolando Segovia
The names of the position players repeating the level for the GCL Blue Jays probably don’t ring much of a bell. Of that group, only Josh Almonte and Gabriel Cenas had more than 90 at bats and Anthony Alford left early due to his football commitments at Ole Miss. DeSouza, Almonte and Devonshire all hit below .200 and Trey Pascazi didn’t even break the .100 level (.083 batting average). Nathan DeSouza had the best OPS of the sub-.200 hitters with a .603, showing some power from the 19-year-old Canadian.
At 19, Anthony Alford showed some improvement from last season despite getting only 30 plate appearnaces. He walked in 6 of them (and struck out only 6 times) and flashed some of the tools that make scouts want him to commit to baseball full-time.
Will Dupont had decent numbers (.262/.338/.311) in 68 plate appearance and played a solid second base. 19 year old Josh Almonte, from Long Island, New York, played a lot (48 games) and showed some marginal improvement from last season but still hit .167/.229/.229.
Finally, 19 year old Gabriel Cenas, the Blue Jays from Away Most Improved Player for the club had the third highest OPS on the team (of players with 50 plate appearances or more), hitting a very solid .259/.348/.417 with 14 extra-base hits (3 HRs) mostly as a first baseman (although he played a bit at 3B and catcher).
Of this group, I can see Cenas easily graduating to Bluefield but I could also see one or two of the other guys moving up but mostly to play as backups. I’m not sure what the Jays will do with Alford. Keeping him in Dunedin would be most preferable in order to keep a close eye on him but I’m not sure if GCL roster rules will allow that.
The highest pick to play in the GCL was catcher Dan Jansen (16th round). The 18 year old was getting some good reviews and hit .246/.364/.281 showing a great eye at the plate, walking 21 times and striking out only 10 in 140 plate appearances. I’d look to see him possibly repeat the level although a jump to Bluefield wouldn’t be out of the question.
Outfielder Sean Hurley (24th round) got quite a bit of playing time but, for a 21 year old in the GCL, didn’t do as well as some might have hoped, hitting .216/.335/.338. He did show some pop with 7 doubles, 2 triples and a pair of home runs and also showed patience with 23 walks. The 42 strikeouts in 165 plate appearances could indicate bigger problems. I’m not sure where he’ll go next year but a repeat in the GCL wouldn’t surprise me but neither would a jump to either Bluefield or Vancouver.
Shortstop Andrew Florides (27th round) is a high schooler from New York who was strictly a backup, getting to the plate only 37 times and was used mostly as a substitute late in games, hitting .152/.243/.152. Notably, he only hit singles. He’ll be back in the GCL next year, probably backing up Richard Urena (see below).
Rowdy Tellez was the biggest name of this group despite being drafted last. Known for his prodigious power, Tellez fell in the draft due to signability issues after making a strong commitment to USC (Southern California). The Jays picked up the 6’4″ 18 year old in the 30th round and paid him $850,000 to forgo his college commitment and play in the pros. He started slowly but really came on towards the end of the year (earning a brief callup to Bluefield in the process) and finished the season with a .234/.319/.371 in 141 plate appearances. Tellez posted a very respectable 15/26 walk to strikeout ratio and began to really show the extra-base power that the Blue Jays (and the rest of the baseball world) saw in him. In his final 7 games, he hit 2 of his 5 doubles, 2 of his 3 triples and both of his home runs. Expect him to return to Bluefield for another year of Rookie ball.
Boomer Collins, or “Thomas Collins III” as he’s listed on MiLB.com was probably the team leader in more ways than one. One of the oldest players on the team, the college free agent turned 24 just before the season and deservedly was an every day player for the club. He faded down the stretch but finished with a very strong line of .305/.391/.439 in 215 plate appearances. He had 57 hits (team lead), 13 doubles (2nd on the team), with 3 triples and 2 home runs. He also had 6 stolen bases without being caught. Collins will almost certainly jump to Vancouver next year.
Koby Kraemer, a 23-year-old free agent infielder took a fair number of walks (10) and didn’t strike out a whole lot (17 times) in his 117 plate appearances. He also played solid defense but those are really all the positives that can be gleaned from his stat line, as he hit .190/.274/.229. I’d see him in Vancouver or Bluefield mainly because of his age.
Franklin Barreto was the real offensive star of the team until Rowdy Tellez really emerged in the last week of the season (by which time, Barreto was in Bluefield). Making his professional debut at the age of 17, the international free agent was clearly the offensive engine of the club, leading the team in doubles (16), triples (6), home runs (4) and stolen bases (10) in 194 plate appearances with a .299/.368/.529 slash line. The biggest knock on the youngster is his defense. I had been told on a couple of occasions that any ball hit to shortstop with him on the diamond became a “hold-your-breath” moment in which spectators almost expected him to boot the play. Expect him to start in Bluefield next year (where he finished this year). I also wouldn’t be entirely surprised to see him playing center field.
19-year-old catcher Andres Sotillo made the jump over to the GCL (from the DSL) quite successfully despite splitting time with Jansen behind the plate. He showed very good contact ability, hitting .302 in 71 plate appearances but struck out 15 times and only hit 3 extra-base hits (all doubles). He went up to the Bluefield Blue Jays when Garrett Custons went into the Air Force and only hit .200 in 30 plate appearances there. Sotillo will most likely be backing up in Bluefield in 2014.
Michael De La Cruz earned the flight from the Dominican over to Florida after a strong DSL season and after Sotillo’s promotion to Bluefield. The 20 year old was very solid in the Dominican with more walks than strikeouts and some extra-base pop but he only had 4 hits in 34 plate appearances in Dunedin. He threw out 50% of base runners in the Dominican but that number dropped to just 7% on American soil. I’d see him back in the GCL next year.
I would probably pick either outfielder Andres De Aza or infielder Edwin Fuentes as my dark horse for the GCL team. De Aza came over from the DSL this year with solid (if unimpressive) numbers as an 18 year old. He hit .235/.292/.336 in 130 plate appearances and showed some extra-base power with 6 doubles and 2 home runs. His strikeout to walk ratio is pretty bad however at 9 walks to 39 strikeouts. I could see De Aza having a Gabriel Cenas like improvement next season.
Edwin Fuentes is an infielder that Chris King talked about in our conversation last month. The 19-year-old Colombian played mostly at third with some very solid results and Chris sees some potential there despite a .206/.290/.236 slash line over 188 plate appearances. I could see Fuentes going to Bluefield, particularly because there are going to be several vacancies on the infield there next year.
18 year old Rolando Segovia was just an occasional starter after a good season in the Dominican Republic last year. He only had 73 plate appearances and hit .219/.315/.313. He’ll most likely be back in the GCL.
Richard Urena kind of snuck into Florida through the back door this season, coming in when Dawel Lugo moved up to Vancouver and Franklin Barreto went to Bluefield. The 17-year-old Dominican made a solid debut in his 31 plate appearances in the GCL, hitting .333 with a .400 OBP. He had a pair of doubles among his 9 hits and the youngster will most likely return to the GCL for a full season in 2014. Word has it that of the three young Latin shortstops, Urena is the best defensively but he hasn’t shown tremendous power yet despite what appears to be very good plate discipline.
That wraps it up for the GCL Blue Jays! Come back soon for part 1 of our wrap up of the Bluefield Blue Jays’ season. You can also hear radio broadcaster Trey Wilson talk about the club on our most recent podcast.