At long last, we arrive at the first of the Blue Jays’ four full-season minor league clubs. We’ll open with the Lansing Lugnuts, the Blue Jays’ Class-A affiliate in the Midwest League.
The Lugnuts finished the season with a 69-71 record overall and, despite the promotion of some of the Blue Jays’ top 2016 draft picks down the stretch, they fell short of finding their way to a playoff spot. The Lugnuts finished in the middle of the pack, scoring 4.09 runs per game, just over the league average of 4.05 with a slightly older-than-average offense that was 22.1 years of age. The pitching staff, on the other hand, was also slightly older than average (at 22.2 years of age, 0.4 years above the league average) and allowed 4.35 runs, the second most in the league.
Blue Jays from Away Player of the Game Champion
For those of you who followed the minor league reports here, you’ll know that I “awarded” Player of the Game (PotG) accolades on a game-by-game basis. It should comfort you to know that I’ve been keeping track of these daily awards and my rationale for the system is as follows.
The Player of the Game Awards were determined by a number of factors that included who I thought had the most impact on the game and who might have gone “above and beyond.” Most nights, there was just one Player of the Game. If there was, he earned one point. If I thought that either a) no one stood out enough to merit a single PotG, or b) two or more players were outstanding and deserved mention, I split the point up into two, three or four shares. If two players earned PotG mention, they each received 0.5 points and if three players earned mentions, they each received 0.33 points, etc. There were occasions that I felt that no one merited the award and therefore, I did not give out any points.
|John La Prise||3.42|
It’s tough for pitchers to come up with a Player of the Game Championship, particularly considering that they play one-fifth as often as an everyday player. Angel Perdomo came very close, with 10.67 Player of the Game points, but it was Juan Kelly who wound up the winner this year.
Blue Jays from Away Player of the Year
The questions involved in deciding the Player of the Year are many. Do we go with the player who racked up the most “counting stats” due to the fact that he got the most opportunity to? Do we go with a player who dominated in less time but didn’t get into as many games because of injury or promotion? Should a player who is playing very well at a younger age get more consideration that one who is older? When all the factors are taken into consideration, really, I was left with two players between whom to decide. Max Pentecost led the club in OPS but only played in 62 games thanks to his comeback from shoulder injury and a promotion to Dunedin. Pentecost was 23 but really, that number is a little misleading in his case, since he had just 109 plate appearances as a pro coming into this year. Pentecost had some solid numbers with a .314/.375/.490 slash line and seven home runs 267 plate appearances. While his OPS was sixty points higher than his nearest competitor, 22-year-old Juan Kelly is going to get the award.
Why Kelly? Well, Kelly simply was one of the club’s rocks for the whole season. He hit .274/.356/.448 with 35 doubles, six triples and 12 home runs, leading the club in RBI, doubles, triples, hits and walks and finishing second in home runs, being the only player other than Connor Panas to hit more than seven. Kelly led the club in games and plate appearances but it was really because he kept hitting and stayed healthy. It was a solid year for a player who had his first attempt at playing in a full season.
Honourable mention: Max Pentecost
Blue Jays from Away Pitcher of the Year
We are definitely not starved for choice in this category, as the Lugnuts, despite their poor pitching record compared the league, had several quality starters. Do we go with Jordan Romano who had a triumphant return from Tommy John surgery in a new role as a starter? Do we go with Jon Harris, last year’s first round pick, who dominated the Midwest League in 16 starts before moving up to Dunedin? Again, for me, durability and impact with the club make the biggest impressions and therefore the competition comes down to two players, Angel Perdomo and Ryan Borucki.
Both players are 22, born just 37 days apart in 1994, but there’s really only one category in which Perdomo outshone Borucki: strikeouts. Borucki found himself after a tough start with Dunedin and was able to go out and post a 2.41 ERA and 1.13 WHIP and while Perdomo struck out almost 30% of batters, Borucki wasn’t a slouch either, fanning 23.2% and walking only 5.6% while Perdomo walked 10.1% of batters. Congrats go out to Ryan Borucki, but it was not an easy decision!
Honourable mention: Angel Perdomo, Jordan Romano, Jon Harris
Blue Jays from Away Reliever of the Year
For Reliever of the Year, our choice is a Canadian who came back from a rough offseason that found him unable to return to Toronto for a drug test which got him an automatic suspension. Andrew Case, 23, came back to Lansing after an appearance in the GCL and he was in much better physical shape and pitched like it, with a 2.23 ERA, 1.10 WHIP with six walks and 19 strikeouts in 23 2/3 innings. Case saved 10 games, stabilizing the Lansing bullpen at the back end.
Honourable mention: Danny Young, Dusty Isaacs, Starlyn Suriel
Blue Jays from Away Most Improved Player
2015 first-rounder Jon Harris had a difficult professional debut with the Vancouver Canadians last year. Hie had an ERA of 6.75 and walked almost 12% of the batters he faced. Starting 2016 in Lansing, Harris turned things around completely, throwing 84 2/3 innings with a 2.23 ERA and 1.16 WHIP, striking out 20.9% of batters and walking 6.9%. While a few others improved a marginal amount from year to year, Harris had the largest leap forward of any 2016 Lansing Lugnut.
If you like us here, “like” us on Facebook!
The 2016 Toronto Blue Jays Minor League Handbook is now available in e-book and print formats! Visit the Handbook page for more information!
Now is a great time to subscribe to the Blue Jays from Away Premium Content Section!
All photos are copyright Blue Jays from Away (2013-2016) and may not be used without permission.