Due to the sheer volume of notes that I took yesterday, watching two regular minor league games and the intrasquad game on the back diamond, I’m going to be a little more selective than I was with the notes on the games the other day.
I’ll start by saying that I completely forgot that Tucker Donahue threw in Friday’s game against the Phillies and he needed only six pitches to finish his inning. Talking to him on Saturday, he said that he felt good about his outing but wished that he had longer to work!
I also spoke to Jonathan Davis today and he confirmed that he’s working on hitting from the left side. Ever the modest young man, Davis said that he wants to do whatever helps the team. If he can use switch hitting to get the most out of his speed, then good for him.
Now, on to the games. As I said, there was a lot going on so I prioritized seeing players that I hadn’t seen before. High on the list: Jairo Labourt, Jesus Tinoco, Yeltsin Gudino, Tim Mayza, Richard Urena, Zakery Wasilewski, Tyler Ybarra and Chuck Ghysels.
First, the pitchers.
Easily the most impressive of the group was Tyler Ybarra. I didn’t see Ybarra because he was pitching (extremely well) down in Dunedin. I can see how he struck out 65 batters in 55 1/3 innings with the stuff he was throwing on Saturday. Hitting 94 and 95 miles per hour easily, Ybarra might be termed “effectively wild.” Since hitting full-season ball, Ybarra’s always walked more than five batters per nine innings but he also strikes out a lot. He also had a filthy slurve on display. I’ll call it a slurve because it was far too hard to be a true curve at 82-83 mph but also had a deeper break than a slider. It was just absolutely nasty.
I also enjoyed watching Chuck Ghysels pitch. For a smaller guy, he throws pretty hard, sitting at 90-91 mph with his fastball and was hitting his spots well. He also got some great spin on his slurve, which came in at about 78 mph and had a really sharp downwards break to it and good spin. Ghysels struggled somewhat in Lansing at the beginning of last year but really seemed to find himself in Vancouver.
Jairo Labourt, a big lefty from the Dominican, seemed rusty in his outing on the back field. Labourt’s fastball was in the 89-91 mph range with some movement but he wasn’t locating it all that well. Jesus Tinoco came into the intra-squad game as well and was throwing a good fastball in the 90-92 range (hitting 93). His changeup varied widely between 80 and 85 mph and tended to be a bit flat. He also threw a curve around 76 mph.
Tim Mayza, the Jays’ 12th round pick in 2012, relieved Chase DeJong (who had a rough start) and the 6-foot-3 lefty did fairly well. He looked like he was throwing an 88-89 mph fastball but frequently appeared to throw an 87 mph sinker that had some nice drop to it. There was a little bit of late movement on the fastball as well. Mayza was also throwing an 82 mph slider. Mayza didn’t have the best statistical year last year, spent between the GCL and Bluefield, and is likely working on some adjustments. That said, if he stays in command of his pitches, he can certainly get batters out with location and movement.
Zakery Wasilewski was throwing on the back diamond in the intrasquad game and did not have his best stuff. He was throwing the fastball in the mid-80s with a changeup in the high 70s that didn’t have a lot of movement on it. I hope that I get a chance to see him again before I leave because I think I just caught him on an off-day.
I also saw Deivy Estrada who is a 21-year-old Venezuelan who hasn’t pitched since 2012. I didn’t see much because he made some quick work of his opposition (in the intrasquad game) but he was hitting the high-80s with his fastball and threw a lot of strikes. Phil Kish, a 2013 NDFA, was hitting 88-89 with some tailing action on his fastball while Carlos Pina, who hasn’t pitched since 2009, was kind of all over the place with his velocity, ranging between 85 and 89 mph, hitting 90 once.
For the hitters, Josh Almonte had a very good at bat with a line drive single and Chris King of Baseball Prospectus has told me that he really liked his batting practice session. Yeltsin Gudino has a really smooth swing and hit hard line drives in BP but I only saw a shallow fly out to right field in the intra-squad game. He also booted a ground ball hit right at him, but, at 17 years old, that’s going to be expected.
Richard Urena had some good at bats and looked very smooth at shortstop, showing off a strong arm. Franklin Barreto was starting to show some pop and hustle. He flied out to deep right field in one at bat and hustled a solid single into a double. Rowdy Tellez hit a monster foul ball playing in the older group but didn’t quite equal that during the game.
Lastly, I want to talk about Santiago Nessy. In addition to an excellent BP session that I saw yesterday, Nessy was very impressive in the game later on defensively and offensively. Nessy was involved on both ends of a double play in which a runner was gunned down at the plate (I didn’t get who threw home) and he threw a bullet to second to get the batter trying to take the extra base. Nessy also caught a runner stealing and hit a hard line-drive single to left field. If he can keep this up, he’ll definitely be moving up the depth charts and could start the year in Dunedin.
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