Minor League Week in Review – April 22

Buffalo Bisons

Luis Jimenez. Photo: Dan Hickling

1st in International League North (12-4)


2B Jim Negrych –  1st AVG, 1st SLG
3B Andy LaRoche – 5th (tie) HR
OF Ryan Langerhans – 6th OBP
OF Moises Sierra – 3rd AVG, 5th, OBP
1B Luis Jimenez – 7th AVG, 9th OBP, 10th SLG
IF/OF Eugenio Velez – 8th AVG
SP Claudio Vargas – 6th ERA
RP Neil Wagner – 3rd (tie) SV


The Toronto Blue Jays promised the Buffalo Bisons that they would make their team a winner and this week, that’s all the Bisons did.  They won all 8 games that they played on their road trip to Syracuse and Lehigh Valley and took their game on Thursday, April 18 in record setting fashion, beating the Chiefs 27-9.  1B Luis Jimenez took the International League Player of the Week award for his strong week that included 8 RBI in the aforementioned 27-9 game.  He also hit .454 with 1 HR and 11 RBI in the week.   Jim Negrych continues to hit, but he actually lowered his batting average with a .333 week.  Moises Sierra had a great week as well, going 8 for 16 but his week ended early as he took a pitch off his hand on Saturday.  He hasn’t been put on the DL yet so there’s hope that it’s just a day-to-day issue.  Mauro Gomez is settling in nicely, holding a 1.181 OPS and hitting 3 HRs this week.


The pitching was much improved this week for the Bisons.  Dave Bush, after getting rocked in Toronto has settled into AAA nicely, making two excellent starts.  Claudio Vargas made two outstanding starts this week throwing 13 innings, giving up only 15 baserunners (11 hits, 4 walks) while striking out 9 batters.  Relievers Neil Wagner, Bobby Korecky and Brad Lincoln had much better weeks, while Juan Perez continues to be a solid go-to guy at the end of games.


Pitcher of the Week: Claudio Vargas


Batter of the Week: Luis Jimenez


New Hampshire Fisher Cats

4th in Eastern League Eastern (6-5)


2B John Tolisano – 3rd (tie) 2B
3B/OF Ryan Schimpf – 1st (tie) HR
OF Kevin Pillar 3rd (tie) SB
OF Kenny Wilson – 3rd (tie) SB
1B Clint Robinson – 8th AVG, 4th OBP
SP Austin Bibens-Dirkx – 9th (tie) Ks
RP Chad Beck – 2nd (tie) SV


Austin Bibens-Dirkx. Photo: Tony Farlow/MiLB.com

The Fisher Cats had a down week, going 2-5 in series against the Binghamton Mets and the New Britain Rock Cats.  The team has tailed off in pretty much every aspect of the game, from pitching to hitting to fielding.  Except for Austin Bibens-Dirkx, Tyson Brummett, and Marcus Walden, every pitcher on the club saw his ERA rise this week.  Bibens-Dirkx continues to be the horse on the staff, contributing with a solid 7 inning start this week while Joel Carreno continues to be extremely good out of the bullpen.


A similar pattern to the pitchers can been with the hitters.  Most hitters cooled off from hot starts this week, including Clint Robinson, John Tolisano and Kevin Pillar.  While Ryan Schimpf and Ricardo Nanita started to hit better this week (Nanita returned to the lineup after an illness), Clint Robinson still hit .320 with a home run, despite a fall-off from his opening numbers.


Pitcher of the Week: Austin Bibens-Dirkx


Batter of the Week:  Clint Robinson


Dunedin Blue Jays

First in Florida State League North (13-4)


2B Jon Berti – 3rd (tie) SB
OF Jonathan Jones – 7th (tie) SB
OF Matt Newman – 8th OPS
3B Andy Burns –2nd SLG, 3rd OPS
SP Aaron Sanchez – 6th WHIP
RP Blake McFarland – 2nd (tie) SV
SP Casey Lawrence – 5th ERA, 1st WHIP
SP Scott Copeland – 10th ERA


The Dunedin Blue Jays had an outstanding week, going 6-1 and now hold a 3 game lead over the Brevard County Manatees.  Their success has been built on the backs of the pitching staff which, as a whole, has been outstanding all season long.  While some of the early fireballers are coming down to earth (Dustin Antolin, Ajay Meyer, Efrain Nieves), others like Tony Davis, Scott, Gracey, Scott Copeland, Marco Grifantini, Jesse Hernandez, and Casey Lawrence are just getting better and better.  Top prospect Aaron Sanchez had an up and down week.  His start on April 16th was rough: he gave up 3 earned runs in four innings, but he rebounded on the 21st by going 6 2/3 innings and giving up only 1 run on 2 hits and a walk.  In all, Sanchez is one of the most difficult pitchers in the league to get on base off of.  He has the 6th best WHIP and still doesn’t give up one runner per inning, even with a bad start in the equation.  His control has been very good, and my impression is that he’s using his outstanding fastball a lot in the early going to get strikes and mixing in his breaking stuff when he sees batters again in subsequent at bats.


While the pitching just rolls over the opposition, the hitting has cooled off dramatically.  Marcus Knecht is in a downward spiral, going only 2 for 21 this week while Kevin Patterson has hit only 4 for 24.  Andy Burns and Matt Newman continue to hit well, despite cooling down a bit from their torrid starts.  These two are significant contributors to the team’s extra-base-hit totals, with Burns having a 6 for 25 (.240) week, but 4 of those 6 hits were for extra bases (1 2B, 2 3B, 1 HR) and he also walked 6 times.  Newman went 7 for 28 (.250), walked twice, and hit two doubles and a home run.  Newly activated off the disabled list, K.C. Hobson hit .250 (4 for 16 with 2 walks) but made sure two of those hits couldn’t be fielded, hitting them out of the park.  Hobson was one of the offensive starts in Lansing last season, setting a franchise record for doubles, so the 22 year old will be a solid addition to the offense as April rolls on to its final week.


Pitcher of the Week: Casey Lawrence


Batter of the Week: Andy Burns


Lansing Lugnuts

8th in Midwest League Eastern Division (4-9)


3B Gustavo Pierre –7th SLG, 4th (tie) 2B
SP Roberto Osuna – 6th (tie) Ks


Dalton Pompey. Photo: Canadianbaseballnetwork.com


The Lugnuts only played 4 games in this past week, mainly due to bad weather along the way.  They went 1-3, really showing a lack of offensive punch with some of their players who started well mired in slumps.  On the pitching side, Wil Browning, Ben White, and Ian Kadish have maintained strong starts out of the bullpen while Javier Avendano and Taylor Cole have made slight course corrections after blowing up in their second starts.  Roberto Osuna had a rough go in his last start, a game which the Lugnuts lost 17-8, but compared to the damage the bullpen had inflicted, Osuna’s numbers were fairly respectable.  Prospect Daniel Norris continues to struggle, making his third poor start of the year on Sunday.


There have been some positive developments with the bats.  In particular from Mississauga-born center fielder Dalton Pompey has really made some positive strides in the past few games, cutting down on strikeouts and taking a lot of walks (5 for 12 this week with 5 walks and 2 stolen bases).  On the other side of things, first baseman Balbino Fuenmayor has been in a horrible slump, going “Oh-fer” the entire week while striking out six times in the four games.  2B prospect Christian Lopes had a strong week going 5 for 17 and RF Carlos Ramirez went 4 for 7 while LF Chris Hawkins had a strong 5 for 14 week with a double and a triple.


Pitcher of the Week: Javier Avendano


Batter of the Week: Dalton Pompey