Yup, it’s been a while since I’ve done one of these and I’ll try to keep it fairly brief. The Arizona Fall League has ended and the Dominican, Venezuelan, Australian, Puerto Rican and Mexican Winter Leagues are all in swing. The Blue Jays have a fairly sizable contingent to talk about.
Before I get to that, however, let’s talk about potential players to be protected in the Rule 5 draft. MjwW at Bluebird Banter is really great about putting charts and lists together and has put together his thoughts on the subject over at BBB. The Jays have no spots on the 40-man roster free but MjwW notes that Cory Burns, Colt Hynes, Bo Schultz, Matt Hague and Kyle Drabek are candidates to be removed from the 40-man. I think Hague stays, mainly because the Jays have deliberately made put him on the 40-man after outrighting him to Buffalo towards the end of the season. Bo Schultz was just picked up on waivers but I think the other three players are fair game for a DFA in order to make room for protected players.
MjwW thinks that Andy Burns is the most likely candidate to be selected and I agree. I also think that John Stilson could be a risky, but plausible selection by a team (thanks to his good numbers in Triple-A despite a labrum injury) while Jon Berti is another player who could be a target after a strong Arizona Fall League. Taylor Cole hasn’t had the success at the Double-A level yet and, at 25, is a little bit old for a team wanting to grab someone for their major league roster. I don’t think that anyone else is really in danger of being selected. While MjwW mentions Adonys Cardona and his $2.8 million signing bonus, he doesn’t mention that Cardona had a catastrophic elbow injury this season (breaking the elbow while pitching) and how he pitches when he returns is a big question mark.
On to the update!
In the Arizona Fall League, Jon Berti finished up a strong campaign, hitting .292/.418/.431 with three home runs and six stolen bases (without getting caught) in just 65 at bats. Catcher Sean Ochinko hit .310/.362/.500 with a home run and 11 RBI in 42 at bats while center fielder of the future, Dalton Pompey hit .257/.358/.371 with nine stolen bases (and was caught twice), hitting four doubles and two triples in 70 at bats. Dwight Smith, Jr. hit .262/.340/.333 as a “taxi squad” player, getting into 11 games with 42 at bats.
The pitchers in the AFL had Blake McFarland only allowing one unearned run in 12 2/3 innings over nine appearances. He had a 1.34 WHIP to go with his tidy 0.00 ERA, walking eight and striking out 15. Despite a rough start, Sean Nolin had a 4.03 ERA and a 1.16 WHIP in 22 1/3 innings for Mesa, walking just six and striking out 24 and wrapped up by throwing five innings, allowing three runs but striking out seven batters. Roberto Osuna finished his AFL season with a 9.49 ERA in 12 1/3 innings but he only walked four batters and gave up 22 hits while striking out 15. Arik Sikula, the Dunedin closer in 2014, had a 2.61 ERA and 1.26 WHIP over 10 1/3 innings with two walks and seven strikeouts.
Moving down under to Australia, Anthony Alford is having a few struggles, which can be expected from a player who only has 110 plate appearances in the minor leagues under his belt. He’s currently hitting .219/.306/.313 in 32 at bats with a home run and a stolen base. L.B. Dantzler is doing a little better, with a .310/.382/.448 line with four doubles in 29 at bats. Christian Lopes is hitting .258/.273/.323 with a pair of doubles in 31 at bats and Australia’s national hero, Jack Murphy, is hitting a very solid .296/.333/.407 with a home run and six RBI through 27 at bats.
In the Dominican, Jonathan Diaz has a .284/.410/.388 line thanks to 12 walks in 67 at bats. Diaz is also showing some power with a couple of home runs. Andy Fermin is just 1/8 in the DWL. Juan Francisco, a non-tender candidate, is hitting just .216/.354/.490 with four home runs and two doubles in the Dominican while Brad Glenn is making excellent contact, hitting .378/.439/.432 with just two doubles in the DWL. Emilio Guerrero is just 1/2 in his limited opportunities while Matt Hague is hitting .308/.356/.308 with 20 singles and 16 RBI. While he’s technically a free agent, Ricardo Nanita is tearing it up in his native DR. He’s hitting .346/.388/.436 with a double and two home runs in 78 at bats.
The pitchers in the Dominican are doing well. Jimmy Cordero (he of 102-mph heat) has thrown 4 1/3 scoreless innings, allowing only one hit with just two walks and four strikeouts. Newly reaquired Liam Hendriks is dominating the DWL just like he did the International League with a 1.64 ERA, a 0.86 WHIP, four walks and 20 strikeouts in 22 innings, earning a 3-0 record for Aguilas Cibaenas along the way. Bobby Korecky made a couple of appearances in Venezuela (five to be exact) before moving to the Dominican Republic and throwing four times there. In 6 2/3 innings overall, Korecky has a 4.05 ERA with a 1.95 WHIP, walking five and striking out four. Ryan Tepera has pitched six innings in the league, allowing five earned runs on 10 hits and three walks for a 7.50 ERA and 2.17 WHIP.
Now we head to Venezuela where Andy Burns has hit .205/.314/.250 in 44 at bats. Since he hasn’t played since October 22, I’d say that his winter ball season is over. Gregory Infante has pitched in 14 games in the Venezuelan Winter League, posting a 2.25 ERA and 1.50 WHIP in 16 innings with seven walks and 19 strikeouts. Casey Lawrence has also been in Venezuela, logging 39 2/3 innings so far with a 1-4 record, a 3.40 ERA and a 1.36 WHIP, walking just seven and striking out 20. Finally, Tyler Ybarra pitched three times in Venezuela, logging two innings and allowing two hits and six walks while striking out three.
In Mexico, Jorge Flores has had 101 at bats, hitting .238/.310/.297 with three doubles and a home run. Ryan Schimpf has gotten into 26 games and is hitting .242/.330/.374 with four doubles and three home runs but has struck out 27 times in 99 at bats.
In Puerto Rico, A.J. Jimenez is on a roll, hitting .351/.415/.486 in 37 at bats with three doubles and a triple, striking out only four times. Dickie Joe Thon has had 15 at bats and has three hits and a walk. Efrain Nieves, a free agent, has allowed eight runs in 13 1/3 innings for a 5.40 ERA in three starts. He’s walked three and struck out seven.
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