Welcome back to another edition of the Blue Jays from Away Mailbag where we take your questions on the Blue Jays minor leagues!
Thoughts on Chavez young?
— Aiden Elash (@AmeAiden) September 5, 2018
I have many. Young is a very exciting, yet under-the-radar prospect. He’s got speed to burn, plays an excellent center field (even though he didn’t play there every day with Reggie Pruitt on the club), has a strong arm and is showing excellent plate discipline (10.8% walk rate) while not striking out a ton (18.6% strikeout rate). He’s actually improved both rates at the higher level this year.
That’s not to say that there’s no pop in his bat; in his Age-20 season (he just turned 21 about two months ago), he’s put up an excellent .285/.363/.445 slash line while stealing 44 bases and hitting 33 doubles, nine triples and eight home runs, stealing 44 bases in 57 attempts.
So my thoughts? He’s an exciting young player with loud tools who is still below the radar, likely because of his draft position (39th round) and because he’s from the Bahamas. Keep an eye out for more from him.
I thought Patrick Murphy should have been promoted July 1. Any idea why he was kept in Dunedin all year? Any other curious non-promotions?
— Kris Shaw (@the_shawkr) September 5, 2018
There are two questions in there. Do I have any idea why Patrick Murphy was kept in Dunedin all year? No. Along with T.J. Zeuch and Nate Pearson, Murphy was the pitcher who impressed me the most in spring training. With velocity moving up into the mid-to-high 90s at times and four solid pitches, Murphy was easily the most consistent pitcher in Dunedin over the course of the season and earned himself the Florida State League Pitcher of the Year award for his efforts with a 2.65 ERA, a 1.20 WHIP, 135 strikeouts and 50 walks in 146 2/3 innings.
Why was he kept there all year? That’s a tough one. It could be that the Blue Jays had set a goal for him that isn’t readily seen on the stat sheets and that we couldn’t see. It could be that, especially after the acquisition of Hector Perez, the club felt that there wasn’t any room in the rotation that featured Jon Harris, Jordan Romano, T.J. Zeuch and Perez (although Tayler Saucedo likely could have moved to the bullpen).
It’s really hard to tell the inner machinations of the Blue Jays’ braintrust, particularly when players aren’t promoted.
With Ramirez, there was just a huge logjam with outfielders in Buffalo and when a spot opened up, it went to a very deserving Jonathan Davis.
Noda was a little younger than Kacy Clemens and was struggling when Clemens was promoted to Dunedin. And I think the Jays wanted to keep Noda with the Lugnuts for the playoffs (although nothing prevented them from sending to Dunedin for a couple of months and then sending him back to Lansing for the playoffs). The other thing with Noda was that he didn’t really start to get hot until June and by then, Clemens was in Dunedin and Brad Jones and David Jacob were still around (both have since retired). I believe that Chad Spanberger was promoted to Dunedin after Jacob’s retirement.
Who do you have projected to start in Buffalo next year? Do you see them finishing the year with the Bisons due to service time? What do you think we can expect from Nate Pearson?
— Brent Cardy (@BrentCardyShow) September 5, 2018
Thanks for the question, Brent, and if you’re reading this, you should check out his podcast, The Cardy Show! I’m not sure what you mean by “service time” in this context, so I’ll just write about how I think the starting pitching staff will shake out.
The Buffalo Bisons’ roster is often the one I have the toughest time projecting, particularly at this point in the year. So many variables come into play in the minor leagues, such as: which minor league free agents leave, which minor league free agents stay, which minor league free agents are new to the team. And that’s not even taking into account what happens at the major league level. Injuries, trades, free agents leaving, free agents getting signed all factor into how the roster is constructed at the highest minor league level. In the upper minor leagues, performance is not the only factor that indicates which player moves up and which one doesn’t the way it is in the lower/middle minors.
It’s helpful to look at three elements when trying to project Buffalo’s 2019 roster. The first is the major league team. Who’s under contract and which holes might be filled from within and from without the organization? The second element is who was in Buffalo and is likely to repeat the year. Again, this has more to do with minor-league options, the 40-man roster and and who is under control. Finally, who deserves a promotion from below. Again, this factors into decisions but won’t be the only thing taken into consideration.
You asked more specifically about starting pitchers, so here’s the run down:
Who is starting and healthy in the major leagues? Let’s say that Ryan Borucki proves his worth over the rest of the season and that the Jays go into the offseason with three starters under contract: Marcus Stroman, Aaron Sanchez and Borucki. That leaves two spots but how to the Blue Jays fill those spots? They could easily go to Sean Reid-Foley and Thomas Pannone. But I’d expect the Jays to sign at least one big-league starting pitcher to fill that spot and perhaps they sign two or three replacement-level guys, or guys looking to make a comeback from injury, or claim someone on waivers to compete for the fifth spot. Even with injuries to Stroman or Sanchez or Borucki, guys like Reid-Foley and Pannone could still wind up in Buffalo for a large chunk of the season (at least).
Who of the returning Buffalo starters are back? The Jays like Shawn Morimando enough that they’re sending him to Arizona. Jacob Waguespack is probably going to get a chance. David Paulino will hopefully be healthy and I’ve been told that they’re going to check him out as a starter. So there’s three guys (one or two of whom could be in Toronto at some point). Then when you add in the possibility of Sean Reid-Foley and/or Thomas Pannone back in Buffalo, that gives you four or five guys in the rotation.
Who deserves to move up from New Hampshire? I think you can make a great case that all four of Jon Harris, T.J. Zeuch, Jordan Romano and Hector Perez deserve to be in Buffalo next year. I’d say that Perez is the low man on this list, given that he only has about 42 innings of Double-A experience. Romano struggled with consistency in the second half of the year and, while I think Zeuch would be fine in Triple-A right now, I think the Blue Jays want to give him more time to work on his offspeed pitches. Harris could step into Triple-A right now and be fine. I think Harris is the best candidate to move up to Buffalo for sure and have other players move around him.
So, after all of this exposition, who are my five starters in Buffalo next year? Again, without the benefit of knowing future offseason moves, I’d say we have Morimando, Waguespack, Pannone, Paulino and Harris.
And Nate Pearson: we can expect dominance. I think we’ll see him in the Arizona Fall League. Then back to Dunedin to start next year with the possibility of a Double-A finish.
Thanks for all the questions! We look forward to answering more in the future!
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