Today’s version of the small sample sized love goes out to the Vancouver Canadians. The Canadians have been playing a week longer than the Rookie League teams in the Short-Season Class-A Northwest League. We have a little more information to deal with to see see what’s going on in Vancouver. I also urge you all to check out my colleague at Jays Journal, Charlie Caskey’s blog, Your Van C’s for more info on the Vancouver Canadians.
When looking over the stats for the Canadians, the first pitcher that pops out is Eric Brown. Brown is a feel-good story because, not only is he a Canadian Canadian (born in Thunder Bay and playing his university ball at UBC in Vancouver), he’s been the team’s number-one starter. He’s pitching like it too. He’s got a 0.76 ERA in 23 2/3 innings, having give up only two runs all year, and none in his last two starts. He’s also showing good control, only walking 6 opponents in the Northwest League and striking out 16. This number is a little bit on the low side but it’s not bad. The thing about Brown is that he’s 24 already and he’s had very brief stints at higher levels. He doesn’t project to be a major league prospect.
Jeremy Gabryszwski is another pitcher putting up some gaudy numbers in Vancouver. Gaby is a guy who was selected as a high schooler in the 2nd round of the 2011 draft and has gone a long way by not walking batters and keeping the ball in the ballpark. In 17 innings this year in Vancouver, the 20 year old has a 1.59 ERA and has given up 13 hits and just one walk. The biggest problem scouts see with Gaby is that he doesn’t strike out a lot of hitters which is a problem that started to show itself last season in Bluefield where he struck out a very low 12.3% of hitters he faced. This year, that number is even lower, 11.5%, and if his K rate stays low over into higher levels of ball, Gabryszwski may flame out as a prospect, despite his outstanding control.
Reliever Matt Johnson is a guy who has been dominant out of the bullpen for the C’s. The 25 year old struggled in 9 innings in Lansing, resulting in his demotion to Vancouver where he hasn’t give up a run in 9 2/3 innings. He’s only given up 5 hits and walked one but, like some other pitchers on this staff, he’s got a moderately low strikeout total: only 5 so far. Johnson actually had a much better ratio in Vancouver last year, striking out 17 batters in 15 2/3 innings.
There aren’t too many “prospects on this pitching staff, but 2013 draftee Scott Silverstein, a big lefty, was just promoted after one start in Bluefield and I fully expect to see 2013 6th-rounder Matt Boyd, the ace of the Oregon State pitching staff to be assigned to Vancouver once he signs and gets his feet wet, possibly with some innings in the GCL.
The batters have a few guys with much more potential upside. These guys include 21st round 2013 draftee Michael Reeves. The catcher is showing that he’s got a good stick, hitting .414 in 29 at bats. More than just a bat, Reeves has a 7/5 BB/K ratio and has stolen two bases. The downside right now is that Reeves, 22, only has one extra-base hit so far this year, but Reeves has never been a power hitter.
Another name that might not be too familiar is first-baseman Jordan Leyland. The 23 year old from San Dimas, California was selected by the Jays in the 9th round last year and is back in Vancouver this year after finishing the year there last year. He’s hitting .328 this year with a .403 OBP and one of the three home runs that the Canadians have hit. He’s already walked eight times but a red flag is the 14 strikeouts that he’s racked up already this year. Still, expect to see Leyland a lot, despite the fact that the Canadians are stocked at 1B with Justin Atkinson playing there as well as newly drafted L.B. Dantzler.
Another 2013 draftee, Brenden Kalfus is continuing his outstanding hitting after leading his university conference in hitting this year. He’s got a .298 average with a .370 OBP and has shown some excellent speed, stealing 4 bases already. He’s struck out 10 times already, so that’s an area for concern, but his defense is really playing up in the Northwest League. He’s thrown out four runners from the outfield already, all from right field.
OF Nico Taylor is struggling for the first time in pro career after strong seasons in the GCL and in Bluefield. Taylor has struck out 10 times in 36 plate appearances and is hitting only .172, but has a .333 OBP due to six walks.
Several Canadians hitters continue the struggles that they’ve experienced throughout their minor league careers so far. SS Dickie Thon leads the team with 17 strikeouts and is hitting only .208 but there are certainly some positives that could bode well for the rest of the season. He has 4 extra-base hits (the most on the team), 3 stolen bases without being caught and has always been able to post OBPs well above his batting average due to a good eye at the plate.
Outfielder Ronnie Melendez, who Vancouver announcer Rob Fai called the fastest player on the team, isn’t hitting since his demotion to Vancouver from Lansing. In Lansing, he struck out 10 times in 33 at bats and has 8 in 35 Vancouver at bats but has also walked four times. He’s hitting only .171 but leads the team with 5 stolen bases.