We turn to the hitters of the Vancouver Canadians to see who did what in 2018. We’ll start with the catchers and go around the horn to the infield and then to the outfield.
Spending most of his season in Bluefield in 2017, Venezuelan catcher Yorman Rodriguez went back to Vancouver in 2018, catching the most games for the Cs. He hit .267/.310/.343 with eight doubles, a triple and a home run striking out in 13.0% of appearances but walking in only 3.8%. Rodriguez threw out a solid 32% of potential base stealers in his Age-20 season and the now-21-year-old catcher will likely be in Lansing next year.
2018 5th-round pick Christopher Bec came out of the University of Maine, Orono, and had an interesting debut season. Bec hit .245/.351/.365 with eight doubles, a triple and three home runs while stealing 16 bases in 16 attempts. Bec had an impressive walk rate of 14.1% while striking out in 17.8% of his plate appearances. Behind the plate, Bec only threw out 13% of potential base stealers, however.
26th-round pick Brett Wright played in just 24 games with the Vancouver Canadians and had just 83 plate appearances but was third in the team with five home runs, despite hitting .147/.229/.360 and added one double. Wright struck out 26.5% of the time and walked 6.0% but he also threw out 38% of potential base stealers.
Second-year pro Reilly Johnson split his time between Vancouver and Lansing, but got just 99 plate appearances combined with 61 in Vancouver, hitting .164/.246/.236, hitting one home run and one double. Johnson had a strong walk rate (9.8%) while striking out in 23.0% of his plate appearances before moving to Lansing where he hit .257/.316/.286 with a double in 38 plate appearances. Johnson moved around defensively, playing catcher, second base and left field in Vancouver and he only threw out 20% of potential base stealers in Vancouver and none of the potential base stealers in Lansing.
22-year-old Jake Brodt was the Blue Jays’ ninth-round pick in 2018 out of Santa Clara University and, after two hitless games in the GCL (0/6 with two walks), he joined the Vancouver Canadians and played mostly first base. Brodt hit .237/.256/.361 with 15 doubles and two home runs. Possibly the most concerning element of Brodt’s debut season was the fact that he walked in only 2.8% of his plate appearances and struck out in 35.8%. Look for him either back in Vancouver or in Lansing next year.
Playing 43 games at second base was the Blue Jays’ seventh-round pick of 2018, 21-year-old Nick Podkul out of Notre Dame. In 50 games with Vancouver, Podkul hit .222/.347/.364, hitting 10 doubles, two triples and three home runs, striking out in 19.3% of plate appearances and walking in a healthy 14.2%.
Leading the club in games played at third base was Bryan Lizardo who, in his fifth year of professional baseball since signing out of the Dominican Republic, showed some promise with the bat for the first time. Lizardo hit .268/.347/.433 with seven double, a triple and four home runs in 37 games with Vancouver, walking in 11.1% of plate appearances and striking out in 29.9%. He tempered his strikeouts when he was promoted to Lansing, playing in 18 games and hitting .266/.347/.313 with an 11.1% walk rate and 25.0% strikeout rate. Lizardo should stay in Lansing to start 2019.
Vinny Capra, 22, was the Blue Jays’ 22nd-round pick in 2018 and he went to work with Vancouver, posting a .235/.344/.371 slash line as the everyday shortstop in 39 games and 163 plate appearances, hitting 10 doubles, a triple and two home runs while stealing eight bases in 10 chances. Capra’s 12.9% walk rate and decent 20.2% strikeout rate helped him get a promotion to Lansing where he hit .266/.324/.351 with eight doubles, a 7.8% walk rate and 18.4% strikeout rate in 103 plate appearances. Capra will likely start back in Lansing in 2019.
The Vancouver Canadians’ super utility player was Otto Lopez, who had a strong season with Vancouver in his Age-19 season (he just turned 20 at the beginning of October). Lopez hit .297/.390/.434 in 206 plate appearances, hitting seven doubles, four triples and three home runs after hitting .364/.382/.636 in 34 plate appearances in Bluefield in which he hit five doubles and two triples. Lopez played second base, third base and shortstop in the infield and added time at all three outfield positions with the Canadians. With Vancouver, Lopez walked in 12.6% of his plate appearances while striking out in only 10.2% for a great ratio.
Jesus Severino, a 21-year-old Dominican infielder played all but two of his games in 2018 in Vancouver. after going 3/8 with the Bluefield Blue Jays, Severino moved up to Vancouver where he put up some solid numbers, including the best offensive ones of his career. He hit .270/.323/.412 with 15 doubles and two home runs in 161 plate appearances. Severino walked in 6.8% of his plate appearances and struck out in 21.1%. Severino could easily move up to Lansing next year after a solid year in Vancouver.
In his third professional season, Mc Gregory Contreras continued to show some pop and improvement as he moved up another level in his Age-19 season. Contreras hit .260/.318/.460, hitting 11 doubles, four triples and eight home runs over 233 plate appearances, playing mostly left field. Contreras will need to take a few more walks (3.9%) and bring his strikeout rate down (29.6%), but otherwise, for a young hitter, he showed himself more than up to the task of hitting against better competition. I can easily see him in Lansing next year.
Albertan Tanner Kirwer, 22, anchored the outfield for the Vancouver Canadians, playing mostly in center field and getting into 61 games overall, hitting .280/.333/.450 with 13 doubles, six triples and four home runs while stealing a team high of 28 bases in 34 attempts. Kirwer didn’t walk a ton, taking a free pass in 6.5% of his plate appearances but he did improve it from 2017, as he also improved his strikeout rate, bringing it down to 23.5% (down almost 3% from 2017). Kirwer could be ready for a trip to Lansing next year.
In the second round of the 2018 draft, the Blue Jays selected the son of another former major leaguer when they chose outfielder Griffin Conine who went 3/8 with a double and a walk in two games in the GCL before he was assigned to Vancouver. Once in Canada, he started well before struggling a bit but was still among the biggest contributors to the Canadians’ offense. Conine hit .238/.309/.427 with 14 doubles, two triples and seven home runs in 230 plate appearances, walking in 8.3% of his plate appearances but striking out in a somewhat high 27.4%. Conine particularly flagged down the stretch, hitting .211/.265/.342 in August and going 0/6 with a walk in two September games. I’m willing to write of his difficulties to fatigue after a long college season followed but the grind of a pro short season and we’ll see how he reacts to a full season of professional baseball next year.
Brandon Polizzi played 52 games for Vancouver (and another 10 with Lansing), but he didn’t have his best offensive season, hitting .224/.323/.254 with two doubles and a triple in 157 plate appearances while stealing 19 bases in 21 attempts. His 11.5% walk rate got him on base quite a bit and his 19.7% strikeout rate suggests that he wasn’t overmatched. In 11 games with Lansing, he hit just .111/.172/.111 with a 6.7% walk rate and 20.0% strikeout rate.
Hunter Steinmetz, the Blue Jays’ 11th-round pick in 2018, played 26 games with Vancouver, getting 93 plate appearances and hitting .179/.237/.286 with five doubles and two triples, stealing six bases. He also got into six games with Bluefield, hitting better at a .238/.370/.286 clip with a double and two stolen bases in 27 plate appearances.
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