So. Ten days. We are in the midst of the third and final system-altering event of the summer (June draft, J2 signing day, and trade deadline) and while we await news as fans, a few players in the system do as well. For example, we’re all on Bo Watch including Bo. It’s fair to guess that the only thing in the way of a promotion is the continued productivity of Eric Sogard and Freddy Galvis. Within the next ten says it’s a near certainty one (at least) of those will be dealt (my guess is Galvis) in order to open a full time role for Bichette in the majors. In any case, the situation illustrates one aspect of why the deadline is a system-wide event, or at least has the potential to be. Sure you are acquiring (or dealing, depending on the standings) fresh talent but also, it has the potential to clear up blockages for promotions. For example, if Kevin Smith hadn’t struggled all year, a Bichette promotion would almost surely have led to a Smith promotion. Some of those things have not gone as planned (Sean Reid-Foley is a great example) so perhaps the effect will be muted this year. We’ll see. Team notes ahead . . .
Interesting bit of news this this week relating to the GCL squad. We already knew the team features a highly regarded prospect in Orelvis Martinez, the bonus baby shortstop landed at #10 on Baseball America’s updated mid-season Top prospect list, but the news is that there are three other one-time J2 signings popping up in the lower end of that Top 30 list and they are all players I’ve mentioned before. In 2017, RF Alberto Rodriguez was the prospect BA ranked #38 in that class. His OPS in 19 games on the coast is .784 and he’s second on the team in walks and has twice the doubles of the next closest teammate. CF Jhon Solarte was in the same class, his OPS is .864 and he has the team’s best batting average. The third newcomer is 2018 signing Javier D’Orazio who hit so well in the DSL that he got an early promotion stateside but hasn’t yet seen the same success with his new team.
The Bluefield squad is developing into something of an offensive powerhouse, but one lacking much in the way of pitching support. 2016 JP signing Miguel Hiraldo (#9 on BA) has an .820 OPS and that’s only good for fifth on the team. Four of the top six offensive performers are 2019 draftees. Among the pitchers there are some good-not-great performances so far, including Jared DiCesare who earned a promotion to Vancouver this week Speaking of Vancouver, by July 10 they were a miserable 6-20 on the season but something is cooking. Yesterday’s 10-1 blowout has them 8-3 since that low point. To start the season only C/1B Yorman Rodriguez was really hitting but since the arrival of hot hitting catcher Phillip Clarke several of his (Clarke’s) draft classmates joined him in getting in on the action after slow starts. 2019 draftees Will Robertson, Tanner Morris, Cameron Eden, and Trevor Schwecke are all hitting well lately, as is formerly struggling Mc Gregory Contreras. Among the pitchers, ace Grant Townsend hasn’t pitched in 10 days but broadcaster Rob Fai seemed to speculate he was on the cusp of promotion. Top prospect Adam Kloffenstein has picked up steam. giving up but one run in his last three outings combined (15.1 IP) and under the radar Dominican LH Juan Diaz struck out a season high seven batters in his last outing and has been quite good apart from one bad start two weeks ago.
For most of the first half any given week you looked at the Lugnuts your focus was probably going to be on 2-4 standout hitters trying to carry the team while the pitching varied a good bit. Gabriel Moreno and Griffin Conine are still providing the bulk of the offense and there’s very little new to report on that front. Among pitchers all eyes are of course on young Eric Pardinho. So far he’s not disappointing, allowing four ER total in his first four outings. Another starter of recent success (which I’ve described in recent weeks) Troy Watson got promoted to Dunedin, and 2018 4th rounder Sean Wymer continues to climb out of the very deep hole he dug for himself early on. Over his last five starts his ERA is 2.05 with 19K in 22 IP and a 3.8 strikeout to walk ratio.
After an of-month in June, Alejandro Kirk is carrying on like nothing happened in July, He still doesn’t have a homer in the FSL but you gotta love a catcher with a .413 OBP who’s on pace to top 40 doubles. 3B Cullen Large didn’t bring his power stroke back from the IL. While his BA and OBP is virtually identical to what he had when he went on the list, since he came back he’s lost almost 30 points off his SLG. CF Cal Stevenson is hitting .344 in July, Ryan Noda has a .950 OPS in July. Demi Orimoloye had cooled a bit from his insane June earlier in the month but he’s hit .333 over his last 10 games.
Ace Joey Murray went up to AA for an interesting experience this week. He started a game in the 18th and gave up three consecutive singles, leading to a run scored, without an out – then the rains came. The next day when the game resumed one of those runners ended up scoring. But the NEXT day they apparently figured what the hell, he’d only thrown what amounted to a side session bullpen so he got to start on the 20th as well. This time he gave up one run over four IP and looked like his Dunedin self. Nevertheless, it turned out to be a fill-in appearance and he’s back on the D-jays roster now. The other, seemingly more lasting, promotion went to closer Brad Wilson who’s proven all he can in the FSL.
The Fisher Cats went to Reading yesterday and blew completely up for 16 runs on 17 hits. Notable among the festivities was SS Kevin Smith who’s now hit well enough for long enough that we can start thinking of it as something other than a hot streak. Sandwiched around 12 days on the IL he’s not hit will over his last 17 games he is slashing .311/.364/.738/1.102 which . . . that seems good. Meanwhile I’m just gonna confess i have no idea what to make of Nash Knight anymore. Other than a 25 game sample at Bluefield in 2016, in which he raked, he’s only finished his time with a team with a OPS over .652 once when he had a .722 mark in Lansing in 2017. Simply put, he’s never shown lasting evidence he can hit. The Jays pushed him to NH this spring not because he earned it but because he was the only warm body who could play 3B available. Or so it seemed. He was atrocious in April and I said “Duh.” He was on fire in May and I said “Fluke.” He reverted to form in June and I said “See?’ But here we are three weeks into July and his OPS for the month is . . . well, it’s .879, so what do I know anyway?
Today’s the day that the Blue Jays have to do something about Dalton Pompey. They can add him to the major league roster (by farming out Drury or Teo) or they can try to sneak him through waivers hoping other teams will see him as too fragile to burn a major league roster spot on. Which is what i expect to happen. He’s hitting .316 in 5 games in Buffalo, but it’s all singles so far. In other outfielder news, Anthony Alford who’s been on the IL (again, sigh) for four weeks with a back issue says to John Lott that he hopes to start a rehab later in the week. Sean Reid-Foley started yesterday, and was masterful needing about 25 pitches to get through the order once and complete three innings. Then he wasn’t, getting tagged for six runs including a grand slam in the fourth. It might be time to resign ourselves that he’s not going to figure out the starting thing.But what do I know?