Let’s make some noise for the arms in New Hampshire

As many of you know, I love taking hard swigs from the prospect bottle. I dive into it like it’s the Gulf of Mexico and I’m a Canadian who hasn’t felt the warm sun or splashed in salty water all winter. I open my shitty MiLB app that functions like it was designed by grade 11 students back in 1997 every night and I try my best to surf from Buffalo to New Hampshire to Lansing and sometimes Dunedin – if a game is actually being streamed. I go as far as that app takes me, and I soak in as many innings as I can.

When I watch these future Jays in the system, I don’t look to see what side of the rubber a pitcher is pitching from, or whether or not a player is chasing bad pitches outside the zone. I mean, I do analyze some Jays prospects because I can’t help it. But, I mostly watch them because I am a fan and I love Minor League baseball.

It’s hard these days for some Jays prospects to make noise in the farm. The Vlad drum has been smashed to pieces by every scout, writer, and fan over the past two seasons. Vlad stole Tommy Lee’s sticks, flipped them a million times in the air and caught them, all the while singing ‘Home Sweet Home’. And we all watched in awe.

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Vlad has finally made his way to the MLB. And Bo Bichette and Cavan Biggio are just a stretch of pavement, or a kick of the can away. It’s only a matter of time before some MLB writer tries to come up with some clever nickname for this future Jays trio like ‘Bloodline Bashers’ or ‘The Legacies’ or ‘The Kids’ or ‘Motley f******* Crue’. Either way, we’re all about to take a ride on the wild side. And it’s going to be live wire baseball.

Once Biggio and Bichette get called up and are done smashing symbols and making noise in Buffalo, big Nate is next in line to control the prospect-y charts. He’s only a year away from all the ‘call him up’ chants. Maybe some will start chanting it this summer. I say chant away in the name fun.

I’m sure he will finish this year in New Hampshire and join that talented group of pitchers after he’s done murdering the zone in the Florida State League. But, this piece isn’t about Nate Pearson and his sparkling record and dazzling .86 ERA. This piece isn’t about the flames he throws or his 30 plus strikeouts. It’s not about him only giving up a couple of walks. This piece is about some of the arms in New Hampshire. The place where Nate will end up next.

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Yennsy Diaz, Patrick Murphy, and Hector Perez are already on the 40-man Jays roster and all three of them can be seen taking the ball every fifth day for the ‘Cats. Patrick Murphy has a canon of an arm and his curveball is filthy and it bends north to south and it’s the pitch that he has said is his ‘go-to’ in an interview with FanGraphs.

I wish I could post a video of the filth, but I can’t find any recent footage. I’ve watched his dirt and seen hitters roll around in it.  Murphy works off his fastball and uses his nasty curve and changeup, and watching this is worth every dollar spent on MiLB TV. The fact is that secondary filth is the best kind of filth. And Murphy has that filth.

There’s no reason to overlook Yennsy Diaz or Hector Perez either. When these two are on, they have electric stuff. Unfortunately, Perez struggles to find the zone in a way that Elvis Luciano does if that makes any sense. He’s kind of like Elvis, but in double-A, which is also where Elvis belongs, too – so there’s that.

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Another pitcher in the ‘Cats rotation, who has been under-the-radar, is lefty Zach Logue. He has quietly pitched his way up the system and has been steady as she goes this season. He is 2-1, has a 3.54 ERA, and has punched out 20 and walked 8. He is a Jays prospect that could end up in Buffalo if he continues to pitch as well as he has this year. The Jays selected Logue in the 9th-round of the 2017 draft and it looks like he has ‘starter’ stuff even though many scouts thought he’d be better working out of the ‘pen.

The truth is, I have been tuning into more ‘Cats games than I have the other affiliates this season because on any given night I get to see Logue, Diaz, Murphy, or Perez. But, I can’t forget about Andrew Sopko, the prospect the Dodgers sent to Toronto along with SS Ronny Brito for Russell Martin back on a cold January afternoon. Sopko has an impressive 1.06 WHIP over 22.2 innings pitched. He has fanned 18 and only walked 7. He rounds out an intriguing rotation in New Hampshire.

Now, it’s not just the starters that have me drawn to this team, it’s some of the arms in the ‘pen, as well. Lefty Kirby Snead, who needs his own tee shirt because Kirby Snead is my favourite prospect and I desperately want to own one, has been bringing all the Snead every single time he has been called upon. Snead just continues to Snead. As I type this, he is 2-0, has a .84 ERA, and 5 saves. In 10.2 innings tossed, he holds down a .37 WHIP, has 14Ks, and 0 walks.

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Another arm, who was recently called the future Jays closer by MLB, is big bad Jackson McClelland.

Here’s what MLB.com has to say about Jackson:

Jackson McClelland, RHP, Blue Jays (Double-A New Hampshire)
Big and physical, the 6-foot-5, 220-pounder works with an explosive fastball that can reach triple digits and a sharp breaking ball. He misses more barrels than bats right now, though that could quickly change as McClelland learns to better harness his power stuff and throw more strikes. He’s held hitters to a sub-.220 average and just seven home runs in roughly 140 innings since being selected in the 15th round of the 2015 Draft.

You couldn’t pay me to step into the batter’s box if Jackson was on the mound. As mentioned above, he can hit triple digits and sometimes he struggles with his control, which I think works for him because he throws so damn hard it probably scares the shit out of some Eastern League hitters. It scares the shit out of me watching hitters in the batter’s box facing him.

Kirby Snead and Jackson McClelland have turned into two prospects that I am rooting for to get to the show. I love crafty lefty pitchers as much as I love hard-throwing flamethrowers. In Snead and McClelland, you get the best of both worlds. And since I’m talking about these two gems in the ‘pen, I can’t forget about Bryan Baker.

If you don’t know who Bryan Baker is, he is the pitcher that the Rockies sent to Toronto to complete the Oh trade. He holds down a 0.00 ERA in 8 innings of relief so far. Double-A hitters from the Rumble Ponies to the Yard Goats to the Thunder are batting a sad .068 against him. Snead, McClelland, and Baker – are the outsiders from the ‘pen and a couple of names you should get to know.

With prospects like Bo, Biggio, Pearson, and even Pardinho, it’s hard for some of these kids to drum up any noise or get noticed by mainstream fans. I didn’t really plan on typing up this piece, but after watching Logue do great things again the other night on the ol’ dirt hill I just had to type this up about these young hurlers in New Hampshire.

I’m not some scout and I’m not a professional who gets paid to report this prospect-y stuff, but I can tell you that there are some terrific arms in New Hampshire. And I think that some of the names that I have mentioned will one day don a Jays cap. It’s only a matter of time before they pitch their way to Buffalo and hopefully up the QEW to Toronto, too.

  • The Humungus

    Manchester is also a place any Jays fan should go. NorthEast Delta Dental is a solid stadium experience (don’t eat at the Sam Adams Brewhouse, but do drink there and at the Tiki Bar).

    And if you’re a golfer, Evergreen Pavillion at Candia Woods is a hell of a course that is the home of the Fisher Cats corporate membership. Played 18 there and not only is it beautiful and reasonably priced, but the course marshall was telling us cool stories about the team, including that Andrew Case apparently could just bomb it out there.

        • The Humungus

          They have bouncy castles in Manchester, too.

          None of it compares to the insane playground in Midland, though (one of Lansing’s division rivals). Dow Park is truly a sight to behold. It consistently ranks in the top 10 parks in all of MiLB (full disclosure, my sister-in-law lives in Mt. Pleasant, MI, so Lansing is 45 minutes south and Midland is 25 minutes east).