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Hot Takes From the Farm: Week Five

Starting off this week, I note that the full season teams are about 1/4 of the way through their season, and that several players on the pre-season prospect have graduated so it seems like a good time to do our first revision to that list. Again, this particular list is my own personal judgement, driven by publicly available information but not reflective of any one specific evaluator.  Some of these players held position or even climbed a notch or two without the performance you might expect to account for such a result simply because so many players have graduated from prospect status this year. Since the pre-season prospects lists were all published, fully six Blue jays players have lost their eligibility for prospect status. Trent Thornton and Elvis Luciano just this last Saturday as the season is now 45 days old. Here’s my revised list.

1 Vlad Guerrero, Jr TOR 16 TJ Zeuch BUFF 31 Josh Winckowski LAN 46 Jacob Waguespack BUFF
2 Bo Bichette BUFF 17 Chavez Young DUN 32 Justin Maese DUN 47 Andrew Sopko BUFF
3 Nate Pearson NH 18 Griffin Conine Sus. 33 Leanardo Jiminez Ext. 48 DJ Neal LAN
4 Jordan Groshans LAN 19 Riley Adams NH 34 Jon Davis BUFF 49 Zach Jackson NH
5 Eric Pardinho LAN 20 Alejandro Kirk DUN 35 Joey Murray DUN 50 Joshua Palacios NH
6 Cavan Biggio BUFF 21 Maximo Castillo DUN 36 Forrest Wall NH 51 Kirby Snead BUFF
7 Patrick Murphy NH 22 Gabriel Moreno Ext. 37 Hagen Danner LAN 52 Jake Brodt LAN
8 Anthony Alford BUFF 23 Ryan Noda DUN 38 Brock Lundquest NH 53 Sean Wymer LAN
9 Orelvis Martinez Ext. 24 Logan Warmoth DUN 39 Samad Taylor DUN 54 Nick Podkul LAN
10 Kevin Smith NH 25 Cal Stevenson DUN 40 Reese McGuire BUFF 55 Reggie Pruitt LAN
11 Adam Kloffenstein Ext. 26 Yensey Diaz NH 41 Jackson McClleland NH 56 Jackson Rees LAN
12 Hector Perez NH 27 Nick Allgeyer DUN 42 Julian Merryweather BUFF 57 Chad Spanberger NH
13 Sean Reid-Foley BUFF 28 Santiago Espinal NH 43 Graham Spraker DUN 58 Juan De Paula LAN
14 Miguel Hiraldo Ext. 29 Zach Logue NH 44 Otto Lopez LAN 59 Ronny Brito Ext.
15 David Paulino BUFF 30 Cullen Large DUN 45 Jordan Romano BUFF 60 Justin Schafer BUFF

The highest ranking new entry is Nick Allgeyer at #27. Further down their are eight other new names. By mid-season, barring something strange, Vladdy will graduate and provoke the potentially tough choice of whether to move Bo up or leap-frog Nate Pearson into the #1 position.

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Now, on the the team-by-team week in review.

Lansing

Offensively the hottest story right now is 2b Nick Podkul. over his last 15 games, last years 7th round choice is slashing .367/.483/.530/1.013 and he’s reached base in each of those games. The other name to note is outfielder DJ Neal. After a 4/22 start in his first week of Midwest League play, his line looks like this since: .343/.405/.507/.912 in 19 games. As a whole the offense has suffered from the promotion of Alejandro Kirk and the cooling of Otto Lopez but Podkul, Neal, and 1B Jake Brodt have picked up a lot of slack.

On the pitching side, the Lugnuts got an impressive debut from the impressively named Cre Finfrock (5 K in a 2 IP appearance) and continue to witness magnificence from (previously) unheralded reliever Jackson Rees (1 BB and 27 K in 15 IP). They lost Joey Murray to promotion but got Josh Winckowski back from the DL. A name that deserves a hat-tip is Josh Haitt. Working in a piggy-back starter arrangement, over his last five outings spanning 20.1 IP his ERA is 1.33 with a 4:1 strikeout to walk ratio. Hot streak or something more? Watch this space (or, ya know, actual Lugnut games).

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Dunedin

Newly promoted players hit the ground running for the D-Jays. In his first five games in Florida catcher Alejandro Kirk has plodded to a measly .389 batting average with four doubles and still has more walks than strikeouts (between the two teams he has over TWICE as many base on balls as strikeouts). It’s much needed because while 3B Cullen Large and CF Cal Stevenson continue to produce, the promotion of Riley Adams, the slump of Ryan Noda and the loss of just-coming-around Logan Warmoth to the IL threatened to leave an offensive vacuum. Another player who has stepped into that gap is 1B Christian Williams. Like Stevenson he struggled out of the gate but if you take away his first six games and he’s quietly slashed  .326/.394/.438/.832 over 23 games.

As it was with Kirk, so it was also for Joey Murray. He celebrated his promotion with his best outing of the season, tossing five innings of two-hit shutout ball, striking out six while walking only one. Graham Spraker just keeps getting better, he also had his best outing this week throwing six innings of one-hit shutout. In fact, of the six players on this staff who’ve started a game, only one has an ERA higher than 2.52

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New Hampshire

Despite being a largely anemic offense on the season, the Fisher Cats did explode for 27 runs in their last three games. You wouldn’t be blamed for being skeptical if you were just looking at the stat sheet. Second baseman Santiago Espinal continues his excellent season (he’s hitting .400 in his last 10 games)  and Riley Adams, who started his AA tour 0-for-22 has maybe found his stroke again but otherwise, good individual news is hard to find here. Forrest Wall has cooled, Josh Palacios continues his slump, Brock Lundquist has improved but not much, and catcher Ryan Hissey retired altogether.

The picture is much better on the mound. Nate Pearson was dominate in his debut, striking out 8 and walking none in 5 innings of 2-hit pitching. Patrick Murphy recorded 7 1-hit innings, striking out 7 against a single walk. Andrew Sopko, who was promoted this weekend as I had predicted, left the team with 12 shutout innings over his last two starts. Even Hector Perez seems to have found a groove. After walking six batters in 2.2. IP on April 29, he’s walked only four over 11 IP in his last two outings.If he’s figured out something that he can maintain in terms of control, he’s going to get as interesting as he was said to be when the jays traded for him.
Something interesting to watch: what’s up with Yennsy Diaz’s alternating start pattern? Check this out:

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DATE OPP W L ERA SV IP H ER BB SO
04/07/2019 BNG 1 0 0.00 0 6.0 1 0 0 5
04/13/2019 @HFD 0 1 4.91 0 5.0 5 6 4 5
04/18/2019 HFD 0 0 3.06 0 6.2 4 0 1 5
04/25/2019 @REA 0 1 4.29 0 3.1 4 4 5 4
05/01/2019 @TRN 1 0 3.81 0 5.0 6 1 1 5
05/07/2019 @POR 0 1 4.66 0 3.0 6 4 2 2

What’s THAT all about?
I would be remiss, too, if I didn’t mention some interesting bullpen arms. Jackson McClelland, the 100 MPH flamethrower you’ve heard about has been called by one publication the Jays closer of the future, but the other guy you probably haven’t unless you follow the team closely. Ty Tice is but 5’9″ and 22 years old (as much as two years younger than you;d expect for the Eastern League, particularly for a reliever) but he’s been scored upon only twice in 12 appearances, sports a 1.80 ERA and has struck out 17 in 15 IP.

Buffalo

About all I can talk about with this offense is to go back to the “So how is Alford doing?” well. I mean sure, Cavan is still carrying the offense most nights with assistance from Lourdes Gurriel, Jr, but both have cooled enough that they are not so much the hot story that needs to be retold again this week. Alford, for his part, is not exactly on fire but there’s a different context. At the end of his first week Alford’s OPS was 1.013 then he his some sort of invisible wall. Over his next thirteen games he notched ONE hit in 37 at bats. Against that backdrop any success has to be encouraging. In 41 at bats since, he’s slashed .244/.311/.488/.799 so…better, right? You still want to see more contact but hopefully it’s a trend.

On the pitching side, salutes are in order for good debuts to Tyler Saucedo who’s delivered 8.1 shutout innings in two appearances, and who’s unscored upon in his first three AAA outings (and has only given up a single run in 14 IP on the year while striking out 14 and walking zero. The rotation here is in flux, David Paulino is on the IL, Jordan Romano has been shifted to the pen, veteran Ryan Feierabend has been activated and Sopko is on his way. Reportedly TJ Zuech and Jon Harris are working their way back to game action so likely more changes are yet to come.

It’s really too early to pay much attention to the standings but if you’d like to know, Buffalo, NH, and Lansing are all under .500 – 5.5, 6.5, and 6.5 games out respectively. Meanwhile the D-Jays are in first place, a game and a half up. So there ya go.