This week the Jays got their first look at the four new acquisitions from the trade deadline and, well, none of them silenced the naysayers. Having dumped a lot of info on Friday, I don’t have a long winded opening act today so let’s get to the notes.
You have to take care when “scouting the stats” lest you draw a faulty conclusion. Case in point: Top prospect Orelvis Martinez (SS) has 82 AB on the season, and has been mostly impressive. But over one week he went 3 for 20 and it cut over 100 points off of his OPS. That’s what I try to do in these notes, take notice of trends and streaks and slumps to give a little more context to the raw numbers (since I’m not, ya know, an actual scout). A couple of other guys her don’t occupy the lofty rankings of Martinez but are kind of in the “coming soon” zone of generating buzz are outfielders Jhon Solarte and Alberto Rodriguez. The two have the most games played on this squad and have OPS figures at the moment of .799 and .768 respectively which is solid for 18 year old Latin players in their first stateside action. Another highly ranked J2 signee, this one playing at Bluefield, is Miguel Hiraldo, a 19 year old infielder. He’s sporting a .799 OPS and leads the team in XBH. Pitcher Jol Conception, who missed all of last season with a drug suspension, is off to a nice start. A little too much contact but the walk and strikeout rates are consistent with his nice 3.10 ERA.
Catcher Yorman Rodriguez continues to rake as the Van’C’s head into the NWL all star break. This is his second turn at the league and he’s 22 so I’m wondering if they won’t promote him after the break (though the Lugnuts have plenty of things going on behind the plate, they might push backup Ryan Gold up to Dunedin to make some space) because he’s clearly too good for this circuit right now. Grant Towsend finally reappeared on the field Friday after almost three weeks of inactivity. Before that he was having the best results on the team and broadcaster Rob Fai speculated the 21 year old might be on the cusp of heading to Lansing. My guess is if that was true then it’s still likely to happen soon.
There’s a reason al the mid-season lists had Gabriel Moreno in the top 10 – the young man just continues to hit. He’s currently slashing .311/.372/.533/.905 in 57 games. Plus he’s reportedly a fine, if still developing, defender. Griffin Conine is now one off the league lead in home runs, the leader has played eight more games than the Lugnut’s RF. Meanwhile, Eric Pardinho seems to be basically boringly good. Five starts in a row of five innings each, one earned run each time except the one that was a shutout turn, Remember he’s 18, and has seven starts in full-season ball. The kid might be more than good.
One unimportant but mildly annoying thing about the trade with the Astros – Cal Stevenson was basically the only guy on this team who was hitting. Even Alejandro Kirk is 5 for his last 34. Still, the already strong rotation got fresh blood this last week. Highly regarded Simeon Woods Richardson was activated for his first D-Jays start on Friday and dominated over the first three innings, allowing no baserunners while striking out four. But in the fourth he lost the zone. Walk, sac, walk, walk, double, walk, strikeout before he was removed. Expect better in the future. Kyle Johnston also made his debut on Saturday with a similar pattern. No real issues through the first two, then allowing a mix of three singles and threes walks in the third inning which would eventually lead to being charged with five runs in the inning.
Infielder (and CF in training) Santiago Espinal got the call to step into the vacancy at AAA created by Bo’s departure (presumably a promotion that would have been projected to go to Kevin Smith before his disastrous first half). In 94 AA games this year, he was good but not great offensively (nice OBP, modest power, speed but not got base-stealing success) but was a quality versatile defender adding CF to a skill set that already included Short, second, and third. Another of the new pitchers landed here and also had the one-bad-inning outcome, though in this case it wasn’t his last inning. Thomas Hatch pitched four innings on Saturday. The first, third, and fourth were scoreless and featured only one baserunner and three strikeouts. The second, however, was, shall we say, different. Homer, single, inside-the-park homer, single, double, FC fly out, ground out. I’m not sure how he didn’t get pulled during all that but the recovery was encouraging at least.
So, you might be saying to yourself “Self, I wonder how Rowdy is doing since his demotion?” Turns out, damn good. In70 AAA at bats he has 7 homers and he’s hitting .329 so let’s hope he can bring that back to the majors when he comes. Anthony Alford is well on his way back, he started games for the GCL Thursday Friday and Saturday and likely will take a brief stop in Dunedin next week before re-joining the Bisons. On our tour of “how did the new guys do?” we’ve reached the (usually) highest ranked of the bunch and the one closest to the majors – lefty Anthony Kay. Who wasn’t an exception to the “wasn’t exactly aces in his first start for his new organization” pattern. Like the guys in Dunedin, things started off well enough. The first two innings were relatively efficient and uneventful. Single in the first, walk in the second, neither advanced and he struck out a batter. He’d then go on to allow 8 more hits before completing his 4.2 innings of work. Kay got the first batter in the third then made an error allowing the second guy to reach. This may have rattled him a bit as the next four batters singled and three runs had scored. He’d eventually be charged with 7 runs, but only three of them earned thanks to two errors at third by Patrick Kevelehan and Kay’s own miscue. Hopefully we see a less sloppy outing next time.