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A Fortnight On The Farm: Volume Eight

The full season farm teams are at or just passed the 3/4 mark, the majority of likely promotions among them have occurred (apart from those driven by the specific needs of any given team) though I should not be surprised to see some complex team players added to the D-Jays down the stretch. At this point in the season, some players have slowed due to fatigue (particularly given the absence of a season at all last year) and some presumably have flagged and then gotten their wind again. Shorter trends can be misleading, so we’ll take that into account.

Buffalo

For basically the whole season I’ve put the spotlight on Kevin Smith, and now he’s in the majors. Recently the team enjoyed the arrival of Otto Lopez but he, also, was with the big team for much of the past week (in 11 games before the promotion he seemed to have hardly missed a beat, with an .814 OPS). Scanning down the list of hitters you’ll find those on top are promoted or traded or otherwise left the team. Those left are mostly veterans. Nonetheless, this is the one among the teams in the system enjoying success, sitting in first place in their division at the moment. It’s worth noting that ranked prospect Josh Palacios is at long last back off the IL, but in 10 games he hasn’t gotten his stroke back yet (ETA: Josh got the call to the majors yesterday and is expected to start in CF tonight, most reports I’ve seen say he’s better suited to a corner but this is likely not a long term plan).

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Due to promotions, demotions, and rehabs, there are a lot of guys here with less than 10 or 12 IP about which few conclusions can be drawn. Those about whom we can are familiar names. For example, Zach Logue. Logue has been pretty clearly the best pitcher here other than Thomas Hatch and even that is really close. Consider the lines:

GS IP H ER BB K ERA WHIP OBA
Hatch 11 51 41 19 15 52 3.33 1.09 0.220
Logue 10 54 47 20 15 51 3.33 1.15 0.229

We know what we think of Hatch, right? And remember, Logue is a lefty. Another familiar name is Bowden Francis. Since coming over in the Telez deal he has a 4.06 ERA in seven outings, but ten of his 17 ER allowed came in two back-to-back games, otherwise, he’s been as good as anyone here. Also, I’m going to continue my lonely stan for Jacob Waguespack. He might not be good enough for the Jays’ staff but someone could use this guy. He sports a 2.82 ERA as a starter, in 10 outings, and even better in relief (15.1 IP over six appearances) at 2.35, with K and walk rates which support that outcome. It’s also worth noting that Jeremy Beasley has gotten good outcomes but the walk rate is ugly – that’s kind of deceptive though, he had five in his first 2 IP after his last demotion and it’s been acceptable since.

New Hampshire

With the promotion of Lopez to Buffalo (and of course the Moreno injury) this has become primarily the Jordan Groshans show and he continues to rise to the occasion. A pedestrian start has held his overall stat line in check all season, but he’s steadily built momentum, only going more than two games without a hit once all year. In 120 at-bats in July and August, his slash lines are .317/.411/.475/.885 which, given the limited in-game experience he brought into the seasons is all you could want from a top prospect. The other season-long offensive leader is of course Samad Taylor, who’s now up to 16 homers but he had 9 of those in June and has slowed to a more sustainable rate since. Perhaps the best August story here, though, is CF Chavez Young. He’s been hanging around the lower end of the prospects lists for a few years now based on tools but underachieving the expectations for the most part. I myself had all but written him off (as I had formerly done with Taylor to be honest) as someone who seemed unlikely to put it together. As late as August, his OPS had dropped to a mediocre .696, not even the equal of the .758 for his minor league career when the season started. But in the 14 games since, he’s slashed .358/.404/.642/1.046 which, by all means, applies all the sample size caveats. Since returning from his brief sojourn in Buffalo, Vinnie Capra has slowed from his previous torrid pace but he’s still among the offensive leaders here.

The trade of SWR and yesterday’s release of Elvis Luciano should leave a vacuum at the front of the rotation but the new ace of the squad is unmistakably Luis Quinones. He was knocked around a bit in his first AA start, but in the 4 games since over 18.2 IP allowing 10 hits and two earned runs (that works out to a 0.96 ERA) with 11 walks (still too many) and a remarkable 32 strikeouts (15.4/9 is eye-popping for a AA starter). Also new to the team, as I’ve advocated for at length, is Nick Fraze. He has but two AA starts, but the second was a notable improvement on the first.

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Vancouver

Back around the end of June, I directed your attention to (minor league) Rule 5 choice Sebastian Espino. The versatile 21-year-old had a .920 OPS in June.  He slipped back into good-but-not-great production in July before a short term on the IL but he’s been even more on fire in August. Thanks to a three-homer game on August 15, his slugging alone this month is .824 which runs his season OPS (at this level) to .880 in 214 at-bats. He could be the latest in a recent string of the good hitting versatile infield/outfield utility players (I don’t have any specific reports on his defensive skills). Another hot August is coming off the bat of 1B Spencer Horwitz. He had an admirable May but was pretty helpless (particularly for a 1B) in June and July hitting .213 over 183 at-bats. But whatever stroke he lost, he’s got it back and more in August, hitting .397 so far this month, and on the entire season, he has 64 walks against 55 strikeouts. Still, there’s a notable lack of power for a corner infielder. Orelvis, by the way, is running into one for big power on occasion but he hasn’t adjusted to the new level yet otherwise.

With the new arrival of Sem Robersse this team is now possessed of the top 5 pitching prospects in the system. Adam Kloffenstein is finding the zone much more often and is having more success as a result. It will be interesting in the off-season when someone reports out what exactly he was working on this summer. Over four August starts and 21.2 IP, he’s struck out 29 while walking only eight. Another top prospect who’s when pretty badly inconsistent this year is CJ Van Eck. He too seems to have found his groove in August, with a 2.84 ERA over four starts, by far his best run of the season. Robersse? He’s only had two starts since the promotion. He got knocked around in the first but that often happens. On another note, keep an eye on former catcher Hagen Danner who’ll certainly provoke the question “why did they take so long to get him on a mound?” Everything about his stat line is impressive – only 16 hits in 26 IP, 11 walks and 31 strikeouts. Opponent’s BA of .180 and a 2.42 ERA. My curiosity is whether the bullpen role is just transitional because of how much time he spent not pitching, and they see a starter in there eventually, or if he’s a reliever going forward.

Dunedin

I really don’t want to wind you up to much about 2021 draft pick Riley Tirotta, but the young 3B is maintaining is hot start It’s only 7 games but he’s hitting .563 and is walking more than he’s striking out. Except that he hasn’t played since August 12 because he’s on the IL. Otherwise, August is producing no other impressive offensive output on this team. All the names you’ve heard before – Barger, Hiraldo, Berroa…all fading. pretty much no one else on this team is hot right now.

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With Robersse gone, probably the most successful guy here is 2020 third-rounder Trent Palmer, most recently notorious for throwing a 7 inning no-hitter on August 19. Like the Canadians pitchers I mentioned, Palmer had experienced difficulties with walks earlier in the year (though to be fair, they are working with robo-umps in the FSL and reportedly the bots are passing out walks like cookies to fortunate hitters) but he’s improved on that measure throughout August. On the month not only does he have a 2.16 ERA but only 6 walks in 16.2 IP (as compared to 26 in 24.1 IP in the months previous) while maintaining the impressive strikeout rates (23 in August, 52 in 41 IP on the season). His star is on the rise. Naswell Paulino has similar strengths and weaknesses to Palmer (a lot of strikeouts, too many walks on the season) but the big difference is Palmer hasn’t surrendered a single homer, Paulino has coughed up eight.  I continue to be less impressed with him than others.

Complex teams

In Florida, the main offensive force is still 3B/1B/RF Adriel Sotolongo who has a 1.039 OPS in 20 games, and outfielder Amell Brazoban who was massive in July but has slowed a lot the last couple of weeks. There are several others having good offensive years: 1B Rainer Nunez, OF Gabriel Martinez, and Victor Mesia. LHP Yaifer Perdomo remains the class of the pitching staff, I’m a bit puzzled he hasn’t moved up to the D-Jays yet. Consider 33 IP and only 19 hits, walking 14 and striking out 59 and be impressed. Want more? in 3 starts in August he’s thrown 13 shutout innings, given up 3 hits and struck out an incredible 31 (that’s 21.5 K/9!). Also, take notice of RH Dahian Santos. In his last four starts, his ERA is 1.80 and he’s struck out 22, and on the season he’s K’d 43 and walked just 9 in 28.2 IP.

In the Dominican, 2b Francisco Fajardo continues to top the team leaderboard. Hitting .389 with a .934 OPS and he can run too. But the most highly regarded prospect is SS Manuel Belte – who’s he doing? Well, he sucked pretty hard in July but something clicked this month. For August he’s slashing .349/.541/512 which will absolutely play. It’s hard to get really excited about DSL pitchers, you just watch when the best of them moves up and see what holds together. But keep one eye on Sergi Caruchi, Darwin Cruz, and Francis Mercedes.

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I should be putting a clever close right here but I’m far too sleepy to be clever.