A Fortnight on the Farm: Volume One

Tammy Rainey
2 years ago
Given that there are several other relatively high profile Jays blogs doing the daily farm update thing, I decided that my contribution would be to zoom out a bit and let stats and events accumulate over a couple of weeks at a time rather than the very narrow snapshot of a single day’s action.
Over the course of the season, as more data accumulates, more definitive observations can be made. For now all the following comes with an obvious “small sample size” caveat. As in years past, I’ll start at the top and work down one week, then at the bottom and work my way up next time.

Buffalo-Trenton ThunderBisons

The AAA squad has a heavy share of non-prospect veterans, and it’s probably not informative to judge a guy with a lot of major league games based on less than 10 games at the start of a season, but tip your cap to Christian Colon who’s hitting a robust .417 (1.406 OPS) while playing mostly the outfield. I’m going to use him as a rule of thumb and say if you haven’t played 8 of 12 games so far I’m not even going to try to get a read on you. Among “prospects” (defined as not being a major league vet like Colon or catcher Juan Graterol…let’s say for future reference, less than 200 major league AB) the two most impressive guys have been Logan Warmoth (.333/1.024) who’s played exclusively in the OF, swinging between all three positions, and Breyvic Valera (.341.977) who’s doing the super-utility gig with appearances at second, third, short, and both outfield corners. GM Ross Atkins was talking up RF Forrest Wall on Sunday but I’m a little cooler on a guy who’s struck out 18 times in 12 games, without a walk.
When considering the pitchers, small sample ERA is all but useless on it’s own so I’ll give a thought to xFIP to kind of even things out a bit. But that can produce some pretty wicked swings too, like my man LH Nick Allgeyer who’s sporting a nifty 1.50 ERA but a 5.05 xFIP. I’m a believer, and apparently so are the Jays, but I can’t let the stat rescue one guy and not point out when it’s unkind to a different guy. One thing is for sure though, Alek Manoah is an absolute beast by any measure and leads a staff that, last I heard, ad the best team ERA in the minors. Also, give a nod to RHP Connor Overton. Coming into 2021 he’d started twice in 76 MiLB games, but he was pressed into service when Nate Pearson got called to the Jays and has been unreal. 12 shutout IP, 5 hits, no walks, 12K. One assumes it can’t last but stranger things have happened.

New Hampshire Fisher Cats

Here it’s more clear because everyone is a prospect (loosely defined) and the obvious storyline involves the four top 15 prospects among the hitters.
The results are mixed. On the one hand  21 year old catcher Gabriel Moreno, No. 7 on the prospect list, is absolutely on fire. He’s hitting an insane .444 with a 1.135 OPS. Danny Jansen has to be hearing footsteps, even if it is crazy early. Right on his hill is utility man Otto Lopez. The No. 13 prospect is 22 this year and has played second (mostly) along with CF and LF and he sits at .380 with a .956 OPS, and he has 7 doubles in his first 12 games. On the other hand, No. 2 prospect Austin Martin (CF/SS) hasn’t broken out yet, hitting only .222 but he has a .364 OBP so things are better than the creaky old stat would imply. Likewise, No. 3 Jordan Groshans (3B/SS) hasn’t made maybe as much context as you want (.237) but he has a .356 OBP so neither is exactly floundering. It’s still fair to expect big things as the season goes on.
Speaking of being prospect-laden, you are surely aware that Simeon Woods Richardson (No. 4) is here as well. He’s had three starts and sports a 1.29 ERA over 14 IP.  Oh, and also 23 K in those 14 IP. There are other good SP here, but he’s head and shoulders above, as befitting his prospect status. Rotation mate LH Zach Logue exemplifies the previously stated mistrust of ERA. He’s got a 4.11 mark after three games but in his 15.1 IP, he’s racked up 21 strikeout against only TWO walks. Thus the xFIP of 2.07. Old friend Elvis Luciano, very much still a prospect even though not technically eligible for the lists, has done alright as well, with an 11.0 K/9 and an improved walk rate over years past. It’s really too early to say much about relievers, but keep your eye on Brody Rodning. Reportedly his velocity is ticked up and the team is impressed.

Vancouver Canadians (of Oregon)

Some years the VanC’s struggle on offense, as in years past it would be stocked mainly with guys who already played a tiring college season. This team has more going on. The trio of OF Tanner Kirwer, 1B Spencer Horwitz, and catcher Ryan Gold (2017, 2019, and 2016 draft classes respectively, all in the 20’s) have been mainstays. None of them turn up in anyone’s top 30, but Gold brought a .989 OPS into Sunday (and then went 0 for 6 which took some shine off), Horwitz sits at .927 (and was a fine hitter in 2019 too), and Kirwer a lofty 1.034  driven by a .449 OBP which is what you want for a fast (8 steals in 9 attempts over 10 games played, He came into the season with 51 in 59 attempts in his pro career) lead-off man.
Like the other teams, the rotation here features significant prospects in the organization, with both the No. 8 and No. 10 from the consensus list here. Twenty year old RH Adam Kloffenstein has a 0.71 ERA, and 12 k in 12.2 IP, and his opponents BA is a tidy .136 but he’s also walked 8, although half of those were in his first outing. The other high profile name is 2020 second pick CJ Van Eck who got hammered for 4 runs without getting out of the first inning his first time out, but pitched well on Thursday. A couple of relievers I’ll mention in passing, one time well regarded SP prospect Justin Maese, who came into the year with only 5 innings of game action since 2017 due to a series of injury setbacks, is working out of the ‘pen early (as one might expect given the need to rebuild endurance) and has looked good in a limited sample. The other is Hagen Danner, a two-way player when drafted who tried to develop as a catcher but utterly failed to hit (except for an occasional bomb) who’s working in the closer role and hadn’t allowed a hit until three consecutive singles led to a blown save yesterday.

Dunedin Blue Jays

The really big bat here has already been lost to promotion. Left fielder Eric Rivera was hitting .474 (with 6 walks against 2 strikeouts) when he got the call to Vancouver. But among those still here, all eyes are on 2020 draftee Zach Britton. Announced as an OF on draft day, the Jays moved him back to his former spot behind the plate and he’s come out of the gate hot. The LH hitter has a .488 OBP and has walked 9 times in 9 games. He’s also got a .633 slugging lest you though his bat lacked power. Another solid contributor is IF Addison Barger, another LH hitter who’s slashing .290/.405/.516 which is pretty good work so far. The two top 10 prospects here, Orelvis Martinez and Miguel Hiraldo, haven’t really gotten rolling yet in their first extended run in full season ball.
Things have been in flux on the mound as the staff sorts through an abundance of arms, many of which have started in the past. The big story is 18 year old Brazilian Rafael Ohashi who turned heads with 3 perfect innings in his first start. Yesterday he lost the plate and it cost him so everyone maybe exhaled a bit. Fellow Brazilian and prospect of note, Sem Roberrse, had the reverse experience with three walks in less than two IP in his first start, but delivered three shutout innings on Saturday with four strikeout and no free passes. The other top 30 prospect on the opening day roster was Cuban signee Yosver Zulueta who promptly suffered a leg injury before recording an out and seems likely to be out for the year. The guy who took over for him that day is another Cuban, Willy Gaston whom the Jays signed in late 2018. He did good work in 2019, but with too many free passes, so far this year he’s given up two earned runs in 10.2 innings over four appearances. He has 13 strikeouts which is impressive, and five walks which are not, but he’s also old for the level and probably moves up before too long. The other guy who demands a mention is Rafael Monsion who’s the one guy, so far, out of the eight Latin (but not Cuban) guys on this staff that seems to have some command and control. He’s walked one and struck out 9 in 6.2 IP so far, but for his pro career (since 2017) he’s accumulated 143.2 IP over 38 appearances (24 starts) he’s walked only 40 which is unusually good for the demographic of pitchers signed in J2 free agency. I’ll be keeping an eye on him.

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