Blue Jays Minor League Report: Damiano Palmegiani cannot be stopped, pitching across all four levels has been good, and more!
Photo credit:(Mark Steffens - Fotoguy)
1 month ago
The big question after a month of minor league baseball is “who has stood out” at each level.
In this article, we’ll look at three position players and three pitchers who have stood out from each of the four minor league levels. We’lll also look at how the Triple-A Buffalo Bisons, the Double-A New Hampshire Fisher Cats, the High-A Vancouver Canadians, and the Single-A Dunedin Blue Jays have done early in the season.
The Buffalo Bisons after one month:
A common theme throughout the Blue Jays minor league system is the lack of home runs a month into the season.
The Bisons currently have an 11-15 record, with only nine players hitting a homer and with only one player hitting three or more. Pitching has also been a struggle, as there are only two pitchers with 10+ innings pitched that have an Earned Run Average (ERA) below 3.50.
Hopefully, both the pitchers and the hitters can find a rhythm as we move into May. With that being said, let’s look at three position players and three pitchers who have excelled.
Buffalo Bisons players who have impressed:
Davis Schneider leads the Bisons in home runs with three. He had a tough start to his season, but is slashing .268/.388/595 with three homers since April 13th. For the season, the 24-year-old is slashing .227/.329/.439 with an 11.8 BB% and a 28.9 K% for a 95 wRC+. He is trending in the right direction though.
Spencer Horwitz had a tough start to his Triple-A career in 2022. He slashed .246/.361/.363 with two homers in 202 plate appearances for a 101 wRC+ with the Bisons last season. Well, 2023 has been an entirely different beast for the 25-year-old. He’s slashing .299/.443/.442 with a homer and an 18.6 BB% and a 20.6 K% in 97 plate appearances. Moreover, that wRC+ has jumped to 139 after a month. Solid stuff.
Rob Brantly isn’t a prospect, but man he’s been great for the Bisons this season. After 67 plate appearances, the 33-year-old is slashing .302/.433/.377 with four doubles and eight RBIs. He’s also done a solid job walking (11.9 BB%) while limiting the strikeouts (19.4 K%). Overall, he has a 123 wRC+.
Hayden Juenger has had a good start to his 2023 season. In 15.1 innings pitched, all in relief, he has a 4.11 ERA and a 2.78 FIP. What has been most impressive about his season thus far is his great 35.3 K% compared to his rather low 4.4 BB%. With the Bisons last season, his K% was 24.6%, while his BB% was an elevated 11.9%. Despite the increase in ERA, Juenger has definitely taken a step.
Drew Hutchison has returned to the Blue Jays system, and has been the Bisons best starter a month into the season. In 12 innings pitched, the 32-year-old has a 2.25 ERA and a 3.52 FIP. His 17 BB% is on the high side, while his 24.5 K% is a bit low, but he’s limited hard contact, which is what you expect of him.
Thomas Hatch appears to be pitching exclusively out of the bullpen now, which is a good transition for him. In 14.1 innings pitched, he has a 3.14 ERA and a 4.41 FIP. His 28.6 K% is quite solid, but he has an elevated 11.1 BB%. With all that being said, he’s certainly having a better season than he did in 2022, where he had a 4.67 ERA and 4.52 FIP in 131 innings pitched.
The New Hampshire Fisher Cats after one month:
After the first month or so, the Blue Jays Double-A team is rocking a 9-11 record. Similar to the Buffalo Bisons, there isn’t a player on the Double-A team with more than three home runs (this time, it’s Orelvis Martinez).
However, pitching has been a bright spot for the team, as there are nine pitchers with a sub-4 ERA.
New Hampshire Fisher Cats players who have impressed:
Damiano Palmegiani has been New Hampshire’s best hitter so far in 2023. The 23-year-old is slashing .276/.462/.414 with two homers in 78 plate appearances. What’s more impressive is his 21.8 BB% and 24.4 K% in that stretch. He has been a lot more selective and his on base percentage reflects that. In the previous two series’, he’s also hit the ball quite hard as well. I’d expect him to jump up on top prospect lists in the mid-season update.
Steward Berroa is one of three players I’d assign a fun grade of 80 too, but he’s also had a fantastic start to his 2023 season. After 63 plate appearances, the 23-year-old outfielder is slashing .235/.365/.431 with two homers. Moreover, he has a 17.5 BB% and a 22.2 K%, along with stealing nine bases in ten attempts.
Trevor Schwecke’s .326 batting average is the highest of any Fisher Cat with more than 30 plate appearances. So far in 2023, he’s slashing .326/.404/.372 with two extra-base hits and five RBIs. While he hasn’t hit the ball into the outfield much (.047 ISO), he’s getting on base.
Adam Kloffenstein is a former Top 10 prospect in the Jays organization, but has fallen off the list in recent years. Well, he took that personally as he’s had a great start to his 2023 season. The 22-year-old (yes, he’s still young) has a 3.32 ERA and a 3.23 FIP in 19 innings pitched. Moreover, his 28.2 K% is the highest of his career, so there should still be hype around the young pitcher. He also has a 12.8 BB%, which is one of the highest of his career.
Sean Mellen has the lowest ERA of any pitcher on the New Hampshire Fisher Cats roster. In 9.2 innings pitched, he has a 0.93 ERA and a 2.91 FIP. His 18.9 K% isn’t fantastic, but keep in mind he finished with a 26.3 K% in 55 innings pitched with New Hampshire in 2022. The 25-year-old left-handed pitcher could get the promotion to Triple-A soon.
Nick Fraze is a pitcher that is always in contention for my top prospect lists, but just misses out every time. In 11.1 innings pitched in a bulk reliever role, he has a 2.38 ERA with a 20.8 K% and a 14.6 BB%. After pitching 8.1 innings with the Fisher Cats, the 25-year-old righty got the call to the Buffalo Bisons, pitching three innings and surrendering just a single run. Despite the high BB% in 2023, Fraze has shown advanced command throughout his professional career, as his highest BB% prior to this season was 7.6%. That included a 3.6 BB% with the Fisher Cats in 2022.
The Vancouver Canadians after one month:
The only minor league team in Canada is also the only minor league team in the Jays system with a winning record (9-8).
However, the player with the most home runs on the team is limited to just three, which seems to be an ongoing trend. With that being said, pitching for the Canadians has been solid early in the season.
Vancouver Canadians players who have impressed:
Cade Doughty is slashing .233/.333/.512 on the season, with a 9.8 BB% and a 27.5 K% in 51 plate appearances. However, he leads the Canadians with three homers, and still has a 123 wRC+. The 22-year-old infielder was selected with the 78th overall pick after Robbie Ray signed with the Seattle Mariners.
Riley Tirotta was one of only three position players drafted by the Blue Jays in the 2021 draft. The 24-year-old spent the majority of the 2022 season with the Canadians, slashing .219;/.314/.368 with six homers and an 11.7 BB% and a 32.2 K% in 283 plate appearances. He’s had a much better start to the 2023 season, slashing .368/.442/.658 with two homers, a 9.3 BB%, and a 27.9 K% in 43 plate appearances. Hopefully, he can continue the hot start. His 193 wRC+ is the second highest in the Blue Jays organization, only trailing Manuel Beltre’s 226.
Alan Roden is another position player who was drafted in the 2022 draft. After a short stint in Dunedin to finish the 2022 season, the 23-year-old outfielder/first baseman was promoted to Vancouver to start the season, where he’s had a successful start to his season. He’s slashing .286/.426/.429 with a homer in 61 plate appearances. Moreover, he has a 14.8 BB% and a 9.8 K%. Usually, when a player has a higher BB% than K%, they’re doing something right, and Roden has done that since his college days.
Chad Dallas has always had the stuff, but struggled in his first professional season with the Canadians. In 2022, he had a 4.60 ERA and a 5.50 FIP in 88 innings pitched, to go along with a 21.2 K% and a 12.6 BB%. The 22-year-old has seemingly figured something out though, as his ERA has dropped to 3.07 and his FIP to 2.70. Most impressively is his rise in K%, as it now sits at 37.3%. The next step is for him to improve his command and control, as his 13.6 BB% is on the high side.
Naswell Paulino started the 2022 season as a starter, but transitioned to the bullpen midway through the season. The 23-year-old lefty has pitched exclusively out of the bullpen in 2023, posting a 1.29 ERa and a 5.43 FIP in seven innings pitched. His K% has improved from 23.1% to 23.3%, but his BB% also has jumped from 10.4% to 13.3% since last season. What’s more impressive is his jump in ground ball percentage. It went from 31.2% in 2022 to 52.6% in 2023, thanks in large part to his splitter.
Mason Fluharty is the third 2022 draftee to appear for Vancouver in this article. The left-handed pitcher has arguably been the best reliever on the team, as he has a 1.08 ERa and a 2.66 FIP in 8.1 innings pitched. More impressive is his 43.3 K% and 3.3 BB%, which gives him a 40 K-BB%. Fluharty trails only fellow Canadians reliever Connor Cooke in that stat.
The Dunedin Blue Jays after one month:
The Blue Jays Single-A team has a 10-11 record. Like with all the other Blue Jays minor league teams, no one on the DJay’s roster has hit for much power.
But like with quite a few other teams in the system, the pitching has been quite impressive.
Dunedin Blue Jays players who have impressed:
Adrian Pinto was involved in the Randal Grichuk trade in early 2022. He missed most of the 2022 season due to injury, but has had a solid start to his 2023 campaign. In 59 plate appearances, he’s slashing .292/.393/.292 with five RBIs and 14 singles. Moreover, he’s seven for nine in stolen base attempts. So far, the seven stolen bases rank third in the organization. The 5’6, 156 lb player may never hit for 10+ homers in a season, but he does a great job of getting on base and stealing bags.
Glenn Santiago is making his second stint with the Dunedin Blue Jays, and has slashed .290/.405/.581 in 37 plate appearances with the team. The 22-year-old has an equal 16.2 BB% and K%, and has a 169 wRC+, third in the Blue Jays organization. Furthermore, he has two home runs, which is tied for the lead along with Peyton Williams and the player we’ll look at next.
Angel Del Rosario is an intriguing prospect. For starters, the 20-year-old is a fast played, stealing 40 bases in 45 attempts in 2022, and 27 of 29 attempts in 2021. Furthermore, he has already hit two home runs in just 36 plate appearances. His career high is three in 232 plate appearances. There is some concern about his elevated 29.3 K% (the highest of his career), but if he can hit for average, for power, and use his speed, he’s definitely an intriguing prospect.
Kevin Miranda was a player I mentioned early in the season, but he has continued to dominate Single-A. The 24-year-old righty has a 0.50 ERA and a 2.25 FIP in 18 innings pitched. Moreover, he has a 26.2 K% and a 1.6 BB%, with the latter being the lowest of any pitcher with six or more innings pitched. The Panamanian is a little old for the level, but the dominance is something to take note of.
Rafael Sánchez was also mentioned in the last minor league recap, but like Miranda, Sánchez has continued to dominate Single-A. He’s pitched 23.2 innings, and has a 1.14 ERA and a 2.05 FIP. Moreover, he has a 36 K% and a 2.3 BB%. The right-handed Cuban signed with the Jays in May 2022 as an international free agent, and rocketed up the lower minors, pitching in the Dominican Summer League, the Florida Complex League, and Single-A. It wouldn’t be surprising if the 23-year-old finds himself in High-A, maybe even Double-A in September.
Ryan Jennings was selected in the fourth round of the 2022 draft. He started his professional career with the Single-A Dunedin Blue Jays shortly after, posting a 2.16 ERA and a 6.04 FIP in 8.1 innings. The 23-year-old’s start with Dunedin has been much better in 2023, as he has a 1.50 ERA and a 2.95 FIP in 12 innings pitched. More impressively, he has a 41.9 K% and a 7 BB% for a 34.9 K-BB%. He ranks fourth in that stat in the entire Blue Jays organization.
What’s next for the four teams:
The Buffalo Bisons will visit the Worcester Red Sox. The New Hampshire Fisher Cats will host the Harrisburg Senators (Washington’s Double-A team). The Vancouver Canadians will visit the Hillsboro Hops (Arizona’s High-A team),. While the Dunedin Blue Jays will visit the Fort Myers Mighty Mussels (Minnesota’s Single-A team).
Hopefully as the weather warms up, Blue Jays top prospects heat up as well!
Asl aways, you can follow me on Twitter and Instagram @Brennan_L_D.
ARTICLE PRESENTED BY BETANO
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