Fortnight on the Farm, Vol. 8

Tammy Rainey
1 year ago
Now well into the second half, we’re getting a clearer picture of the separation between guys who might be going somewhere and those who are performing like org filler or worse.
That’s not to say that you won’t have a player of mediocre talent putting up a statistical success story, or a guy who’s actually a prospect having a rough one (i.e. Groshans). Not being a first-hand scout or particularly skilled at evaluating players when I do see video, I don’t presume to suggest to you who’s got the genuine talent and why doesn’t, I’m more collating the chatter I see in various places and the statistical performances.  The latter at least gives you a rough sense of who to take a closer look at.
This is being finished up Monday evening so I may well have written here about someone who’s no longer in the system by the time you read this.

Low-A Dunedin

All season long Dahain Santos has been a beast in the rotation, though overshadowed somewhat early by the presence of Teidmann and Zulueta. In all honesty, he’s been a bit more hittable lately than he was in the spring. Still, if you take out one disaster start in June his season ERA is 2.37 with 101 strikeouts in 60.2 IP. I’ve been saying he would surely get a promotion soon but they may be working on something here.
Since my last writing, Jimmy Robbins, Matt Svanson, and Michael Dominguez all moved up to Vancouver and since only Robbins was killing it here I presume that’s age/maturity related. They are 24, 23, and 21 respectively and the earlier promoted Trent Wallace is 23, Nick Frasso is also 23.  Zulueta is 24. Santos is just 19, but then so is Tiedemann so what do I know?
Speaking of older prospects, Cooper Benson was drafted out of college last year and is 21. So far working against mostly younger hitters he has also been dominant, raking up 25 strikeouts against only three walks in 14 IP. On Sunday he threw five one-hit innings with 8K. However, prospect watch Marc Hulet notes that he has a middling fastball that doesn’t hold velocity and apart from a changeup doesn’t throw anything impressive. Basically the old “crafty” profile which fools younger hitters but won’t play as he moves up, particularly not as a starter.
Often when I’m telling you “this guy is dominating” based on stats, it’s just giving you a name to learn more about because the scouts see things the stats don’t reflect. Finally, tiny sample or no I’m staying on the Eric Pardinho train until someone throws me off. Six appearances in all, two IP each, three walks, and 13 K so far. I’ll be watching to see if at some point they build the pitch count up a little more.
To be honest, not much happening of note on the offensive side for the D-Jays. Gabriel Martinez spent June injured after having been insanely hot in May. He’s been more respectable than awesome in July, hitting .290 with a .757 OPS. The big difference? Eight homers in May, just one in July. First baseman Rainer Nunez has a somewhat similar pattern. Eleven homers in the first two months, only three in the two months since, dragging a .563 slugging down to .476 while everything else has been pretty steady. Also of note, Canadian RF JC Masson got promoted recently after abusing GCL pitching for a. 972 OPS.

High-A Vancouver

No fresh news here on Ricky Tiedemann, they sent him off to the Florida complex after the Futures Game to work on …something? Scott Mitchell reported his next start would be at AA but so far he’s not been activated for the Fisher Cats.  It may be an innings management thing, but his last game (apart from the exhibition) was July 8 so I’m not sure how they are dealing with the inaction without creating a situation where he has to ramp back up.
Nick Frasso continues to dominate with no bumps in the road so far, reportedly he’s been up to 100. Three hits and two walks in 11 high-A innings, with 15 strikeouts. The other highly ranked pitcher here is of course Sem Robersse (don’t I introduce him that way every single time? I assume not every reader read every entry) who had a couple of downright bad starts in back-to-back games in June, and an ERA of 4.34 in four starts since.  Less heralded but worth commenting on are two others.
Chad Dallas, who had control issues earlier in the season (24 walks in 32.1 IP in May and June) may have found something, pitching 12 innings over his last two starts and walking only 2 batters (while striking out sixteen and giving up a single run). Finally, Comeback (from injury) Kid Jimmy Robbins took a significant beating on July 23, giving up six runs in three IP, but if you remove that one outing from his line, in seven other appearances for the C’s, spanning 25 IP, he has a 2.16 ERA (he gave up the same number of runs in that one beating as he’s given up in the other seven appearances total) and has struck out 35. The walks are somewhat high but that’s typical coming off of a significant arm injury.
As I’ve noted on previous occasions, while Leo Jimenez was the highest-ranked player in this lineup coming into the season, his hitting in both April and June was absolutely wretched. May was solid (an .803 OPS) but the questions remained when he went off the cliff again.  July, however, was more than solid. A .967 OPS powered by three doubles, two triples, and four homers on the month (he’d had two on the season coming in) from someone not known for power. Now the trick is to sustain the production and finish strong. Third baseman (likely first baseman going forward) Damiano Palmegiani continues to answer skeptics with top-shelf offense. He’s performed even better in Vancouver than he did in Dunedin. I’m keeping my eyes out for some actual professional observations on how much of a legit prospect he really is. Also worth noting that Dasan Brown earned his promotion since last writing, he left Dunedin with an .813 OPS and hasn’t enjoyed that sort of success yet in Canada but eight games is too small a sample to be relevant.

Double-A New Hampshire

Hard-throwing, fast-rising Yosver Zulueta continues to put his shaky first AA appearance in the rearview as likely a case of nerves. The organization has shifted him to relief work after two AA starts, likely as a function of inning management primarily but also it puts him on a straight path to potentially bring his stuff to the Jays bullpen in September. He’s got seven innings in July, given up one run, and struck out 14.
Adam Kloffenstein continues to be the most maddening prospect in the organization. Clearly talented, he freely mixes stretches of dominance that last three or four innings with complete blowups that ruin a start. In his last three outings for Vancouver, he seemed to find a grove, pitching a combined 14 innings giving up two ER, and striking out 15 (albeit walking four in the last of those). It didn’t translate. He’s had 12 appearances at AA, half of them were fine, and the other half all feature one awful inning. Worse, it’s not like he fades – sometimes it’s his last inning and sometimes it’s the first or second. If he was simply not holding his stuff past three or four innings you’d think “fine, make him a shutdown reliever” but it’s not that simple.
As of this writing, no one in the Blue Jays’ farm system is having a better year with the bat than Addison Barger. He played in Vancouver through July 10, at least a month longer than any of us outside observers thought he should have, and he justified that feeling by getting even better since his promotion. In 55 at-bats at AA, he’s slashing .455/.516/.745/1.261 which…yeah. Capable at three infield positions including SS, you could make a case that if the Jays reach into their system for infield help, it’s Barger, not Lopez or Taylor that they should reach for.
Of course, everyone wants to know what’s up with Orelvis Martinez and, well, there’s not enough of a sample to say anything with confidence but if you’re looking for a glimmer of hope there’s a little to be happy about in the past week. Since bottoming out (we could hope) at a .199 BA and .708 OPS on July 22 he’s 9/26 in the last seven games and five of those hits were homers.
Notice 1B John Aiello had a .849 OPS in July. Catcher Phil Clarke hit .345 in July with a .935 OPS (but his offense was horrible coming into July after having finished strong last year). The other main catcher, Ryan Gold was good in April, hapless in May and June, and yet he had a .971 OPS in July. Interestingly, the Jays just promoted another catcher – Zach Britton – from Vancouver after he put up an .831 OPS on the season so far. The official roster persists in listing him as an outfielder but he had more than twice as many games behind the plate for Vancouver than in LF. Chris Bec is here too but I wouldn’t be shocked to see him released – you don’t need to carry four catchers in AA.

Triple-A Buffalo

Honestly, not a lot of interesting prospect news on this pitching staff.  Max Castillo is back with, reportedly, an agenda to build back up to starter innings so I wouldn’t be shocked if he’s starting tonight (Tuesday). Hayden Juenger got promoted last week and, like Zulueta he seems to have been shifted to relief work but not, so far, limited to 1 inning appearances. Still, he already has three times as many IP as he had in his draft year last year so it might be a workload management issue. It’s certainly not for the Bisons not needing starters. They had at least 15 bullpen days during July. Also, for fans of old-friend sentimentality, be sad – Joe Biagini was released.
Number One prospect (per Baseball America) in all the minors Gabby Moreno has hit just .243 since coming back from Toronto but his OPS is .769, which is not really superstar results just yet but he’s a work in progress. Speaking of results since visiting Toronto, Otto Lopez, who had a modest .660 OPS when he went up, owing in part to starting the year on the IL, is slashing .313/.398/.515/.913 over 99 at-bats since.
As I said, no idea whom among these guys won’t still be in the organization 18 hours from now but, oh well.



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