Previewing The Farm Rosters: High-A Vancouver Canadians
By Tammy Rainey7 months ago
Continuing the series this week, looking at who among Scott Mitchell’s Top 50 prospects (plus honourable mentions) are likely to find themselves on the West coast with the High-A Vancouver Canadians in April. This team features a deep group of notable starting pitchers, an overflow of possibly interesting but not high-profile relievers, a cohort of position players added in and after the draft last summer, and likely one 40-man roster player.
The most highly regarded pitcher here is #8, lefty Adam Macko who came over in the Teoscar Hernandez deal. The 22-year-old lefty has been observed to have two things to work on: command and control. In 95 professional innings, he has 53 walks which is a real problem, but he also has 148 strikeouts which is why he’s highly regarded, secondly, it’s that low IP number. For a 2019 draft pick, that’s not a lot. His 38.1 last year was a career-high, so expect him to be limited to three-inning stints for at least half the season.
Next up is #10 Dahian Santos. A slightly built RH who will turn 20 this month, Santos overwhelmed hitters at Dunedin racking up 14.7 K/9, but he struggled a bit on a late-season promotion to Vancouver, His first two outings at the higher level were ugly, but his two September starts were much more in line with expectations (17 strikeouts in 9 combined innings). I anticipate another big year.
Next, we drop all the way down to #36 where we find CJ Van Eck, 24, who was the Jays’ second-round selection in the shortened 2020 draft. He’s coming off of TJ surgery that cost him all of the 2022 season and it’s not impossible they might find room for him at AA (which already has at least eight viable rotation candidates) but a more cautious move would be to let him have a couple of months here to get up to speed before facing that challenge. He got 80 IP here in 2021 but it’s problematic to draw conclusions without knowing how much the impending injury was affecting him.
Right behind him at #37 is Chad Dallas, the fourth-round choice in 2021 is 22 years old, and while he shows flashes of interesting upside, he had significant control issues last year. 22-year-old Michael Dominguez was slotted at #48 and he’s an interesting case. He was on my deep sleeper list after the 2019 season after he had a 1.13 ERA in Rookie ball. In 2021 he was solid again for Dunedin. Last season he went back to Low-A and got knocked around a good bit, really losing a lot of his shine at least in terms of results. But he nevertheless got promoted in late July and was considerably better. This will be a key year for him to break out if he’s going to.
Among his honourable mentions was a pitcher that isn’t yet on the C’s roster but I think is well positioned to gain a promotion out of ST. I refer here to Lazaro Estrada who turns 24 in April, which is getting kind of old for Dunedin. Last season he came back from what I believe to have been TJ surgery in mid-July and got impressive results over 15.1 IP (2.93 ERA, 5 walks and 24 strikeouts). I reasonably good spring gets him to Vancouver, in my opinion, and this isn’t unrelated to the reality that there are probably 10 reasonable candidates to start in Dunedin.
Finally, I want to note the presence of Trenton Wallace whom Mitchell didn’t rank but others have. He’s a LHP chosen in the 11th round in 2021 When he arrived in Vancouver last July his previously fine control vanished. In his first five outings accumulating 18.2 IP he walked a horrific 24 batters. Then, well, he fixed it. He got 21 more innings over his last four appearances and walked only seven. Also in those 39.1 IP he allowed a tidy 21 hits and struck out 55. He’s an excellent pick for any sleeper list you might be making. Real breakout possibilities.
Turning to the offensive side, many of these names are, as I noted above, older draftees and signings from last summer and the guy creating the most buzz is infielder Cade Doughty. Mitchell has him at #7 and he’s also in the Baseball America Top 10. Selected with one of the Jays’ compensation draft picks in 2022, he raked (.865 OPS) in 103 at-bats for Dunedin down the stretch splitting time between 2B and 3B. The competition for playing time for the Canadians will be pretty stiff among infielders and I’m inclined to think Daughtry would get more time proportionally at 3B in the upcoming campaign.
At #19 we find shortstop Leo Jiminez. Jimenez struggled to follow up on his break-out 2021 performance which had been strongly driven by a 51/35 BB/K ratio. In 2022 those figures almost reversed to 27/58 in almost half again more at-bats. Partly due to the organization encouraging a more aggressive approach. He also struggled with a series of minor injuries and saw his season end in mid-August. Some speculated that rushing Orelvis Martinez was driven in part to open up playing time in Vancouver for Leo but he’s not putting any upward pressure on him this spring. Having hit just .230 last year, the Jays can afford to let him return for the start of the season, but they would hope he’ll earn a promotion at some point because you really don’t want to have used two option years on a guy who’s not out of A ball. If you want an encouraging sign, he put up .286/.380/.587 in 63 July at-bats.
At #22 is Doughty’s draft mate, second-rounder Josh Kasevich, a well-regarded SS glove who, like Jiminez, will need to demonstrate at least some pop while not compromising the hit tool. Between them, these two will soak up the lion’s share of SS starts.
As noted last week, there’s some possibility that one of Damiano Palmegiani (28) or Alex De Jesus (23) will be on this roster. There are some playing time considerations in play that we probably can’t know from the outside. At #47 we find one-time top-10 prospect Miguel Hiraldo who’s now firmly established as a second baseman, defensively, but the dude just has not hit. If you’re 22 at high A ball and your OPS is .660, folks will be speculating, as I do, that you’re a bust.
Then there’s RF Alan Roden, also a 2022 draftee in the third round. Mitchell described him as basically his unofficial #51 and since I don’t count Pearson as a prospect anymore I squint and call him 50 (I didn’t make that adjustment on the rest of these rankings because it would just be confusing). The 23-year-old’s placement is probably dependent on his spring performance, he got a really slow start after being assigned last year but picked up nicely over his last 11 games (including nine walks against 5 strikeouts over that stretch).
Davonte Brown was an honourable mention. He was an undrafted free agent last summer and in early returns looks like a steal. He hit .308/.477/.449/.926 at Dunedin while playing CF, he’s sure to get some run for the Canadians this spring. Another name dropped is 23-year-old SS Michael Turconi who moved up last year in late August and showed a good eye at both locations. Given the crowding at short, however, he’ll likely see a lot of time at 2B until that clears up some (If it does. There are notable guys likely to start at Dunedin who could push for mid-season promotions). He was a 15th-round choice last year and is probably a fringy prospect.
As an epilogue let me step back and mention the bullpen. My boy Eric Pardinho is here. Still just 22, the once highly regarded SP prospect only got three innings of work in 2021 as he struggled with setbacks coming off of Tommy John and in 2022 things seemed to be looking up. Pitching in relief, between the complex team and the D-Jays he threw 15 innings, allowing 10 hits and two runs, with only two walks and 17 strikeouts. Cause for optimism, right? Then in August, they moved him up to Vancouver and… ouch. Pitching on a fairly rigid three-days-rest schedule he couldn’t get any positive momentum going. I don’t know what explains blowing up so thoroughly but this coming season will either reclaim his potential or see him slide into obscurity.
Alongside him is a sort of overflow of interesting, might-turn-into-something relievers who are not yet fully on the prospect radar. There’s Connor Cooke, a name Mitchell dropped, from the 2021 draft that got a lot of buzz last spring but had an inconsistent year. Last year’s fifth-rounder Mason Fluharty, 2021 ninth-rounder Connor Larkin who dominated at Dunedin and struggled here, and Hunter Gregory (eighth round, 2021) who had nice ratios but an ugly ERA for the Canadians last season.
One more full-season level to go.
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