I’m leaving this a bit late, with full season leagues starting on the 4th of April (Lansing’s at least), but after reviewing all the players that manned the eight outfield positions for the C’s in 2012, I’d be remiss not to do the same for the pitchers. Remiss, not only because it simply wouldn’t be fair, but also because the Jays have been gaining a reputation, rightfully so, of drafting and developing exciting, young pitching talent.
The C’s were definitely the beneficiaries of the Jays drafting acumen in 2011. Getting looks, albeit brief, of highly touted arms Aaron Sanchez, Noah Syndergaard, and Justin Nicolino. Those three had very interesting 2012s, having burned through the Midwest League as the all conquering Lansing Big Three, before seeing the group split up over two separate off-season blockbuster deals.
I don’t think 2012 saw the same star quality at the Nat, but, without spoiling anything, there was one prospect who dropped jaws with his Northwest League debut, another very talented lefty who maybe failed to live up to expectations, and two returnees who had incredible seasons, forcing themselves into the Jays prospect mix.
Admittedly, I’m cheating a bit here, as there are others that started games for the C’s last year and even some who made more starts then a couple on the list. But the two with the least amount above just happen to be the most intriguing prospects. So I wanted to talk about them. And the post can only be so long before people tune out, so some had to go.
I’m going to break down the six into three groups of two, starting with:
Roberto Osuna – Osuna’s C’s debut was nothing short of spectacular, striking out 13 of the 19 hitters he faced over five shutout
innings. I’m not going to say Osuna was unknown to prospectors prior to this start, but with in today’s digital age, that start went viral, firmly entrenching and elevating the Mexican right hander’s status as a top prospect. Unsurprisingly, Osuna’s following appearances didn’t quite live up to the debut, but after a two week break to visit his ailing mother, Osuna’s two playoff starts were fantastic, striking out 15 of the 30 hitters faced, giving up a mere two hits in the process. The knock on Osuna, as a prospect, has always been that at only 18 he is already 6’2″ and weighs 230 pounds, meaning there is little room for scouts to dream. In their minds, he is already at his playing weight, and, if anything, will only have weight problems in the future. I’m a bit simpler. The Jays have a kid who, if American, would be in his draft year, and probably a top three pick. He has a fastball in the mid-90s, a fantastic change up, decent curveball, and most importantly knows how to pitch. There is nothing not to like here.
In fact, I think the Jays will soon have a conundrum on their hands. They’ve always stated that their teenage pitchers will stay in Low A ball on innings limits until they turn at least 20 and mature physically. For tall, skinny kids such as Sanchez, that makes sense. He has developing to do. But Osuna is already a man physically. If he dominates with Lansing as an 18 year old, the Jays need to be more aggressive in their approach. I’d love to see him in Dunedin by the end of this season, but I think that is wishful thinking.
Daniel Norris – The titular subject of my first ever post at yourvancs, Norris’ first season in pro ball was a bit mixed. A first round talent with signability concerns, the left hander slid to the second round where the Jays snapped him up and signed him to a well above slot bonus of 2 million bucks. The late signature delayed his pro debut to 2012. Given his stuff, some pundits had Norris skipping rookie ball and starting his career in full-season with Lansing. Selfishly, I was hoping for a Vancouver assignment. Turns out we were getting ahead of ourselves. Bluefield was the first stop. After a fantastic debut raised expectations, a perfect four innings with five strike outs, things didn’t quite go as planned from there. As per Marc Hulet’s scouting report the decent peripherals (K/9, FIP, etc.) made up for some pretty ugly counting stats. Listening to Rob Fai’s call for his start against Boise on the 25th of August, it sounded like he couldn’t get his breaking ball working, allowing hitters to tee off on the fastball. That will be priority number one during spring training, if he proves that his secondary pitches are ready, Daniel will join Osuna in Lansing, piggy backing starts for the first half of the season.
It was so hard to separate Taylor Cole and Javier Avendano last year that I’m not going to try and do so here. Born eleven months apart, about the same height and weight, both right-handers. The only real difference is in pro experience as Avendano, being Venezualen, signed for the Cardinals as a teenager, making his debut in 2008. Cole went the college route, beginning his career in 2011. Both were in their repeat years in Vancouver last season and both had absolutely phenomenal years, finishing one/two in the league in ERA, FIP, and WHIP. Relying on control and good changeups, Norris and Avendano won’t overpower you, yet both still had very respectable K/9 and K/BB ratios.
With two Northwest League titles and excellent seasons under their belts, both these guys have absolutely nothing left to prove in short-season ball. Given their age, and innings totals in 2012, they don’t really need to piggy back either. However, both may be forced to for at least a quarter of the season before the leashes are taken off. It’s not hard to figure out which pitching staff I’ll be most interested in this season. Lansing’s should be very good again.
The Org Fillers:
Ben White – I found myself writing about Ben quite a bit last season. Every time I went to the Nat, he seemed to be starting, and unfortunately for me, his stuff is just meh. He did have some good starts, but he really doesn’t have anything to get excited about. A fastball that sits in the mid 80′s and a decent curve won’t get the job done the higher he progresses, if in fact he does. Although his numbers improved across the board in his repeat season with Vancouver, he’ll turn 24 in early May. With Lansing’s staff looking pretty full, Ben may find it difficult to force his way into the rotation. If he finds himself in extended spring training again, I would have thought he’d struggle to get out
Kyle Anderson – Maybe I should have started with the Org Fillers. Would have spent a bit more time on them while still being excited to get to the prospects. As it stands, I’m a bit tired. I’m sure Kyle is a nice guy, and being from Woodenville, Washington, the Nat is practically a home game for him (for the pedantics out there, yes, Everett would be closer), but I just can’t get all that excited about a 4.62 K/9 ratio. That tells me he struggles to miss bats, and if you can’t miss bats as a 22 year old in the Northwest League, your future in pro ball does not look rosy. Five of his thirteen appearances were out of the bullpen, so there is a possibility that Kyle is promoted to Lansing in a relief role. If he’s starting, he’ll also be repeating.
There were twenty three arms who logged innings in 2012 for the C’s. Doing the math, that leaves me with 17 to look at when reviewing the relievers. That just won’t work. Think what I’ll do for the next post is just pick and choose a few hurlers that had good seasons or have interesting futures. Apologies for the laziness, but real games are starting soon.