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Blue Jays Minor League Musings

Long time readers of this blog (would like to say ‘Hi Mom’ here, but think she’s given up on this site) know I have a fascination with Blue Jays left-handed pitching prospect Daniel Norris.  My first post was a questioning his whereabouts and why he wasn’t in Vancouver.  Well, he did get to Vancouver eventually, but it was more of a courtesy call after an inauspicious start with Bluefield.  Things didn’t improve much in Vancouver.  Mechanically he was a mess, walking five over his seven plus innings with the Canadians.

He got himself straightened out half way through his 2013 with the Lugnuts though, and things have carried on into this season.  Lost amongst the hype created by Marcus Stroman‘s performance this past Tuesday was fact Norris was dominant once again, giving up three hits with a walk and striking out five over five innings pitched.  Looking at his five starts in the Florida State League thus far, he has struck out at least a batter per inning every time, while limiting the walks, and the extra base hits, giving up none over the past three starts.  It’s possible he has been helped by the heavy Florida air and the superb outfield defence behind him as hitters do seem to get the ball in the air.

Date IP H R ER BB SO HR 2B 3B GB FB LD PU
2014-04-06 5.0 5 1 1 0 5 0 1 0 8 6 1 1
2014-04-12 6.0 4 0 0 1 6 0 2 0 5 8 3 1
2014-04-17 4.0 1 0 0 2 6 0 0 0 2 3 0 1
2014-04-24 4.0 3 2 1 2 4 0 0 0 6 7 2 1
2014-04-29 5.0 3 0 0 1 5 0 0 0 5 8 2 0
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 5/2/2014.

As per the weekly Around the Nest podcast with the affiliate play by play men, it was Norris’ changeup that was doing the damage in his last start.  With his fastball/curve combination already considered plus, a developing change will continue to push Norris up the prospect (and organizational) depth chart.

It’s the restricted pitch count which will tie Norris to Florida for now.  Once that is relaxed and how the first half playoff scenario plays out should see Daniel (and the player below) make their way to New Hampshire in short order.

Seems I wasn’t the only one (just the first) to write up Dalton Pompey‘s cracking start in Dunedin.  To go along with Jason Parks calling him ‘arguably the best position prospect in the system’, Bob Elliot did a full piece on him over at The Toronto Sun, my colleagues at JaysJournal.com got an exclusive interview, and the ever conservative Keith Law had this to say about Pompey when answering a question on his KLawchat ‘Pompey’s very interesting – an athletic kid who’s put on about 20 pounds since signing and has always had an idea at the plate. Leadoff profile rather than a power/corner bat.’

Since I called for his promotion on the 27th the Missassauga native has done nothing to change my mind, slashing .412/.545/.765 over five games with two doubles and two triples.  More impressively is the BB/K ratio tilting back towards a very favourable 0.64.  His BB% has been creeping up, sitting at 11.9% while his strikeout ratio has dipped below 20% to currently sit at 18.6%.  As I have mentioned before, his current BABIP means his batting average is unsustainable.  If he can continue to get on base via the walk then his plus plus speed will do damage even when he inevitably slumps.

There have been quite a few hitters go on hot streaks around the farm as of late.

Michael Crouse has taken to double-A as of late putting up a 1.051 OPS over his last 12 games with seven walks versus 10 strike outs.  Crouse, a Port Moody native, played his way off any top prospect lists with two supbar seasons in Dunedin.  You still heard a ton about his freakish athletic ability, but it just didn’t seem to be translating to baseball.  Now, two good weeks don’t make a comeback, but I’ll definitely be keeping a closer eye on the Coquitlam Senior Secondary grad throughout the season.

I was very surprised when the Lansing roster was announced and it included Surrey native and 2013 Vancouver Canadian Justin Atkinson, saying here, that he was over-matched in the Northwest League and will probably be back once the C’s open up their season in June.

After making me look right by going hitless in seven of his first eight games, Atkinson is now doing his best to prove me wrong.  In his last 11 games he has put up 18 hits while only striking out four times.  Atkinson is in Lansing as a utility player but has made his last three starts in the field at second base.  He played third last year in Vancouver, but doesn’t have the pop to play the corners, only ISO’ing 0.082 during the hot streak.  With Dickie Thon taking some reps in left field, will be interesting to see if Justin locks down second for the forseeable.

There’ll plenty of cynics on twitter that will would trip over themselves to point out fact both Crouse and Atkinson can’t be considered prospects.  They’re probably right but you can’t deny they have two of the better players in the system of late and deserve some recognition.  Especially after receiving promotions that I thought were a bit of a stretch.

Justin Atkinson and Shaun Valeriote pose during media day (photo courtesy of VancouverSun.com)

Justin Atkinson and Shaun Valeriote pose during media day (photo courtesy of VancouverSun.com)

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