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Blue Jays Minor League Review – Hoffman Week

Because I believe everything that legendary Jays broadcaster Buck Martinez says, I’m officially coining the term Hoffman Week as Toronto’s 2014 first round pick is *supposed* to be activated Wednesday and assigned to Dunedin.

(as part of my usual routine now, to cover up dated opening paragraphs, I’m lazily inserting a note rather than re-writing one sentence.  Seems so much easier.  The opener refers to Buck Martinez saying on a broadcast that Hoffman was going to be activated and sent to Dunedin on the year anniversary of his TJ surgery.  Which is tonight.  Of course, Shi Davidi has since updated the situation — making my title somewhat premature — writing that Hoffman will make his debut on the 20th with four scheduled innings versus the hated Tampa Bay Yankees)

I talked a bit about the D-Jays rotation last week, saying, basically, that if you add Hoffman,  maybe Miguel Castro (?) and Shane Dawson you, very quickly, turn that frog of a rotation into a prince.

I am making a couple of liberal predictions there though.  Anyway, on with this week’s review.

The Pitchers:

Speaking of Dawson.  After writing up last weeks post and tweeting that I reckoned his next start (that night) could be his last in Lansing, the Drayton Valley, Alberta native kinda laid an egg.  Giving up five earned — exceeding his total in five previous appearances — to the vaunted Fort Wayne Tin Caps.

The lefty redeemed himself last night, striking out six over six innings, giving up two earned on four hits.  I still think it can’t be long before he’s in Dunedin.

A fellow Canadian (both passport and the Vancouver type) may join him at some point as I got word that Tom Robson‘s recovery has been going well and he should be getting into extended games in early June. With a mid-July — his surgery date was July 15th — activation.

And, oh ya, he also told me that both Hoffman and Hollon have ‘looked great’.

When Dawson makes the jump, Lansing’s rotation will be anchored by, and this is a direct quote from someone who sees them a lot, ‘three ridiculously raw talents starting to come into their own.’

Sean Reid-Foley, Jesus Tinoco and Conner Greene are all 20 and under.  It will be very interesting to see how these kids handle the adjustments the Midwest League will inevitably make.  Will have a huge bearing on where they are placed in next year’s prospect lists.

Speaking of which, a guy that I dropped from my top 30 — after having him at 16 the year before — has done nothing to prove me wrong thus far.  Chase DeJong’s inability to keep the ball down and spot his breaking ball have continued to plague him.  In his last two starts, the 6’4″ 205 pounder has given up 12 earned over 11 and two thirds.

Despite his projectable frame, DeJong’s stuff isn’t going to beat anyone.  He needs to be pinpoint to be successful.  Something he hasn’t been able to accomplish of late.

The Hitters:

A few eye opening spring appearances had some comparing 2014 Vancouver Canadian Roemon Fields to Kansas City’s Terrence Gore.  A potential September call-up who would provide a crap-tonne of speed, both on the bases, and in the outfield.

Made a certain someone who had the ex-postman in his top prospects list look pretty smart.

A .167/.211/.250 line with a 4:1 K/BB ratio through 9 games was a bit of a downer. Since then though, the Seattle native has reached safely in all bar three games, slashing .284/.340/.364 along the way.  Not earth shattering numbers, but considering where he was two years ago, you probably couldn’t expect much better.

After setting the C’s stolen base (short-season) record last year, Fields has continued to swipe bags, sharing the Florida State league lead with 13.  It’s proving a bit tougher for him though, as he’s already been caught five times which is over half way to his nine of last year.

Anthony Alford has had 91 plate appearances for Lansing so far this year.  Still short of his 110 total from first three (abbreviated) pro season but getting there.  So far this year, you’re 75% certain Alford is going to do one of three things every time he comes to the dish:

Hit 25.27%
   K   28.57%
   BB   18.68%
Total 72.53%

I don’t know if that’s weird or not — I’m not going to check how man hundred more to make it statistically relevant — but it sure smells that way.

The .489 BABIP should normalize somewhat but what is interesting about Alford so far (aside from the amazing table above) is that the bulk of his hits are to the opposite field.  Given he’s got almost as many doubles as singles, he must be driving the ball.

When he joined the YourVanCs podcast, Anthony said one of his goals this season was to threaten the minor league stolen base record.  With only 4 through 19 games that’s probably not going to happen but it’s not for lack of getting on base which is what I thought the problem would be.

Ewan Ross (of BlueJaysPlus fame) and I play a little twitter game where we try and reverse-hex Jays farmhands by pre-maturely labelling prospects as organizational filler.  A concentrated effort on A.J. Jimenez has come to nought however my statement about JD Davis’ hot start (‘None — of his hits — have gone for extra bases so it’s hard to get too excited‘) last week seems to have had the desired effect.

Starting that night, Davis went 9 for his next 19 with his first 4 XBH’s (2 2B, 1 3B and 1 HR).

Not to continue dwelling on guys I talked about last week but Jorge Flores continues to rake in New Hampshire with 6 hits in 18 PAs during the week.  What’s odd is fact the pint-sized middle-infielder made his first two pro appearances (Stateside at least) in the outfield.

Now he’s the new Ben Zobrist.

Next week, Ewan and I will need to focus on a few of the ‘prospects’ swinging at air in Florida.

In table format:

Name Age YVC ’14 Rank PA BB% K% AVG OBP SLG ISO wRC+
Mitch Nay 21 14 122 10.70% 18% 0.189 0.281 0.255 0.066 67
Matt Dean 22 NR 123 6.5% 24.4% 0.23 0.285 0.416 0.186 109
Dawel Lugo 20 15 125 1.60% 16% 0.218 0.248 0.311 0.092 66

——
Hmm, where to start.  Nay actually got an invite to big league camp this past spring so the big time media have taken him to a bit as Davidi explains in his minor league report:

Mitch came in with raw power and naturally he’s a middle of the field guy, the raw power doesn’t necessarily translate into games as a middle of the field guy. They felt they wanted to get together and try to pull the ball a little more – instead of looking to right-centre, taking an approach of looking at left-centre. They went about with that mindset and that was the change.

It goes on to say that he’s making progress, which, well, ah hell, what do I know.  A kid with that kind of power who has only hit one home run to go along with four doubles?

Doesn’t sound like progress to me.

As for the others, Lugo is young.  But at what point do you stop hoping he’ll learn the strike zone and just hope to hell he starts barreling balls more often?  His .245 BABIP looks bad on a stat sheet but when you see him play it’s understandable.  He swings at, and makes weak contact with, a lot of crap.

Dean could probably be described as a pleasant surprise actually, but he’s, you know, a non-prospect, so there you go.

And lastly! Richard Urena, the supposed all glove, no hit Lansing shortstop made the Lugs home run race interesting for a spell last night when he pulled into a tie for the team lead after a first inning bomb off of South Bend’s Erick Leal.

Not to be outdone, former big kid (literally) on the block Rowdy Tellez answered with one of his own in the 7th to go along with three doubles on the night.  All of which were ‘absolutely smoked’ according to Lugs broadcaster Jesse Goldberg-Strassler.

Given he’s a future first basemen, at best, slash DH, Rowdy needs to hit a bunch more long balls to raise prospectors eyebrows, but still, at only 20, the power is intriguing.

(Editors Note: Usually I’d be firm in cutting off the stats for this post to games up to and including the 13th but had to mention fact JD Davis went 3 for 4 during midday action today which included his second ding dong, four runs scored, a walk and three stolen bases.  Kid is raking at the moment.)

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