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Canadians Hunt the Aquasox

After wrapping up their five game set with a loss to the the Boise Hawks on Sunday, the C’s travel down the I-5 for a crucial three game set with the North division leading Everett Aquasox. With just eight games remaining in the first half, the next few nights could go a very long way towards deciding who captures the first half flag and is the first representative of the newly re-formatted divisions in the 2013 playoffs. With Everett holding a two game lead and finishing with five away to the same Boise Hawks, Vancouver have to think that two of the next three are a minimum.

The pitchers bus will have a new face on board as Alonzo Gonzalez was demoted from Lansing Sunday. I think a lot of people (myself included) had high hopes for Alonzo this season. Drafted in the 18th round in 2012, Gonzalez split last season between the Gulf Coast League and Bluefield. Looking at his numbers from those two stops, I can see that I may have gotten caught up in small sample size syndrome and was blinded by two things:

1) his size, at 6’5″ and 200 pounds, there is some projectability

2) his twelve innings at Bluefield were rather good, as only allowed six baserunners, none of whom scored, and struck out nine.

Of course, the counterpoint to both these are far more grounded in reality. If he’s twenty-one, projectability may have already passed him by. And twelve innings is nothing.

This year, he skipped Vancouver, making his full-season debut as part of the vaunted Lansing rotation which also includes Roberto Osuna, Daniel Norris, Taylor Cole, and Javier Avendano. All ex-C’s and two of whom are very highly thought of by evaluators of the Blue Jays system.

After four decent starts to begin the season, the Glendale Community College product had a blowup on the 4th of May and things have been going downhill ever since. Gonzalez was recently shifted to the bullpen where he’ll initially remain while with the Canadians.

Speaking to C’s pitching coach Jim Czajkowski, Alonzo has been flying open in his delivery and landing to the side (amongst other things). These mechanical issues were being worked on in Lansing, and the demotion will only further that work. Allowing the left-hander the opportunity to regain some confidence, get his head straight in a different environment.

After throwing a side during Sunday’s game, I can see Alonzo making his C’s debut either tonight or tomorrow.

To make room on the bus for Gonzalez, Jon Kountis was released. I forgot to ask for specific reasoning, but if were to speculate, would guess that after being released from the Mets system and putting up excellent numbers for the Lake Erie Crushers of the Frontier League, the Jays took a flyer on him to see if he had discovered anything.

Despite only getting ten appearances to show his worth, the team may have decided that at twenty-five he wasn’t going to be worth developing further. Either that, or, having graduated from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, Kountis asked for his release to begin his career in the sky.

Speaking of the ex-C’s above, I asked Czajkowski, who had covered for Vince Horsman‘s (Lansing’s pitching coach) vacation, if he had any thoughts on the 2013 struggles of Taylor Cole and Javier Avendano. If you recall, both these guys dominated the Northwest League in 2012, finishing in the top three of the major statistical categories.

I thought his answer was quite interesting. After having it beaten in to me by various sources that it’s a massive leap between levels, the C’s pitching coach said ‘it’s really not, and those guys need to get their heads around that’. ‘It’s more about making adjustments, you make the adjustment, the hitters make adjustments, and so on.’

‘Both pitchers haven’t really been knocked down before, and they need to have the confidence to get back up.’ Czajkowski said that Avendano worked primarily off his fastball last year and now he’s having to incorporate his change up more while Cole was the exact opposite, trying to ‘trick hitters’ by throwing a ton of change ups. Midwest league hitters have caught up to these two, now it’s up to them to make the necessary adjustments.

Avendano made a good start of it, going seven strong in his last outing, only giving up two hits while striking out five. He has an opportunity to build on that tonight against Burlington.

I also got the opportunity to speak at length with Jim about Jeremy Gabryszwski. I’ll make a full post of it after watching JG’s start Thursday night.

Notes from the Pressbox:

Trevor Gretzky ended up liking Vancouver a lot, collecting six hits, including a double, to raise his average from not very much to a more respectable .261

Boise employed five pitchers to shut out the Canadians, the first four of whom were acquired in this year’s draft, in rounds (by order of appearance Sunday) 2,8,10, and 6. I’d like to say Edmonton native and 2nd round pick Rob Zastryzny was the most impressive, but for me, it was 6th rounder Scott Frazier. He has an Ubaldo Jimenez like motion where he hid the ball behind his back for a long period of his exaggerated windup before a late overhand release. He was painting the corners with a mid-90’s fastball, touching 96 occasionally.

Seven of Vancouver’s eight hits came with two out and (obviously) none were cashed.

Sunday was Mike Reeves first start at DH, something I’d been calling for, after contributing only his second hit-less game, maybe I’ll keep my fat mouth shut.

And lastly, I managed to speak with Boise’s colourful radio play by play man Mike Safford about the Hawks ridiculous uniforms. Here’s how he described them. The road colour is Graphite, ‘the only pro baseball team to wear that colour’ (I can’t imagine why), with Hawks talons down the legs and shoulder. The third hat has only a talon opening up a gash instead of a logo, and the numbers are over-sized with the green base actually consisting primarily of glitter. I took a picture for effect.

Victoria native Jesse Hodges won’t have to wear the awful unis for awhile as he was demoted back to the Cubs AZL affiliate in Mesa after the Vancouver series. Nice he got to play in front of family and friends (and I’m assuming here).

yikes, Boise's Uniforms (image courtesy of Charlie Caskey)

yikes, Boise’s Uniforms (image courtesy of Charlie Caskey)

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