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Notes From Blue Jays Extended Spring Training: Vancouver Prospecting

While writing this Extended Spring Training series I got to thinking about how many of the players currently in Florida will actually make their way north to Vancouver come the 10th (ish) of June.  Looking back at what I wrote from last season’s media day, only 25 players were on the original roster, with the rest of the squad augmented over the following weeks.  Via both Lansing demotions and the MLB draft.

This year the draft takes place between the 5th and 7th of June, not enough time to get guys signed and up to Vancouver for opening day, so, for arguments sake, let’s say 25 get on the C’s charter again.

Of the 90ish guys currently in Florida, who can we reasonably predict to be on that flight?

I still think Shane Dawson is too good for the Northwest League (something he sorta proved last season) and am getting the impression that coaches in Florida feel the same way.  He’s a victim of the numbers game though and unless something opens up in Lansing he’ll make his way to Vancouver.  Selfishly, I’d love to see him pitch again, but realistically I still think it’s a long shot.  A lot can happen between now and June.

Over the last 10 days or so, Shane has had three outings giving up one run on eight hits with four walks and 12 punch-outs over 12 innings pitched.  His one outing against the Yankees was described to me as dominant.  He absolutely pounded the zone, only missing his spots a couple of times.  His changeup was ‘gross’ while his curve is coming along nicely as an out pitch.  He still needs to refine his developing slider but it sounds like everything else is working well and the recovery from the shoulder injury is complete.

Arkansas native Jonathan (J.D.) Davis is also turning heads in camp.  A 2013 15th round pick, Davis put up some decent numbers in Bluefield last season.  A natural right-handed hitter, the 21 year old is experimenting with switch hitting at extended.  He has also been flashing some serious burners.  Something that could help him if he ends up manning the spacious Nat Bailey outfield.

I have to think 2013 Vancouver Canadians Brendan Kalfus and Chaz Frank will be back.  Kalfus has been having a decent spring while Frank ‘should not be here’ according to my source.  I was very surprised that the University of North Carolina grad didn’t get the call for full season ball and, like Dawson, should be the first on a plane should someone in Lansing go down.

Another outfielder who may see time in Vancouver at some point is 2011 supplemental rounder Jacob Anderson.  The big (he’s listed at 6’4″ 190 pounds, but I’ve been told that he’s put on some muscle) Californian has been out of action for over a year with a knee injury.  He’s back in uniform as of last week and it shouldn’t be long before he is seeing game action again.  Reports from the cage have been positive which is a great start.

On the infield, Franklin Barreto continues to hit the ball hard.  Even though he only turned 18 in February and is listed at 5’9″ he ‘looks like a man’ and has put on some muscle over the off-season.  The Venezualen is blessed with quick, strong hands which allow him to consistently make noisy contact.  I would be very surprised if Barreto didn’t start the season in Vancouver.  The first time in quite awhile we have had a genuine top level prospect on the opening day roster.

The other two big ticket international free agent shortstops in camp impress defensively but both are a ways behind Barreto at the plate.  I’ve been told that Yeltsin Gudinho is very slight and is getting eaten up by mediocre fastballs.  Given fact he was only 16 and listed at 6′ 150 pounds, when he signed this past July, he’s got plenty of time to get stronger.  I’m sure the Jays aren’t worried and may still look to have him skip the Dominican league and start in the Gulf Coast League due to his advanced feel for the position.

On the mound, Jesus Tinoco continues to get rave reviews.  Another one who has put on quite a bit of muscle over the winter, Tinoco has been throwing a power sinker in the 92-94 mph range and is the ‘heaviest’ ball my contact has seen.  Apparently all the pitching coaches are raving about the soon to be 19 year old Venezualen.  At his age, I don’t see Tinoco starting in Vancouver, but a mid-season call up could definitely be on the cards.

Another 19 year old is also turning heads.  Given fact he is 6’5″ 190 pounds, Miguel Castro has a ton of projectability.  It’s his mound presence that has impressed though, along with his feel for pitching.  Encouraging signs for someone so young.  Another potential promotion candidate.

New Brunswick native and Lethbridge Community College alum (Shane Dawson’s alma mater) Andrew Case has also impressed, ‘filling up the zone’ as I was told.  Case was signed by the Blue Jays after they hosted the first Tournament 12 at the Rogers Center.  Being a bit older, and with a certain passport, there is a very good chance we see Andrew in Vancouver at some point.

On the injury front, L.B. Dantzler made his debut this past week and from what I hear, he’ll get 20 to 25 extended at bats before being assigned, most likely to Dunedin.  Daniel Klein is healthy after a bum shoulder and is just waiting for an assignment.  Another catcher, Pierce Rankin, has had a bit of a setback as he cut his foot on some coral on a day to the beach.  It’s not known how long the injury will keep him out.

I didn’t do a very good job of getting through the 25 potential roster players to come north come June, not even close really.  Gives me something to shoot for as I carry on trying to extract as much information out of extended as possible.

Who are these players? Find out in The 2014 Toronto Blue Jays Minor League Handbook, now available as an ebook at Smashwords.com for $7.99 US. It’s coming soon to Amazon, Apple iBooks, Kobo and other fine retailers. You can purchase and preview the book at our Smashwords.com page!

Will we see him from the start? (image courtesy of MLB Prospect Portal)

Will we see him from the start? (image courtesy of MLB Prospect Portal)

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