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Scouting the New Canadians Faces

Writing about the C’s, and any short-season minor league franchise for that matter, can be difficult at times. Especially early in the year, post-draft, when player movement seems to be a daily occurrence. Despite the scrambling necessary to keep up with an ever changing roster, it does make for some excitement. Who wouldn’t want to see what the Jays brass were thinking during the draft, or how a player, who was tearing it up in the lower levels, will react to Northwest League pitching. In fact, by the time I’m finished writing this post, scouting Vancouver’s most recent arrivals, and a few future possibilities, I’ll probably need to start another one as an even fresher batch arrives.

As mentioned in my last post, the four most recent call ups are all products of June’s rule four draft. With L.B. Dantzler a 14th rounder, Christian Vasquez going in the 19th, Scott Silverstein the 25th, and Matt Dermody the 28th.

As the DH, L.B.'s buddy doesn't get to run on the field (courtesy of Charlie Caskey)

As the DH, L.B.’s buddy doesn’t get to run on the field (courtesy of Charlie Caskey)

L.B. Dantzler: Drafted out of the powerhouse University of South Carolina program, which had four players picked this year, including the Jays 31st round pick and fellow first basemen Brison Celek. L.B. had a fantastic senior year for the Gamecocks, putting up a .322/.444/.617 slash line and leading the team in virtually every offensive category. His fifteen home runs on the season placed him 16th in the country for division one baseball. As per his senior year, he’ll both take a walk and strike out, putting up a near 1 to 1 ratio at 20% of his at bats.

As Dantzler joined the C’s in Spokane he’s been able to get a few games in, including the home game I was at on Friday. His Baseball Reference page has him listed at 5’11” 200 but I would guess he’s heavier than that. He has a quite a squat, powerful build with someone in the press box making comparisons to Jeff Bagwell.

At the plate, the left-handed swinging first basemen employs a very wide base. His load includes a simple heel tap so he gets his front foot down early, allowing him to see pitches longer. His hands are held low-ish and are very quiet, but he has a quick swing through the zone.

With the C’s already carrying three first basemen, manager Clayton McCullough will need to be creative to get at bats for all of them. Dantzler did play third in college and has made one start there for the C’s, providing a bit of flexibility.

Christian Vasquez: Drafted as a junior out of Lubbock Christian University, the twenty-three year old (old for a junior) native of Puerto Rico signed quickly and has gotten into four games for the Gulf Coast League Jays. The shortstop had a good season in 2013, putting up a .402/.444./.568 slash line. LCU competes in the NAIA though, so competition is much weaker than what, say, Dantzler would have been exposed to in NCAA Div 1.

With the increase in level, wood bats, and cavernous Nat Bailey Stadium outfield, I don’t think we can expect much from the 5’10” 170 pound shortstop. He did lead LCU in doubles so may hit some gaps, but with only one stolen base in three attempts as a junior doesn’t really flash plus speed.

With David Harris and Dickie Thon Jr already on the roster, Vasquez will need to show some defensive versatility to get at bats.

Scott Silverstein: First, let’s get Scott’s size out of the way. According to Trey Wilson, radio play by play man of the Bluefield Blue Jays, where Silverstein made his first pro start on Monday, the left-hander out of Washington D.C. is 6’6″ 250 pounds! Now that is a big man. Despite the frame, his strike out totals don’t really scream power pitcher, as he struck out four in his six innings of work in Bluefield and 70 in 91.1 innings in his senior season at the University of Virginia. He also had a 2013 WHIP of 1.33 so had trouble keeping opposing hitters off the bases. He did only give up three home runs though, so hopefully can keep the ball down. Something that will serve him well at the Nat.

Scott was due to arrive on Friday. With the C’s rotation set and throwing well, it’ll be interesting to see how Silverstein is worked into the mix.

Matt Dermody: Another big lefty at 6’5″ 205 pounds, Matt was drafted four times by four different teams, but never managed to improve much on his positioning, going between the 23rd and 28th round each time. Looking at his University of Iowa career, the numbers are actually fairly similar to Silverstein’s. He gave up over a hit an inning, walked at least a quarter of a batter per IP, and only had a K rate of 7.05/9.

At twenty-three you can’t really say Dermody is projectable. Given his college numbers, his ceiling is low, an organizational lefty who may find some success out of the bullpen. Am guessing that is how he will be used in Vancouver.

On the horizon:

I had hoped to provide a few names in this section but as this post has run on a bit longer than I expected I’m only going to go with two. The bulk of movement over the last ten days, and, I think, for the next two weeks will be getting 2013 draft picks placed. Once they sign, they head to Florida for a mini-camp, get in a game or two with the GCL team or Bluefield before being sent to the level the organization feels appropriate.

It’s not until approximately the half way mark of the short-seasons before players that were already in the organization start to get shuffled around based both on their play and the fortunes of the teams they are on and those above them.

Similar to last season, out of the gate at least, it’s Bluefield that are the lucky ones as far as prospects are concerned. So, after the 2013 draftees sort themselves out, it’s to Virginia that C’s fans should be looking for the next wave of second half call-ups.

The Jays have been employing the piggy-backing system for their starters in Bluefield thus far, so let’s look at the two who are going today against the Danville Braves:

Chase DeJong: Today marks DeJong’s third appearance of the 2013 season and second start. The right-hander was a second round pick by the Jays in 2012 out of Woodrow Wilson High School. At nineteen and standing 6’4″ 185 pounds, Chase is very projectable. From what I can gather, his lean frame, has his fastball currently sitting in the upper 80s to low 90s range. The Jays would be hoping that will tick up as he puts on weight. He also throws a curve which is rated as average and, as per Toronto’s organizational philosophy, is working on developing a change.

So far, DeJong has been lights out in his pro career, but the sample size is tiny and not worth getting excited about. He did stretch out to five innings in his first start this season so if he continues to pitch well then there is a very real chance we see him in Vancouver after the Northwest League all start break.

Shane Dawson: The second half of today’s piggy back combination is the 2012 17th rounder out of Drayton Valley, Alberta. Dawson signed pretty early last year so was able to get over thirty innings in his first pro season. It’s still a small sample size but the results were pretty good. He gave up quite a few hits at 9.7/9 but struck out his fair share 10.3/9 and limited the walks with a 3.50 K/BB ratio.

This year he was great in his first appearance, but got knocked around a bit his second time out. Which was also his first start. I can’t find much as far as scouting reports on Dawson but if you’re willing to sift through the comment section of Marc Hulet’s always excellent top fifteen prospects over at fangraphs, you’ll see he sees him as a ‘deep sleeper prospect’ and someone who may end up in Vancouver in 2013.

As both these pitchers are still only nineteen there is really no need to hurry them along. If they are not pitching well, or Bluefield is in the middle of a playoff race then there is a very real chance they spend the entire season in Virginia. But, if they throw well, and it’s the C’s who are fighting to make the post-season, I don’t think there’s any doubt these two kids will be on the Nat Bailey mound come August.

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