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The Bluefield Canadians

As mentioned last week, with the Instructional League finishing up and the Arizona Fall League mainly for more advanced prospects, we are officially in off-season mode for those that played short-season ball. So what do we do in the off-season? We speculate. Obviously.

As per the piece I linked above, Baseball America recently finished up their top 20 prospects per league. In that post I covered the Midwest League, where Lansing had two close calls and the Northwest League where Canadians Tom Robson came in at thirteen and L.B. Dantzler at nineteen.

I think we can safely assume both LB and Robson will start 2014 in Lansing so neither really factor into Vancouver’s plans for next season. So, who’s potentially on the way? Well, I’ve got good news and bad news.

First the good news. Baseball America was pretty high on the Bluefield Blue Jays.

Seven B-Jays made the grade, including five of the top ten spots. In order (ranking in parenthesis) D.J. Davis (2), Mitch Nay (4), Dawel Lugo (5), Chase DeJong (6), Alberto Tirado (8), Jairo Labourt (12), and Adonys Cardona (16).

If you go down one league further, Franklin Barreto checks in at number five for what was a very deep Gulf Coast League. so, in essence, the good news is actually pretty great. Below Vancouver there are some serious prospects in the pipeline.

With all that, how can there be an bad news? Unfortunately there is. As I don’t think we’ll get the opportunity to see many of these guys at the Nat. And I don’t think that’s me being particularly negative. The pattern the last couple of years has been to start the Northwest League season with an older, college aged lineup. Sprinkle in a few Canucks and the C’s are good to go until some time in the second half when a few of the younger prospects may make their way up.

You can’t really argue with the results.

I just wish we’d get to see some of these kids for an entire season. With the Dickie Thon Jr. injury we did get a reasonable look at Dawel Lugo. Mitch Nay did a Kevin Pillar and only came up for the playoffs, showing why people are so high on him at the plate. Unfortunately though, we didn’t get to see him in the field.

On the flight with Mitch were Chase DeJong and Jairo Labourt. Here, Vancouver prospect fans got a bit unlucky in that both played roles in the playoffs, just not at the Nat. Labourt, of course, got the start in game one of the NWL finals in Boise, throwing 5.2 innings, giving up three earned on four hits with ten punch outs.

DeJong only appeared in an inning for the C’s, throwing a scoreless sixth in the North Division final versus Everett. If that was his one and only career appearance for the Canadians, it was cup of coffee to say the least.

Of these eight prospects (including Barreto) can we expect to see any at the Nat next year? Hard to say. If I were in the predicting business, which I kind of am, I’d bet my house on the left side of the infield for Lansing in 2014 being Mitch Nay at third with Lugo at short.

Chase DeJong will be a part of Lansing’s rotation with Robson and possibly Labourt, although I’m only 95% certain of that last call.

Of the others, despite his rawness and still being quite young, I think the Jays are aggressive with their 2012 first rounder D.J. Davis and he starts the year as Lansing’s centerfielder.

Those are predictions I’m pretty confident with.

It’s the other three where I waver a bit. I did speak with one of the GCL coaches who said he thought Barreto would make the jump to the Midwest League. Taking into account his age (he turns eighteen in February) and inexperience States side, I’d say the Venezualen product plays in Vancouver next year. Of course, those same factors could also means he starts the season in Bluefield, before making an moving later in the summer.

Of the two pitchers left on the list, I’d say it’s 50/50 as to whether Tirado comes to Vancouver or gets a crack at full season ball. Cardona is tougher to predict as elbow issues shut him down early. His 2014 assignment will depend very much on the health of his right arm. He only threw just over twenty five innings last year, so, if healthy, am guessing he does start the year in Vancouver.

For Jays fans, these end of season prospect reviews are something to hang their hats on after the disaster that was 2013. Of course, these kids are a long way from the majors and so much has to break right for them to get there. For Canadians fans, the disappointment is a bit more acute, knowing that we either only got to see these kids for a short stint or not at all.

Hey, there’s still two high draft picks to look forward to in 2014 and Bluefield should be stacked with prospects once again. So, provided the Canadians are successful on the field (a given really) we should be seeing some exciting late season call ups once again.

Chase chats up some locals (image courtesy of Charlie Caskey)

Chase chats up some locals (image courtesy of Charlie Caskey)

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