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Toronto Blue Jays Minor League Housekeeping

With the full season Blue Jay affiliates at, or just finishing, their all-star breaks the Toronto brass got to work re-shuffling the deck in terms of the teams rosters.  Some of the moves are worth shouting about while others are mainly to fill spots vacated by those we are shouting about.  Whatever they may be, they’ll all receive some attention here.

The two big promotions have already been covered to death, but worth another mention, just because how friggin awesome they are.  Jays number one prospect Aaron Sanchez made his AAA debut this past Saturday and while things didn’t go terribly well, it’s fantastic that the Jays have the confidence in their prized 21 year old to test him against International League competition.

Taking Sanchez’ place in New Hampshire is the system’s newly minted number two (according to me at least) prospect Daniel Norris.  Norris’ struggles over his first year and a half of pro ball are almost forgotten now that he is making his AA debut.  If we want to get technical he is actually ahead of Sanchez on the development curve, hitting double-A in season three.  Either way you slice it, I am extremely excited to see how the Tennessee native makes out jumping from the Florida State League to the Eastern League.  Rumour has it we’ll find out tonight.

On the flight with Norris is ex-C and current conundrum Derrick Chung.  Drafted in the 31st round of the 2012 draft as a 24 (!!) year old, Chung has been old for every level he’s played at.  What makes the story interesting is two-fold.  He was drafted as an infielder, spending most of his time at second base when in Vancouver, making only one appearance behind the dish.  During instructs (I’m presuming) he was converted to catcher full-time and sent straight to Dunedin in 2013.

After a decent season considering the step up in competition, Chung was sent to the Arizona Fall League as a fringe guy.  He turned a few heads, putting up a .390/.447/.439 slashline over 48 plate appearances.  His defensive work drew positive reviews as well.

That good play carried through to this season in his repeat year at the Florida State League.  He’s always been able to get himself on base but this year he has also improved his K rate to where he is walking as much as he strikes out, 0.95 BB/K ratio, and has upped the power numbers, posting a career high .118 ISO.  He’ll never be much of a home run hitter but if he can hit the odd gap while getting himself on base and playing great defence we may see him move higher than I would have predicted.  Heck, even Marc Hulet over at fangraphs.com has been praising him.

I’ve now babbled on far too long about Chung, so in lightning round format, the corresponding catcher moves.  Hector Gimenez from New Hampshire to Buffalo, Santiago Nessy from Lansing to Dunedin, and a 2014 draftee to Vancouver to replace Dan Klein who was sent to Lansing.

Unfortunately it wasn’t 11th overall pick Max Pentecost.  Instead, Loyola Marymount grad and Jays 30th rounder (and 4th of 4 catchers taken this year) Kevin Garcia met with the team in Oregon, going two for two on his debut.  I’m still trying to process how this affects Pentecost.  Jays, just sign the kid and put me out of my misery.

Before moving on, a quick word on Nessy.  The consensus number two catching prospect behind A.J. Jimenez heading in to this season (I had him at 26 in my top 30) many hoped the Venezualen native would bounceback from a poor (and injury affected) first season in the Midwest League to show us what we hoped he could be.  A gap to gap hitting catcher with good defensive chops.  To say he’s failed would be a mild understatement.  He did improve his awareness of the strike zone, cutting down on his K’s while improving his walk rate.  But that may be in lieu of the power with his ISO dropping to career lows.

This promotion isn’t really merited based on Nessy’s play so far this year.  Although it probably isn’t ‘last chance saloon’ time I’m guessing the Jays are giving Santiago a kick in the pants to see what he reacts against better pitching.

Someone who did run out of chances was 2012 C and 2010 2nd rounder Kellen Sweeney.  The Iowa native was in his fifth pro season and just never showed the ability to hit professional pitching.  Sweeney hadn’t been playing much so far this year and will be replaced by another five year pro and ex-C.

Andy Fermin jumped three levels this season, starting the year in New Hampshire and actually making a decent fist of it, putting up a slash line of .308/.348/.431 through 69 plate appearances.  I’m guessing the Jays will look to get him a few more at bats in Dunedin and he did start at DH Tuesday night.

A couple of first basemen also made moves with K.C. Hobson up to New Hampshire to take away at bats from Mike McDade and Gabe Jacobo.  L.B. Dantzler, the 2013 Northwest League MVP will replace Hobson in Dunedin.  Again, not necessarily a promotion based on current play, given fact LB wasn’t great in Lansing, but more one on where the Jays feel a player should be.

Of course, the C’s are yet to get a genuine first basemen. Catcher Seth Conner has been manning the position thus far.  Patience.  I’m guessing one should have arrived in Vancouver to meet the team after their opening trip to Salem-Keizer.

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