logo image

Back Off the Bench and Talking Vancouver Canadians

There are no excuses as to why I have not written on this site in over a year. Well, aside from the two kids, the new job, home renovations…..alright, stop, I’m not here for sympathy, but to write about prospects. And the 2017 version of the Vancouver Canadians, if you’re a buyer of the Blue Jays 2017 draft at least, have them in spades.

Looking at the C’s roster for the game on Saturday the 13th against San Francisco’s Northwest League affiliate Salem-Keizer Volcanoes I counted 13 players the Jays tabbed in June’s entry draft. Of those 13, nine were taken in the upper third of Toronto’s draft, including both first rounders — shortstop Logan Warmoth and Nate Pearson — and 3rd round catcher Riley Adams. Unfortunately for me, my first night back in the world famous Nat Bailey pressbox didn’t include any of those players. But we’ll trooper on, borrow liberally from Fangraphs, Baseball Reference and any other site that publishes ‘notes on prospects’ articles, and do our best to give some insight into some of the Jays younger players.

As always, a disclaimer. I am not a professional scout, nor very bright. I look for tendencies though and then ask smarter people if those tendencies are good, something to worry about, or should be ignored on every level.

For this particular game I kept an eye on two day 2 picks from this year’s MLB amateur draft.

I’m going to write a combined opener as their set-ups are very similar. Both are left-handed hitters, both are around 6′ and 210 ish pounds, both have very wide bases — in Clemens’ case it looks almost uncomfortable — starting with open stances, both have quiet hands in their loads and both have quite exaggerated leg kicks.

Brock Lundquist –  0/4 – .227/.361/.345 – drafted in the 6th round out of Long Beach State — which includes Troy Tulowitzki amongst its alumni – Lundquist has shown a knack for getting on base early in his professional career, flashing a 14.6% walk rate. Unfortunately putting the barrel on the ball with any sort of consistency has proved a bit tougher. That Saturday was no different, with two lazy fly balls to center to go along with two ground outs. Obviously one game does not make a season but August has not been particular kind to Lundquist who is OPS’ing .638 through 33 PAs. May be a product of fatigue after a long college season but bears further observation. Defensively I don’t remember many chances heading his way so nothing to report.

Going back to the leg kicks, Lundquist’s includes a Roberto Osuna like hesitation when airborne. It’s funny, two years ago, when I was watching the C’s a bit more the leg kick seemed to be wiped out of the system. That’s definitely not the case now as virtually all of the C’s employed some sort of kick. I spoke with C’s hitting coach Dave Pano about it and he called both Lundquist’s and Samad Taylor’s — more on him later — ‘the hang’. On Lundquist, Pano said “he had it when he came in. We talked about it a little bit. I’m not a big fan, but if we’re going to do anything about it, it’s going to be in the instructional league. If they’re getting it down early, I’m ok with it, but sometimes they’re not and that’s what causes problems. If you’ve got that leg kick then everything has to be perfect. If you start late, then everything else needs to catch up. That’s one of the areas we’ve been working on with Lundquist. Getting everything down and ready to go when that ball is half-way there. If he’s late on that, then everything else is rushed.”

Kacy Clemens – 3/4 – .295/.400/.446 – picked two rounds later than Brock, the son of a reasonably famous ex-Jay, Clemens has done the opposite of his 2017 draft mate in putting up a .400/.471/.533 line this month. Saturday was no different as Kacy hit the ball hard every time he came to the plate. What impressed me the most was the mature approach. Salem-Keizer’s starter, Greg Jacknewitz, was a soft-tossing lefty making his first appearance in the Northwest League. Determined to work Clemens away, Kacy’s first two hits were both to the opposite field. The first saw The U of T Longhorn product fooled on a breaking ball but he was able to put bat on ball for a single over the shortstop. He’d obviously done his homework as his second AB produced a ringing double off the wall in the deepest part of left-center on virtually the same pitch. It would have been out of most parks so Clemens obviously does have some pop.

His third at bat had him facing a new pitcher, a righty, who, again didn’t have plus velocity, so take this with a mild grain of salt, but Clemens kept his hands inside a fastball on inner half to hit a sharp single to right. I’m not about to pronounce Clemens the next Justin Smoak. He’s still a bat-first non-defender (and he could be a great first basemen for all I know but I got some valuable advice when I first started writing — which went along the lines of, ‘if they’re playing first at single A, they had better hit) who will need to hit a tonne more to progress, but all in, I was impressed. Far more than I thought I’d be.

All in, it was a great day at the yard. And, for a bit of foreshadowing, I was back at it the next day when I got to see the three top picks mentioned earlier. More to come…..

(All stats were from close of business August 12th – apologies for the delay)

Clemens gets set to strike

Clemens gets set to strike

Leave a Reply