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Blue Jays Minor League Review: Ranking the Tradees Part 2

Last week I attempted — failing epically — to run through and update the nine traded Blue Jays minor leaguers that I had on my pre-season top prospect list.  Of the four I wrote far too much on, three of them had spent time in Vancouver. With me getting the chance to see quite a bit of both Jairo Labourt and Miguel Castro.

Of the five covered this week (+ bonus if I don’t get too verbose) 40% of them made pit stops at the Nat with me putting eyes on 100% of those two.  The remaining three I wrote up for the ‘Future Vancouver Canadians‘ portion of my prospect list.  About that……

As per last week, the rankings in parenthesis are where I had them pre-season.  For these lower echelon guys it’s harder to slap a mid-season ranking on them given a smaller pro sample size, more flux in front of them, etc.  So, I’m going to be honest, there is a bit of guesswork involved here.

Dawel Lugo – 22 (15) – Dawel has made a steady descent down my prospect rankings, debuting at #9 in 2014 before his 15 in ’15.  Lugo’s problem has, and probably always will be, an inability to lay off pitches out of the zone, something his career sub 4% BB rate can attest to.  His ability to put bat on ball can work against him as he doesn’t find the barrel as much as he should, leading to weak contact.

Franklin Barreto‘s off-season trade probably meant Lugo was promoted to Dunedin more out of necessity than merit given his .615 OPS in Lansing the season before.  Flipping Richard Urena and Lugo in early July was a clear indication on where the Blue Jays stood on their SS prospects.

At 20 Lugo could still be considered young but he was catching up to the league.  His bat probably plays nowhere but short and there are still questions concerning his ability to stick there.  All in, he’s gone from an exciting power prospect at a premium position to a big question mark.

Easy to see why he was dealt, even if the return was a depth piece at the major league level.

Alberto Tirado – 19 (20) – Tirado had a rough 2014, struggling to start the year in Lansing let to a demotion to Vancouver before finally ending up in the bullpen after his inability to find the strike-zone continued.

Similar to Miguel Castro, Tirado’s value was always going to be largely dependent on his role.  The Jays answered that question by promoting him to Dunedin this season and making him a full-time reliever.  The move seemed to have paid off as it allowed Tirado to focus on being a fastball/slider guy who’s ability to miss bats can’t be questioned.  Despite the jump in levels he was still striking out close to a batter an inning while shaving almost two hitters per inning off his walk rate.

Still, walking over five per nine isn’t going to endear you to very many managers.  The kid has an electric arm.  Will be interesting to see if it can be harness over the next couple of years.

Jacob Brentz –  21 (22) – Now we’re really starting to throw darts as Brentz’ sample size really isn’t large enough to get an accurate read.  Throw in fact he only converted to pitching in his senior season (after touching the upper 90s from the left side) of high school and the Missouri native is the definition of projectable.

After being drafted in the 11th round of the 2013 draft, Jake spent two seasons at the complex ironing out his mechanics.  If you look at the numbers you could say improvements were being made as the walk rate was steadily declining.  Arguing the flip side though, his first test against better competition in the Appy League produced his lowest K/9 rate and he was hit pretty hard, going for a 10.2 per 9 clip.  His BABIP was pretty high so that may have been partly down to luck but in a vacuum — remember we’re trying to rank these guys without taking into account trades — it’d be hard to move him up much based on what he’d done.

The Mariners no longer have an Appalachian league team so Brentz is now pitching for Everett.  The Aquasox have one more trip to Vancouver in early September so hopefully we finally get the chance to see him…..he’ll just be pitching for the wrong team.

Jesus Tinoco –  17 (24) – Remember way back when I actually had sources?  I wrote a series from 2014’s extended spring training and my guy on the inside — who admittedly was a catcher — was constantly raving about Tinoco, saying his ball was one of the heaviest he’d caught.

With that kind of hype the season Tinoco ended up having in Bluefield was a bit of a disappointment as he was hit pretty hard.  I did get some reports that he was out-pitching his line — and low level infield defence for a sinker ball pitcher can be a bit suspect — so there was no way I was going to flush the Venezuelan entirely.

Which made it a bit of a gutpunch when I found out Jesus was getting a full-season assignment in 2015 and wouldn’t be heading north of the border.  While his numbers in the Midwest League don’t look amazing, the fact his WHIP, FIP (an excellent 2.74) and K/BB ratio improved from the previous season, despite skipping a level, has to be accounted for.

Like many younger, projectable guys, the development of a third pitch, in Tinoco’s case a changeup will go a long way towards deciding his ultimate role and hence, his value as a prospect.

Nick Wells –  22 (26) – Another physically projectable (6’5″ 185 pounds) lefty with a LONG way to go, Wells was on my radar as a potential C this season.  Chatting to pitching coach Jim Czajkowski prior the season he was close but in the end, management decided to start him in the Appy League with a view towards moving him up at some point during the season.

Like Brentz, we may still get to see Wells at the Nat, it’s just going to be in an Aquasox jersey.

When we do see him we can expect to see a decent fastball, sitting in the low 90s and a potential plus curve.  Like Labourt, Norris, et al though — and I may be sounding like a broken record here — it’s that third pitch which will be crucial.

Once again, things have run a little long here so may look to get to the other players traded some other time — which will specifically focus on Matt Boyd.

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