Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Minor League Roundup: Las Vegas 51s

By:Ewan Ross
Every week I’ll be diving into the Blue Jays system to see how the up and comers have fared in the past 7 days.  I’ll only be looking at the prospects in the system, so, sorry to the Ruban Gotay types out there, you’ll continue to be ignored. 
It’s very important to note that,while this can be a useful exercise, it’s important to not take the stats put up in the minor leagues as gospel.  Minor league numbers can very often be deceiving, the calibre of competition can frequently vary wildly (often within the same game), and regularly, skills that allow you to thrive in the minors wont translate at all to the majors (such as being a mistake hitter, or relying on a trick pitch for strikeouts).  Also, minor league teams don’t do advanced scouting, so holes in a player’s game that can be exploited at the next level won’t become apparent.  So take anything I’m saying here with a healthy grain of salt.
            I’ll be writing up on one team per day (Las Vegas on Monday, New Hampshire on Tuesday,Dunedin on Wednesday, Lansing on Thursday, & Vancouver (and lower) on Friday.  Since it’s the first week I’m doing this, I’m a day behind, but I’ll catch up by rolling the Vancouver recap together with Lansing on Friday. Next week we should be on a regular schedule.

Las Vegas 51s (AAA)
July 12th – 6-3 win @ Sacramento
July 13th – 1-0 win @ Sacramento
July 14th – 7-1 loss @ Sacramento
July 15th – 12-5 loss @ Sacramento

It was an abbreviated week for the 51s, due to the AAA All-Star break. They came out of the break with a 4 game series at the division leading Sacramento River Cats (Oakland A’s affiliate), who play in the one ballpark in the PCL’s southern division which isn’t a band box, and thus you can take these stats with a little more legitimacy then when the 51s are at home.  They split the series by winning the first two, and then lost the weekend games in blow-out fashion.


Travis D’Arnaud – C – 23 years old
AAA Line – 303PAs - .333/.380/.595 – 16 HRs, 52 RBI, 45 Runs, 1 SB, 1 CS, 59 Ks, 19 BBs

D’Arnaud didn’t appear in any games this week, but the only reason I’m placing him here is for a news update. In case you missed it d’Arnaud tore his PCL while trying to break up a double play in the last week of June,and was expected to miss 6-8 weeks.  The timetable seems to have been shifted back, slightly, which signals the end to his minor league season.  It is expected he’ll be added to the team’s Arizona Fall League roster to make up for any losttime, and I imagine there’s still a chance he could break camp with the team next spring (though that’s obviously not assured).  D’Arnaud remains the club’s top prospect, and is generally considered the best catching prospect in the game, that isn’t likely to change even despite his injury set back.

Anthony Gose – CF – 21 years old
AAA Line – 436PAs - .292/.375/.432 – 5 HRs, 41 RBI, 77 Runs, 29 SBs, 10 CS, 93 Ks, 47 BBs
Weekly AAA Line –.357/.500/.714 3 RBI, 2 Runs, 4 Ks, 4 BBs, 3 CSs
Futures Game – 1/1– 1B, BB
July 12 – 2/4 – 21Bs, 1 Run, 1 RBI, 1 BB, 1 K, 1 CS
July 13 – 0/4 – 3Ks, 1 CS
July 14 – 1/3 – 11B, 1 BB
July 15 – 2/3 – 13B, 1 home run, 1 Run, 2 RBI, 2 BB, 1 CS

The top prospect left in the 51s line-up(now that D’Arnaud is done for the year) had about as good a week as any minor leaguer could ever dream of.  He started the week by starring in the Futures Game in Kansas City, where he singled and worked a walk in his two at bats, and also showed off his sparkling defense in centre field by robbing Cardinals prospect Oscar Tavares with a diving web gem.He finished the week by being called up to the major league roster Monday night after just 1 at bat. In between, he showed the reasons why he was in the Futures Game, and deserved the call.  He continued to show increased discipline at the plate (4 Walks), and contact rate.  The only bad part of his weekly line was his 3 failed stolen base attempts. Despite having excellent speed, he’s still not the polished base stealer that you’d like him to be. 

Adeiny Hechavarria – SS – 23 Years Old
AAA Line – 412PAs - .318/.366/.449 – 6 HRs, 59 RBI, 66 Runs, 8 SBs, 2 CSs, 76 Ks, 30 BBs
Weekly AAA Line –.176/.176/.176– 1 Error *Includes All-Star Game
AAA All-Star Game –0/4
July 12 – Off
July 13 – 1/4 –1B
July 14 – 1/4 –1B, Error
July 15 – 1/5 –1B, 2Ks

            It was a very boring week for the enigmatic Cuban shortstop.  He got the opportunity to play the entire AAA all-star game, but strangely only touched the ball 3 times defensively, and none let him show off his skills (1 was in a rundown, and 2 were receiving throws at the bag).  He continues to show that his hitting skills are not translating well away from the friendly confines of Cashman Field (Over 200 points of OPS difference).  His defense is certainly major league ready,but I really don’t think his bat is anywhere close (nor do I really think it ever will be).  I’ve thought all along that if any team wants to give you something of value for Hechavarria, the Jays should look at doing it, and the rumblings earlier this week that he could be included in a Justin Upton package got me very excited.

Travis Snider – LF – 24 Years Old
AAA Line – 236PAs - .322/.415/.548 – 10 HRs, 49 RBI, 45 Runs, 2 SBs, 4 CSs, 41 SOs, 34 BBs
Weekly Line –.250/.437/.583 – 1 HR, 2 RBI, 3 Runs, 4 BBs, 6 Ks
July 12th0/2 – 2 Runs, 2 BBs, 1 K
July 13th0/2 – 2BBs, 2Ks
July 14th2/4 – 1 HR, 1 RBI, 1 Run, 1 K
July 15th1/4 – 1 1B, 1 RBI, 2 Ks

            A strongweek for the Lunchbox Hero, but this really isn’t anything new.  We know that Travis can crush AAA pitching,especially if he doesn’t have to face left handed pitching.  He faced entirely right-handers this week,and did what he does.  There really is nothing left for him to prove at this level, and it is really just a matter of time before he gets the call back up to the majors (which might be his last opportunity with the Jays).  It has to be discouraging for him to see Anthony Gose get the call up, especially when it’san injury to a corner outfielder that created the opportunity. However if Rajai Davis continues to slump as badly as is, I don’t think he’ll have to wait much longer.  I was late to get on the #FreeTravisSnider bandwagon, but I think its time now.  The big league club is severely lacking in left handed options, which was especially apparent when they faced righty crusher Justin Masterson on Friday, and we had to watch Davis flail away.  It is time to stop this 8-man bullpen nonsense, and call Snider up.  The team needs Travis to put on his big boy pants, and find out whether he’s a major leaguer or not. 

Eric Thames – LF – 27 Years Old
AAA Line – 173PAs - .310/.399/.483 – 3 HRs, 22 RBI, 22 Runs, 1 SB, 1 CS, 30 Ks, 22 BBs
Weekly Line – .266/.312/.533– 1 HR, 1 2B, 3 RBI, 1 Run, 7 Ks
July 12th2/5 – 1 1B, 1 2B, 2 RBI, 3 Ks
July 13th 1/3 – 1 HR, 1 RBI, 1 Run, 1 K
July 14th0/3 – 1 BB, 3 Ks
July 15th 1/4 – 1 1B

Thames has been carrying a very hot stick the last little while, and last week was no different.  However, I fear that it’s the type of hitting that just isn’t going to translate to the next level.  He remains an all or nothing hitter, as evidenced by the 7 strikeouts last week. He’s also very much a platoon player, and as mentioned, the 51s didn’t see any lefties in Sacramento.  However the parent club is badly lacking in a lefty option off their bench (or platoon mate for Davis), and if the team doesn’t think that Snider is that guy, thenthey could do a lot worse than calling up Thames.  He’s 27 years old, and this is the player who he’s going to be.  He has some pop in his bat, while lacking plate discipline.   This is who Thames is, and I think he could help the big league club out in a depth role if given another chance (and protected against lefties).

David Cooper – 1B – 25 Years Old
AAA Line – 252PAs - .274/.365/.474 – 8 HRs, 42 RBI, 59 Runs, 0 SB, 0 CS, 30 Ks, 32 BBs
Weekly Line –.142/.200/.142
July 12th0/3 – 2 BBs, 1 K
July 13th 0/4 – 2 Ks
July 14th1/4 – 1K
July 15th 1/3 – 1 Run, 1 BB, 1K

It was a truly awful week for the51s 1st baseman.  His numbers are entirely a creation of Cashman Field; he has a stunning 600 point difference in his home/road splits this year. He’s had his chance in the majors, and with Lind back and hitting again I doubt we’ll see him again this year barring an unforeseen injury, or a cup of coffee when the rosters expand in September.

Yan Gomes – C/3B – 24 Years Old
AAA Line – 270PAs - .341/.394/.585 – 11 HRs, 47 RBI, 36 Runs, 3 SBs, 0 CS, 57 Ks, 20 BBs
Weekly Line –.214/.352/.428 – 1 HR, 2 RBI, 1 Run, 3 BBs, 8 Ks
July 12th1/2 – 1B, 3 BBs, 2 Ks
July 13th 0/4 – 2 Ks, Passed Ball
July 14th0/4 – 2 Ks
July 15th 2/4 – 1 1Bs, 1 HR, 2 RBI, 1 Run, 2 Ks

            Gomes isn’t doing himself any favours by striking out in almost half his plate appearances this week.  It’s not likely to matter,because unless someone gets hurt there just isn’t room on the Jays roster for another right handed bat (basically Ben Francisco is occupying the roster spot he could have).  He didn’t have an awful week all things considered, but when AAA righties are striking you out that frequently, I just don’t see him having a chance against major league pitching,which is largely what we saw when he got his chance earlier. 

Moises Sierra – OF – 23 Years Old
AAA Line – 365 PAs- .302/.370/.479 – 14 HRs, 54 RBI, 57 Runs, 7 SBs, 6 CSs, 71 Ks, 32 BBs
Weekly Line –.090/.166/.272 – 1 3B, 1 BB, 3 Ks
July 12th1/5 – 1 3B, 1 Run, 3 Ks,
July 13th 0/3 -
July 14th0/3 - BB
July 15th Off

            Sierra had an utterly dreadful week, and continues to be a player I have almost no faith in at all.   He is a fringe major leaguer down the line at best, and weeks like this do nothing to change my opinion.

There really aren’t any pitchers left on the 51s roster, given the pandemic that has struck the Jays rotation,but there are two guys that I’ll mention.

Chad Beck – RH Reliever – 27 Years Old
AAA Line – 32Games, 33 IP – 12 Saves, 1.36 ERA,1.061 WHIP, 4.6 K/9, 3.0 BB/9, 0.5 HR/9
Weekly Line – 1.1IP – 0.00 ERA, 0.752 WHIP, 0 Ks, 0 BBs
July 12th.1 IP – Save, 0 Runs, 0 H, 0 Ks, 0 BBs,
July 13th 1 IP – Save, 0 Runs, 1 H, 0 Ks, 0 BBs

            Beck got a cheap 1 out save on Thursday, bailing out Jerry Gill, and then a more typical one the following night.  After that he got the call up to the big league roster, and despite outstanding results this year (considering where the 51s play) I have my doubts how effective he can be in the majors.  His lack of a true out-pitch is going to be a problem at the next level, but he’s shown an ability to keep the ball on the ground.  So he could be a capable pitcher in low leverage situations, but anyone who strikes out less than 5 per 9 innings in AAA is going to have problems.

Joel Carreno – RH Starter – 25 Years Old
AA Line – 7Games, 36.1 IP, 1-4 W-L, 4.71 ERA, 1.128 WHIP, 9.2 K/9, 3.5 BB/9, 1.0 HR/9
AAA Line – 8Games, 32 IP, 2-5 W-L, 9.84 ERA, 2.125 WHIP, 7.0 K/9, 6.2 BB/9, 2.0 HR/9
July 14th3.1 IP – 4 Runs, 4 Hits, 5 BBs, 3 Ks, 2 HRs

            Carreno,who’s had a couple opportunities in the big league rotation, almost certainly won’t be getting another one.  He got absolutely lit up again on Saturday.  Hewent into the All-Star break after failing to get even out of the 1st inning, and wasn’t much better coming out of it.  He has completely lost the strike zone.  Since being sent back down to Vegas, he’s walked 18 hitters in his last 11.2 innings, and when his pitches are finding the zone, they are frequently leaving the yard (5 HRs over that span).  Even with the rotation as ravaged, we won’t be seeing Mr. Carreno any time soon.

I'll be back tomorrow to take a look at the New Hampshire Fisher Cats.  See you then.
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