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Yippee, my turn to write about the disaster that is the Toronto Blue Jays this season. Unlike the big club, tonight was not all doom and gloom as a recovering prospect pitched tonight and pitched mighty well. Buffalo rallied in the ninth for four runs and a come from behind win, however, there was not much hitting after that as New Hampshire was no-hit, Lansing was shutout, and Vancouver and Bluefield scored one run apiece. The affiliates were 3-4 tonight.

Columbus 6 Buffalo 7

With George Bell reportedly on hand, Moises Sierra pulled a George Bell. 0-4 on the day with four strikeouts, Moises Sierra strode to the plate in the bottom of the ninth with the tying and winning runs on base. Sierra promptly doubles off the base of the wall in left scoring Anthony Gose and Munenori Kawasaki for the win and capping a four run ninth. Kevin Pillar had two hits—a double and a triple to go along with two RBIs. Jim Negrych has gone on the DL with an Achilles injury and Anthony Gose continues to scuffle.

Altoona 5 New Hampshire 0

New Hampshire suffered something tonight many Blue Jays’ affiliates have suffered this year. They were no-hit. Yes, when the post game write up points to someone’s strong BB record as the only good piece of news emanating from the contest, you know you’re in trouble. Sean Nolin got the start and was hit around a bit. He went five, allowed eight hits and four runs. He also allowed a first inning solo homerun, walked three, and struck out five. Nolin’s bugaboo inning was the fourth where he allowed three runs. It’s something I think he’s going to have to work on to be a quality Major League starter—the lack of put away pitch means Nolin is more susceptible to the big inning. In this inning, two of three runs were scored on a two out single.

Jupiter 1 Dunedin 7

The bats came alive tonight for Dunedin, but the real star was Drew Hutchison. Hutchison, making just his third start since Tommy John surgery, pitched four innings of one hit ball. He struck out eight and walked one. Somewhere in the depths of Rogers Centre Alex Anthopoulos and Co. are asking themselves if it’s too soon to promote him to the big club, or wondering whether first base is a better position to mitigate risk of re-injury. At the plate K.C. Hobson did most of the heavy lifting with two doubles and four RBIs. Shane Optiz had three hits and Jon Berti is quietly putting together a nice season. He stole his 44th base tonight and had a hit in four trips.

Dayton 8 Lansing 0

Lansing were shutout on the back of another fairly miserable Daniel Norris outing. In three and a third Norris allowed six earned runs. I’m personally getting pretty tired of reports that say “in person he looks a lot better than his stat line.” His stat lines are consistently poor and for the money we dolled out to him we shouldn’t be consistently falling back on that. Recent draftees Chad Girodo and Matt Boyd combined to pitch three scoreless innings. At the plate Dwight Smith Jr. and Emilio Guerrero had two hits. Santiago Nessy also continues his adventures behind the plate with a passed ball and catcher’s interference. Dalton Pompey apparently made a spectacular catch in the seventh inning.

Vancouver 1 Spokane 2

Only five hits on the night for the Canadians—starting to see the theme here? Michael Reeves had two hits and the lone RBI. On the mound, Eric Brown went five solid, but ultimately a Michael Reeves first inning throwing error proved the difference in this contest.

Bluefield 1 Danville 2

Two solid outings from two up and coming prospects on the mound down in Danville, Virginia. Chase DeJong and Shane Dawson both pitched four innings and both yielded a solitary run. DeJong allowed two hits and struck out four, and Dawson allowed three hits, walked two, and struck out three. The Bluefield offense, which has been strong this year, floundered this fine evening mustering just two hits. Dawel Lugo had one of those hits—a double, and also had the lone Bluefield RBI.

GCL Blue Jays GCL Phillies

Rained out.

DSL Blue Jays 9 DSL Tigers 6

Javier Hernandez had four hits, and Richard Urena walked twice and stole a base as the DSL affiliate topped the Tigers affiliate. Daniel Rodriguez went six innings and allowed three runs, two of which were earned and the DSL squad got hits from eight of nine batsmen.

Three Stars

3. Moises Sierra

2. Chase DeJong and Shane Dawson

1. Drew Hutchison

Box Scores

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The following comments are owned by whomever posted them. This site is not responsible for what they say.
Lugnut Fan - Friday, July 26 2013 @ 06:10 AM EDT (#277113) #

I was in Lansing last night, and although you aren't going o her this, he was much better than his stat line. In the first, he allowed a lead off double that really should have been a single, but Pompey bobbled it (I personally would have scored it a single E-8 honestly). Run scores on a broken bat single over the head of the shortstop.

Fast forward to the third inning, he walks Ryan Ludwick who is on a rehab assignment in Dayton, next hitter hits what was ruled a two run HR. Jesse Goldberg Strassler tweeted out that the ball never left the park and I echo that sentiment. The ball did not actually leave the park and was incorrectly ruled. He struck out 5 in the first two innings, and 6 overall. I know it gets old, but trust me, the stats are not representative of his performance.
JB21 - Friday, July 26 2013 @ 07:35 AM EDT (#277114) #
Get those walks down and reduce that BABIP and you might have something.
Mike Green - Friday, July 26 2013 @ 08:55 AM EDT (#277115) #
Norris is obviously a prospect.  He is 20 years old in the Midwest League.  He has very good stuff, but still hasn't found the strike zone with any consistency whatsoever. 

In Norris' last 10 games, he's got an ERA of 2.55, but with 23 walks in 35 innings.  Basically, he has recently been performing the way Aaron Sanchez did last year in Lansing (25 appearances, 90 innings, 51 walks, 2.49 ERA). 

ayjackson - Friday, July 26 2013 @ 09:39 AM EDT (#277116) #
Kyle Drabek tweeted out last night that Hutch used almost exclusively fastballs to get through the outing.
John Northey - Friday, July 26 2013 @ 09:42 AM EDT (#277117) #
I wonder - how much of the wildness in the low minors is due to the umpires not knowing the edges of the strike zone as well as ML umps do?  We get on the ML umps but anyone who has played baseball with umpires knows umpires always have trouble with the zone.  If they had pitch f/x scores for the low minors it'd be interesting to see if certain pitchers were squeezed more than others due to umpires not knowing what to do with their 'stuff'.  I remember in a Ron Luciano book (he was a ML umpire for awhile - famous for run-ins with Earl Weaver) where he said the first time he saw a Nolan Ryan fastball he had no idea where it went as it appeared to explode on the way to the plate.  Getting your eyes adjusted to dealing with high 90's heat, getting used to the movement of some of the more active pitches and then knowing if it actually was a ball or strike is a tough thing for both hitters and umpires.  Thus why we love high K rates in the low minors as those show the hitters cannot adjust and are swinging wildly (often) thus compensating for umpires having issues and calling more balls than they should.

As time goes by hopefully more stuff like pitch f/x scores for AAA and AA will emerge then eventually the low minors.  Those can provide numbers to what scouts see and just 'know' when they see a pitcher or hitter.  IE: does the hitter control the (real) strike zone and attacks only pitches he should?  Does the pitcher actually throw strikes but is so deceptive that the ump is fooled too?  And many other things too.

soupman - Friday, July 26 2013 @ 09:46 AM EDT (#277118) #
i'm as guilty of anyone of looking at milb stats and thinking anything.

it seems to me that there are a rare few who never need to 'learn' anything - the bryce harpers, etc.

it only makes sense that someone who is out there throwing a pitch they're working on as often as they can justify to location they might not feel secure in, or can't command yet...they're going to get hit.

5 K's in 2 innings? That has to be impressive stuff. anyway, my point is - since TINSTAAPP it's all kind of moot
Mike Green - Friday, July 26 2013 @ 09:55 AM EDT (#277119) #
It is extremely unlikely that walk rates such as Norris' and Sanchez' last year are primarily due to umpiring issues.  They are far enough above league average that it just doesn't pass the smell test.  Norris and Sanchez are not the first pitchers to pass through the Midwest League with very good stuff, and those with good control post decent walk rates.  Shelby Miller went through the MWL in 2010, walked 33 and struck out 140 in 104 innings. 
Chuck - Friday, July 26 2013 @ 10:30 AM EDT (#277120) #
I wonder - how much of the wildness in the low minors is due to the umpires not knowing the edges of the strike zone as well as ML umps do?

I would guess that that less skilled umpires would be more generous calling strikes, not less. 
John Northey - Friday, July 26 2013 @ 10:32 AM EDT (#277121) #
Good point Mike.  Just trying to figure out why scouts can be so optimistic when the stats say 'uh oh'. 

Pitchers are hard to figure out. Look at Osuna - 7 starts in he was 'super wow' with 5-42 BB-SO in 34 IP and 4 HR given up, then next 3 were 9 IP 6 BB 9 SO 2 HR 2 HBP and the DL.  Guess the issue is easy now - he was hurt - but how to know it was about to happen?
Lugnut Fan - Friday, July 26 2013 @ 10:34 AM EDT (#277122) #

Kershaw went through the MWL in 2007 as well and struggled with command.  I think he's turned out okay.

As far as pitch F/X data, they do collect this in Lansing.  As a matter of fact, I belive the Blue Jays payed for an installed pitch F/X for all of their affliates.  The pitch F/X guys don't share their information with me, but I have heard them say things like "wow, he called that a strike?" or "Wow, where was that?" before.  The strike zones in the lower minors are inconsistent, but like Mike said, I wouldn't say inconsistent umpiring is a major factor in walk rates in the lower minors.  Working on new pitches and working to certain spots in the zone I would say is a more likely culpirate.


Mike Green - Friday, July 26 2013 @ 10:47 AM EDT (#277123) #
Pitchers can definitely find control of the strike zone, like Kershaw, Koufax, Randy Johnson, but if my recollection is any good (and that is definitely open to question), it doesn't happen the majority of the time.

Kershaw spent his age 19 year in the Midwest League.  By age 20, he was dividing his year between double A and the majors. He threw 169 innings that year. His control was not great at the major league level, but not terrible, and you could see that he was on a path to be very good if he stayed healthy.  Norris (and Sanchez) are a long ways behind that path. 

Lugnut Fan - Friday, July 26 2013 @ 11:20 AM EDT (#277127) #
I do agree Mike.  I think Sanchez's stuff is every bit as good as what Kershaw featured in this league, but the Jays have taken a more conservative approach with them.  A White Sox scout and I were talking about that last night.  His theory was that all pitchers are going to get hurt no matter what you do, so you might as well stretch them out.  To a point, I understand what he is saying.
92-93 - Friday, July 26 2013 @ 11:22 AM EDT (#277128) #
I wish we had a Lugnut Fan at every affiliate. Keep the information coming bro.
greenfrog - Friday, July 26 2013 @ 11:23 AM EDT (#277130) #
Agreed that most do not harness their control sufficiently to become high-performing ML starters. Some do, though. In my opinion, you want guys like Sanchez and Norris in your system. If they put it all together, they can become an immensely valuable asset (like Kershaw).

Matt Harvey is another power SP (from the right side, 6'4" like Sanchez) whose command/control took a while to come around. In his age-22/23 seasons at AA and AAA, he walked 3.5 and 3.9 per 9 IP, respectively. He also walked 3.9 / 9 IP in his first go-around in the majors.
Ryan Day - Friday, July 26 2013 @ 11:54 AM EDT (#277134) #
It's interesting that, of the 2012 Lansing Three, Sanchez has pitched the fewest innings in 2013 - Syndergaard is at 93, Nicolino at 99, Sanchez only 65. Both Syndergaard & Nicolino have been promoted to AA.

Obviously, this might just be a one-year thing, and Sanchez may improve his durability while the other guys suffer through some injuries. But maybe the Jays just don't know how to keep a pitcher healthy. Maybe they know even less than other teams. The strategy with Sanchez et al seems to be protecting them from too many innings, but they're still getting hurt.

I thought AA's statements on Morrow were interesting, and a little bit incriminating:
He noted that Morrow, a former reliever with Seattle, had a solid season when he pitched 179 1/3 innings for the Jays in 2011. At that point, the Jays were “building him up” toward the 200-inning plateau, the GM said.
Clearly, the plan to build Morrow up to a 200-inning starter has failed. Whether that's because Morrow is fragile/injury-prone, or because the Jays' pitching conditioning is ineffectual, is the big question. (Not that it has to be either/or, or course)
ayjackson - Friday, July 26 2013 @ 01:08 PM EDT (#277140) #
Sanchez did miss about six starts due to his shoulder issue. That would account for most of the 25 inning discrepancy between him and his Lansing Three comrades.
hypobole - Friday, July 26 2013 @ 01:26 PM EDT (#277142) #
The GCL Jays had a 7 inning no hitter thrown against them today and still won 1-0. 2nd rounder Clinton Hollon made his debut and threw 2 perfect innings with 3 K's.
ramone - Friday, July 26 2013 @ 02:24 PM EDT (#277145) #
The GCL Jays are currently being no hit through 5 innings of their second game of the double header today.
Sano - Friday, July 26 2013 @ 02:26 PM EDT (#277146) #

I thought that Hollon was due to have surgery on his UCL or something? Are the Jays trying to avoid it somehow?

On a slightly different topic, I wonder whether the promise shown so far by the weighted-balls program might be one reason why the Jays are not so afraid of drafting pitchers with injury questions about them?  Perhaps they think they've found a program that can help guys like Hollon and Patrick Murphy a) avoid major injuries or b) recover faster than normal?

metafour - Friday, July 26 2013 @ 03:11 PM EDT (#277147) #

I thought that Hollon was due to have surgery on his UCL or something? Are the Jays trying to avoid it somehow?

There were "mixed opinions" over the results of his MRI, which is what led to him signing for so much under slot.  Surgery may still be in his future...see: Ryan Borucki, who pitched a bit after signing last year, and then had TJ surgery a few months ago.

smcs - Friday, July 26 2013 @ 03:39 PM EDT (#277148) #
John Lott just posted the Jays lineup card for tonight on twitter. It has Izturis at 4/5 and Lawrie at 5/4. Could we see some Cecil Fielder/Kelly Gruber business going on here, where they switch based on which side of the plate the batter is?
Mike Green - Friday, July 26 2013 @ 03:43 PM EDT (#277149) #
I sure hope not.
smcs - Friday, July 26 2013 @ 03:51 PM EDT (#277150) #
A boxscore like this would be a real capper to this season, though...
Richard S.S. - Friday, July 26 2013 @ 05:10 PM EDT (#277153) #
Some people consider prime: 27-29 with pre-: 24-26 and post-: 30-32, and decline: 33-plus. Brandon Morrow turned 29 today, time to cut bait and fish, if a decision can't be made.

Daniel Norris is too old (turned 20, April 25th) to have no idea what he's doing. After spending all that money, it's time for an intervention, time to figure out what to do.

All pitchers who will be something, to all pitchers who might just barely be something, should get on this "weighted ball" thing. Otherwise it will be a long time before Sanchez, Osuna, Norris and others make it up here.

If a College/University prospect/draftee cannot be in the Majors within 2 years, we should look to see why. If a High School/Junior College prospect cannot be in the Majors within 4 years, we should look to see why. Is the problem with the prospect, or is the problem with the organization?
Chuck - Friday, July 26 2013 @ 05:44 PM EDT (#277154) #
Brandon Morrow turned 29 today, time to cut bait and fish, if a decision can't be made.

Not sure what type of decision exactly you are referring to. Morrow is guaranteed 18MM in 2014/15. I imagine the organization is going to want to try to rehab him in the minors -- where he'd be blocking nobody -- rather than just eat that money.
eudaimon - Friday, July 26 2013 @ 05:56 PM EDT (#277156) #
Wow, can anyone tell me what happened with that boxscore? Did they switch positions multiple times an inning?
Nigel - Friday, July 26 2013 @ 06:56 PM EDT (#277157) #
As someone who was actually at that infamous game in the Kingdome, it was quite the sight to see Fielder playing 2nd base (they switched depending on the handedness of the batter - so Fielder was at 2nd for all right handed batters).  All of the Seattle fans (not many to be sure) were laughing and shaking their head.  The interesting thing was that I gained a whole new appreciation for Fielder's athleticism during that game - I am not being facetious when I say that.  Pappa Fielder (at the age he was at the time of this game) was far faster and more athletic than you would think by just looking at him (just like Prince).  There was a jam shot bloop over second that Fielder raced back for and very nearly caught and he had no business being even close to the ball based on his physique.  Anyway, the whole thing was incredibly poorly thought out (as were many Jimy Williams' ideas about baseball).
Richard S.S. - Friday, July 26 2013 @ 07:10 PM EDT (#277158) #
...time to fish or cut bait...

Is Morrow a Reliever or Starter going forward? Chances are good Morrow will eventually need surgery, why wait? Does Morrow go on the "Weighted Ball" Program as soon as possible - his choice or Team's? Changes to be made in delivery, pitch selection, new pitches?

That's what I meant, you misunderstood?
dan gordon - Saturday, July 27 2013 @ 01:04 AM EDT (#277166) #
Cecil Fielder was an outstanding athelete.  He was all-state in baseball, football and basketball, and that was in California, a very large state.  Baseball was his 3rd sport in high school - he didn't play baseball on the school team until his junior year.  Basketball was his favourite, and apparently, he was absolutely a dominant force on the court.  He also played quarterback and free safety on the football team.
dawgatc - Saturday, July 27 2013 @ 09:30 AM EDT (#277168) #
congrats to to AA on another bidding loss .This time for Gonzalez from Cuba to the Phillies.Our ability to recognize all these first round picks and random cubans etc. as unworthy of our degree of excellence is encouraging to say the least.Also money saved for the cash strapped owners from rogers cable.Small wonder AA sees no significant trades in our future.2 wins against the Astros is all I need to know we are in the right direction.Genious!!!!!!!
ramone - Saturday, July 27 2013 @ 10:33 AM EDT (#277170) #
Gonzalez apparently has some elbow issues and some scouts (BA subscription article on him) view him as a long reliever or a back end starter. I think he has far more risk and lower upside than most of the recent large signing hyped international free agents, 60 million would be allot of money if he's a long reliever.
JB21 - Saturday, July 27 2013 @ 11:25 AM EDT (#277171) #
The Gonzalez signing screams "these Cubans are can't miss, sign the next one!" to me.
John Northey - Saturday, July 27 2013 @ 02:09 PM EDT (#277179) #
I was a bit nervous when I heard $10 mil a year as the baseline for a deal.  The Dodgers were thought to be hot and heavy for him, as were the Cubs.  For the Phillies to get him with a minimum of $48 mil over 6, max of $60 over 6 is a bit of a surprise.  The Cubs have a fairly smart GM right now who has taken chances before but didn't here.  I wanted the Jays to get him, but is he worth $10 mil a year when you know his first year will probably be an adjustment period and there is a big risk of total flop.  I'd have been happy if the Jays got him, but cannot get mad when the price was that high and we know some very big markets and smart GM's were chasing him too.
dawgatc - Saturday, July 27 2013 @ 04:51 PM EDT (#277190) #
The smart gm,s I can agree with but I wonder how many teams have a larger market than the Jays?For TV its all of Canada but even the Toronto megapolis is 5th or 6th in North America.
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