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The Alley Cats were the Blue Jays Low-A affiliate in the South Atlantic League this year. Next year, the low-A affiliate will be the Lansing Lugnuts of the Midwest League. Charleston drew 1,842 fans per game, well below league average, to old Watt Powell Park; they will be playing in a newly constructed stadium beginning next year.

On the field, it was pitching, pitching, pitching, as the Alley-Cats cruised to a first-half championship and an 84-56 record overall. In the best-of-three division championship, the Cats went out without a mew in two straight. The team led the league in ERA at 3.55. The pitching staff mastered the three true outcomes, giving up the fewest number of homers in the league (76) by plenty, while walking many fewer than average and striking out many more than average. The opposition batting average on balls in play was .302, a little lower than the league average of .307. Tom Mastny, Davis Romero, Danny Core, and in the first half prior to promotions to Dunedin, Shaun Marcum and Justin James, made up a stellar rotation, and Brian Reed, in the first half, and Erik Rico and Matt Dalton led a fine bullpen.

On offence, the Alley Cats were an average team in the league, but with a little less pop than most and a lot more patience than most. Catcher Robinson Diaz led the team in stolen bases with 10; with the shortage of power and the absence of speed, scoring baserunners was a problem for the club. The team batting average on balls in play was a .318, surprising considering the relative dearth of both speed and power. No one really stood out from the crowd offensively after Ryan Roberts left early in the season, but Jermy Acey, Clint Johnson, Joey Reiman, David Smith and Christian Snavely all made significant contributions.

The Players

Jordan’s BB top 30 prospects includes Robinson Diaz, Shaun Marcum, Davis Romero and Tom Mastny. Jonny’s minor league hitters stat report has details on the Charleston hitters, including Diaz. We’ll leave Marcum, Reed, Roberts and James for the Dunedin report. So, without further ado, meet the stars of your 2004 Charleston Alley Cats.

Tom Mastny-RHP

Nasty Mastny will turn 24 on February 4, 2005. He has had nothing but success, despite his modest stuff, in his pro career at Auburn and Charleston. This season, he threw 149 innings, struck out 141, walked 41 and allowed only 4 homers. His opposition BABIP was .303. He went 10-3 with a 2.37 ERA. In light of his age, it will be helpful if he performs well enough at Dunedin next year that he makes it to New Hampshire at some point in the year.

Davis Romero-LHP

Davis Romero will turn 22 on March 30, 2005. He’s got fine stuff, including a fastball with zip, and good control. The knock on him is that he’s very slight. The Jays’ minor league organization wisely, in light of his age and weight, used him as a swing man. He threw 103 innings, striking out 108, walking 30 and allowing 6 homers. His opposition BABIP was .272. He went 5-4 with a 2.53 ERA. After a winter off the Atkins diet, he should be in the Dunedin rotation in 2005.

Felix Romero-RHP

Felix Romero turned 24 in June, 2004. This was the year that Felix put it all together, and blew away the Sally League. He threw 73 innings of relief, struck out 102 (!), walked 20 and gave up 4 homers. His opposition BABIP was .328, and he went 9-4 with a 2.96 ERA before he was promoted to Dunedin. Due to his age and developmental level, he is definitely a longshot to make it to the Show.

Danny Core-RHP

Danny Core turned 23 in July, 2004. Core was solid (ouch!) this year, throwing 157 innings and striking out 132, while walking 53 and allowing 15 homers. Danny plunked 13 opposition hitters for the team lead by plenty. His opposition BABIP was .284, and he went 9-8 with a 3.43 ERA.

Robinson Diaz-C

Robinson turned 21 ten days ago. He hits for a good average, will not take a walk, does not strike out, does not hit homers, and runs well for a catcher. Didn’t the Pirates have a few catchers like this in the 70s? The raw numbers of .287/.341/.361 don’t immediately inspire visions of Cooperstown, but Robinson has a base from which to work. If he improves modestly in a couple areas of his game (power and defence), he’ll probably make it to the majors. Next stop for the Robinson train: Dunedin.

Clint Johnson-1B/DH

Drafted by the Pittsburgh Pirates in the 1st round in the 1998 draft as a pitcher, Clint made the conversion to the field as a 1B/DH late and turned 27 on July 2, 2004. Hitting .263/.372/.436, he was the key cog in the Alley-Cat offence. It remains to be seen whether he’ll be with the organization next year, but if he does, he’s a good bet to be a solidifying force in Dunedin.

David Smith-OF

Local boy makes good. David Smith turns 24 on January 12, 2005. He turned in a fine year in his 3rd pro season in the outfield for the Alley Cats, going .278/.365/.431. Time is not on David’s side, but he may get a shot in Dunedin next year.

Jermy Acey-2B

Acey is an interesting case. He turns 24 on May 24, 2005. As a second baseman with a range of batting skills (.294 average, 5 homers in 200 ABs, decent plate discipline), he actually has some chance of finding a place in the majors, perhaps as a utility infielder. He hit .294/.377/.408 on the season.

Christian Snavely-OF

Snavely is a power-hitting outfielder, who turns 23 on May 7, 2005. He hit .254/.362/.459, but struck out 115 times in 331 ABs, while hitting 14 homers. He contributed in Charleston, but will have trouble at higher levels unless he makes a little more contact, and grows into his man-strength. He’s probably earned a chance in Dunedin next year.

It was a fine season for the Alley-Cats, who survived the promotion of their best players, to post a good record in the second-half of the season. Goodbye Charleston, hello Lansing.
Minor League Year in Review-Charleston Alley Cats | 37 comments | Create New Account
The following comments are owned by whomever posted them. This site is not responsible for what they say.
_MatO - Thursday, September 30 2004 @ 11:21 AM EDT (#27552) #
Felix Romero was even better on his promotion to Dunedin. In 14.1 he had 11H 2BB and 20K. I think Davis' numbers deteriorated toward the end of the season. Mike you're right in thinking that stamina is an issue with him. Both are Rule 5 eligible (the DSL counts as service time right?) which will present the Jays with a dilemma in how to fill the 15 non-ML spots.

Diaz looks like he's Rule 5 eligible too.

Snavely started out slow, caught fire with a real power surge and then the power disappeared again in the last part of the year.
Mike Green - Thursday, September 30 2004 @ 11:39 AM EDT (#27553) #
Diaz and the Romeros are Rule 5 eligible. Here was an early look at the 40 man roster decisions. I'll be updating the piece closer to the Rule 5 draft. There have been some obvious changes. I doubt anyone would have Gustavo Chacin off the 40 man roster now, for instance.
_Jordan - Thursday, September 30 2004 @ 12:19 PM EDT (#27554) #
I'd protect all three if I could, but if I had to choose only one, I think it would have to be Davis Romero. I'd be sorry to see Diaz go, though. Rule 5 is going to be a quandary this year.
_MatO - Thursday, September 30 2004 @ 12:38 PM EDT (#27555) #
I wonder if planning for the 40 man roster will influence the opening 25 man roster for the big club. If you start both Chacin and League in the majors next year you effectively open up 2 more 40 man roster spots that can be used to protect players. On the other hand a short slight lefty might not impress other teams and I think we tend to overstate the vulnerability of players. Last year the Jays lost nobody in the Rule 5.
Pistol - Thursday, September 30 2004 @ 12:54 PM EDT (#27556) #
How does the minor league portion of Rule 5 work?
_Jim - Thursday, September 30 2004 @ 01:18 PM EDT (#27557) #
'Rule 5 is going to be a quandary this year.'

I don't see why myself. None of those players is ready to spend an entire year at the highest level.
_Ryan Day - Thursday, September 30 2004 @ 01:21 PM EDT (#27558) #
I particularly can't see any team drafting Diaz in the Rule 5 and promoting a catcher from Low-A to the Majors. Maybe one of the relievers might get taken - you can always hide them at the back of the bullpen - but there are probably better candidates floating around.
Mike Green - Thursday, September 30 2004 @ 01:39 PM EDT (#27559) #
Oakland drafted Eddie Taubensee, a catcher, from low A Cedar Rapids in 1990. He didn't work out for them, but was claimed off waivers by Cleveland, and went on to have a big-league career. There are probably a few other examples.

There's a little information on the minor league part of the Rule 5 draft here. I'm not sure what precisely the reserved list is for minor league teams. Craig, can you help?
_Ducey - Thursday, September 30 2004 @ 02:39 PM EDT (#27560) #
Re 40 man

Miguel Batista
Justin Miller
Francisco Rosario
Dave Bush
Adam Peterson
Gabe Gross
Vinnie Chulk
Justin Speier
Reed Johnson
Jason Frasor
Josh Towers
Alex Rios
Roy Halladay
Vernon Wells
Kerry Ligtenberg
Guillermo Quiroz
Ted Lilly
Eric Hinske
Dustin McGowan
Orlando Hudson
Frank the Cat
Russ Adams

Probables (14)
Kevin Cash
Eric Crozier
Jason Arnold*
Gregg Zaun or vetran catcher
Sean Douglass *
Bob File *
Chris Gomez*
John-Ford Griffin *
Frank Menenchino
Kevin Frederick*
3 unknown FA

Gone(unprotected or let go/ FA)

Yikes thats 38 spots used up and still needing room for some of:
Carlo Cota
Jordan DeJong
Ron Davenport
Davis Romero
Miguel Negron
Ismael Ramirez
Robinson Diaz
Raul Tablado
Vince Perkins
Felix Romero
Ryan Houston

Even if they don't protect one or two of the * above it will tough
_Dan - Thursday, September 30 2004 @ 02:43 PM EDT (#27561) #
I can't understand why people are protecting cash. The Jays have no interest in him anymore and I have no reason to think that he will be back with the organization with his lack of playing time at the end of this year.
_Ducey - Thursday, September 30 2004 @ 04:08 PM EDT (#27562) #
Having Cash, GQ and a vetran would be a good mix, even if one was at AAA. Cash plays above average D and may improve with the bat. He is cheap and a better choice than most journeyman Ken Huckaby types.

I would expect you are going to have to have 3 ML catchers on the 40 man anyway.
Craig B - Thursday, September 30 2004 @ 04:27 PM EDT (#27563) #
Yikes thats 38 spots used up and still needing room for some of:
Carlo Cota
Jordan DeJong
Ron Davenport
Davis Romero
Miguel Negron
Ismael Ramirez
Robinson Diaz
Raul Tablado
Vince Perkins
Felix Romero
Ryan Houston

I can't see why would any of these guys would get protected. None are at the level where they are likely to stick with another team even through training camp.

Diaz I could see, actually.
_greenfrog - Thursday, September 30 2004 @ 04:50 PM EDT (#27564) #
And Tablado, perhaps.
_Jordan - Thursday, September 30 2004 @ 05:09 PM EDT (#27565) #
I'd like to see D. Romero protected because he's exactly the kind of guy (lefty reliever) you could stash at the back of your bullpen and work into mopup games over the course of the year, then send down to the minors the next season. Rule 5 hitters are tougher, because it's hard for even a bad team to carry an essentially overmatched and useless bat on the bench all season, and the year of rusting away never helps the player's development (cf. DeWayne Wise). If Davis is left unprotected, I think he'll go.

They may protect Diaz (I'd like them to), but with Quiroz in Toronto and Thigpen (presumably) the heir to the throne, they might not feel they need him.
Craig B - Thursday, September 30 2004 @ 05:28 PM EDT (#27566) #
My long post on Romero got eaten. Anyway, it's extremely unlikely that a pitcher out of low-A would even be taken in the Rule 5, let alone stick. The Jays should be safe not protecting Romero unless they think his stuff is really terrific.

I think Romero would get roasted at the major league level. The advantage of a hitter is that you can put him on the bench and give him 45 ABs all season, like the Tiggers with Chris Shelton. With a pitcher, you can't do that. Even your 12th pitcher has to face 100-150 hitters, minimum.
Craig B - Thursday, September 30 2004 @ 05:31 PM EDT (#27567) #
Speaking of Rule 5 picks, hasn't Jeff Bennett been awesome this year for the Brewers?
_Evair Montenegr - Thursday, September 30 2004 @ 05:41 PM EDT (#27568) #
Regarding Romero, I don´t think he weights 140, in an old article that I linked some time ago it said that he weighed 165 and that he needed 15lb to reach 180-175.
_Ducey - Thursday, September 30 2004 @ 05:42 PM EDT (#27569) #
Ooops I forgot Ryan Glynn from my list. I can't see him, Frederick and Douglass all being protected anyway.
_Dean - Thursday, September 30 2004 @ 06:54 PM EDT (#27570) #
Thigpen's bat is way ahead of his glove, I hope he can play behind the plate, so I don't think he is a serious challenger to Quiroz quite yet.
_Peter - Thursday, September 30 2004 @ 10:50 PM EDT (#27571) #
Catching is a weak position within the organization. There is no-one, other than Diaz, between Q and Thigpen. In my view it eould be tragic if he were lost and though recognizing that it is unlikely, I don't beleieve we can take the chance. Pitching is strong throughout the system and the loss of one or even two of these younsters would not come close to comparing to the loss of one of the too few catching prospects we have.

Also, we should not assume that 40 will be protected. I know someone from the Cleveland organization who says they have 26 pitchers worthy of protection and can only protect 20/21. They feel they are likely to lose 5 pitchers. With a high selection this year, JP might weant to save a spot to possibly pick up one of those.

I think more vets will be left off the 40 than most people think. I see no way to hold on to File, Frederick, Douglass, Glynn, Woodward, Cash, Clark, maybe even Towers, Miller or Chulk over some of these good kids. It may be wise to try and work a few trades in advance and try to get something for guys that JP feels may be lost. Maybe too with a high position on the waiver claim list JP might want to clear a little room to pick up some one he likes better than some of the vets I have just canned.
Craig B - Friday, October 01 2004 @ 08:47 AM EDT (#27572) #
Thigpen's bat is way ahead of his glove

I'm sorry, I have a very, very hard time believing this. Taylor Teagarden played with Thigpen in Texas this past year and they split the catching duties. Now Teagarden is viewed generally as one of the best catching prospects in the college ranks in years; his glove is universally affirmed. But Thigpen had better defensive numbers this past season than Teagarden.

Teagarden's defense is good enough for him to have been the no. 1 catcher for Team USA this past summer. If Thigpen can outperform him, he's clearly doing something quite right.

Now that doesn't take the more subtle catcher skills, like calling a game, into account, and Thigpen is going to need lots of work there because he was in a job-share situation in college. But from a tools perspective, he's got no problem, and the Jays did a great job with a similarly gifted and similarly inexperienced player in Kevin Cash.
_bob - Friday, October 01 2004 @ 12:29 PM EDT (#27573) #
I noticed Justin Singleton gets very little respect from Those of us who watched him play for the Fishercats this season saw one heck of a ballplayer. The best defensive centerfielder in the league.( saved dozens of runs ) Plus he hit 16 homers and was second in the league in triples with 11. Plenty of strikeouts, but a solid slugging percentage. In short, this guy can play ball. Always seems to make the right play and hits well when needed.
_Jordan - Friday, October 01 2004 @ 12:39 PM EDT (#27574) #
Bob, Singleton is a terrific defensive player -- several Bauxites saw him make some amazing plays in person at a Fisher Cats game earlier this year. The Blue Jays, intentionally or not, are collecting some great defensive outfielders, including Singleton, Miguel Negron and Yuber Rodriquez. He does have good extra-base pop, and is reportedly a fine teammate.

Singleton's problem, and it's serious one, is making contact. He hit .236 this year in Double-A, walked just 33 times in 441 AB, and struck out a terrible 152 times, leading the entire Blue Jays organization by a wide margin. And he'll be 26 next April, so he has mininal room for growth. I really don't think he's a viable prospect.
_Dean - Friday, October 01 2004 @ 12:41 PM EDT (#27575) #
I'm only going from memory but didn't Teagarden bat less than .300 this year? Thigpen's defence has been questioned by BA before, at draft time so until I read different I won't be buying in that he is a viable catcher.
_bob - Friday, October 01 2004 @ 12:52 PM EDT (#27576) #
In response to your note on Justin Singleton and his hitting.Look a little closer at the numbers. The Fishercats home park was not a hitters paradise. Severe problems with lights near the hitters background made it very difficult to see the ball at times. Just about the whole team,including Singleton, hit much better on the road. It proves the old baseball addage " you can't hit what you can't see ". Even the Jays were aware of the problem with the lights, but , nothing was done about it.
_Moffatt - Friday, October 01 2004 @ 12:53 PM EDT (#27577) #
Thigpen's defence has been questioned by BA before, at draft time so until I read different I won't be buying in that he is a viable catcher.

MLB Central scouting would appear to disagree with BA then. Here's Thigpen's draft comment:

Craig B - Friday, October 01 2004 @ 12:53 PM EDT (#27578) #
Teagarden hit .273/.393/.462 and was a First Team Freshman All-America as well as Big 12 Freashman of the Year. His defensive rep was phenomenal, and Thigpen was better at throwing out basestealers and had fewer passed balls and errors in fewer chances. So he has, at least, defensive tools.
Craig B - Friday, October 01 2004 @ 01:00 PM EDT (#27579) #
Sorry, that should read more chances for Thigpen.

Also, BA described Thigpen as a solid defensive catcher in their Top 50 college preview this past year (and raved, RAVED, about Teagarden's defense, which they described as major-league calibre right now).

If BA later decided they weren't sold on Thigpen's defense, it smacks of revisionism to me.
_Jordan - Friday, October 01 2004 @ 01:18 PM EDT (#27580) #
Bob, The Cats' home field certainly wasn't a hitter's paradise, but it did get better over the course of the season. They may not have done anything with the lights (with a new ballpark on the way, it probably wasn't a priority), but they did eventually address the rotating advertisements in the hitters' background, which the batters said was at least as much of a distraction. I don't have home-road splits for most of the players, including Singleton, but Aaron Hill, while he did hit 40 points lower at home, posted power and walks numbers almost exactly the same at home and on the road. And Singleton's numbers were so poor that not even a huge split could save them.

More persuasively, this was Justin's fourth year in Double-A (he spent parts of '01 and '02 in Charleston and Dunedin, where his BA never cracked .275), and he hasn't shown consistent contact ability:

2001 Tennessee
.278, 36 AB, 0 2B, 0 3B, 0 HR, 4 BB, 13 K
2002 Tennessee
.221/.277/.299, 77 AB, 1 2B, 1 3B, 1 HR, 6 BB, 27 K
2003 New Haven
.254/.312/.369, 244 AB, 11 2B, 4 3B, 3 HR, 22 BB, 73 K
2004 New Hampshire
.236/.291/.438, 441 AB, 19 2B, 11 3B, 16 HR, 33 BB, 152 K

It's not just this year, and it's not just New Hampshire's home field: he doesn't hit for average and he doesn't walk. His power was impressive, but it came at the expense of his strikeout rate and his batting average. That kind of profile, at his age, just doesn't project as someone who'll be able to hold his own against experienced pitchers. His upside is 25th man, defensive substitute and hope-for-a-homer pinch-hitter someday. His power and defence make him a useful player right where he is, and that's good, but that's all.
_Dean - Friday, October 01 2004 @ 01:36 PM EDT (#27581) #
I don't remember many MLB scouting reports being critical of anyone's play and that report on Thigpen says he has playable hands. Thigpen got playing time behind the plate because of his bat, and thats a good thing, but he also got pushed out of there by a .273 hitter.
I have no idea why BA changed their assessment on him but they do talk to scouts, officials, etc that see these guys play on a daily basis.
Craig B - Friday, October 01 2004 @ 01:47 PM EDT (#27582) #
he also got pushed out of there by a .273 hitter

He got pushed out by the guy who is now the consensus #1 catcher in the nation. Yes, he hit .273 last year (and in fact Thigpen did more of the pushing... the plan had been for Teagarden to play more behind the plate) but he's still the country's top catching prospect. And he outplayed him on defense (statistically). This was a guy who was described as "major-league ready" (defensively) by BA.

Look, either Baseball America is wrong about Thigpen (if they even said anything about his defense - if they did, I can't find it) or they are wrong about Teagarden. They can't have it both ways.
Craig B - Friday, October 01 2004 @ 01:48 PM EDT (#27583) #
"Playable" isn't a solid endorsement, but it's a recognition that they should be good enough.
Mike Green - Friday, October 01 2004 @ 02:15 PM EDT (#27584) #
FWIW, I did a quick check on Thigpen's throwing record. He threw out 9 of 14 runners in games we referred to in our updates in July. It's a challenge to get to's archive, but you can through our minor league updates.
_Dean - Friday, October 01 2004 @ 02:38 PM EDT (#27585) #
From BA's top 20 NYP prospects:
"He's not raw as a catcher but his defensive skills do lag behind his offensive game". His manager did say he has a chance to be a good big league catcher.
From the BA draft preview:
" Thigpen is an adequate defender...Thigpen could be very useful in the major leagues as a backup catcher who could play multiple positions"

I think this echos what I have been saying and that his bat is ahead of his glove. If he has to put in extra work to stay behind the plate so be it, no where have I read that he is gold glove material at this point. In both BA articles it suggests he may end up as a utility player because of his versatility.
Craig B - Friday, October 01 2004 @ 04:00 PM EDT (#27586) #
Sounds about right, Dean... that supports the idea that his offense is ahead of his defense.
_Alley Cat Fan - Saturday, October 02 2004 @ 07:09 PM EDT (#27587) #
No one mentioned Brad Mumma when you were talking about the strong pitching in Charleston. After becoming a releiver, he went about a month and a half only giving up 2 or 3 runs. He also became the closer for the last 3 and half weeks, and he had 8/8 saves. His Era went from over 6, to something like 3.6 or somenthing. It is good to see guys like him and Matt Dalton, guys who are low round or no round guys having good success.
_thehackeysack - Sunday, October 10 2004 @ 12:54 AM EDT (#27588) #
Can someone fix the BB top 30 link please?
Minor League Year in Review-Charleston Alley Cats | 37 comments | Create New Account
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