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What a season! The Fisher Cats first season was a resounding success, as they caught fire in July and August, and stormed to an Eastern League title.

New Hampshire is the Jays’ double A franchise; double A stars of this year often find their way onto the major league roster the following year. In 2003, Jays’ double A stars included Alex Rios, Guillermo Quiroz, Russ Adams and Dave Bush who all made their Toronto debuts in 2004. Hopes are similarly high for the 2004 double A stars Aaron Hill, John Hattig, Gustavo Chacin, Brandon League, Francisco Rosario, Josh Banks and Jamie Vermilyea. It is unlikely that all will make it to Toronto next year, but it is a good bet that we will know at least one or two a lot better by the time September, 2005 rolls around.

The Fisher Cats had a temporary home in 2004, playing in Gill Stadium. Gill Stadium had a huge foul territory, and as a result played as a pitcher’s park. The new park is under construction, with the outfield walls being put in last month. Attendance this year was good, averaging 3,182 per date, with a swell of enthusiasm as the Cats made their playoff drive. With the new park being graced by a 2004 pennant, and some notable promotions from Dunedin, the future is indeed rosy.

The season began with excitement, and the Cats started out of the gate strong. Starting third baseman Rob Cosby and top pitcher Dustin McGowan went down with season-ending injuries early on, and the team struggled. Scoring runs in particular was difficult in the early part of the season, but the Cats won more than their share of tight low-scoring games thanks in part to a strong bullpen led by Adam Peterson prior to his promotion to the big club. The Jays brought in help from single A Dunedin and from other organizations to fill in the holes. Anton French, and later John Hattig, supplied an important extra bat in the lineup. Jamie Vermilyea and Josh Banks arrived from Dunedin to bolster the pitching staff. Beginning in July, something clicked for Gustavo Chacin and for the rest of the season and playoffs, he did not lose. Home and home sweeps over then division-leader Binghamton had the Cats on their way and they did not stop until the crown was theirs.

For posterity, the everyday lineup was at the end of the season:

Tyrell Godwin, LF
Dominic Rich, 2B
Aaron Hill, SS
John-ford Griffin DH
John Hattig 3B
Maikel Jova, RF
Justin Singleton CF
Paul Chiaffreddo C
Mike Snyder 1B

Griffin, Jova, Singleton and Chiaffreddo all supplied punch, but struck out way too much. The latter three got hot in the playoffs and contributed mightily, along with the great pitching of Chacin, League and Rosario, to the Cats’ success.

The Players

Aaron Hill-SS

What’s not to like? At age 22, he hit .279/.368/.410 in a pitcher’s park while playing a fine albeit not flashy defensive game at short. He’s quick, but not exceptionally fast and features a strong arm. He walked more than he struck out, was plunked 11 times, hit 11 sacrifice flies and hit very well in the playoffs. With the development of Russ Adams, a position change may be in the offing for him. We might get a peek at any changes when he plays in the Arizona Fall League.

John Hattig-3B

Hattig was acquired from the Bosox organization in the Terry Adams trade. For the season, he hit .296/.391/.532, while hitting 22 homers and striking out 109 times in 406 at-bats. He will turn 25 in February, 2005, and is best known here for introducing the phrase “growing into my man-strength” into our lexicon.

Dominic Rich-2B

Dominic is a hard-working second baseman, who had a fine season going .277/.351/.394. He turned 25 in August, 2004, so if he makes the big leagues, it will almost surely be in a backup role.

Gustavo Chacin-LHP

Chacin, who turns 24 this December, learned a cutter in the off-season. In the first-half of the season, he posted a good record and a fair ERA, while striking out few and giving up a significant number of home runs. In other words, he seemed to be surviving on guile alone. In the second-half, he was lights out, his K rate rose significantly, his walk rate remained stable and he won. For the season, in 141.2 innings, he walked 49, struck out 109 and gave up 15 homers. His opposition BABIP was a ridiculously low .239, and contributed to his 18-2, 2.82 line. Some of this was due to the park, but it will be difficult to sustain this figure as he moves up the system. Will he be in the Syracuse rotation, the Toronto bullpen or even the Toronto rotation when the bell rings in 2005?

Brandon League-RHP

League, who will turn 22 in March 2005, was a swing man in New Hampshire this year. His numbers tell half the story about his potential- in 104 innings, he walked 41, struck out 90 and gave up only 3 homers. His opposition BABIP was a typical .298 and thus he ended up with a 6-4, 3.38 line. He’s got a high 90s fastball and a low 90s slider. If he develops a slow curve or a change, he has a chance to be a fine starter. If not, he’s got the tools already to be Duane Ward. His starting point for 2005 is likely to be in the Syracuse rotation, Syracuse bullpen or Toronto bullpen.

Francisco Rosario-RHP

Francisco turned 24 in September. His recovery from Tommy John surgery has had its ups and downs, but his late season run and playoff successes gave hope that he had turned a corner. He’s got great stuff; consistency, the home run ball and control are his issues. This season he threw 48 innings, walked 16, struck out 45 and gave up 6 homers.

Jamie Vermilyea-RHP

Vermilyea threw a perfect game among his 6 starts, and was also effective in relief. In 57 innings, he walked 12, struck out 39 and gave up 2 homers. He has 4 pitches, all of which are adequate, but none outstanding. He has excellent control and knows how to pitch. His opposition BABIP was, like Chacin’s, a very low .244. Jamie turns 23 on February 10, 2005, and could start 2005 in either New Hampshire or Syracuse.

Jordan DeJong-RHP

DeJong had a fine season closing after Adam Peterson was promoted. In 69 innings, he walked 30, struck out 57 and gave up only 2 homers. He is 25 years old, so he is a long-shot to succeed, but will probably be given a shot in the Syracuse relief corps next year.

Josh Banks-RHP

Josh turned 22 in July, 2004, and met his first hurdle on his express trip to the majors. He struggled mightily when he arrived, but seemed to get a handle on things as he went on. The long-ball was a particular problem, as he surrendered 15 in 91 innings. He’ll probably be back in the New Hampshire rotation to start 2005.

Some say that pitching and defence wins championships. The 2004 Fisher Cats might be Exhibit A in the proof.
Minor League Year in Review- New Hampshire | 13 comments | Create New Account
The following comments are owned by whomever posted them. This site is not responsible for what they say.
_Rob - Thursday, October 07 2004 @ 11:03 AM EDT (#27111) #
Oh, what a fun season this was.

Next year, Syracuse should have Hill, Hattig, and maybe Singleton and Godwin, likely playing SS, 3B, CF, RF.
And Chacin, League, Rosario in rotation. DeJong in the 'pen. Will Vermilyea move up as well?

I also want to include this:
Gerry - Thursday, October 07 2004 @ 11:47 AM EDT (#27112) #
I think Vermilyea will move up too. Based on JP's recent comments the Syracuse lineup next year could be:

C: Quiroz/Cash
1B: Cozier
2B: TBD, Rich or Sequea or Howie Clark
SS: Hill
3B: Hattig
OF: Gross, Jova, Griffin and maybe Singleton and Godwin

SP: Five of Chacin, Baker (again), League (maybe), Rosario (depending on AFL), Arnold (ditto), Reimers, Douglass

Bullpen: Vermilyea, DeJong, Peterson, Houston, Aquilino, and maybe one or two of this years Blue Jays bullpen get bumped down, maybe File, Frederick and/or Chulk, Mike Smith

That lineup should help the Chiefs reverse their losing trend.
_Caino - Thursday, October 07 2004 @ 11:53 AM EDT (#27113) #
Looks like Jays AAA is looking pretty solid for next year. The only problem looks like these kids getting called up... If you consider that a problem.
Mike Green - Thursday, October 07 2004 @ 12:13 PM EDT (#27114) #
A year-end review of the year in New Hampshire is not really complete without a thank you to our friends in the radio booth at WKXL. The weather reports, the unpublished statistical updates and the welcome mat extended to BB visitors to New Hampshire, were much appreciated.
_Brian B. - Thursday, October 07 2004 @ 02:27 PM EDT (#27115) #
I think we'll probably see Anton French again as the Syracuse centrefielder, if they hang onto him, so that he can add veterin stability to the leadoff position.
_Brian B. - Thursday, October 07 2004 @ 02:29 PM EDT (#27116) #
ooops, I mean veteran.
_Wildrose - Thursday, October 07 2004 @ 03:10 PM EDT (#27117) #
Nice job Mike. Chacin reminds me of another portly left hander who hid the ball really well, and passed through these parts with the Dodger Pioneer league team several years ago, Sid Fernandez. If he has half the career that Sid had, that would be nice.
_Geoff - Thursday, October 07 2004 @ 05:40 PM EDT (#27118) #
I made a spreadsheet that has all players assigned for 2005 - Is there any way I can link it to this site through the homepage - I'm not computer savvy at all
_Geoff - Thursday, October 07 2004 @ 05:41 PM EDT (#27119) #
By all players I mean my best educated guess for all 7 teams in the Jays organization in 2005
_Braby - Thursday, October 07 2004 @ 10:53 PM EDT (#27120) #
I'd like to see it, could you e-mail it to me?
_jim854 - Saturday, October 09 2004 @ 05:27 PM EDT (#27121) #
I read with interest the players you suggest for the Skychiefs for next year. The only concern I have is the number of 'young' players and the lack of experience on the team. At this level, older experienced players seem to be the road to success. The good news is that the team can't be as bad as last year.
Gerry - Saturday, October 09 2004 @ 08:21 PM EDT (#27122) #

The team does look young in a league where the average age is 27 or so. But if the Jays have the players they need to move up, it is a sign of a good farm system. Also some teams routinely promote guys from AA to the majors. JP does not seem to agree and wants his prospects to move up through AAA to better prepare them for the major leagues.
_Daryn - Tuesday, October 12 2004 @ 01:02 PM EDT (#27123) #
#24968 Posted 10/07/2004 05:40 PM by Geoff:

I made a spreadsheet that has all players assigned for 2005

I'd like to see it too, can you email it to me as well? (COMN)
Minor League Year in Review- New Hampshire | 13 comments | Create New Account
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