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The Jays aren't even halfway through their spring training games, so there are still a handful of "73s" seeing action for the Jays. In yesterday's game, for instance, Bryant Nelson went 0 for 1 as did Jason Alfaro.

In this game report, we take a look at five of these "73s".

In lingo I just made up, a "73" is a player with a high uniform number that you've probably never heard of:

"Now batting for Jerome Walton... #73 Frank Nitti."

73s are organizational soldiers or AAA veterans who have at most had a cup of coffee in the majors. Ken Huckaby circa 2002 is a prime example of a 73. The Jays are carrying quite a few 73s this year. Here are five most casual fans would have never heard of.

1. Mike Nannini - RHP - #53

Mike Nannini who turns 25 on August 9th is unusually young for a 73. The former 37th overall draft pick of the Houston Astros was signed by the Jays as a minor league free agent on November 11th. Nannini, who is primarily a starter, has two knocks against him: He's listed at 5'11" and he gave up 31 homeruns in 151 innings last season for Albuquerque of the Pacific Coast League. On the bright side he only gave up 42 walks while striking out 111.

Last season Nannini was listed as the 36th best prospect in the Florida Marlin system. had this to say about Nannini:

"Nannini is not a power pitcher. His fastball is only mediocre being clocked only in the 87-89 mph range. His breaking pitches however are extremely effective. He throws a nasty combination of curveballs, sliders, and change-ups that keeps hitters off balance which actually helps make his average fastball more effective. Nanniniís greatest strength as a pitcher is his magnificent control and knowledge of situational pitching."

If Nannini performs well in Syracuse, he could end up being the first man called up once an injury strikes the Toronto staff.

This spring Nannini has given up 1 run in 2 innings of work.

2. Adrian Burnside - LHP - #57

Starting pitcher Adrian Burnside sports a 41-59 record in 193 minor league games. Like Nannini, Burnside was signed by the Jays on November 11th. I can relate to Burnside because we have a lot in common. We're about the same height and weight and age, with Burnside being exactly one day younger than me. Plus Burnside has a reputation for being a hothead and he had an ERA over 6 last season: I can relate to both.

Being left-handed, there's always the possibility that Burnside could develop into a LOOGY. No matter what team he ends up on in 2005, I expect he'll be in the bullpen.

So far this spring Burnside has given up 1 run in only 1 inning of work.

3. Jesse Carlson - LHP - #58

Unlike our first two pitchers, Jesse Carlson has been used primarily as a reliever in the minor leagues. Last season while not annoying Johnny Fever, Mr. Carlson pitched for Houston's AA affiliate Round Rock. Despite going 5-0, he had less than a stellar season, putting up an ERA of 5.04. His peripherals were decent: 21 walks, 51 strikeouts, and 5 homeruns in 55.1 innings.

In an October 28, 2003 chat, Astros Assistant General Manager Tim Purpura had this to say about Carlson:

"Jesse is an example of good scouting and taking risks. He was released from DET last spring under some circumstances that we ultimately were ok with and came on and dominated the SAL. He has as nasty a breaking ball as any young lefty."

Carlson will likely start the season in AA and AAA. He may one day be a LOOGY for the Jays.

Like Burnside, Carlson has an ERA of 9.00 this spring, though he has pitched 2 innings to Adrian's one.

4. Jason Alfaro - 2B - #59

The 27 year old Jason Alfaro has seen time at third, short, and second during his minor league career. Last ywear was his first taste of the major leagues as he had 2 singles in 11 ABs for the Houston Astros. Alfaro is a career .278/.327/.403 hittter in the minor leagues; these averages were brought up by a .325/.363/.477 line at New Orleans of the PCL last season. Although he's right-handed, he would not likely work as the occasional right-hand hitting first-basemen I described last week as he's listed at 5'10". He'll make for decent injury insurance and a solid AAA player for what looks to be a very strong Syracuse team.

Alfaro has one single in 5 at-bats this spring.

5. Bryant Nelson - 3B - #63

Bryant Nelson played in 25 games for the 2002 Red Sox, but I must not have watched any of them, because his name drew a complete blank when I saw it the first time. Nelson may have a future as a utility player, as he's also played 2B and the outfield in the minors. He's got a great deal of high level experience, spending part of four season in AAA and one season playing for Daiei of Japan's Pacific League. The switch-hitting Nelson spent last season playing for the White Sox's AAA affiliate Charlotte. In 154 games there he hit .288/.350/.486 while slamming 22 homeruns and stealing 13 bags. Like Alfaro he should be another important cog in a strong Syracuse club, but could also see time in Toronto if the Jays are plagued by injuries.

Nelson is 1 for 8 with 1 RBI this spring.

Question of the Day: What 73s are standing out this spring on any team?

Spring Training Game Report 10 - Twins 4 - Blue Jays 1 | 3 comments | Create New Account
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Thomas - Sunday, March 13 2005 @ 12:45 AM EST (#105966) #
Nice piece, Pepper.

Baseball Prospectus mentioned Alfaro in their last Triple Play on the Jays and had very positive things to say about him.

Alfaro's last two season lines at Triple-A New Orleans read: .296/.354/.449 (BA/OBP/SLG) in 361 at-bats in 2003, .325/.363/.477 in 465 at-bats in 2004. New Orleans is an extreme pitcher's park, establishing park factors of 880, 880 and 882 the last three seasons. By comparison, Dodger Stadium checked in at 922, 935 and 950, with Safeco Field in Seattle registering 943, 947 and 942. (Keep in mind, park factors are relative to league.) Bottom line, the man can hit.

BP compares him favourably to Keith Ginter and projects a line of .273/.322/.418 in the majors in 2005. That's not bad for a backup infielder and those numbers beat what Berg or Woodward put up in 2003 or 2004, and what Gomez and Clark did in 2004. He won't break camp with the team, but if an infielder goes down with an injury he will likely be the first one to be called up.

Mike Green - Sunday, March 13 2005 @ 12:04 PM EST (#105969) #
Mr. Carlson and Johnny Fever? Nice one, Moffatt.

Does anyone know what happened to Steve Andrade? He hasn't pitched yet, and I haven't heard any news.
Pepper Moffatt - Sunday, March 13 2005 @ 12:09 PM EST (#105970) #
My entire life philosophy is based on the episode of WKRP where Mr. Carlson puts cocaine in his shoes thinking it's foot powder.

"Carlson's no fool, man...he's gonna put it on his feet!"
Spring Training Game Report 10 - Twins 4 - Blue Jays 1 | 3 comments | Create New Account
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