Minor League Update

Tuesday, March 29 2005 @ 09:25 AM EST

Contributed by: Gerry

There are nine days to go until the start of the minor league seasons and the roster shuffling has started already with six pitchers released by the Jays.

When we took an early look at the 2005 minor league rosters last month there was one big issue, where do we put all the pitchers? The Blue Jays appeared to have an excess of pitchers in the organization. The Jays took care of some of this excess by releasing six pitchers yesterday. The six are:

RHP Dan Jackson - Released from New Hampshire roster
LHP Christopher Leonard - Released from Auburn roster
LHP Justin Maureau - Released from New Hampshire roster
RHP Derrick Nunley - Released from New Hampshire roster
RHP Michael Smith - Released from Syracuse roster
RHP John Wesley - Released from Lansing roster

In some ways none of these releases is a surprise but in another way several of them are surprises. By that I mean that none of these pitchers were ranked prospects but some of them were ranked at the start of last year. It is a testament to the depth in the organization now that the Jays can release these players.

Dan Jackson pitched in 53 games for the Fisher Cats last year with an ERA of 4.80. Jackson conceded less than a hit per inning and had a K/9 rate just under 9. But in the new competitive Blue Jay world of rule 5 picks, minor league waiver claims, and pitchers pushing up from Dunedin, he did not make the cut.

Chris Leonard is a story of arm surgery that did not work. Leonard was a BA rated prospect of the Jays back before the 2004 season even after Leonard missed all of 2003 after surgery. But Leonard never regained his velocity and now he is another example of the frailty of pitching prospects.

Justin Maureau was a third round pick of the Jays in 2003 and had a great season that year. But 2004 brought arm problems and a demotion back to Auburn.

Derrick Nunley in 2004 had a 7.68 ERA with Dunedin and a 6.75 ERA with Charleston. Nunley's 2003 numbers were excellent but 2004 was a major disappointment.

Michael Smith did get a chance to pitch in the major leagues but it was a brief appearance. Last year Smith spent the season with Syracuse and even made 15 starts after the club was hit with injury problems. But Smith's ERA last year was 5.28 and it did not look like he had a chance to make it back to the big leagues with the team.

John Wesley appeared in only ten games between Auburn and Charleston last year. Wesley had potential as a hard throwing pitcher but was never able to put it all together.

In other minor league news.....

The Jays signed Derry Hammond a free agent outfielder who played for Bangor in the North East league in 2004. Hammond is 24 years old from Tupelo, Mississippi who was a third round selection of the Brewers in 1998. Hammond has been in independent leagues for three years and hit .280 with 20 home runs each of the last two years.

As was reported last week it looks like Jason Arnold might be a reliever. He has saved a couple of games for Syracuse and does not appear to be building up his arm to starter length outings.

Minor league scorecards are sometimes available. From the ones I have seen Vince Perkins had a six inning, one hit, no walk, start for New Hampshire. Shawn Marcum also had a good appearance. Jamie Vermilyea was shelled in his start and the Jays have not exposed him to major league hitters, so perhaps he is struggling with his stuff right now.

Feel free to add minor league news as it comes in.