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Inspired by Dave Till's August 2005 Report Card for the Blue Jays' major-league players, I put together something similar for the five minor-league franchises still playing as of this date (Pulaski's season has ended). Here's one observer's take on the good and the not-quite-so-good for the Blue Jays' five top farm teams.

Rochester 14 Syracuse 6

The Skychiefs organization, according to published reports, is deeply peeved with the Blue Jays for the franchiseís inability to field a competitive team in Syracuse. While injuries at both the MLB and AAA levels have affected the Chiefsí competitiveness and attractiveness lately, they do have a point. Last night, they fielded the following players at the following positions:

2B Desi Relaford
SS Julius Matos
DH Glenn Barker
RF Chad Mottola
1B Ken Huckaby

Even for a post-September 1 ballgame, has-beens and never-weres populate this lineup and this roster: John-Ford Griffin was the only starter last night likely to make a major-league roster next season, and Griffinís best shot at a steady big-league paycheque is to become the next John Vander Wal. The Blue Jays have acquired a habit of promoting some of their best prospects straight from Double-A Ė thatís not a good way to make friends in Triple-A. Iím not sure how much longer that kind of relationship can last. Zach Jackson is a top pitching prospect, but this is his first full pro season and heís not yet ready for this level of competition. Remember Dave Gassner? Nine Kís in 5 innings for Rochester.

Prospect Watch:

- Zach Jackson: 5 1/3 IP, 10 H, 8 R, 5 ER, 4 BB, 3 K, 1 HR: 5.13 ERA
- John-Ford Griffin: 2/5, RBI, 2 K: .254 BA

Box score

Norwich 2 New Hampshire 0

One double and 2 singles is all the Fisher Cats offence could offer last night against Anthony Moreno, whose 6 shutout innings lowered his season ERA to 5.01. This is probably stating the obvious, but the Fisher Cats canít hit, and they havenít hit all season. New Hampshire is batting .248/.305/.376 as a team, 12th and dead last in the Eastern League in all three categories (whereas itís 2nd in team ERA). Yes, Fisher Cats Stadium plays like Dodger Stadium East, but the real culprit here is the Blue Jaysí drafting strategy. JP Ricciardi has made it very clear that the Jays prefer drafting pitching to hitting, because reliable pitching is much more difficult to trade for on the open market and young pitchers make much better trade bait themselves. Both statements are true, but it means that the Jaysí various minor-league teams are bereft of exciting hitting prospects. And as any farm-team marketing director will tell you, even the most loyal baseball fans can only sit through so many 2-1 games over the course of a season. Whatís good for the big-league club has often not been very good for its affiliates. New Hampshire is too new an addition to the organization to complain like Syracuse has, and winning the league championship in your first year buys you a lot of time. But as an organization, the Jays might want to start thinking about adjusting their drafting strategy slightly.

Prospect Watch:

- Cameron Reimers: 7 IP, 7 H, 2 ER, 2 H, 2 BB, 2 K: 4.15 ERA

Box score

Dunedin 8 Sarasota 1

In fact, if itís offence you want, you should look in the least likely of places. Dunedin, in the traditionally hitter-hostile Florida State League, has produced a .284/.350/.422 team line, which ranks 1st, 3rd, and 1st in all three categories. The D-Jays are an offensive powerhouse, thanks to performances from Adam Lind, Robinzon Diaz, the post-demotion Carlo Cota, and six incredible weeks of Chip Cannon. Is it a coincidence that Dunedin, at 40-28, has the most wins in the league? I donít think it is (the D-Jays are third in ERA, by the way). Dunedin has been a very solid franchise for a few years now, despite some bad luck on the playoffs, and a more balanced attack is part of the reason. Prospect Watch:

- Mike MacDonald: 9 IP, 5 H, 1 ER, 0 BB, 5 K: 4.21
- Rodney Medina: 2/4, HR, 5 RBI: .268
- Robinzon Diaz: 2/4, RBI, R, K: .294
- Adam Lind : 1/3, R, 2 BB: .314

Box score

West Michigan 5 Lansing 4

The newest addition to the Jays organization has had a pretty mediocre debut. Lansing, despite losing last night by giving up a three-spot in the ninth inning, is still finishing strongly with a 7-3 mark in its last 10 games. But at 31-36, the Lugnuts arenít going to reach .500 before seasonís end, let alone the playoffs. The offence has been mediocre -- better-than-average on-base numbers, quite poor slugging numbers -- while the pitching is squarely in the middle of the pack. Lugnut Fan can tell us more about how the teamís performance has been received in the stands and in the community, but from an organizational perspective, it was an only okay year. The Jays, like other teams, send their most promising A-Ball prospects to the High-A league, while for the most part (international projects like Chi-Hung Cheng aside) the Low-A players know theyíve been sent to the baseball equivalent of remedial school. (Ditto that for Auburn and Pulaski). Thatís too bad, considering that Lansing is a terrific baseball city, but sometimes thatís how it breaks.

Prospect Watch:

- Ryan Klosterman: 2/3, 2B, R, BB, K: .238
- Christian Snavely: 1/3, RBI, BB: .287

Box score

Auburn 4 Mahoning Valley 3

Itís fun to be the Auburn Doubledays. Every year, they get the cream of a June draft that, thanks to the Blue Jaysí philosophy, is usually stacked with collegiate players Ė batters who can draw a walk, pitchers who can throw a strike. They had a Triple Crown winner last season in Vito Chiaravalotti, and this year, they have one of the better hitting prospects to enter the system in years, Ryan Patterson (.337/.386/.583, 264 AB, 20 2B, 3 3B, 13 HR, 63 RBI, 21 BB, 51 K), who homered and drove in 4 runs last night. The Doubledays sit atop their division at 40-29, with an offence middling in all categories but power (2nd in slugging) and middling in ERA too. Again, is it a coincidence that the Jaysí two most power-laden minor-league teams are leading their divisions? Again, it is not.

Prospect Watch:

- Jesse Litsch: 3 2/3 IP, 4 H, 3 R, 2 ER, 1 BB, 4 K: 4.00
- Ryan Patterson: 2/4, HR, 4 RBI, K: .337
- Sean Shoffitt: 1/4, 2 R, BB, 2 K: .264
- Brian Bormaster: 3/3, 2B, BB: .311

Box score

Pulaskiís season is over

Your Three-Star Selection:

3. Brian Bormaster, Auburn: Three-for-three with a double and a walk.

2. Ryan Patterson, Auburn: Home run and 4 RBIs for the future star.

1. Mike MacDonald, Dunedin: Complete-game 5-hitter is the organizationís game of the night.

Minor-League Report Card for 2005 | 8 comments | Create New Account
The following comments are owned by whomever posted them. This site is not responsible for what they say.
Rob - Saturday, September 03 2005 @ 01:09 PM EDT (#127310) #
You forgot to mention that Julius Matos was not only the starting shortstop, he had to pitch after Whiteside was ejected for throwing at a batter.

$200 says Whiteside is not back with the organization next year.
Pistol - Saturday, September 03 2005 @ 02:30 PM EDT (#127313) #
I believe Vito's triple crown in Auburn was in 2003, not last year.
Lugnut Fan - Saturday, September 03 2005 @ 05:34 PM EDT (#127320) #
I guess to answer the question as to how the play has been received by the fans is the same as every other year. Lansing is aided in the fact that they spend a ton of money on marketing and the fact that they put on quite a fireworks show every Friday and Saturday night helps thigs as well. I will say that I was kind of dissappointed in the performance of the team record wise, but from a developmental standpoint, we had three players in Lasing that are now in New Hampshire in Janssen, Cannon and Thigpen. The fact that they had kind of a revolving door here in Lansing where it seemed that someone was moved somewhere every game did not help things. I saw more transactions in Lansing than I ever have at any other level of minor league baseball this season. I did expect a good number of promotions this year though because of the fact that pretty much all of these guys were college age players and this was the oldest team I have seen in Lansing. Although the team didn't finish the regular season as hoped, I do see some very promising prospects here.

Ryan Klosterman is as good of a shortstop as I have seen at this level. He has outstanding range and a solid arm. I know he was among the team leaders in errors, but that is probably more attributed to the fact that his range is so good. If he can be more consistent with the bat, he is really going to be something.

Jason Armstrong kind of proved to be a diamond in the ruff here. The real question is can he follow up his outstanding Lansing season with a solid season at the higher levels? If he can, he can defensively play all the infield positions and if he can learn some outfield, he could be very valuable in a utility role at the MLB level.

Christian Snavely arguably may have been the teams MVP. He went through kind of a rough go of it during the middle of the first half, but right before the all star break he kind of found his stroke. He was kind of platooned between third and left over the second half of the season and Ken Joyce stated that Snavely will be going to the instructional league in October to learn to play first. I guess look for Christian to be the first baseman in Dunedin next year.

Eugenio Velez and Juan Peralta both showed to be excellent options at second base. Peralta was having a breakout season until his injury around the all star break and Velez came in and really didn't miss a beat. I look for Velez to move on to Dunedin next year and for Peralta to start in Lansing because of his lost playing time.

From a pitching stand point, guys like Casey Janssen, Kyle Yates, Danny Hill, etc. probably need no explanation as they were able to keep their success going into Dunedin and beyond this year.

Chi-Hung Cheng is going to need a little bit of work, but it is hard not to get excited about this guy. He is among the league leaders in strike outs, however he is also among the league leaders in walks. He needs to get command of his fastball. Contrary to some peoples thoughts, I don't think he needs any more velocity on his fastball. I think he needs to learn how to locate his fastball.

Aaron Wideman was another pitcher that showed signs of brilliance at times, and signs of major struggles at others. The problem with Aaron is that he throws to many strikes. He also pitches from the center of the plate to the outside which is why he was among the league leaders in home runs allowed. Hitters would dig in on him and be very comfortable with him. He rarely pitched inside. He will have to learn to pitch inside effectively, and I believe he will be working on that in instructionals this fall. I look for him to start next season back in Lansing.

Po Hsuan Keng is another exciting prospect in my opinion. He throws harder than his country man Cheng in that he throws in the low to mid 90's. He has been utilized in middle releif, closer and starting roles. He also needs to learn to spot his pitches a little better, but once he does that and is able to adjust to North American life, he will be fine.

It was a lot of fun this season guys. This website is fantastic and you all do a tremendous job of tracking all the prospects on the minor league level and keeping track of all the games as well. I applaud you guys.
Jordan - Saturday, September 03 2005 @ 07:36 PM EDT (#127332) #
Pistol is of course correct -- time flies.
Jordan - Saturday, September 03 2005 @ 07:42 PM EDT (#127335) #
LF, thanks for your terrific insights (here and all season long), and for the kind words as well!
Gerry - Saturday, September 03 2005 @ 10:37 PM EDT (#127351) #
David Purcey pitched his best game of the year tonight, seven innings, one unearned run, two walks and seven K's.

Ricky Romero pitched five innings (2 runs) to get his first professional win.

Jesus Gonzalez played his first game for Auburn and went 3-4.
Mylegacy - Saturday, September 03 2005 @ 11:45 PM EDT (#127357) #
LF, many thanks for your comments during the season.

Your insights are much appreciated! Thanks!
John Northey - Saturday, September 03 2005 @ 11:48 PM EDT (#127358) #
A way to see how well the Jays are doing by their affiliates outside of W-L is attendance. Attendance is listed on a per game basis.

Syracuse - Avg 5286 - Rank 11 out of 14
Note: Ottawa is at 2332, last by a landslide (2nd last is at 4,313). #1 is Pawtucket at 9460. Syracuse is about 450/game away from #10, 1500 from #9, but just 160 above #12. Syracuse does have something to complain about I'd say.

New Hampshire - Avg 4235 - Rank 8 out of 12
Note: League ranges from 2542 to 6775.

Dunedin - Avg 560 - Rank 11 out of 12
Note: League ranges from 1976 to 476. 3 teams are below 1k per game.

Lansing - Avg 5221 - Rank 4 out of 14
Note: League ranges from 8290 to 1041. 1k advantage of #5 and just 220 from #4. #3 is 2300 away though. Nice to see a Jay team do well vs league

Auburn - Avg 1954 - 11 out of 14
Note: League ranges from 7939 (Brooklyn) to 1134. The top 3 teams have over a 1k spread between themselves, then a group at the 4k range, a group at the 3k range, Auburn's group, then the bottom 3.

Pulaski - Avg 750 - 9 out of 10
Note: League ranges from 1611 to 673. 6 teams were below 1k per game, Greenville is #1 by 400 per game.

So the Jays minor league teams did very poorly overall in attendance this year. Only Lansing ranked in the top 1/2 of its league for attendance.

I would not be surprised to see Syracuse leave the Jays fold when the contract comes up. Since the Jays don't seem to really care much about the attendance in the minors, given these numbers, I wouldn't be shocked to see them 'stuck' with Ottawa.
Minor-League Report Card for 2005 | 8 comments | Create New Account
The following comments are owned by whomever posted them. This site is not responsible for what they say.