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Yesterday was the first day for minor league spring training games. The minor league regular season is just three weeks or, to be precise, 21 days away. Yesterday the Jays fortified the minor league ranks by returning eight players to minor league camp. To give us our minor league fix I have put together a description of the one thing, and only one thing, that each of the Blue Jays top 30 prospects needs to do in 2006 to move up the prospect charts.

#1 – Dustin McGowan

This one is obvious, better control. McGowan’s major league debut in 2005 showed flashes of brilliance but also periods of wildness where he left pitches in the middle of the plate or missed the strike zone. If McGowan can further refine his control he will be challenging for a rotation spot by mid-season.

#2 – David Purcey

Purcey is also obvious, cut down on the walks. Purcey has an excellent hits allowed ratio in his time in the minor leagues. However his walks allowed have been excessive. Purcey showed some signs of improvement in late 2005 and he needs to further improve in 2006.

#3 – Casey Janssen

Establish a solid base in AA. Janssen was promoted to AA in July 2005 and reeled off five very good starts before struggling in two starts and then getting injured. If Janssen can reproduce his numbers from Dunedin, and from his first five AA starts, he will be ready for an early promotion.

#4 - Zach Jackson/Sergio Santos

Jackson is gone so this is a good place to talk about Sergio Santos, not suggesting Santos would be the number four prospect. Santos needs to do a better job at pitch recognition and making adjustments. Santos does have issues with his free-swinging ways but BA’s scouting reports suggested there was more than that ailing Santos in 2005. BA said that Santos did not look good at the plate and did not make adjustments. Santos has to learn how to hit against the crafty pitchers you see at AAA.

#5 - Adam Lind

Simple, repeat his success from Dunedin with some more homeruns. As a prospective major league first baseman or DH, Lind will need to show some pop. Most of his home runs last season came in the second half. If that continues in 2006 he should be well positioned for a run at the Jays in 2007.

#6 - Guillermo Quiroz

Remain healthy all season. The big thing Quiroz needs is regular playing time after two seasons where he missed more than half of his team’s games.

#7 – Ricky Romero

Fool more hitters. Romero had a brief pro debut in 2005 making nine starts between Auburn and Dunedin. In Dunedin Romero allowed more than a hit per inning and his K rate was 6.5 per nine innings. Romero has to fool more hitters at Dunedin, get his K/9 rate up into the high seven’s or low eight’s and restrict hitters to under a hit per inning.

#8 - Josh Banks

Keep the ball down. Josh has excellent numbers, good hits allowed ratios, low walks allowed, decent strikeout rate. His Achilles heel is the home run rate which is a function of leaving the ball up too high in the zone. If Banks can work the bottom of the zone he will be in Toronto in September.

#9 – Shaun Marcum

Same as Banks, keep the home runs allowed down. Marcum does not overpower the hitters but comes after them with a mix of pitches. His downfall, like Banks, is home run rate.

#10 – Francisco Rosario

Consistency. Rosy has good stuff, a 94-95 mph fastball and a good slider. Rosario needs to be able to command his pitches every time out and lower his ERA from the 3.95 he put up in 2005.

#11 - Davis Romero

Consistency also. Romero was available in the rule 5 draft but was by-passed by all 29 major league teams. The knock on Romero is consistency, one start he blows the hitters away, the next time out he gets hit. BA, in their prospect book, add to this by saying Romero’s velocity changed significantly from outing to outing. It might be that Romero needs to get stronger but in the end it’s consistency he needs to demonstrate.

#12 – Curtis Thigpen

Build on 2006. The development of catchers is tough, they have to spend a lot of time working to support the pitching staff that it wears them down and they have less time to work on their hitting. Thigpen was able to work on both last year and hit well, and improved his catching. For 2006 he needs to continue to build on 2006, provide good defense while hitting close to .300.

#13 – Chip Cannon

Make better contact. Cannon led the Jays minor leaguers with 32 jacks last season but his K rate was 34% at New Hampshire. Chip needs to keep the power but reduce the K’s.

#14 – Vince Perkins

Another need for better control. Perkins has good stuff, a heavy fastball and a good change-up. But he allowed 3.5 walks per nine last season, that’s too high. In spring training Perkins has been wild, it’s time to get that under control.

#15 – Ryan Roberts

Another hitter who needs to reduce his K’s. When Ryan was promoted to AA last year he continued to hit well and showed good power for a second baseman. Roberts has some work to do on his defense but he has only been a second baseman for a little over a year so we will ignore that and point out that his K rate jumped from 16% to 28% after his promotion.

#16 – Chi-Hung Cheng

Cut down on the walks. Cheng allowed 4.7 walks per 9 innings last season. Cheng needs to get that down by 50% to thrive at higher levels. The Jays want Cheng to trust his average fastball more and not nibble so much.

#17 – Ryan Patterson

Keep it going at higher levels. Patterson was the Jays best hitter at Auburn, he needs to do it again against better pitchers.

#18 – Rob Cosby

Be more selective. Cosby was New Hampshire’s best hitter in 2005, hitting over .300 and slugging over .500. But Cosby walked only 24 times in 452 plate appearances. If he is not more selective the better pitchers will take advantage of him.

#19 – Ismael Ramirez

Cut down on home runs allowed. Ramirez allowed nineteen homers last season, more than Josh Banks. Most of Ramirez’ other numbers were good. Ramirez can struggle with his delivery, if his arm drops his pitches can flatten out and become very hittable.

#20 – John-Ford Griffin

More consistent contact, or put another way, fewer strikeouts. Griffin’s 30 home runs in 2005 were excellent but the 140 K’s were too many. More consistent contact would also likely move his batting average up from .254.

#21 – Kyle Yates

More of the same. Yates delivered a great 1.91 ERA in 14 starts for Dunedin. Keep it going Kyle.

#22 – Jamie Vermilyea

If Jamie comes back to the Jays from the Red Sox he needs to get the sinker down in the zone. Vermilyea needs to work the bottom of the zone to be effective.

#23 – Miguel Negron

Hit for average. Negron likes to hit the home runs but with his speed he needs to hit the ball on the ground and leg out some more hits. Negron hit last season and needs to get that up to .300 this year.

#24 - Robinzon Diaz

Be more selective. In 403 plate appearances last season Diaz walked only fifteen times and struck out only 28 times. Diaz needs to work the count and find a better pitch to hit.

#25 – Robert Ray

More of the same. Ray held opponents to a .204 batting average and struck out 8.5 per 9 innings, those numbers would look good in Lansing.

#26 – Lee Gronkiewicz

Keep it going in AAA. As a vertically challenged player Gronk has always had to prove himself. If he proves himself in AAA he should get a call to Toronto.

#27 – Joey Metropoulos

Have a healthy season. Joey was injured for the start of the 2005 season so he didn’t play until Auburn started in June. Joey only hit .212 in June but was over .300 with power the rest of the way. It will be interesting to see what he can do with a full, healthy, season.

#28 – Yuber Rodriguez

Hit. Yuber struggled with a .200 batting average all season. Yuber hit under .200 in three of the five minor league season months and only .206 in another.

#29 – Cory Patton

Hit. Patton had a miserable 2005, struggling at Lansing before returning to Auburn. Patton strikes out too much but that’s only a problem if he hits well enough to move up the system. Patton hit .200 for Lansing before improving his average to .273 at Auburn. Patton should return to Lansing and needs to get his average up to the .273 range.

#30 – Paul Phillips

More of the same at a higher level. Phillips was Auburn’s closer in 2005 and allowed less than a hit per inning while striking out more than a hitter per inning.

Prospects: Just One Thing | 16 comments | Create New Account
The following comments are owned by whomever posted them. This site is not responsible for what they say.
Lugnut Fan - Thursday, March 16 2006 @ 10:23 AM EST (#142622) #
Good stuff Gerry. I see that Janssen had a handful of appearances for the Jays in spring training and did not allow a run. Hopefully that is a pretty good spring board for him in his return to New Hampshire. Cory Patton was just plain overmatched here in Lansing. I think at times he may have been a little intimidated as well. He has pretty good pop in his bat, but he needs to make consistent contact. I thought him being sent to Auburn last year was a great move. He got to play everyday and it got his confidence up. I would expect him to rebound in Lansing this year, have a solid season and perhaps even receive a promotion to Dunedin at some point this season.
huckamaniac - Thursday, March 16 2006 @ 10:41 AM EST (#142624) #
There was an interesting article yesterday in the Star on Santos, I didn't realize that he was so big.
Jim - Thursday, March 16 2006 @ 10:55 AM EST (#142628) #
I saw Janssen the other day in Lakeland and he looked great. Went right through the middle of the lineup when the Tigers were still using legitimate hitters. I was much more impressed with him then Romero.
Jonny German - Thursday, March 16 2006 @ 11:08 AM EST (#142631) #
Good stuff, Gerry. Who will be this year's Casey Janssen and Chip Cannon? I call Orlando Trias and Brian Pettway.
Pistol - Thursday, March 16 2006 @ 11:22 AM EST (#142632) #
"Who will be this year's Casey Janssen and Chip Cannon?"

I'll go with Robert Ray and Joey Metropolous.
jpatton - Thursday, March 16 2006 @ 12:35 PM EST (#142651) #
To Gerry and Lugnut fan:
Just a note to let you know about Cory Patton, let's call it a fill in. When he checked in to camp in 05 he had not swung a bat in 6 months due to a major stress fracture in his back left foot. To say intimidation was a factor is a little far fetched. Recovery and getting back in the "swing" of things would be more accurate. The BJ's also told him he would be in Auburn when the season started for low A but they would send him to Lansing until then. He did great in Auburn, keeping pace with Paterson until he suffered two tears on each side of his lower ab that he had surgically repaired in Philadelphia back in Dec. Compare his stat when he his healthy. And watch out...he is going to "HIT" it up this year no matter where he is! Cory fan
Krunchers - Thursday, March 16 2006 @ 01:06 PM EST (#142655) #
Excellent analysis, Gerry.

It is more meaningful to me as u seem to have weighted their age factor as part of ur ranking.

As u know the propects age is the most crucial factor but one that most GM's are notorious for conveniently not mentioning because time and progress can be measured(You never hear J.P. mention age as he always drafts (older)college players and I question whether he has ever heard of San Pedro De Macoris). Most GM's don't want their success(or lack of it) measured.

Bill James did an analysis in the eighties after studying the stats(as usual) for all pitchers and showed that the premier pitchers(u can argue those) broke into the major's when they were 23 years old, but they didn't become premier pitchers until they were 26/27. Very few right at 23, some not until 27 and obviously most in between.

Last year Mcgowen makes the majors at 23, Janssen in AAA at 24 and Purcey in AA at 23. All 3 look great but only Mcgowen has achieved the first step towards becoming a premier pitcher and all 3 are one year older this year which means the potential for Jansen or Purcey to be a premier pitcher(i hate to say it)is gone.

There are similar stats for hitters which i am sure is one of the reasons why J.P. managed to ensure Adams and Hill made the team, fast.

Mcgowen was drafted in our Fantasy Baseball League(inc.1988) in 2000, both Purcey and Janssen in were drafted by our teams in2004. Our web site is listed as my home page. We are a very exclusive and complex perpetual league looking to expand from 8 to 14 teams.(GTA + Barrie)

zeppelinkm - Thursday, March 16 2006 @ 03:37 PM EST (#142686) #
I don't know why the internet has such a hate on for the letters "yo". Namely, the dropping of these two letters when typing you and your.

What did Y and O ever do to you? huh??

Question for you Krunchers: I get your point about age being a pivotal factor in evaluating prospects, but what about instances where an injury causes a rehabilitation process that say, negates one year of development? So instead of breaking into the majors at 23, this rehabiliated player doesn't break in until 24. According to your theory, these players have no hope in hell of being a premier pitcher?
james - Thursday, March 16 2006 @ 05:10 PM EST (#142700) #
Sorry if I missed this. Has anything changed with the Guillermo Quiroz situation? Can we still expect him to be placed on waivers? What's the deadline? I'm not looking forward to the day.
Gerry - Thursday, March 16 2006 @ 07:10 PM EST (#142719) #
There has been no change to the Quiroz situation, he still could be lost on waivers at the end of spring training.
Waveburner - Thursday, March 16 2006 @ 08:59 PM EST (#142731) #
"Who will be this year's Casey Janssen and Chip Cannon? I call Orlando Trias and Brian Pettway."

Agreed on Pettway, I think he's going to have a monster season. Ray Gonzalez will breakout as well.

Marc Hulet - Friday, March 17 2006 @ 09:55 AM EST (#142764) #
The Top 10 not-so-well-known players who could breakout in 2006 are (in my opinion):

Robert (Bobby) Ray, RHP
Jesse Litsch, RHP
Ray Gonzalez, RHP
Joey Metropoulos, 1B
Sean Shoffit, 2B
Kristian Bell, RHP
Brian Bormaster, C
Jonathan Jaspe, C
Paul Franko, 1B/3B
Zach Kalter, OF
Geoff - Friday, March 17 2006 @ 12:11 PM EST (#142770) #
He's getting on in years, but might Adrian Burnside have a make-or-break year in 2006?
Marc Hulet - Friday, March 17 2006 @ 12:21 PM EST (#142771) #
Burnside has a chance to be a major league LOOGY but I don't he'll ever amount to a regular major league contributor at this point and I don't see 2006 being any more make-or-break than the last five years of his career. Having seen him pitch last season, I felt he could have been as good or better than 60 per cent of the lefties in major league bullpens.
Mike Green - Sunday, March 19 2006 @ 11:58 AM EST (#142991) #
This year's Janssen and Cannon? Ray and Cannon (again). Most people don't really expect Cannon to make it, but I think that he will conquer the strike zone and surprise us all.
Sparrow31 - Thursday, March 23 2006 @ 05:16 AM EST (#143240) #
What about Kurt Isenberg? He had a pretty solid year in Dunedin, making a significant jump from the previous season. With all of the movement he could start in Manchester, correct?
Prospects: Just One Thing | 16 comments | Create New Account
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