As of Monday afternoon Dunedin sat tied for first place in the West Division of the Florida State League with the Tampa Yankees. They also finished the first-half in a tie for first place with Minnesotaís affiliate, the Fort Myers Miracle. Dunedin lost their last three games of the year to finish at 38-32. Fort Myers also last their last game, blowing a chance to win the West Division, as Dunedin won the tiebreaker.
Itís good to see your minor league affiliates having success. Itís personally fulfilling for the players and it makes the living conditions of the minors much more bearable. Also, itís beneficial to install a winning mindset in the players and give them a boost of confidence. Itís still not as important as individual development, but as itís not a choice between success and development, itís good to see many players on Dunedin experiencing both. I have no doubt that J.P., Dick Scott, Tony LaCava and the rest of the front office have the minor league coaches following the development program they want and that success is not being sought through risking anyoneís future.
The (approximate) halfway mark of the season is a good time to look at some players and how they have performed relative to the teamís expectations. Iím taking a break from my usual updates of the group of 7 prospects Iíve chosen to follow in greater detail and instead will look at two prospects who are no longer with the D-Jays and two who recently joined the team. I updated readers on the two promoted prospects already this year and will make some last comments on them and Iíll also look at the future for two new Dunedin Jays.
Cory Patton, OF
.222/.266/.431, 72 AB, 16 H, 10 R, 4 2B, 3 HR, 4 BB, 19 K
Batterís Box ranked Patton as the 29th best prospect in the Jays system last year. He led the NY-Penn League in home runs despite 50 at-bats with Lansing and he slugged .555 with the Doubledays. However, this came with caveats or else he would have been ranked higher with Torontoís lack of impact bats. As Rob noted, ďHeíll turn 24 in 2006 and he has yet to play full-season ball. The Jays need players who can hit the little white ball very, very far, but Patton's age and lack of experience work against him.Ē
Patton started this year in Lansing and hit .290 and slugged .510. He earned a promotion to Dunedin after 241 at-bats and has posted the above line in Dunedin so far. Additionally, Patton is now 24, which, while not unreasonable for a college prospect, is working against him. As of right now heís struck out in 26.4% of his at-bats, which is a very worrying sign. Furthermore, when youíre 24 and hitting .222 in High-A with an OBP below .270, youíre moving yourself off the radar with some speed. Patton might just be taking a while to adjust to High-A and his stats suggest that could be the case. His OPS for June was .661 and for July so far itís .887. However, 70 at-bat splits mean little. Case in point: Patton is raking to the tune of a 1.092 OPS off lefties so far in Dunedin compared to .591 against righties. However, in Lansing Patton had a .423 OPS against lefties and a .965 one off righties.
Patton still has almost a full half-season to put up some numbers at Dunedin and hope to gain promotion to New Hampshire for the 2007 season. However, right now heís sitting behind at least Ryan Patterson, and Dustin Majewski already received a mid-season call up to the Fisher Cats, so it wonít be an easy task.
Dustin Majewski, OF
.271/.398/.457, 221 AB, 60 H, 38 R, 16 2B, 7 HR, 49 BB, 39 K
Majewski got promoted to New Hampshire so I wonít be following him either for any subsequent Dunedin updates. Like Patton, Majewski is struggling at his new level with an OPS of .607. Also like Patton, Majewski is possibly starting to find his groove, with an OPS of .290 in his first 23 at-bats for New Hampshire and of 1.013 in his next 21. Majewski is 25 and was no doubt unhappy at being forced to repeat High-A after being traded to the Jays from Oakland in the offseason. Despite an OPS of over .800 he wasnít going to displace Lind or David Smith at Double-A and had to repeat the level. Majewski improved upon a solid 2005, as he demonstrated similar extra-base power with an even more discerning approach at the plate.
He seems to be a player who does a lot of small things right. Heís fine in the corners and has played alright in centerfield so far this year, although I donít think heís expected to be anything close to a regular centerfielder. Majewski hits left-handed and has some speed, as not only can he play center but he also stole 20 bases in 2004 with Kane County. He has a very good batting eye and gap power. Like Patton, his biggest enemy is time and the possibility heíll be dismissed as a Triple-A player. However, I think thereís a real chance Majewski could become a decent fourth outfielder.
For no real reason I find myself thinking a lot of Henri Stanley when I look at Majewskiís numbers. Stanley was 5í10 and 190 pounds; Majewski is 5í11 and 190. Not only are they similar physically, but they seem like the same sort of player. Stanley put up a .950 OPS at Double-A at 24 and spent the next three seasons at Triple-A with a low .800 OPS. I got the impression, perhaps wrong, that Stanley was stretched in center but fine on the corners. His batting eye and gap power never caught the attention of Houston, L.A., Boston or San Diego and I canít find any record of him playing baseball in North America this year. Stanleyís numbers in the low minors were a bit better than Majewskiís but he was also not a two-time first-team College All-American. It seems like Majewski may wind up in Triple-A and may need a timely injury or slump to get an opportunity to prove himself. That comment was inspired, in part, because I met Stanley at Spring Training in 2004, before his big year in Double-A, and he seemed surprised somebody knew who he was. I talked to him for a couple of minutes and he was quite friendly and personable and Iíve been rooting for him even more ever since then.
Jesse Litsch, SP
6-6, 3.25 ERA, 88.2 IP, 91 H, 5 HR, 8 BB, 80 K, 8.12 K/9, 10.00 K/BB
Litsch was promoted to New Hampshire in June, like Majewski, and itís no surprise, considering his fantastic K/BB ratio and the fact he has the lowest ERA of any Dunedin starter not named Ricky Romero. Litsch even ranked as the 4th best pitcher so far in the FSL on Chris Constancioís Hardball Times Update of the league. Constancio used FIP and demonstrated that despite his 3.25 ERA being much higher than Yovani Gallardoís 1.97, Litsch had pitched nearly as well. Litsch is also only 21 and is succeeding in a league that has heavy college content.
Constacioís list also demonstrates some of Litschís strengths, as well as some warning signs. Yovani Gallardo (#2) has outstanding raw stuff, with 100 Kís in 73 innings and only 51 hits allowed. Minnesotaís Kevin Slowey (#1) is very tough to hit as well, allowing 41 hits in 81.2 innings, with 92 Kís compared to 7 walks. Slowey is the only pitcher on the top-10 list with comparable control during the season had at reached the double digits with his walk total. However, as I wrote last month Litschís hits allowed total is something that prevents him from becoming an upper-level pitching prospect. There was one only other pitcher on the list to have allowed more hits than innings pitched and it demonstrates that Litsch isnít dominating the opposition like Gallardo, Slowey or Homer Bailey. Litsch is pitching his way up the Jays charts with his performance so far, but one canít get excited about him the way one might about some of those other names. Nevertheless, Litsch is 21 and in Double-A, with plenty of time to refine his pitches and maintain his fabulous control and is fast becoming one of the teamís best pitching prospects.
William Carnline, SP
2-1, 4.09 ERA, 22 IP, 18 H, 3 HR, 6 BB, 13 K, 5.31 K/9, 2.17 K/BB
In mid-June you may have noticed that Billy Carnline stopped appearing semi-regularly as one of the Minor League Updateís stars of the day. Thatís because Carnline was promoted to Dunedin and was no longer able to dominate Lansingís competition. Carnline, Torontoís 12th round pick in 2005, had a rather mediocre year last year for Auburn with a 4.61 ERA and 36 strikeouts to 20 walks in 41 innings. He began the year in Lansing and after 10 starts and another five relief appearances he had a 2.91 ERA, 66 strikeouts in 66.2 innings and had only allowed 44 hits.
I donít know too much about Carnline beyond his stats, but he was born in 1984 and thus youth is on his side. If he can put up an average line at Dunedin the rest of the year, the Jays might have a very tough decision come the end of the year, as Eric Fowler, Orlando Trias and Carnline could be three Dunedin starters in line for a test at Double-A. Carnlineís got a lot to prove, but High-A will be a good test for him.