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Dick Scott is the Blue Jays Director of Minor League Operations and has made several visits to Da Box in the past.  Dick sat down with Batters Box last week to talk about the Jays minor league system and to specifically talk about twenty of the Jays players.  Finally Dick told Da Box why the Jays are shutting down their Pulaski team for 2007. 

To start Dick reflected on the 2006 season.  We did pretty well this year, we didn't win as many games as we had in the past.  Our teams were competitive, three of our teams made the playoffs and Pulaski were in it right down to the wire.  We had two league MVP's, we had a Florida State team that went to the league championship and had ninth inning leads in the first two games before blowing them and losing momentum.  Lansing played to the second round (of the playoffs) and Auburn lost in the first round.  We promoted guys and got guys to the big leagues which is what it is all about, I think it was a pretty good year.  The one consistent weak link in the Jays system has been in Syracuse where Skychief fans endured another losing season.  We are always trying to address that, we have to make sure we have backup players there for the big leagues but I don't think we anticipated the injuries and poor performances at the major league level.  AJ and Chacin were hurt, Towers didn't pitch well, Janssen had to come up, Taubenheim was called up, McGowan and Rosario were back and forth, Marcum came up here.  Many of the pitchers we were counting on in AAA ended up in Toronto.  Some of the position players had good years, some of them could have done better.  We have added money on the budget to make it better there, we know it's important, but first and foremost it's important to have players available for the big leagues.

The Blue Jays ended the season with several prospects on the DL but Scott says they are all getting better.  Travis Snider hurt his wrist with about three weeks to go in the season, we shut him down which hurt our Pulaski team but he is hitting now in the instructional league and will take BP with the big league team when he is in town for the Webster Awards. 

Anthony Hatch was the leading hitter in Lansing before losing the last third of the season to injury. A thirteenth round pick in 2005 Hatch has bounced around defensively but he has hit at every stop and moved onto Batters Box top 30 list.  Anthony Hatch had a come from nowhere year before he had surgery on both wrists.  He swings the bat well, he is a tall, skinny guy, about 6'2" or 6' 3", he had a nice year and the disappointing thing is that he wasn't able to finish it or go to instructional league.  We were planning on moving him to second base but we will have to wait until early next year to do that.  But he will be fine, he is already working hard on his rehab, he is an interesting guy.  He had some little things cleaned up in both wrists, he had played with it for quite a while.  He is the type of kid who says just give me something to quiet down the pain, kind of an old school hockey guy.  His wrists were bothering him last year too, you know I liked his swing when he came in last year and this year we had a need in Lansing and we sent him up there and he just ran with it, and that's what you want guys to do, you want them to perform when they have an opportunity, and he put himself on the radar and stayed there all year.

Billy Carnline had a double promotion of sorts this season, he was promoted from reliever to starter and then from Lansing to Dunedin, both times successfully, but he was shut down the last month of the season.  Billy Carnline will be fine for next year, he just had a tired arm with a lot of innings.  Guys don't realize that the first year is long, we missed him down the stretch but he will be fine.

Lansing playoff hopes were hurt when Kristian Bell, Aaron Tressler and AJ Wideman were injured before the end of the season.  Kristian Bell will be OK too, he is still working on his delivery, he puts a lot of stress on his arm at times because he wants to overthrow.  He has a plus fastball, his secondary stuff started to come this year and his strikes too.  That was always the thing with him he always had the nice arm, the plus fastball, but its a matter of throwing strikes and this year he did it as well as he ever did.

Although it wasn't widely reported Casey Janssen battled some injuries when he was returned to Syracuse from the Jays.  Casey had some lower back stiffness, when he went down to Syracuse we skipped him a start and he will rehab it in the off-season, he has good stuff.  I think he will be on the big league roster next season.

From injuries we moved on to discuss some specific players who have, or have had, question marks about their performance.  Number one on that list is David Purcey who has a great arm but problems with his delivery and consistency.  Purcey has struggled for two seasons now and Dick was asked if it was time to redo Purcey's delivery?  Purcey is headed for the instructional league to get some extra work in.  We are not trying to remake his delivery, just smooth it out a little.  He is a bit mechanical at times, he is a big guy, sometimes he goes too quick to the plate and his arm doesn't catch up, other times he is just worried too much about his mechanics.  We told him you have good enough stuff you just have to get it over the plate.  When he gets it over the plate guys don't have good swings against him.  He has a plus fastball even though it's not 95, more 91-93 but it has good movement and a lot of life on it.  His curveball is a plus curveball, his change is a little below average right now but he will be fine, he is just a little slower developing than most guys.

Ryan Patterson moved up to AA late in the season and struggled initially before finishing strong.  Patterson has an unusual stance and swing that has worked so far but questions about whether it will work at higher levels are still asked.  Ryan will probably have to make adjustments but the guy has had a lot of success along the way and it is hard to tell a guy to change when he is doing well, but I am pleased with the progress he made.  He did struggle early and looked overmatched but he ended up hitting close to .250 and hit some balls out of the park and took some better swings.  But that's what this is about, he didn't know anything about AA until he got there, he didn't know what to expect, but he made adjustments and he will start there next year and I think he will be fine.

Chi-Hung Cheng returned to Lansing for a second season this year.  Cheng has a plus curveball but has frustrated the organization in the past with his love for the deuce.  It was a good development year for him but it was about throwing more strikes than he had in the past.  He had a lot of walks and strikeouts last year, this year fewer walks, more strikeouts and his velocity got better over the last month of the season because he did throw his fastball more.  Sometimes he gets in love with his curveball, he has a very good change too, he gets a lot of righthanders out with it.  He has able to spot his fastball better too and the velcoity was up to 87-88, don't forget he is only 20.

Robinzon Diaz is a very good hitter who generally makes contact but he has moved slowly through the system as there have been questions around his catching skills.  He made the all-star team again, he has made the all-star team every year, he was the MVP in the Appalachian League.  His bat is ahead of his catching, but he is athletic and he has a strong arm, but he needs to make some adjustments, and he did make some this year, and he has a good chance to play in AA next year.  We will leave him at catcher, I think he has a chance to be a big league catcher.

Tracey Thorpe throws hard, maybe not Billy Koch hard, but he can bring it.  But throwing hard can get you to the big leagues but it doesn't allow you to stay there.  It's all about throwing strikes for him, he has the plus arm, the big fastball, 95-96.  But guys in the big leagues see that every night of the week, and if you don't throw it close to where you want to throw it you will have a hard time up here.  We have had other guys on our team, and on other teams, who have come up throwing hard and struggled.  But he started to settle in this year, and he got more serious about his work and it showed.  So we will send him to the fall league and let him pitch out there.

Sergio Santos had a disappointing 2006 and it looks like he has stalled at AAA.  Yeah it was a disappointing season and he was disappointed with it, and there was some hype to him and we had some expectations, but when you break it down he is 22 years old and he is in AAA, he has had two years in AAA, we are drafting kids who are 22 years old.  If we put him back in the Florida State League he would be the MVP.  I think he was rushed a bit with the Diamondbacks, although you can't fault them for it he hit well for them and even in Tucson he hit 12 homers and had 68 RBI.  He has to do better with strike zone discipline.

The Jays draft mainly college aged players but there are several younger players in the system, several of them overseas players.  Wesley Stone made it onto the prospect lists after a very good debut season in 2005 but this year was a step back.  He was better last year than this year, he got into a slump, and a funk, at the start of the year and he had a hard time getting out of it.  A lot of times guys have to learn that the hard way, but the good thing is that now he has gone through it, a lot of guys get to AAA before struggling.  Wes is in instructional league, playing second base, trying to get his stroke back, we are shortening his stroke a little bit but he will be fine.

Leance Soto arrived last year to much fanfare when the Jays opened their wallets to sign him but Soto has been a major bust so far.  He is a talented guy, he has some tools, he can hit the ball out of the ballpark, he hits to all fields, he has a strong arm, he makes some plays but it's all raw ability right now.  He needs to get some consistency, he might be a guy who goes back to extended spring training next year then goes to the New York Penn league.

Yuber Rodriguez looked to be a five tool player headed for superstardom in 2004 but two poor seasons have dropped him from prospect lists. He had an off year this year, but he made some strides.  He has a lot of talent and you hate to give up on a kid like that, he is a great centre-fielder, it just depends how far his bat carries him.

Yohermyn Chavez is a 17 year old who made Baseball America's top 20 prospect list for the Appalachian League.  You look at him and say wow that's nice, I wish we had five or six other 17 years olds like him.  He's got good size, he runs well, plays good defense.  Obviously he has not seen breaking balls and pitching like he has seen here in the States.  He is down in instructional league and we are trying to get him as many reps as we can and then he will go back home and get some at-bats there.  He is an interesting guy but he is a long way away from the big leagues so to make a prediction, I am not that smart, but I like him and a lot of our coaches like him.

The conversation moved from the kids to the 2006 draft crop.  Although the Jays took Travis Snider, a hitter, with their first pick, it was some of the pitchers chosen who received more attention during the season. 

Kyle Ginley performed very well in his first pro season, good enough to make his way onto Batters Box Top 30 prospects list.  He was a reliever in college, throws well, he is a big kid, he came in a little heavier than we wanted but he worked hard to get himself in shape.  He throws downhill well, has good stuff, his fastball is around 90-92.  He is in instructional right now and the nice thing is he has some size to him.  A lot of pitchers these days are 5'10", 5'11", but this year we have a lot of pitchers who are bigger, 6'3", 6'4", that's what profiles better for the big leagues.  He will be a starter next year.

Chase Lirette is another 2006 draftee who pitched his way into a starters role in the playoffs for Auburn.  He has a good arm, he is a big boy, around 6'4", big broad shoulders, nice loose arm, bit of a short-armer, the ball gets to home plate quickly, throws downhill, secondary stuff probably a bit ahead of Ginley right now.  He pitched real well for us this year.

Ted Serro is a reliever who put up great strikeout numbers in his first season.  Another big guy, good sinker it's his money pitch right now so he will stay as a reliever.  Low three quarter delivery, needs to sharpen up the secondary stuff, he was a nice surprise for us too.

Brandon Magee was the top pitcher chosen by the Jays in the 2006 draft and Dick Scott really likes him.  He's got good stuff, 92-93, another big guy.  His slider and change were better than we thought they were going to be, he will probably move to the Florida State League next year, he has a chance to move quickly through the organization.

Scott Campbell, the only hitter in this section, was the Jays tenth round pick out of New Zealand and ended the season winning the Webster award in Auburn.  He did a pretty good job this year, there's an inexperienced kid coming from New Zealand, I guarantee he didn't play a lot down there.  He played hard, played every day, improved considerably at second base making the pivots and turning the double play, had some big hits, played solid for them.  We will see, it's one thing to do it in the Penn league, it's another to do it in AA, but he had a really good year.

Finally we talked about the Jays decision to drop their Pulaski team for next season.  We had 22 guys on the roster there who were only there to fill out for the other eight guys.  I think Snider could have played in Auburn, I think some of the other guys could have played in Auburn.  We will see how it works out, a lot is being made of us going to five teams, it's not a cost cutting thing, it's just that every year when we go into the draft I bring a list up and tell Jon Lalonde and Tony LaCava that we need five relievers, one starter, three outfielders, a first baseman, and so on just to fill out our roster, that's all they are doing finding those guys.  So we will see how it goes, we always have the option of going to the Gulf Coast League.  I don't particularily like that league unless you have a lot of young kids, there's not too many guys who want to play complex baseball for six months, it's not too much fun.  We will have to bring our young latin players into Auburn, some of them might struggle, but we are not going to get rid of our (Pulaski) coaches we will use them with the other teams, it will give us options to help out the kids.

A big Batters Box thank you to Dick Scott for sharing his minor league knowledge with us.

An Interview with Dick Scott | 10 comments | Create New Account
The following comments are owned by whomever posted them. This site is not responsible for what they say.
John Northey - Friday, September 29 2006 @ 07:03 AM EDT (#156201) #
Interesting point about using up scouts time finding players for filling out the roster in Pulaski. If those scouts can now concentrate more on finding top quality players for any position rather than trying to find guys just to fill in a roster then maybe it can be a net plus.  Good to see the Jays are keeping their options open about getting another low level team if needed.
Pistol - Friday, September 29 2006 @ 08:34 AM EDT (#156203) #
I don't think scouts will be spending any more or less time scouting players without Pulaski.  I believe the point Scott was trying to make is that most of the 2nd day draft picks are being made only to fill out the team, and not because they consider them real prospects.

What'll be interesting to see is what the Jays do with the picks.  If they don't need the 2nd day picks to fill out Pulaski I imagine it means they'll take a lot more draft & follow players.
Marc Hulet - Friday, September 29 2006 @ 09:18 AM EDT (#156204) #
A couple questions... Did Dick Scott mention what ailment Tressler has?

Also, has anyone heard of any minor league Jays getting released? Normally 5-10 are let go after the minor league season ends and then a bunch more in spring training...

China fan - Friday, September 29 2006 @ 11:12 AM EDT (#156211) #

      When he predicted that Janssen will be on the "big league roster" next year, was he talking about the 40-man roster or the 25-man roster?    If the 25-man roster, it would presumably have to be in the starting rotation, since he doesn't seem to have much bullpen experience.   And that would seem to be a pretty optimistic prediction, since Janssen currently seems to be behind Chacin and Marcum in the depth chart.   Any guesses on what he meant? 

Mike Green - Friday, September 29 2006 @ 11:21 AM EDT (#156213) #
"Big league roster" refers, I am quite sure, to the 25 man.

It would certainly be possible for Janssen to be a long man in the pen to start the season.  Many minor league starters begin their major league careers in that role. 

Thomas - Friday, September 29 2006 @ 02:19 PM EDT (#156235) #
Where is a good place to follow offseason moves by the Blue Jays minors.

Personally, I'm a big fan of this site.

Baseball America's pretty good for following transactions, but the offseason tends to be relatively quiet for the minor leagues. Unless guys are playing in the Arizona Fall League or a Carribean winter league, there is often little to report. The big things to watch for are 40-man roster moves in preperation for the Rule V draft and 6-year minor league free agent signings. Teams will also cut some guys in the offseason, but they'll all be fringe prospects. It won't be until the spring when we begin to get a better sense of who will be assigned where and how the decision to drop an affiliate will affect prospect placement.
Gerry - Friday, September 29 2006 @ 03:34 PM EDT (#156243) #


Dick didn't say what was wrong with Tressler, I will have to check the tape but he just talked about Tressler throwing strikes but he did say that at this point he didn't know of any injuries that would carry over until next season.

Lugnut Fan - Saturday, September 30 2006 @ 11:30 PM EDT (#156288) #


From talking with Ken Joyce at the end of last year, it sounded like Tressler had shoulder tendenitis.  I think there was some concern about the number of innings that he had thrown up to that point as well and they just decided to shut him down.  He should be fine for next season.

An Interview with Dick Scott | 10 comments | Create New Account
The following comments are owned by whomever posted them. This site is not responsible for what they say.