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It's been a fine Arizona Fall League season so far for the Blue Jay farmhands playing for the Phoenix Desert Dogs, who lead the circuit with a 14-8 record. 

To put things in context, the league so far is hitting .278/.363/.428.  Walk totals are high, but everything else is pretty typical.  Here are the Desert Dog statistics, and a look at the Jay farmhands on the club.

Chip Cannon

Cannon is hitting .389/.505/.847.  Even allowing for modest inflation in the desert environment, he is the dominant offensive player in a league filled with prospects.  Still, getting hot for 3 weeks does not mean that much.  For the season, he has hit .267 with 65 walks, 37 homers and 179 strikeouts in 547 at-bats.  That is consistent with his 2005 performance.  He still has work to do, but his AFL performance gives hope that he is making progress.

Curtis Thigpen

Thigpen is hitting .259/.386/.483 with 2 homers, 11 walks and only 5 strikeouts in 58 at-bats.  He has caught some of the time, and controlled the running game well when he has done so.  He is only 23, and there is every indication that he is going to be a solid major leaguer by 2008, if he can stay healthy.

Ryan Klosterman

Klosterman has has his season cut short by injury, but prior to the injury he was not overmatched.  He is 24 and will start 2007 in double A.

Dustin McGowan

McGowan has made 5 starts, and has been pretty good in most of them despite an ugly 1-3 record with a 5.59 ERA.  9 walks, 1 home run allowed and 18 strikeouts in 19.2 innings is in the AFL context above average pitching. 

Kyle Yates

Yates has 5 appearances, 3 starting and 2 in relief. His 3 starts have all been excellent, and the 2 long relief outings have been good.  With 5 walks and 21 strikeouts in 19 innings, Yates has been very, very effective.  Counting only his AA work and his AFL work this year (he dominated in 14 innings in the FSL), his line for the season reads 146.1 innings, 3.44 ERA, 131 hits, 11 homers, 43 walks and 123 strikeouts.  For a 23 year old pitcher, that is not bad at all.   He will be moving up prospect lists.

Tracy Thorpe

Nothing new for Tracy.  He has a blazing fastball and less than optimal control.  His numbers are not pretty, a 6.23 ERA in 8.2 innings, but he really has not pitched any differently in Arizona than he did in AA during the season.  One bad outing skews his result.

Jordan DeJong

At 27 years old, DeJong is the classic organizational player, hoping for a break. He has pitched well enough in Arizona, with 3 wins and only 3 hits surrendered in 10 innings of work.

We will check back at the end of the season.

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The following comments are owned by whomever posted them. This site is not responsible for what they say.
Named For Hank - Sunday, November 05 2006 @ 04:40 PM EST (#157511) #
If I remember correctly, he lives on top of Manhattan-Chase.  The elevator's broke so he slides down a rope.

Somehow that song fit into a musical version of 1984.

jgadfly - Sunday, November 05 2006 @ 04:50 PM EST (#157512) #
Mike... are the Jays going to fill Klosterman's spot on the roster?
greenfrog - Sunday, November 05 2006 @ 05:34 PM EST (#157513) #
Rotoworld has nice things to say about Yates:

"With a 1.42 ERA and 21 strikeouts in 19 2/3 innings, Yates has been the best pitcher in Arizona. The 2004 13th-round pick went 6-9 with a 3.75 ERA, 118 H and 102/38 K/BB in 127 1/3 IP for Double-A New Hampshire last season. He's been looked at as a potential reliever in the majors, but he could use the AFL as the same kind of springboard that Tampa Bay's James Shields did a year ago."

Craig B - Sunday, November 05 2006 @ 08:56 PM EST (#157520) #
The Blue Jays have the best hitter and best pitcher in the AFL.  Nice to have some good prospect news, and it certainly underlines the fact that while critics point to a lack of upside in the organization, you can't ask more of guys than to dominate their competition.

Ten homers and fourteen walks in 86 PA for Cannon is just insanity.

And of course, Hunter Pence, as the best prospect on my DMB team, has had the requisite off-field problem (DUI infraction).  If a guy's going to have problems, I'll find a way to draft him... sigh.

For more Chip Cannon content, hit the AFL front page.  Midway down the page on the lefthand side is a 10-minute interview of Chip with MLB Radio.

Mike Green - Sunday, November 05 2006 @ 09:08 PM EST (#157521) #
Ryan Hubele was added to the Desert Dog roster when Klosterman was injured. The Ryans are coming, the Ryans are coming...
Craig B - Sunday, November 05 2006 @ 09:11 PM EST (#157522) #
Chip, by the way, has a chance to win both AFL Triple Crowns.  He is first in HR, first in RBI, first in OBP, first in SLG, and second in batting average to Yunel Escobar.
Jordan - Sunday, November 05 2006 @ 09:45 PM EST (#157524) #

Iíve thought for awhile that Cannon had a chance to be Ryan Howard Lite. Hereís what they did in their age-24 seasons in the Eastern League:

R Howard 2004
374 AB, .297/.386/.647, 73 R, 111 H, 18 2B, 37 HR, 46 BB, 129 K

C Cannon 2006
475 AB, .248/.335/.476, 78 R, 118 H, 25 2B, 27 HR, 51 BB, 158 K

Among the key differences: 50 points of BA, a whole lot of power, and last year was Chipís second AA trip, while Howard was promoted to AAA on the strength of that 1033 OPS in 100 fewer ABs. Cannon wonít be hitting 58 HRs in the majors anytime soon -- Howard posted a .371/.467/.690 line in AAA in 2005 -- but Cannonís AFL hot streak shows you what heís capable of. Out-of-nowhere performances from youngsters are what propel borderline contenders into the thick of pennant races; if the Jays could get half of Howardís production from Cannon, it would be a huge boost. But that wonít be till í08 at the soonest.

Pistol - Monday, November 06 2006 @ 09:01 AM EST (#157533) #
I always thought that NH was a favorable park for LH power hitters (relatively short with with the wind generally blowing out that direction).  Cannon's splits this year were enormous so I wonder whether the splits are just a fluke or whether he takes advantage on the environment.  The AFL performance is a notch in his favor, but I don't know what the park is like in Phoenix and the AFL in general is pretty favorable to hitters.
Mike Green - Monday, November 06 2006 @ 09:40 AM EST (#157535) #
Phoenix Municipal Stadium seems to be neutral for the league.  It is symmetrical and 345' down the lines. Phoenix is at 1100' altitude, so the ball travels a little better than it does in some other contexts.  Cannon has 10 homers; no one else on the club has more than 2.  I doubt that the power he has shown has been significantly influenced by the context.

My own view is that Cannon is a streaky hitter.  In 2005, he had his streak in Dunedin in June.  This year, it was Phoenix in October-November.  His cumulative performance over each of the 2 years is however pretty consistent. 

Gerry - Monday, November 06 2006 @ 11:45 AM EST (#157543) #

Cannon went to the AFL to improve his plate discipline and while his walks are up his strikeouts are not materially changed.  When I saw Cannon this year it looked like he was sitting "dead red", looking for a fastball to turn around.  What we don't know from the AFL is how Cannon is handling off-speed pitches, next year in AAA Cannon will see a great variety of those.  The ability to hit all types of pitches will likely be the deciding factor in his future career.

McGowan and Thorpe continue to battle their consistency, who knows when, or if, they will develop it.  There are many pitchers in MLB who don't blow hitters away and get by on guile and smarts.  Kyle Yates is that kind of pitcher, short with an average fastball and an above average curveball.  Again, like Cannon, his AFL performance is great but the bigger test will be at AAA.

ayjackson - Monday, November 06 2006 @ 03:27 PM EST (#157552) #

McGowan's line is significantly skewed by one very poor outing.  In his other four starts, he has 17K, 14 hits and 4 walks in 17 innings.  His ERA in those games was 2.12.

Those numbers look much more encouraging, but if he blows up again this weekend, all bets are off.

js_magloire - Tuesday, November 07 2006 @ 10:37 AM EST (#157572) #
Here's a great Arizona article on Chip Cannon, biographical and all, I didn't know half this stuff.
Gerry - Tuesday, November 07 2006 @ 11:05 AM EST (#157576) #
Wayne Lydon has signed with Washington after one year in the Jays sytem.  This does create a hole as none of the outfielders at AA, Ryan Patterson, David Smith or Tony Miller, look to be ready to take over.  One option for the Jays would be to resign Justin Singleton who is a very good defensive outfielder.
Gerry - Tuesday, November 07 2006 @ 07:36 PM EST (#157612) #

Big day in the AFL for Jays prospects.  Chip Cannon had only one hit in 5 tries, but it was a walk-off home run in the tenth inning.  Curtis Thigpen was 3-5 with two doubles.  Jordan DeJong pitched two scoreless innings and Tracey Thorpe pitched one and third perfect innings.

Chip Cannon is profiled in an AFL report for subscribers only on BA's site.  Cannon credits a changed stance for his improved performance later in the year and in Arizona.

Mike Green - Wednesday, November 08 2006 @ 11:36 AM EST (#157632) # has a review of the Jay top prospects today.  Here were our top 10 picks.
Marc Hulet - Thursday, November 09 2006 @ 06:43 PM EST (#157705) #
JP's best draft? Beyond the first round, most GMs have no say on the players taken... And I'd say in a year or two we may be touting this year's draft as the best with Snider and Magee and later round picks like Lirette, Ginley and Dial, etc.

As for Griffin, why add him to the roster? He can't play any position but left-field and he has yet to prove he can hit at triple-A, not to mention the fact he was injured most of the year and needs at-bats. Most AL teams don't carry fifth outfielders anyway.

According to Inside the Dome, is that the Jays are close to signing MiLB free agents SP Geremi Gonzalez, RP Beau Kemp and speedy OF Jeff Duncan.

Mike Green - Friday, November 10 2006 @ 11:19 AM EST (#157734) #
Cannon went 0-5 with 3 strikeouts yesterday, and did chase balls out of the zone.  That has been a rarity for him in the AFL this time. He probably could use a day off.
Hodgie - Friday, November 10 2006 @ 04:55 PM EST (#157752) #

Am I missing something or has McGowan missed a turn in the rotation?

By the way, another stellar outing for one Mr. Kyle Yates today. 5 IP, 4H, 0ER, 1BB, 4K lowering his ERA to 1.12.

Mike Green - Thursday, November 16 2006 @ 10:53 AM EST (#158042) #
Curtis Thigpen is taking questions in a live chat at in 5 minutes.
jgadfly - Friday, November 17 2006 @ 02:36 PM EST (#158193) #
The Arizona Fall League championship game is being televized on MLB-TV at 3:00PM Saturday...starting pitcher probably Kyle Yates...starting at 1st is Chip Cannon... starting at catcher Curtis Thigpen who went 3/3 and bumped his average up to 307 in Thursday's season ending game
js_magloire - Friday, November 17 2006 @ 02:41 PM EST (#158194) #
Is it free?

I think its with the 15 dollar offseason package.
Gerry - Saturday, November 18 2006 @ 10:31 PM EST (#158245) #

The Phoenix Desert Dogs, with four Blue Jays, won the AFL title today.  Unfortunately the Jays players were not major contributors to the win.  Curtis Thigpen was 0-4, Chip Cannon 0-3 with a walk.  Kyle Yates pitched two thirds of an inning and allowed a run, Tracey Thorpe pitched a perfect ninth to close out the win.

The AFL season is just over a month and therefore the stats are not very meaningful, but it is fair to say that all the Jays players have enhanced their reputations in Arizona.  Cannon and Thigpen hit well while Yates, Thorpe and McGowan pitched well.  Hopefully these positive performances will carry forward into 2007.

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