Batter's Box Interactive Magazine Batter's Box Interactive Magazine Batter's Box Interactive Magazine the sun or shade...without the busy pace back east.

The Phoenix Desert Dogs went all the way this AFL season with Blue Jays farmhands playing a lead role. Chip Cannon, Kyle Yates, Curtis Thigpen, Ryan Klosterman, Dustin McGowan, Jordan DeJong and Tracy Thorpe all contributed to the Dogs' success. Shall we take a look at how some of them did, and how it affects their prospect status?

Chip Cannon, 105 at-bats, .352/.474/.714

It is lucky for a left-handed power hitter to slug .714. Cannon turns 25 next week, and now finds himself in a position where he might be ready to make a contribution to the big club in the second half of next year. He has the same strengths and weaknesses that he has always had, excellent power, the willingness to take a walk, and the propensity to strike out in bunches. For the season (580 at-bats), he hit 38 homers and struck out 191 times. That is not a recipe for success, but 42 homers and 175 strikeouts is. He still needs a small step, but it is possible that he will take it.

Kyle Yates, 24 IP, 19 H, 1 HR, 6W, 25K, 1.13 ERA

Yates' excellence in the AFL puts a completely different spin on his season. His Eastern League tenure would have to be considered treading water, but after the AFL, he now is a 23 year old who has thrown 150 good innings at the double A level. He may very well start 2007 in Syracuse, and could be contributing at the big-league level later in the year.

Curtis Thigpen, 88 at-bats, .307/.392/.500

Thigpen continued producing at a reasonable rate for a catcher, and honed his defensive game in the AFL. It is noteworthy that he earned the start over Landon Powell as the Dogs' catcher in the final. He too will likely start 2007 in Syracuse, and should earn a cup of coffee with the Jays at the end of next season.

Tracy Thorpe, 12.1 IP, 10 H, 0 HR, 5 W, 18 K, 0.32 G0/AO, 4.38 ERA

Thorpe turns 26 next month, but brings major heat. Check out that K rate and the ground-to-air ratio. He continues to get pop-ups at the rate of 15% of balls in play. The Jays added him to the 40 man roster. This appears to be a wise decision. He will start 2007 in Syracuse, and may be ready to help out in the bullpen, if needed, later in 2007.

Dustin McGowan, 19.1 IP, 18 H, 1 HR, 9 W, 18K, 5.53 ERA

One can safely ignore the ERA. McGowan pitched well enough, as he did in Syracuse this past year, but lacked the good control that he once had. He remains an interesting prospect despite his health issues.

It was a very successful AFL season for the Jay farm system, with all of the prospects either holding their own or improving their standing.
AFL Update 3- I know there are many ways to live there.. | 41 comments | Create New Account
The following comments are owned by whomever posted them. This site is not responsible for what they say.
Pistol - Tuesday, November 21 2006 @ 09:07 AM EST (#158418) #
About Cannon at BP yesterday:
Scouts nevertheless remain unimpressed.......point to his age (he turns 25 in a couple of weeks) and a long swing (33 strikeouts in 105 at-bats) as significant shortcomings. He'll need to keep this up at Triple-A next year to quiet what is still a pretty sizeable group of naysayers.
Pistol - Tuesday, November 21 2006 @ 09:29 AM EST (#158420) #
Yates appears to be the result of good scouting and/or good coaching.  He was a 13th round pick out of U Texas (and a teammate of Thigpen), but he only pitched 41.1 innings in college, all in relief.  I can't find any other record of him, so I suspect he transferred from a Juco.

His BB rate in college was 4.6/9, and 5.0/9 at Auburn (in very limited innings).  Since then he's been under 3.0/9 at every stop.
MatO - Tuesday, November 21 2006 @ 09:37 AM EST (#158421) #
For what it's worth, Keith Law was on the FAN yesterday and saw McGowan pitch in the AFL and said he looked very good.
ayjackson - Tuesday, November 21 2006 @ 10:07 AM EST (#158422) #
Is the AFL a harbinger for immediate success in the Big League?  It is (at least) encouraging to examine the list of 2005 Batting Leaders and discover how many made the jump at some point in 2006.
Skills - Tuesday, November 21 2006 @ 10:32 AM EST (#158425) #
Wow, I don't think I've heard Keith Law say anything positive about the Jays since joining up with ESPN. A good reason to think he his at least sincere about his opinion on McGowan.
Jim - Tuesday, November 21 2006 @ 12:10 PM EST (#158437) #
If you read his chat transcripts, I'm pretty sure that Law has been very complimentary of Lind as well.

Mylegacy - Tuesday, November 21 2006 @ 01:05 PM EST (#158450) #

I've followed the AFL for years and this is by far the best year Jay fledgings have ever had, at least that I can remember. However, none of them has made the top prospects list.

A few comments;

Cannon. The 6'5" 215 puond guy we signed is now at least 225. He's turned into Kingmanlite. He has a serious chance to be at least a platoon DH, but would not need a lot of improvement to be a significant contributor. Apparently, most scouts remain pessimestic that he can make the adjustments. At worse this guy could be a scary, cheap, bat off the bench. We'll own the guy till he's in his 30's.

Yates. Good scouting. Could be a very useful arm or at worse a useful trade piece.

Thigpen. No question, Jays number one catcher from 2008 to at least 2013. Often compared to Jason Kendall, no question he's got a good big league career ahead of him. question...

Thorpe. VERY late bloomer, big strong power arm, late 07 set-up guy if anyone falters, in 08 pen for sure.

McGowan. I may be the last Jay's fan that LOVES this guy.  He's had health issues that either kill you or make you stronger. This guy's top end is scary good. I may be the only one but by season's end this guy is our number three and being compared to the big two. McGowan is my boldest 07 prediction, well that and the minor fact that our Jay's win the WS this year.

One last comment, Buster Olney quotes JP as saying with our extra four 1st (or supplemental 1st) round picks and given that JP sees a, "...very, very good high school draft...." we "..might pick some of them and let them develop...we really were in a position where we had to draft college kids. Not next year." 

timpinder - Tuesday, November 21 2006 @ 02:13 PM EST (#158458) #


You're not the only one who loves McGowan.  Ideally we get the option year, but If we don't I think he should be our #5 starter.  He needs a chance, I'd hate to see him rot in the back of the bullpen or get traded somewhere else and then become an ace.

You said you followed the AFL.  Maybe you can fill me in on McGowan, who is a guy I've been hoping would break out for a couple years.  When he was sent to the AFL, there was talk that they were going to have him try his fastball/curve approach vs. a fastball/slider approach (like Frasor), and see what worked better for him, then have him go with one.  Any idea what resulted in his success in the latter half of his AFL experience?  Was it a switch from his curve that he's had trouble controlling to his slider, with the curve becoming just a 5%-10% show-me pitch?  Was it just getting more comfortable with starting again?  I'd appreciate any insight.  Man I hope we get the extra option year on him.  If he could break out, it might be the catalyst that puts the Jays over the top, like the rise of the Tigers' rotation last year.

Gerry - Tuesday, November 21 2006 @ 09:45 PM EST (#158497) #

It's very hard to predict what Cannon will become.  When a hitter gets to the major leagues, pitchers try fastballs, then breaking balls, inside, outside, looking for a weakness.  Cannon, like a lot of young hitters, is a good fastball hitter but he does swing and miss a lot.  The pitchers will probe to see if he does have a specific weakness, can he make changes, can he hit the breaking ball?  Next year in AAA will be his big test of that, AAA has a lot of fringe major league pitchers with below average fastballs and a lot of junk.  If he hits well in AAA then he should do OK in the big leagues.

Rosario will be in the bullpen, he doesn't have enough variety of quality pitches to be in the rotation.   If he pitches really well in the bullpen, and shows an improvement in his slider and change-up, he could move back to the rotation as Marcum did this year.

Gerry - Wednesday, November 22 2006 @ 08:55 AM EST (#158521) #

The Jays have made a number of changes to their minor league staff, with more to come.

Doug Davis has been promoted from Manager of AA New Hampshire to manager at AAA Syracuse.

Former AAA manager, Mike Basso, has been promoted to minor league coordinator.

Ken Joyce and Gary Cathcart exchange jobs, Joyce becomes hitting coach at AA while Cathcart becomes manager in Lansing.

The job of AA manager is now vacant with Davis' promotion.

MattAtBat - Thursday, November 23 2006 @ 03:00 AM EST (#158619) #

I'm thinking of some historical comparisons for Cannon that seem to suit what people think of his future. How about... Bob Hamelin? Shane Spencer? Daryle Ward? Russell Branyan?

Mike Green - Thursday, November 23 2006 @ 12:04 PM EST (#158630) #
Branyan is not a bad comparison as a hitter, except that he's ahead of Cannon by 2 years.  Branyan was the MVP of the Sally League at age 20, and had 300 fine double A at-bats at age 21-22. (28 homers, 63 walks, 114 strikeouts). 

Branyan's career as a hitter would make a reasonable target for Cannon, although it is possible for him to do a little better because his K rate is a little lower, he's bigger, and he is not likely to have deal with the position changes that Branyan did.

Parker - Thursday, November 23 2006 @ 01:00 PM EST (#158635) #
I'm thinking of some historical comparisons for Cannon...

Rob Deer?
Mike Green - Thursday, November 23 2006 @ 02:24 PM EST (#158644) #
Deer is not a bad comparable, but again he was a bit younger at each developmental stage.  He also had higher K and W rates.
Craig B - Thursday, November 23 2006 @ 08:58 PM EST (#158677) #
Similar to Cannon... I am thinking Kevin Witt.
Marc Hulet - Friday, November 24 2006 @ 09:01 AM EST (#158690) #
Gronkiewicz was once compared to former Cleveland closer Doug Jones, by Dick Scott of the Jays.
AFL Update 3- I know there are many ways to live there.. | 41 comments | Create New Account
The following comments are owned by whomever posted them. This site is not responsible for what they say.