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I was in Fort Myers last weekend to see the Dunedin Jays take on the Minnesota affiliate in a three game series.  Game recaps have already been posted so I will not cover the games but instead provide a scouting report on some of the players.  I also received updates on several players from other teams which I will add to the bottom of this story.  Finally don't expect to see Gustavo Chacin in the big leagues any time soon.

The Pitchers

I will start with three pitchers with major league experience.  I saw each of these pitchers pitch once, and that could mean one inning for some of the relievers.  My comments are based on that one opportunity to see them, they could have been pitching as well as they had all season that day, or they could have been feeling off somehow so take all my comments from that vantage point.

BJ Ryan pitched on Friday night and took the loss.  Ryan's velocity was down from before the elbow injury, his fastball was mainly in the 88-89 range which is a couple of mph off his pre-injury velocity.  Ryan threw his slider/slurve too but his control was a little off, he probably threw 20 pitches to get through one inning.  The big hit against Ryan was a double just inside the line at third when the hitter just got a piece of Ryan's slider which can happen when your fastball loses a mile per hour or two.  Expect some ups and downs for a few weeks at least.

Armando Benitez made two pitches and then pulled his hamstring trying to cover first on a ground ball.  Benitez threw one test pitch after he was hurt and immediately left the field holding the back of his leg.  I don't know the timeframe for a return but pitchers use their legs a lot and the injury needs to be well healed before he can come back.  I believe Benitez had a mid-May date to be on the major league roster, this injury will obviously call for a re-evaluation of that clause.

Gustavo Chacin started on Saturday night and again was hit hard giving up nine hits in 4.2 innings.  More tellingly Chacin had only one strikeout.  Chacin had labrum surgery last year and his velocity has not returned.  Chacin's fastball was in the 82-84 mph range and I saw only one pitch at 85.  With the slider at 78-79 hitters who thought they were swinging at a fastball could still hit the slider down the line.  Chacin was helped by two runners thrown out at the plate.  The comeback from labrum surgery is a difficult one, expect Chacin to be in the minor leagues all year and the big concern is whether he can increase his velocity back up close to 90 mph.

Kenny Rodriguez started on Friday night.  Rodriguez is a Cuban pitcher who lists his hometown as Lima, Peru.  Rodriguez is 6'2" or 6'3" with an average build.  Rodriguez throws over the top with a classic delivery. Rodriguez includes the following pitches in his repertoire.

Fastball was 87-88 with a bit of run.  I saw one fastball at 90.  The fastball was below major league quality and when he grooved a couple in the first inning the Fort Myers hitters deposited them over the fence.

The change-up was Rodriguez best pitch at 81 and it got Rodriguez most of his strikeouts.  His change-up was major league quality.  Rodriguez threw an average curve at 75-78 mph and once dropped down for a sidearm slider.

Rodriguez works both sides of the plate and is very effective when he pitches down in the zone as that makes his change-up more effective.  Rodriguez has little or no margin for error with his fastball and therefore his success is dependent on pinpoint accuracy with it.  Rodriguez will have to prove himself at each level to continue to progress.

Celson Polanco pitched on Friday night in relief.  Polanco was signed as a minor league free-agent by the Jays in the off-season.  Polanco is a big guy, 6'3" or 6'4" with a big body.  Polanco throws from the 3/4 slot and has effort in his delivery.  Polanco's fastball was 88 mph and was complemented by a very good 78-80 mph change-up.  I didn't see anything else from Polanco as he threw about eight straight change-ups to the Fort Myers hitters as they couldn't hit it so he kept throwing it.

Conor Falkenbach pitched Saturday after Benitez left the game.  Falkenbach is 5'10" or 5'11" and skinny.  Falkenbach has a side-arm delivery where he steps towards the third base dugout and throws underarm with his pitching hand about one foot above the mound.  Falkenbach threw a 80-81 mph fastball and a slider at 69mph.  At those speeds Falkenbach might struggle at AA and above.

Edward Rodriguez pitched one inning.  Rodriguez is about 6'3" and also skinny.  In the past Rodriguez had been criticized for not trusting is fastball and so it was encouraging to see Rodriguez only use his fastball in one inning of work.  His fastball is 90-92 mph and should he learn to trust the fastball it will make his other pitches more effective.

Zach Dials closed out Saturday's game.  Dials is around 6' tall and throws from a 3/4 arm angle.  Dials featured a 91-94 mph fastball with some run, an 86 mph slider with good movement and a change-up at 81 mph.  As they say Dials has the weapons, his success will depend on how he uses them.

Brett Cecil started Sunday and was limited to three innings or 45 pitches.  He did go three innings but only threw 37 pitches.  Cecil is about 6'1" and has a wide body, he is not fat he has a big frame, which is good for pitchers.  Cecil delivers from a wide arm angle somewhere between 3/4 and 5/8ths.  Cecil's fastball was 90-92 mph with good movement.  Cecil appeared to throw two fastballs, the two seamer dipped while the four seamer ran into right handed hitters.   Cecil also throws a slider which varied from 82 to 86 mph.  Cecil is working on changing speeds and therefore the movement on his slider based on his discussions with BJ Ryan (look for more with a Cecil interview coming soon).  Cecil also has a change-up at around 81 mph.  Cecil broke several bats in his three innings as the fastball or slider bore in on the hitters.  Cecil did give up a home run on a change-up that hung in the middle of the plate.

Cecil has the velocity and movement that is a big part of success at the major league level.  Assuming he stays healthy he could move up later this year.

Julio Pinto followed Cecil and pitched five innings.  Pinto is around 6' tall and has a wide body and delivers from a 3/4 angle.  Pinto has a standard offering, 87-88 mph fastball with some movement; an 82-84 mph slider; a 71 mph curve and an 80 mph change-up with good sink.  All pitches look to be average for the level which means his future success depends on command.  Pinto's command was not great in his first couple of innings but once he settled in he mixed his pitches well.

Chad Blackwell was the last pitcher I saw.  Blackwell is 6'1" or 6'2" and skinny.  Blackwell's delivery reminded me of a right handed BJ Ryan without the short-arming.  Blackwell brings his arms and elbows up around his head as he begins his delivery, hiding the ball well behind his head, before he delivers from a 3/4 or 5/8 angle.  Like Ryan Blackwell works quickly and goes after the hitters.  Blackwell featured a 88-90 mph fastball; a slider at 81 which he dropped down on one time at 77; and a change-up between 78-80.  I liked watching him pitch.

The Hitters

Travis Snider's swing was not working well in this series.  Snider, when he is hitting well, hits a lot to left centre field.  In this series it looked like Snider was trying to hit everything over the right field fence.  Snider was 5 for 14 in the at-bats I saw but four of the hits were ground balls.  One went off the first baseman's glove, one bounced over the first baseman who was holding a runner, one went up the middle and one went between 2nd and 1st.  Snider also struck out five times and grounded out to first and second one time each.  I assume Snider will work on his swing and when we see the doubles and homeruns to left field we will know his swing is back on track.

Ontario's Chris Emanuele hit the ball harder than any other player in this series and went 7 for 15.  Emanuele looks to be just under 6' and hits from the right side.  Emanuele has a good arm in the outfield and threw out a runner at the plate.  Emanuele does not get cheated at the plate and appears to be a classic first ball fastball hitter as he rarely went deep into counts.  This could have been because he was seeing the ball well but it could also be a tendency that gets him into trouble at higher levels.

Cory Patton is another big swinger who swings early and often.  Patton showed the most power in batting practice as his uppercut swing generated lots of fly balls.  Patton is listed at 5'10" with a shaved head, and hits left-handed.  Patton is another first ball fastball hitter but Patton struck out seven times in thirteen at-bats.  Patton struck out on off-speed pitches regularly, I am not sure he hit one in the series, and that is his weakness.  Patton is another good outfielder with a strong arm and he made several good plays in the field in the series.

Sean Shoffit is hitting lead-off and playing centre-field.  Shoffit is tall and thin, listed at 6'2", hits from the left side, and is fast.  Shoffit is a patient hitter and probably fouled off more pitches than any other hitter.  Shoffit looked to be slightly off balance in his approach leading to his just missing several hittable pitches.  Shoffit also has an uppercut to his swing.

JP Arencibia is about 6' tall with a good sized frame and hits from the right side.  Arencibia's at-bats varied from poor to very good.  At times Arencibia looked like a free swinger who struck out in his first three at-bats in the first game.  At other times he battles the pitcher and looks great.  Arencibia does have a quick bat and can wait until the pitch is deeper in the zone before committing himself.  Arencibia has a good eye and did have several hits on off-speed pitches which is an encouraging sign.  Arencibia does have pop in his bat even though his home run to rightfield on Sunday was wind-aided.  Defensively Arencibia looks good, he has a good arm although Fort Myers were not running on him.  Once he threw from his knees to second on a pick-off attempt.  That throw was strong with good carry.  Arencibia also acquitted himself well catching and blocking pitches for BJ Ryan and Gustavo Chacin.

Jesus Gonzalez looks good as a player.  He is 6'2", a right handed hitter, with an athletic body and has a good arm from third base.  Gonzalez played in two of the games and, in this series at least, looked better than he played.  Gonzalez only hit in the series was a swinging bunt and most of his at-bats ended with a fly ball or a ground ball.  Gonzalez has good speed and a good eye but the results weren't there this weekend.

Jon Diaz reminded me of Johnny McDonald. Diaz is very smooth at the plate and made a terrific play in one game where he dived for a ball in the hole, popped up in one motion, and easily threw out the runner.  Diaz has a good eye at the plate and is willing to hit to all fields.  Diaz is a switch hitter and did hit a home run left handed although it was wind-aided.  Like McDonald, Diaz is a pop hitter who generally hit the ball on the ground or popped it just over the infield.

I also saw Brian Dopirak, Brad Emaus, Al Quintana, Luis Sanchez and Paul Franko although not enough to develop a strong opinion on them.

With a strong outfield and with Gonzalez and Diaz in the infield Dunedin looked like a strong defensive team and pitching and defense might be their key to success this year.

Other updates

Adrian Martin is on the DL with blisters, the same issue that caused him difficulties last season.

Billy Carnline just had labrum surgery last week and is out for the year.

Chase Lirette had arthroscopic shoulder surgery in the off-season and is recovering and should be throwing soon.

Marc Rzepczynski is almost ready to start throwing in extended spring training, it should be about a month before he will show up on a minor league roster.

Kyle Ginley is now throwing all of his off-speed pitches which was a concern last season.  His return to Lansing was not a big deal according to the Jays coach I spoke too as he needs to get his work in somewhere.  Ginley has a very good fastball but needed to develop his offspeed pitches.

The Jays feel they have tightened Ricky Romero's delivery and he will show improved command this season, the Jays believe Romero was unlucky in his first start.

Davis Romero's struggles in his last start could be blamed on a "terrible mound" in Rochester.

Dunedin Blue Jays Scouting Report | 6 comments | Create New Account
The following comments are owned by whomever posted them. This site is not responsible for what they say.
jays07 - Wednesday, April 16 2008 @ 04:26 PM EDT (#182814) #
I see where you wrote Marc Rzepczynski may start pitching in extended spring training soon. Is there anywhere you can find information on the extended spring training scrimmages or who a roster for who is there?
Gerry - Wednesday, April 16 2008 @ 04:44 PM EDT (#182819) #
Extended spring training is not followed and almost no-one goes to see the games so the answer to the question is there is no way to find out what is happening there.  From time to time we can talk with some Blue Jay front office people but they will answer some questions and will not volunteer information. 
ANationalAcrobat - Wednesday, April 16 2008 @ 05:52 PM EDT (#182824) #
It's unfortunate that Pinto's work may not translate to the major leagues, since he has posted some impressive numbers in the past and clearly has some polish. Hopefully he can add a few MPH to that fastball...
Mylegacy - Wednesday, April 16 2008 @ 06:07 PM EDT (#182825) #
Gerry - great work!
Mike Green - Wednesday, April 16 2008 @ 07:44 PM EDT (#182828) #
Wonderful report, Gerry.
Pistol - Thursday, April 17 2008 @ 09:00 AM EDT (#182846) #
That was great, thanks Gerry.
Dunedin Blue Jays Scouting Report | 6 comments | Create New Account
The following comments are owned by whomever posted them. This site is not responsible for what they say.