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Thirty-six guys come to camp fighting for approximately thirty spots throughout the organization.  Where will they all go?  I hope you don't expect me to know.

One of the first things you notice when looking at the list of outfielders in camp this year is the lack of quality prospects at most of the minor league levels.  Now that Adam Lind and Travis Snider have graduated to the majors, there isn't really any intriguing talent outside of a couple of really low level guys.  Don't think it's that bad?  Let's take a look.

(All assignments are my assumptions)

Majors:    Alex Rios, Vernon Wells, Adam Lind, Travis Snider

The first three are locks.  And from the looks of things, it seems Snider is pretty safe as well.  Now that is an impressive group of players.  While each has their own question marks (Wells staying healthy, and Rios putting all five tools into play at the same time), if things break right, this could quite easily become one of the most productive outfields in baseball.

AAA (Las Vegas):    Jason Lane, Ryan Patterson, Eric Nielsen, Aaron Mathews, Nick Gorneault, Cody Haether

Obviously the Jays don't need six guys in the Vegas outfield.  But this is the type of situation that will likely work itself out fairly easily.  Lane is a non-roster invitee who can also play first base.  Patterson once looked like a decent prospect but has fallen on some tough times recently.  About to turn 26, time's running out for him.  Nielsen's one of those guys who isn't likely to ever make it past this level.  He'll likely be able to hold his own at AAA but could find himself in another organization at some point.  Mathews, Gorneault, and Haether.....whatever.  Somebody needs to play.  In any event, this group: Yikes.

AA (New Hampshire):    Jacob Butler, Adam Calderone, Chris Emanuele, Cory Patton, Todd Donovan

Man, it's not much better down here.  Butler's been decent the past two years, and could end up in Vegas at some point.  Calderone showed some power in A+ last season but is still far from a prospect.  Emanuele is entirely uninteresting and will likely end up here by default.  Same goes for Patton who has been in the FSL for three years now and posted an 854 OPS last year as a 26 year-old.  Might as well move him up.  Finally, Donovan is the definition of organizational fodder.  He could be here, Vegas, or gone.  Nobody will care.

A+ (Dunedin):    Adam Loewen, Sean Shoffit, Jon Baksh, Darin Mastroianni

It gets slightly more interesting in Florida.  Loewen hopes to begin the Rick Ankiel path and I assume the FSL is where he'll spend a good chunk of time.  Shoffit spent his age 23 season in Dunedin and put up a 734 OPS.  He'll likely start here again and then perhaps make the move to New Hampshire if he shows some promise.  Baksh may well be in Lansing but he'll be 24, so Dunedin it is.  Finally, Mastroianni played all of last season in Lansing, putting up an unimpressive 613 OPS.  He'll either be back in Michigan, or here.  Either way, it's likely to matter very little.

A (Lansing):    Johermyn Chavez, Eric Eiland, Moises Sierra, Eric Thames

Finally, some promise.  The first three all spent their 2008 seasons here in the Midwest League.  Chavez and Eiland are both highly thought of and should arrive in Dunedin at some point.  It's possible they could even start there, but given their struggles in A-ball last year, some extra time here is likely.  Same can be said for Sierra, actually, though defence is his calling card.  Finally, Thames is an intriguing draft pick from 2008 who was last seen putting up a 1.282 OPS in the NCAA.  He's 22, so Dunedin will be his ultimate destination.

A- (Auburn) and Gulf Coast League:  Markus Brisker, Michael Crouse, Chris Demons, Chris Hopkins, Brad McElroy, Bartolo Nicolas, Yensy Perez, Welinton Ramirez, Brian Van Kirk, Kenny Wilson

Most of these guys are interchangeable so I'm not going to try to suss it all out.  The two names that mean the most bookend this list.  Markus Brisker and Kenny Wilson join the Lansing crew as the only real outfield prospects in  the system.  They're still 18 and 19 respectively so another year in shortseason ball is likely in their future.

Well, that about covers it.  I left out NRI Wayne Lydon and the immortal Russ Adams.  It's possible they'll fit in Las Vegas somewhere but I can't imagine anyone getting too worked up about it.  Thankfully, the Jays have an abundance of quality at the Major League level because after them, there's very little talent above low-A ball. 

All that said, if I've made any glaring mistakes feel free to let me have it in the comments.
Organizational View- The Outfielders | 36 comments | Create New Account
The following comments are owned by whomever posted them. This site is not responsible for what they say.
Mike Green - Monday, February 23 2009 @ 10:24 AM EST (#196685) #
Nice summary, braden.  The one that I am watching is Eric Thames.
Denoit - Monday, February 23 2009 @ 11:09 AM EST (#196689) #
Eric Eilands stock is falling quickly. A horrible showing in Hawaii needs to be followed up with a good season this year or he might be passed quickly by Brisker.
uglyone - Monday, February 23 2009 @ 11:17 AM EST (#196690) #

Well when you have 4 young or youngish guys (on locked in contracts)  at the MLB level with this level of talent, I guess you don't need much organizational depth at this position.....but man, there is no organizational depth at this position.

I don't see one guy in all the minors who I'd ever expect to be anything more than a 4th outfielder in the majors.

Still, our outfield is set for the forseeable future, so we have plenty of time to build that depth for when we need it.

Lucky - Monday, February 23 2009 @ 11:29 AM EST (#196691) #
Which begs me to ask, why wasn't Smith resigned?  He definitley had the power numbers, wasn't overmatched in AAA (in fact, did quite well) and had much better stats than Adams, Lydon, and the new signees, Haerther, and even Jason Lane. 
ramone - Monday, February 23 2009 @ 11:44 AM EST (#196692) #

I had the same question about Smith, he put up some decent numbers in his short stint at AAA at the end of last year.  Not sure why they went with the likes of Lane and Gorneault.  Las Vegas seems to be short on right handed bats as well.

I am definitely excited to see Thames, Brisker, Wilson and Loewen in the outfield this year.  Hopefully Eiland can figure out hitting in his second go around at Lansing.

Apparently the Jays front office is aware of their lack of outfield depth and are scouting Texas outfielder Everett Williams, who is ranked by Baseball America as the 38th best high school talent and 74th best overall talent for the upcoming draft.  The little info I could find on him mentions he is a center fielder, excellent speed, possible power potential.  Williams is mentioned in this SUN article about half way down under the sub-headline "Seaching".

Lucky - Monday, February 23 2009 @ 11:48 AM EST (#196693) #
What are the chances he will still be available when the Jays select?
ramone - Monday, February 23 2009 @ 11:54 AM EST (#196694) #

I'm assuming he'll be around for the Jay's second round pick, by looking at the draft page on Baseball America's site I think the jays have around the 68th selection in the second round after their supplemental first round pick, so if we went strictly by the fact he is ranked 74th overall, then I suppose he could be around.  So much of the rankings will change from now until the draft though, that I really have no idea what round he'll go in or if he'll be there for the jays.

John Northey - Monday, February 23 2009 @ 12:07 PM EST (#196695) #
I suspect with Smith that he was a minor league free agent and decided it was time to go elsewhere.  Last year was his first time in AAA after 2 1/2 years in AA.  He had to know he wasn't viewed as a ML'er by the Jays thus went elsewhere although I cannot find where he went (did he go to Japan maybe?).
Pistol - Monday, February 23 2009 @ 12:12 PM EST (#196696) #
Like Mike, I'm intrigued by Thames.  He was a 2nd roundish type before getting injured prior to the draft.  Eighth rounders are so unlikely to make it you might as well take fliers like this.

Eric Eilands stock is falling quickly. A horrible showing in Hawaii needs to be followed up with a good season this year or he might be passed quickly by Brisker.

I'm not sure Brisker's going to end up in CF.  He seems like a big dude now.  As for Eiland, while you'd want him to do better, I think it's too early to think too much differently about him now than when he was drafted.  You need to be patient with toolsy players; the Jays don't have too many players like him to compare his development too.  But yeah, he's probably not going to be a Carl Crawford type player at this pace.

Lucky - Monday, February 23 2009 @ 01:07 PM EST (#196702) #
As far I can can find out, Smith is still unsigned.
John Northey - Monday, February 23 2009 @ 02:26 PM EST (#196704) #
Wonder if Smith is one of those guys who just fades out of baseball.  IIRC he is entering his age 28 season and he probably has seen the writing on the wall.  If a job came up outside of baseball or coaching he probably took it and retired. 

As to the Jays outfielders - it is fairly weak out there at the moment.  A plus is how you can always convert an infielder to the outfield, move a 1B or CA to LF if needed, and have the plus of Wells & Rios on the team who are both legit CF'ers.  If there is a spot the Jays can be 'lazy' on this is it.  Generally there are a few OF'ers available each winter in the free agent market so unless a guy goes down mid-season (in which case Inglett probably would become the LF'er while Snider or Lind could shift to RF if needed) there isn't a big worry.  Especially with Wells & Rios signed long term and Snider and Lind far from free agency.

Thomas - Monday, February 23 2009 @ 02:26 PM EST (#196705) #
Speaking of minor league free agents, does anyone know if reliever Jordan De Jong caught on with another team? I can't find any record of him signing anywhere else after he was let go by the organization at the end of the year.
Lucky - Monday, February 23 2009 @ 02:46 PM EST (#196707) #
I thought I saw way back that he re-signed with the Jays, but I guess I am wrong.  Can't find anything either.  I am wondering how Aaron Mathews has recoved from his broken foot last season.  Anyone know?
timpinder - Monday, February 23 2009 @ 02:55 PM EST (#196708) #

Vernon Wells is headed for an MRI for an undisclosed injury.  That's just great.

Mylegacy - Monday, February 23 2009 @ 02:58 PM EST (#196709) #

I think ramone - earlier in this thread has said the key part - Thames, Brisker, Wilson and Loewen are the STARS to watch.

However, I think those four might just end up being EXCEPTIONAL. Loewen might turn into Hamilton - both these guys have the stuff to be "the natural." Thames is another bat that just might be exceptional. Brisker and Wilson have a REAL chance to have long term major league careers. I'd be SURPRISED to see if ANY OTHER team has four outfield prospects that good.

In addition, Patterson has ALWAYS at ALL levels absolutely CRUSHED left handed pitchers. I'd really like to see this guy be given a chance - at least as a platoon against lefties.

Also, Jon Bakish, Johermyn Chavez and Moises Sierra all have interesting upside.

SO - Catchers, first basemen and outfielders are all WELL STOCKED. Third base OK but not great. Our minor league strength and depth SO FAR is very good. At least IM(H)O.

timpinder - Monday, February 23 2009 @ 03:02 PM EST (#196710) #

Jeff Blair just updated his blog and reports that Wells is out for a month with a hamstring injury:

Wells has been having hammy injuries lately.  At what point do the Jays move him to a corner and let Rios take over in CF?

John Northey - Monday, February 23 2009 @ 03:07 PM EST (#196711) #
Ah bleep.  No Wells to start the year.  At least if it was going to happen it happened in February and not March 30th or something.  I figure this makes Snider a dead on lock to make the team.  Lind-Rios-Snider outfield with the DH being Millar/Inglett/Bautista/whoever.  Once Wells is back he'll probably be DH'ing for awhile with only once a week games in the OF.  This might be the turning point to shifting Rios to CF and Wells to LF/RF depending on which kid looks best in the OF.
John Northey - Monday, February 23 2009 @ 03:12 PM EST (#196712) #
Hmm...should've read the article first.  Bautista in CF?  I guess it is good if he can play it, although I think we all agree we'd rather see Rios there.  Another backup for CF behind Wells & Rios is a good thing, as we've all seen how weak the outfield is in the minors at the moment and I'd rather not picture Lind or Snider in CF. 

So, extra backups for the OF are Inglett (LF) and Bautista (CF) and Scutaro (LF).  Starting to sound like a NL bench rather than an AL one.
dfp - Monday, February 23 2009 @ 03:12 PM EST (#196713) #
Out of curiosity, what ever happened to Buck Coats?
timpinder - Monday, February 23 2009 @ 03:15 PM EST (#196714) #

It's a late start to the season this year so 4 weeks could conceivably have Wells back sometime after March 23rd.  He might not be at 100% to start the year, but it's not out of the question that he'll be with the Jays when they head north.  I'm especially upset because this is my first time heading down to Dunedin and I have to leave both my Burnett and now my Wells jerseys at home.

It's time to move Wells to a corner, IMO. 

Mike Green - Monday, February 23 2009 @ 03:25 PM EST (#196715) #
Bautista in CF?  Perhaps Cito means that Bautista will play some there in spring training just in case Rios goes down too. 

If you're considering running out young pitchers Litsch,  Purcey, Richmond and Cecil behind Doc in your rotation, you don't afflict them with Bautista in CF once the games count.  He did play some there a couple of years ago and was pretty bad.  He'd be utterly horrible for anything but emergency use now.  

timpinder - Monday, February 23 2009 @ 04:11 PM EST (#196716) #
They're suggesting on Rotoworld that the Jays would move Rios to CF and go with Lane or Coats in RF.  I'm going to chalk that up to ingnorance on their part and assume that Rios will be in CF with Snider in RF and Lind in LF.  They're now saying Wells' injury will be at least 4 weeks, so it looks like there's going to be room for both Millar and Inglett now.
cybercavalier - Monday, February 23 2009 @ 07:06 PM EST (#196726) #
FYI, the Mariners released days ago Mike Wilson, a Brian Dopirak type of player in the outfield. Being about half a year older than Dopirak and second round pick of the 2001 draft, he hit .276/.388/.549 with 27 HR and 84 RBI in 406 AB in AA last season. IMO Wilson is worth a shot as a stockpile in AAA. At least he fared better than Ryan Patterson and a month younger.
TamRa - Monday, February 23 2009 @ 07:17 PM EST (#196727) #
Eric Eilands stock is falling quickly. A horrible showing in Hawaii needs to be followed up with a good season this year or he might be passed quickly by Brisker.

Look back at what Rios did at the same age and level before you make quick judgements on a 19 year old...

TamRa - Monday, February 23 2009 @ 07:25 PM EST (#196728) #
The OP forgot Coats, who's still on the 40 man...

And I still wise we had picked up Tim Raines Jr as a minor league FA - as far as i know he's still not signed and I'd like him to pick up the mantle of Chad Mottola.

brodh - Monday, February 23 2009 @ 09:00 PM EST (#196733) #
In thinking of roster makeup, you can assume Wells will be moved to dh to start the season and then maybe right field to start.  I hope he stays there, old scouting reports suggested it would happen because of his legs -- seriously!!  So Snider in RF, Rios in CF, Lind in LF.  We could use Inglett in a backup roll, I think he could handle some CF.  We will need another backup, preferably a right handed hitter.  Does Jason Lane play CF?  This could be his spring. 
scottt - Tuesday, February 24 2009 @ 05:40 AM EST (#196742) #
More likely to be Bautista.
Lucky - Tuesday, February 24 2009 @ 08:51 AM EST (#196743) #
I watched Coats play in AAA last year and he could definitely play center field, although we would lose power with him.  Beating the same drum, why not sign David Smith, who had very similar numbers in AA to the Wilson kid that was mentioned ( although Smith had 30 some doubles, I believe, and, personally, I think the organization "owes" him a little something.  They had no respect for his hard work and determination, let alone his achievements, while with the Blue Jays.  He deserves to play at least at AAA, and there was no reason (at least based on performance) to have sent him back to AA last year.  You can't tell me he isn't better than Lydon, who was signed earlier.  Although Smith's numbers weren't as good last year, it was reported that he was recovering from an ankle injury he suffered in spring training, which apparently affected his stats as he moved from one level to another.
cybercavalier - Tuesday, February 24 2009 @ 11:53 AM EST (#196756) #
I agree that Smith deserved to play at AAA. IMO Lydon and Smith are different kind of batters. Smith is the typical OPS, power guy whereas Lydon is a base-stealing threat with his SUB PAR OBP.
cybercavalier - Tuesday, February 24 2009 @ 12:59 PM EST (#196764) #
My roster of batters for the parent team would be this:

MLB (14 batters): Barajas, Barrett, Overbay, Millar, Hill, Scutaro, Inglett, Rolen, Bautista, Wells (assuming he didn't land on the DL again), Rios, Lind, Snider, Lane

Lineup: SS Scutaro, 2B Hill, CF Rios, RF Wells, DH Lind, 3B Rolen, 1B Overbay, C Barajas, LF Sinder. (RHB, R, R, R, L, R, L, R, L)

Bench: Barrett (C), Inglett/McDonald (IF), Bautista (3B, 2B, 1B, LF), Millar (1B/DH), Lane (OF)

AAA: Thigpen, Arencibia, Raul Chavez, Brett Harper; Howie Clark, Scott Campbell, Kevin Melillo, Brandon Fahey, Chip Cannon, Russ Adams, Haerther, Lydon, Gorneault, Coats, Matthews

Starting: RF Lydon, CF Coats, 1B/DH Ruiz , 3B/1B/DH Harper, LF Gorneault, 1B/DH Cannon, 2B Campbell, SS Fahey/ Adams, C Arencibia/Thigpen.  (R, L, R, L, R, L, R, L/L, R/R)

if Lane is to remain in AAA, the AAA lineup shall be:

CF Lydon and Coats Committee, LF Gorneault (Haerther as the backup), RF Lane, 3B Harper, DH Ruiz, 1B Cannon, 2B Campbell, SS Adams/Fahey, C Arencibia/Thigpen (R/L, R, R, L, R, L, R, L/L, R/R)      

Bench:  C/1B Thigpen, Melillo (2B/3B), Fahey (SS), 2 of the group Haerther (OF), Patterson (OF) and Matthews (OF)

Swing: Chavez (released if he can catch on with other clubs after Spring Training 2009), Clark, Jason Lane, Randy Ruiz, (David Smith, Mike Wilson in AAA, if the Jays signs them), Neilson (call-ups from AA to AAA)

If Wells is not present in the 25-roster by opening day due to his current injury, Lane and McDonald will be counted in. The only reasons for Raul Chavez to stay with the Jays organization are his handling of pitchers and throwing arm; if there are no such needs, he should be released. Some case for McDonald, his valuable asset to the Jays is his stellar defense. Howie Clark, well, at this stage of his career, is pretty much an organization filler despite his versatility. Inglett can be packaged with our surplus of relieving pitchers and traded to other teams for prospects. I hate to see the Jays picking up the slack of other teams' prospects, say Andrew Pinckney from the Red Sox and Cody Haerther from the Cardinals. Ruiz will be the first man called up if any MLB batters goes onto the DL. IMO, Lane is reprising Matt Stairs' role of last season, with less offensive contribution. Gorneault's spot could have been kept for David Smith.
cybercavalier - Tuesday, February 24 2009 @ 01:01 PM EST (#196766) #
Mellilo and Campbell can split time on 2B.
cybercavalier - Tuesday, February 24 2009 @ 01:28 PM EST (#196771) #
Lane and Gorneault showed some MLB experiences. Smith, a hard worker he is, has never played in the big league. I agree that David Smith deserved a spot in AAA, but, well, this is not-so-pleasant episode in the minor league: hard-working performance doesn't necessary mean a secured job.
Lucky - Tuesday, February 24 2009 @ 03:40 PM EST (#196785) #

Amen to that.  BUT you would think that numbers would matter.  Compare Coats, Lydon, Adams, even Mench in AAA to Smith's numbers.  If I had been a betting man, I would have put money on Smith making it with his defense, as well.  Oh well, good thing I don't gamble.  Of all of the other outfielders I have seen in AA and AAA, the only one really as good as Smith, with the exception of Snider and Lind, of course, was maybe Coats.

cybercavalier - Tuesday, February 24 2009 @ 05:35 PM EST (#196791) #
FYI, the Mariners resigned Mike Wilson as an NRI; I wish the Jays does the same to David Smith. IMO, Smith resembles a younger version of Marco Scutaro; Scutaro was stuck at AAA of Cleveland, Milwaukee and the Mets until the A's picked him up. Smith is stuck in the AA/AAA promotion; Last year, Matt Watson experienced the same scenerio in the AAA/MLB promotion; too good for AAA but no vacancy at the big league level.

IF the Jays does resign Smith, my AAA roster of batters will be:

C Arencibia, C/1B Thigpen, C Chavez (could be released, as explained in previous posts),
1B/DH Ruiz, 1B Cannon, 3B/1B/DH Harper
IF Melillo, IF Adams, IF Fahey, IF Clark (could be released), IF Campbell
OF Haerther, OF Lydon, OF Coats, OF Smith, OF Gorneault, OF Lane (could be in the MLB roster)

The AAA opening day lineup against lefties:

CF Lydon, DH Gorneault, RF Lane, 1B Ruiz, 3B Harper, C Thigpen, LF Smith, 2B Campbell, SS Adams (S, R, R, R, L, R, R, R, L)

Bench: Chavez (defensive sub), Arencibia (pinch hit, def sub), Melillo (2B/3B sub, pinch hit), Fahey, (SS/2B sub, pinch hit, pinch run), Clark (IF sub, pinch run),  Haerther (pinch hit, LF/RF sub), Coats (pinch hit, pinch run, OF sub especially for Lydon) , Cannon (pinch hit, 1B/3B sub especially for Ruiz)

Ruiz can also play as an emergency outfielder. Smith gets the call at LF because he is younger than Gorneault and so should be given more chances to develop his fielding skills. Lydon, Gorneault, and Adams provide speed on the basepaths. Thigpen bats in front of Smith simply because he has more experiences against AAA pitchers.

against righties:

LF Coats, SS Adams, RF Lane, 3B Harper, 1B Cannon, DH Ruiz, 2B Melillo, C Thigpen, CF Lydon (L, L, R, L, L, R, L, R, S)

Bench: Chavez (defensive sub), Arencibia (pinch hit, def sub), Fahey, (SS/2B sub, pinch hit, pinch run), Clark (IF sub, pinch run),  Haerther (pinch hit, OF sub), Gorneault (pinch hit, DH/RF/LF sub),  Smith (pinch hit, RF/LF sub), Campbell (2B/3B sub, pinch hit)


Cannon gets the call at 1B because he gets more chances to field with an RHP on the mount. Coats, Adams, and Lydon provide speed on the basepaths; the first 2 are taking advantages of the LHB vs RHP match-up to get on base.
cybercavalier - Tuesday, February 24 2009 @ 05:45 PM EST (#196793) #
As I said, I lamented the loss of Smith. The batters that you mentioned are of all different type: base-stealing Lydon, getting on-base Adams, slugging Mench, average all-around Coats. Smith is closest to Coats in terms of offensive contributions.
cybercavalier - Friday, February 27 2009 @ 08:47 PM EST (#196890) #
Video for Lucky.

David Smith singles in Adam Lind and Hector Luna in a Chiefs game last year.
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