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Jays left fielder Eric Thames is part of the team's Winter Tour that is sweeping through Eastern Canada this week to spread the Blue Jays gospel.  He had a few interesting things to say during an interview on TSN 1050 in Toronto Thursday afternoon.




Eric Thames batted .262./.313/.456 with 12 home runs, 24 doubles, five triples and 37 RBI over 95 games with Toronto in 2011.

On Cybulski & Company Thursday, Thames made the following comments:
  • He is not sure why the pronunciation of his last name is different from fellow major leaguer Marcus Thames, believes it may have to do with the latter's Mississippi roots.
  • He believes he will win the left field job and is not worried about the competition (that's the way it is every year)
  • Has been working on his swing and his defence
  • Plans on using a lighter bat by going to one that is 34 inches and 31 ounces instead of the 34" 34 oz. bat he used last season
  • Feels the lighter bat will give him a quicker swing, more time to react to pitches and allow balls to get deeper in the strike zone
  • Says he had to swing earlier with the heavier bat
  • Believes the Jays will compete in 2012 by pointing to the team's lineup, the addition of Sergio Santos as closer and Brett Cecil being in great shape.
  • Enjoys the special camaraderie that exists with the club.
The audio can be found on this podcast page but you will have to dig around for it.

Also this week, the Blue Jays invited some of their prospects to Toronto for a Rookie Camp.  Sportsnet The Fan 590 spoke to four players in center fielder Anthony Gose, infielder Jonathan Diaz and pitchers Evan Crawford and Drew Hutchison.  Here is a quick recap of the key comments.



Anthony Gose

  • enjoyed his playing experience in Venezuela and called it the most fun he has had in baseball (even better than winning the Eastern League title in 2011?)
  • trying to focus on his consistency at the plate, dealing with offspeed pitches, working on bunting and improving his two-strike approach
  • excited about the opportunity to play with Brett Lawrie one day, noting the impact and excitement he brought to the Jays last season
  • patterns his game after Juan Pierre and Kenny Lofton, also mentions Jacoby Ellsbury and Carl Crawford as players he would like to emulate offensively and on the basepaths
  • gives interviewer Kayla Harris a hard time about being a Yankees fan (I like Gose even more!)
The Toronto Star also has a feature on Gose.
"There came a disturbing report in November from a scout that saw Gose in the highly regarded Arizona Fall League where all 30 teams send their top four or five prospects for final seasoning. The negative report said that Gose was not running hard on routine grounders, a red flag for scouts. However, that report has been trumped, in hindsight by the fact that after the AFL campaign, Gose asked if he could go to Venezuela and play winter league ball. Thereís a kid who wants to play."


Jonathan Diaz
  • spoke of the car accident in Las Vegas in which he and his-then fiancee (now wife) were involved with last season in which they suffered concussions and were out cold about four hours in hospital but are now okay.
  • appreciated the invitation to Rookie Camp as it shows the organization knows who he is
  • admits playing on the infield in Las Vegas is a challenge but adds it's the same for both teams and it will make him a better player in the long run


Evan Crawford
  • excited and surprised to be added to the 40 man roster
  • enjoyed celebrating the last pitch of the season with teammates old and new during New Hampshire's championship season
  • learned a lot from manager Sal Fasano and pitching coach Pete Walker, who Crawford says did a good job of keeping the pitcher loose
  • on the prospect of pitching in Las Vegas, he notes a lot of pitchers have come back frustrated but he is looking just to work hard and improve
  • likes being a member of the bullpen and adds being a reliever is a lot like being a position player as he has the opportunity to pitch almost every day



Drew Hutchison
  • appreciates the praise he has received from the organization but does not focus on it or look for it
  • enjoyed competing against the Phillies in spring training as a last-minute starter, said it was a lot of fun and that it was a learning experience
  • enjoyed playing for three winning teams last season (Lansing, Dunedin, New Hampshire)
  • not worried about where he will pitch in 2012
  • learned a lot from Sal Fasano and tried to be within earshot of him when he spoke
  • he was not worried about being a late round pick and was just thankful the Jays gave him an opportunity

The audio for these interviews can be found right here.

Also, The National Post has more coverage of the 2nd annual Jays Rookie Camp.  Assisant GM Tony LaCava says the goal is to demystify the major league experience for the prospects.  He points to Drew Hutchison as an example:

" 'Itís his first trip out of the U.S., so he had to go through Customs. He had to exchange some money.  Thatís kind of good. The more they can experience those things, the less they have to worry about when they get here in terms of the day-to-day stuff.' Ē

The National Post story also points out Cuban shorstop prospect Adeiny Hechavarria was invited to the camp but Visa issues are preventing him from leaving the U.S.

Shaft Confident About 2012 Jays & Rookie Camp Notes | 23 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, January 13 2012 @ 04:50 PM EST (#250519) #
A great idea on the Jays part - getting guys likely to reach the majors in 2012 or 2013 to see what the park is like, what the media is like, etc. Seminars on how to deal with money and life in the majors. Fantastic idea.

Things that caught my eye in the Post article...

Hutchinson sure must be a beanpole at 6-2 165. Only Jenkins was taller and no one was lighter.

Adeiny Hechavarria still having visa issues and cannot leave the US _yet_. Many thought he'd be up in September but visa issues ensured that wouldn't happen. Now he still has these issues. Crazy. You'd think the Jays would've worked with him to get these things cleared up way back when they signed him, not a couple years later.

I also wonder who was up last year, the first year the Jays did this. Thames and Lawrie are mentioned, but who else was viewed as being on the cusp of the majors?
greenfrog - Friday, January 13 2012 @ 05:24 PM EST (#250521) #
I actually saw that start against the Phillies on television. Hutch pitched well (4.2 IP - he almost logged five scoreless innings but Carlos Ruiz hit a two-out, two-run HR). The Phillies announcers were impressed. I thought his stuff looked kind of average, but it's not always easy to tell in ST and on TV. It sounds as though it may have improved over the course of the season.
China fan - Friday, January 13 2012 @ 05:42 PM EST (#250524) #
There's been quite a bit of Internet chatter about the latest photos of Thames, Cecil and Jenkins which were published this week. The consensus seems to be that Thames looks a lot more muscular, while Cecil and Jenkins look slimmer and in better shape. Anyone want to comment? My own suspicion is that you can't tell much from a snapshot or two. Depending on the camera angle, a photo can be quite deceiving. And at this time of year, we're all a bit too prone to accept the standard rhetoric of "I'm in the best shape of my life...."

As for the photos themselves: Jenkins can be seen in the photo accompanying the latest John Lott story, while Thames and Cecil are part of a group photo that was tweeted by some of the Jays players this week during their winter tour of Ottawa and Montreal.
baagcur - Friday, January 13 2012 @ 07:14 PM EST (#250528) #
That is quite a reduction in bat weight for Thames. The - 3 drop is the same that my 13 year old, 110lb, son has to use if he wants to play AAA in BC!
greenfrog - Friday, January 13 2012 @ 07:28 PM EST (#250529) #
According to MLBTR, the Mariners are on the verge of trading for a "young impact hitter." Could it be someone from the Jays organization? Thames or Snider, maybe? Not sure I really see a match (given that Felix, Pineda, Hultzen, Paxton and Walker are likely untouchable, or close to it), but AA and Jack Z have matched wits before...
greenfrog - Friday, January 13 2012 @ 07:40 PM EST (#250530) #
Now a rumour is up that it could involve Pineda and Montero. If the Yanks get Pineda...ouch. Life just gets tougher in the AL East.
BlueJayWay - Friday, January 13 2012 @ 07:41 PM EST (#250531) #
Hearing rumblings that it could involve Pineda for Montero.  That's pretty big.
BlueJayWay - Friday, January 13 2012 @ 07:43 PM EST (#250532) #
Jon Heyman tweeting that it's a done deal, Montero for Pineda.  The Yankees fans at River Ave Blues don't seem to like it...
greenfrog - Friday, January 13 2012 @ 07:51 PM EST (#250533) #
One red flag is that Pineda seemed to fall back to earth in the second half (5.12 versus 3.03 ERA). But he could be a big acquisition for New York. In any case, let's see who the other players involved are.
Ron - Friday, January 13 2012 @ 07:52 PM EST (#250534) #
Wow! You rarely see a challenge type trade involving 2 blue chip young players. I'm a big fan of Pineda so I like the deal.

Hey Prince do you want to DH for a World Series contender?
greenfrog - Friday, January 13 2012 @ 07:58 PM EST (#250535) #
Pineda and Jose Campos for Montero and Hector Noesi. Here's Sickels' writeup on Campos (the M's #5 prospect):

"5) Jose Campos, RHP, Grade B: We need to see him at higher levels and his secondary stuff needs refinement, but his upside is very high, he throws hard, and already throws strikes."

http://www.minorleagueball.com/2011/12/9/2619595/seattle-mariners-top-20-prospects-for-2012

Interesting trade.
Glevin - Friday, January 13 2012 @ 08:03 PM EST (#250536) #
"Jon Heyman tweeting that it's a done deal, Montero for Pineda. The Yankees fans at River Ave Blues don't seem to like it..."

Great trade by the Yanks. Pitching is so difficult to find and Pineda has incredible stuff. Montero will be a lot easier to replace. Don't think it means Fielder as everything the Yanks now do will cost them 150% because of the luxury tax. They'd need to clear out salary which is almost impossible for them to do. I can see a trade of one of their pitching prospects now or maybe signing someone like Carlos Pena who could hit 35 HRs in Yankee Stadium.
Chuck - Friday, January 13 2012 @ 08:10 PM EST (#250539) #

One red flag is that Pineda seemed to fall back to earth in the second half (5.12 versus 3.03 ERA).

True, but he was just 22 and in the midst of increasing his workload from age 21, from 139 AA/AAA innings to 171 MLB innings. Fatigue could have been a factor. Adding a key piece to the rotation on little more than the major league minimum is a major coup.

I wonder if the Yankees will now elect to cycle its aging players through the DH spot, or instead pursue an as yet unsigned slugger, to whom the right field power alley must seem particularly attractive. Nah, I don't think it'll happen, but I imagine there are Yankee fans currently playing around with a batting order that includes him.

Chuck - Friday, January 13 2012 @ 08:14 PM EST (#250540) #

or maybe signing someone like Carlos Pena

Pena on a one-year deal seems very plausible. The team will have to deal with Jeter and ARod on a year by year basis, determining if and when one or the other must spend more time at DH (though, of course, Jeter at DH is laughable). I would think that one year bridges would be the way to go.

Ron - Friday, January 13 2012 @ 08:17 PM EST (#250542) #
"Don't think it means Fielder as everything the Yanks now do will cost them 150% because of the luxury tax. They'd need to clear out salary which is almost impossible for them to do. "

I know this has been widely speculated but nobody from the Yankees has gone on the record and said their goal is to remain under the luxury tax threshold a couple years from now. I'll believe it when I see it.

Fielder would be a great fit for the Yankees.
Glevin - Friday, January 13 2012 @ 08:32 PM EST (#250548) #
And now apparently the Yankees have signed Kuroda which gives them a five of Sabathia, Kuroda, Pineda, Nova, and Hughes with Burnett there as well. They went from weak to fairly strong in one day. Sigh...
Chuck - Friday, January 13 2012 @ 08:40 PM EST (#250549) #
And add Freddy Garcia to the mix as well.
gnor - Sunday, January 15 2012 @ 08:41 AM EST (#250616) #
Great trade, I agree. Martin and Cervelli can hold the fort, and The Yankees are knee deep in catching prospects. Adding Pineda and Kuroda has given them a very, very solid team. Most people aren't aware of this, but The Yankees farm system is ranked near the top, a Brian Cashman project that has so far gone under the radar.
gnor - Sunday, January 15 2012 @ 08:54 AM EST (#250617) #
Here's an interesting exercise: Pick seven Blue Jays' farm hands that have a good chance to see the majors in the next year or two. Don't count those that were in the Rookie Camp last year. I can see picking Gose, Hutchinson, and probably Sierra, but would you have picked Mike McDade? How about Diaz or Crawford? Interesting.
gnor - Sunday, January 15 2012 @ 08:57 AM EST (#250618) #
Well, you get better by playing the best, and The Yankees aren't going away soon.
sam - Sunday, January 15 2012 @ 06:18 PM EST (#250630) #
It may be too early for this, but there some really good looking prospects this upcoming draft. A couple guys who might be around when we pick in the first round look really good.

Matt Smoral reminds me a lot of Randy Johnson. Check out the attached video.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y6w1StO6uZA

A guy like Lance McCullers might also fall to the Jays. He reminds me a lot of Jeremy Jeffress.

I like Duane Underwood a lot as well.

It looks like a strong year for high schoolers and few impact college players.
TamRa - Monday, January 16 2012 @ 05:28 AM EST (#250633) #
"Here's an interesting exercise: Pick seven Blue Jays' farm hands that have a good chance to see the majors in the next year or two. Don't count those that were in the Rookie Camp last year. I can see picking Gose, Hutchinson, and probably Sierra, but would you have picked Mike McDade? How about Diaz or Crawford? Interesting."

I'm uncertain who was at whichever camp you were referring to.

so I'll just ignore that and you can mentally edit out whoever you were not looking for.

Minor league players that I project to have a better than average chance to spend some time on the major league roster between opening day 2012 and the end of 2013:

Joel Carreno (currently projects to not make the 25 man roster)
Kyle Drabek
Drew Hutchison
Deck McGuire
Chad Jenkins
Evan Crawford
Chad Beck
Trystan Magnuson

Travis d'Arnaud
David Cooper
Adeiny Hechevarria
Anthony Gose
Jon Diaz

not that I expect most of them to necessarily stick, but you didn't say that, you just said "see the majors"
Richard S.S. - Monday, January 16 2012 @ 09:32 PM EST (#250683) #

TamRa

Of your list (of 12 + 1) , who does A.A. trade?

Shaft Confident About 2012 Jays & Rookie Camp Notes | 23 comments | Create New Account
The following comments are owned by whomever posted them. This site is not responsible for what they say.