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Dane Johnson is the Blue Jays Minor League Pitching Coordinator. He has been a regular visitor to Da Box, you can check his previous interviews by clicking on the interview button on the left side. I caught up with Dane last Friday while he was in New Hampshire. I hope you enjoy his comments.

BB: Last year at this time you had Noah Syndergaard and Justin Nicolino getting ready to go to Lansing and Aaron Sanchez readying for Vancouver.  This year the pitchers don't seem as ready for that.

DJ: Pitchers are at different levels and they have different amounts of ability.  You see what they have and if it will work at the next level and if it benefits the kid, if we can give someone a taste of the higher level in preparation for the next season that is something we want to do.  We are contemplating giving some pushes to guys this year as we usually do if it's right for them.  If we decide not to promote a guy that doesn't mean a lot, their learning curve might be slower but we might still give a quick peek to a guy here or there.

BB: Vancouver plays in the Northwest League, a college heavy league, like the Midwest League and the standard in vancouver is closer to Lansing than the Appy league.  So if a young pitcher can handle the Northwest League, does that mean he could handle Lansing the next year?

DJ: Absolutely.  We have some kids in that category today, that we feel can handle the Lansing level.  Right now we love all five of the arms we have starting in Lansing it's pretty hard to move from Vancouver to Lansing.  You have kids like Avendano and Osuna who are throwing the ball well in Vancouver and Vancouver are in the playoff hunt so there is something to be said for that, playing in front of 4000-5000 people, you get as much out of that in that league as you do in Lansing.

BB: What about Daniel Norris, he has had an up and down year.  what are you doing now to get him back on track?

DJ: It's consistency.  We call him the rainman, we joke about it, because every time he pitches it seems to rain, or he gets pushed back.  His pitching schedule has been very volatile and we have also had to push him back for other reasons.  It has been inconsistent trying to schedule Danny and his outings have been inconsistent too.  I was in Bluefield a week ago and I saw him continuing a rain game that he had pitched in before and he got rained out of that game.  But when he was in there for his two plus innings he was as good as I have ever seen him and then he turned around and the inconsistency showed up again and he didn't get through the first inning.  We are seeing flashes of stuff that are very attractive to what we do and where we want him.  Everyone's learning curve is a little bit different.  Danny is going through that.  he knows the adjustments he needs to make, he understands them, applying them is a different story and when he applies them he is very good.  Sometimes that application does not hold over to the games.  But I am very excited about what I have seen from him this year even though you can look at the numbers, I am not a numbers guy, I don't even know what his numbers are.  I do know that what comes out (of his hand) when he does it good is very attractive.

BB: What do you see in Jeremy Gabryszewski?

DJ: Gabby has had a nice second half of the season here, he battled some injuries in the first half.  We had to back him off in the extended program a little bit.  He has put some of the mechanical things in place in the last three or four weeks and done a nice job in the games.  His pitchability has really improved, he is commanding the fastball to both sides of the plate and his breaking ball is much improved.

BB: What is his best pitch?

DJ: I would say his best attribute is his pitchability, the ability to command the strike zone with his fastball, and then throw his breaking stuff behind it and change speeds.

BB: A couple of months ago you said Tirado was a guy to watch for and he has had a very good season in the GCL and you have promoted him to the Appy league, I assume that means he has progressed a lot this season?

DJ: Yeah, the promotion will set him up for next year.  Anytime you get a 17 year old coming in to your organization you want him to get off to a real good start, to set the foundation and probably spend a year in the GCL doing it.  But he has made such strides we are comfortable moving him up at this point.

BB: Can you see a 17 year old, like Tirado, adding velocity or does velocity only increase with an improvement in mechanics?

DJ: I think his velocity can get even greater and that's part of the excitement with this guy.  We are seeing a 17 year old with a teenagers body and he will grow and develop and we have seen him keep his velocity.  He has done some nice things mechanically to help himself out, and he has pitchability as well as velocity.  We think there is more upside there and if there is not it's pretty good right now.

BB: How hard does he throw right now?

DJ: He sits 92-94 and can touch 95 or 96.  He has seen a little uptick in that as the season has gone on and that's nice to see, when he got here was 90-92 and would flash a 94 here and there  It has gotten better during the season, that's for sure.

BB:  One guy who had been a little disappointing coming into this year was Griffin Murphy.  He seems to have come a long way this year, have you seen that in his pitches?

DJ: Yes we have, Griff has really responded well out of the bullpen.  We tried to put him in a role where he would get innings out of the bullpen, where he could throw and be ready to go 2-3 days later and he has responded to that.  That's not to say he can't start because we think he can, in fact he will have a couple of spot starts coming up here, that will get him through four or five innings and add to what he is doing there.  The pitchability with Griff is nice, he holds runners well, he has a fantastic change-up and his breaking stuff is coming and his fastball command is coming, he is staying over the ball and driving it down.  He is a savvy kid and we are happy with his progress this year.

BB: Matt Smoral was injured when he was drafted but I see his is pitching in bullpens now, will he see some game action this year?

DJ: We are hoping to do that down the stretch, he has been on a conditioning program also.  We are cautiously optimistic, he will be in instructional league and he should see the bulk of his innings there.

BB: I wanted to ask about three guys coming back from serious injury, Trystan Magnuson, Alan Farina and Randy Boone.  Are they all coming back to their previous abilities after the surgery?

DJ: I think Trystan is back, I think if you look at Trystan's velocity and how his stuff is playing right now he is very, very close to being right back to where he was.  He knows it, he feels it, he has made tremendous strides this year in the rebuilding process.  He had to take time off between games, that is not the case any more, he is bouncing back better.  He is excited, we are excited and he is finishing the season strong.  Alan's coming back well too, I saw him a week or so ago and the fastball looked a bit better, his breaking ball was better.  It has been slower with him but Tommy John is a serious injury to come off of and you have your good days and bad days but to get through that first year of pitching is crucial.  Guys handle it differently and you see different levels of progression.  Randy had some setbacks early in his recovery from Tommy John and we had to back off on him, get him more rest, take a couple of weeks off.  He is back up to 89-91 again and his slider is getting better all the time, it's still a little bit big but right now we are happy for him to get through this year.

BB: John Stilson went on the DL and now he is back he is in the bullpen, is that where he will stay for the rest of the season?

DJ: He will be a bullpen guy here for the last month.  That was by design, it was going to happen anyway.  It was an innings thing, it doesn't mean he won't be a starter next year but we track innings and pitch counts and it was time for John to head to the bullpen to finish the innings he has left.

BB: Earlier in the year you said Sean Nolin was a pitchability guy who needed to have all of his four pitches working.  Coming off his ten strikeout game is that still the case or has his stuff improved?

DJ: Yes and yes.  He had a sore shoulder, no big deal we just had to back him off a bit.  Now he is back and fresh again and he is popping 93-94 now and his fastball is playing real good.  His curve was good the other night too, his curve was (major league) average, his change was average and the slider is right there too although the curve is better than the slider.  The other night he had a great fastball, he competed, he attacked the zone and he feels good which is the most important thing.  He punched out 12 or 13 earlier in the year and when he gets on a roll he can carve some people up.

BB: Last time we spoke you said Deck McGuire had an execution issue, is that still the case?

DJ: Yes, I am in New Hampshire now and the last game he pitched here he didn't execute, he was up in the zone.  We have a side session and we are going to look at some things to get the pitches down in the zone where they need to be.  Again he is a four pitch guy, like Sean Nolin, and he needs to have all his pitches going.  It's been a learning expoerience for Deck and we will be on that learning curve the rest of the year.

BB: I think I know the answer to this question before I ask, but have you been surprised by Chad Jenkins success in the majors?

DJ: No, and I will tell you why.  He has always been on the attack and he has always been a strike thrower.  He is in a role now at the major league level and he can handle the pressure real well, he could always do that, it was never about the pressure it was always execution.  He seems pretty locked in at the major league level and the sinker is working well, whether it's the atmosphere he is in, but he is getting a good angle on the ball, down the bottom half of the zone and the sinker is working for him.  The outings I did see he was getting some sliders in there too.  It could be a combination of him cutting down his toolbox of what he throws out there and being more aggressive in the shorter outings.  I am not surprised, am I pleasantly surprised?  Absolutely, but he has been through a lot and deserves all the success he can get.  I am sure the adjustments will come when more people see him and Chad will have to figure that out also.

BB: Danny Barnes was successful last year in Lansing but had the reputation of being a one pitch pitcher.  This year he has built on that success in Dunedin, is he still a one pitch pitcher or has he built on it?

DJ: He is commanding the fastball well and he does have a slider going.  The slider has been on and off but it has been more on than off and it gives him another pitch to go to.  He gets outs with both of those pitches, he gets guys to chase up in the zone, the hitters don't see him well and he has been aggressive and around the zone.  He tried a curveball earlier in the year but he has put that away now.



Thanks to Dane Johnson for spending some time with us.

An Interview with Dane Johnson - August 2012 | 63 comments | Create New Account
The following comments are owned by whomever posted them. This site is not responsible for what they say.
Beyonder - Tuesday, August 21 2012 @ 09:19 AM EDT (#262466) #
Fantastic stuff Gerry. Thanks again for this.
Maldoff - Tuesday, August 21 2012 @ 09:41 AM EDT (#262469) #

As always, this is great stuff Gerry. Thanks!

From what I can tell, it seems that Johnson is very high on pitchers such as Osuna, Avendano, Norris (especially) and Tirado.  Reading between the lines, it seems to me that guys like Nolin, Murphy and Gabryszewski are more "pitchability" guys, which to me translates to back-of-the-rotation/bullpen arms.  Would you agree with that assessment?

Gerry - Tuesday, August 21 2012 @ 09:48 AM EDT (#262470) #
Yes that is correct but sometimes those pitchability guys work out well, you need five starters and a bullpen.  The JA Happ's, Brett Cecil's and Chad Jenkins of the world have value.  And sometimes the high potential guys flame out.  But he was definitely still a believer in Norris and he was high on Tirado, as he was when we last spoke earlier in the season.
eldarion - Tuesday, August 21 2012 @ 10:07 AM EDT (#262471) #
Wonderful piece...thanks, Gerry. So if I were to ask, who would you say is projected to be part of the Lansing rotation next year? :) Osuna, apparently, is one. Do you think Norris makes it or repeats at Bluefield to start next season? I suppose Gabrse...Gabby would be another one.

It will be fun following the Dunedin and Lansing rotations next year. The Big Three move up and the the Next Three follow them. Has anyone been reading the articles by Bob Elliott regarding the Lansing Trio over the last few days?
allcanadian34 - Tuesday, August 21 2012 @ 10:08 AM EDT (#262472) #
Great post, Gerry.  Really enjoy reading this stuff!
hypobole - Tuesday, August 21 2012 @ 10:16 AM EDT (#262473) #
Another awesome interview. Thanks Gerry. For those of us with only a semi-understanding of the term pitchability, could you provide a brief explanation please. Thanks again.
Gerry - Tuesday, August 21 2012 @ 10:22 AM EDT (#262474) #

For Lansing next year Norris would have a better than 50 percent chance of making it.  The Jays say there are a number of criteria for opening day assignements.  They include previous years performance, spring training performance and pedigree or priority status.  The most important one is the first one and Norris has not yet shown he belongs there but there is still some time left in the season plus instructional league.  If the Jays think he can pitch there then I can see him being assigned to Lansing, but he has to show he can handle it. 

I think Osuna and Avendano are good bets as is Gabryszwski.  Tirado has an outside chance if he can get his act together in Bluefield.  Griffin Murphy has a chance.  Taylor Cole could be there too. 

I don't think high draft picks Tyler Gonzales or Matt Smoral will make it.

Gerry - Tuesday, August 21 2012 @ 10:27 AM EDT (#262475) #

Pitchability used to mean a guy who knew how to use all his pitches but one who didn't necessarily have plus, plus pitches.  As was discussed earlier a number five starter in the majors is often a pitchability guy, he fools the hitter rather than overpowering the hitter.

Dane used the term pitchability a lot in this interview and as I was listening I wondered if it had become a new "in" word to use.  Sometimes organizations emphasise different points, I wondered if pitchability was a new Blue Jay emphasis.

So I am not 100% sure if Dane was always using pitchability as a "this guy doesn't have any plus pitches so he needs to use them all" or as a "pitchability is the new thing in the organization".

Mike Green - Tuesday, August 21 2012 @ 10:35 AM EDT (#262476) #
The high upside/pitchability split makes things seem more set in stone than they are.  When drafted, Deck McGuire was hailed as a high-upside #2 possibility.  And he may yet be!  The uncertainty levels are very high when it comes to young pitchers.

ayjackson - Tuesday, August 21 2012 @ 10:35 AM EDT (#262477) #
With Cole being a bit older and really dominating a college league, I wonder if he could be a Dunedin candidate for next spring.

Also, with Norris' promotion to Vancouver, I wonder if cole has been promoted as well.
92-93 - Tuesday, August 21 2012 @ 10:35 AM EDT (#262478) #
Carlos Villanueva has excellent pitchability.
Sister - Tuesday, August 21 2012 @ 11:43 AM EDT (#262481) #
Thanks Gerry, this was fantastic. I always love getting this kind of insight.

As I was reading the interview I was hoping you would have asked about the recently departed arms (Cormer, Asher Wojciechowski, Joe Musgrove, and David Rollins). I don't know if Dane would talk about them or not, though it would be interesting to hear any insights he has as to their inclusion in the trade (outside of the fact Houston wanted them).

ayjackson - Tuesday, August 21 2012 @ 11:49 AM EDT (#262482) #

As usual, first rate stuff, Gerry.  This is one of the better ones too!

Nice to see that Smoral may see some game action soon.

Gerry - Tuesday, August 21 2012 @ 11:59 AM EDT (#262484) #
Sister, he likely would not have commented.  Teams don't comment on other teams players.  If he did say anything it would have been along the lines of X is a great guy, he did a great job for us here and we wish him the best with his new org.  I wouldn't have got any more than that.
TamRa - Tuesday, August 21 2012 @ 03:05 PM EDT (#262494) #
great stuff! and yet, there are so many guys down there you can't get to all of them. i'd like to have heard:

Thoughts on Tyler Gonzales, particularly his improvment after the lay-off )injury?);

Thoughts on Labourt and Del Rosario, particularly in the context of what he said about Tirado

a specific answer over whether they still intended to get Murphy back to starting

Whether Cole leaps up to Dunedin next year

The status of Matt Wright

Insight on Adonys Cardona

Still, I loved his comments on Tirado and Nolin. Also interesting that the team views the playing atmosphere in Vancouver so highly. I thought lansing drew good crowds too? And they are a playoff team already, right?

TamRa - Tuesday, August 21 2012 @ 03:25 PM EDT (#262495) #
"Also, with Norris' promotion to Vancouver, I wonder if cole has been promoted as well."

I didn't see this on twitter or the transaction page. Is it confirmed?
Gerry - Tuesday, August 21 2012 @ 03:33 PM EDT (#262496) #

Baseball people (at least those in the Jays system) are very slow to fully evaluate a player.  I asked a general question about 2012 draftees but I did not get a specific response.  That is for two reasons.  The obvious one is that Dane has not seen enough of the player.  The other reason is that in year one they basically throw the guys into the fire and evaluate them.  Changes are made in the instructional league and only then will the staff tend to form an opinion on the player.

Tyler Gonzales hasn't pitched very much for the Jays and Dane has maybe seen him once or twice so he wouldn't comment strongly other than cliches.

You won't get a specific answer over whether they still intend to get Murphy back to starting.  They are thinking about it, as Dane said, but they don't know what their 2013 plans are yet and if they did know they wouldn't tell me first.  Players are generally not informed of decisions until they need to be.  Even if the Jays have decided that Murphy will start next year they would not have told him yet, and they might not tell him until spring training.  The team could make trades to acquire or get rid of players so it pays not to commit.

Whether Cole leaps up to Dunedin next year....again they might not know and if they did they wouldn't say.

I could have asked about Matt Wright, Adonys Cardona, Jairo Labourt or Del Rosario but it took me about 15 minutes for the above and that's about all the time I get.

ayjackson - Tuesday, August 21 2012 @ 03:51 PM EDT (#262497) #
Norris has "reported" the promotions of himself, Santiago Nessy and Christian Lopes on his twitter page (and linked Instgram).
TamRa - Tuesday, August 21 2012 @ 03:57 PM EDT (#262498) #
Been hoping for Lopes to be promoted for a while now, that's good news.

I think Conner has earned it too but i guess you can't promote two guys you want to get a lot of reps catching.

TamRa - Tuesday, August 21 2012 @ 04:03 PM EDT (#262499) #
"I could have asked about Matt Wright, Adonys Cardona, Jairo Labourt or Del Rosario but it took me about 15 minutes for the above and that's about all the time I get."

I'm cwertainlly not complaining!

Just making an observation about how very many interesting guys there are in the system. You did fine work.
Mike Green - Tuesday, August 21 2012 @ 04:07 PM EDT (#262500) #

Another casualty of the cwerty keyboard.  How many word deaths will it take before it is forever banned?
Beyonder - Tuesday, August 21 2012 @ 04:09 PM EDT (#262501) #
...the answer my friend, is blowing in the qwind.
ayjackson - Tuesday, August 21 2012 @ 04:29 PM EDT (#262502) #
pure gold!
uglyone - Tuesday, August 21 2012 @ 04:36 PM EDT (#262503) #
Nolin hitting 93-94 regularly is big news, and a huge upgrade over the high 80s he was drafted with. Kid has turned himself into a legit prospect this year, IMO. I have a hard time keeping him out of a Jays' top-10 at the moment.
ayjackson - Tuesday, August 21 2012 @ 05:04 PM EDT (#262504) #

Nolin's inclusion in a Jays Top 10 would be difficult, and likely dependent on Gose, Sierra and Hechavarria all losing their rookie status this year.

  1. D'Arnaud
  2. Sanchez
  3. Syndergaard
  4. Nicolino
  5. Marisnick
  6. Stroman
  7. Osuna
  8. Norris
  9. Smoral
  10. Davis
  11. Nolin??
TheBunk - Tuesday, August 21 2012 @ 06:47 PM EDT (#262505) #
Yeah, I wouldn't rate him above anyone in that top 10 that you posted but things do open up at 11.
Moe - Tuesday, August 21 2012 @ 06:59 PM EDT (#262506) #
Re: Nolin's ranking

I don't know. I'm always reluctant to rank recent draftees with no track record ahead of someone who is doing well, such as Nolin. If he has another few solid outings in AA, he belongs into the top 10, even if it bounces the most recent 1st rounder out.

Richard S.S. - Tuesday, August 21 2012 @ 08:10 PM EDT (#262507) #

Until next year, 2012 picks should be ranked with 2012 picks.  They're having more playing time since the earlier signing day this year.  However, they don't play enough to get a fair read on their abilities as yet.

Lawrie has a setback - expected, trying to push his return.                                                                                                                                                             

Dewey - Tuesday, August 21 2012 @ 08:25 PM EDT (#262508) #
Travis DíArnaud (our "#1 prospect") in his short minor-league career has had serious injuries to his back, his thumb, and currently his knee (all crucial areas for a catcher); yet all the comments I see about him seem to assume that heíll return to action as if none of these had happened.  Has anyone actually seen him walking, let alone playing on a baseball diamond?  How is it that the doubtfulness of DíArnaudís health/durability almost never comes up?  I sincerely hope that heís as sound as a bell, but I have little to base such a hope upon.
greenfrog - Tuesday, August 21 2012 @ 08:51 PM EDT (#262509) #
Nolin's inclusion in a Jays Top 10 would be difficult

This one goes to eleven.
Kasi - Tuesday, August 21 2012 @ 09:07 PM EDT (#262510) #
The back issue is a concern, but the thumb and the knee were pretty much freak injuries. (especially the knee, he was sliding into 2nd breaking up a dp and the defender went into the air and came down on his knee) Now maybe they will impact him negatively long term, sure. But him being a player with durability issues isn't really supported. If a guy takes your knee out there really isn't much you can do about it.
Mike Green - Tuesday, August 21 2012 @ 09:21 PM EDT (#262512) #
d'Arnaud is a good enough hitter, and has enough other skills, to have a decent shot at being a fine player even if he cannot stay behind the plate.  His competition for top prospect are  low A pitchers (with issues of their own), so I think that this is a pretty clear one, but the BB selection committee might have other ideas when the time comes...
sam - Tuesday, August 21 2012 @ 09:26 PM EDT (#262514) #
If Jays minor league people (professional baseball people) explicitly seem to disregard, or at least downplay stats in their evaluations of their minor league players, why is it bauxites fondly base their evaluations and future projections almost exclusively on stats?

Does this interview not beg the question, why should we even have a minor league report that reports on the statistical performance of prospects? Why not, much like the pro people do submit performance reviews of individual prospects. I gather not all us get out to see these games as frequently as we may like, but what's preventing us from say doing as the pro people do and post our individual opinions based on viewed performance? I mean Alex Anthopoulos can rarely tell you what the stat lines are of minor leaguers, but he can sure tell you how they threw and what the staff thought of their performance.
Mike Green - Tuesday, August 21 2012 @ 09:37 PM EDT (#262516) #
If Jays minor league people (professional baseball people) explicitly seem to disregard, or at least downplay stats in their evaluations of their minor league players, why is it bauxites fondly base their evaluations and future projections almost exclusively on stats?

Most Bauxites use a balance of statistics and scouting to make evaluations.  How much one weights statistics and scouting is a matter of reasonable difference of opinion.  I will say that Baseball America weights its evaluations primarily on scouting and its overall record in predicting the future of prospects is not exactly spectacular.  To its credit, BA posts historical lists of top prospects.  If you go back and look at these lists and compare them with the lists of those who use a more balanced approach such as Sickels (or here for Blue Jays prospects), I think you'll find that the balanced approach at least holds its own. 

To give an obvious example, the scouting community was down on Dustin Pedroia, saying that he had no pop and his ceiling in the major leagues was Jody Reed.  Wrong.  There are numerous counter-examples (of course) with Dioner Navarro's name coming up for early on in the discussion. 
Dewey - Tuesday, August 21 2012 @ 09:50 PM EDT (#262517) #
Kasi, my concern isnít how the injuries occurred; simply that they did occur.  That means there are three damaged places in his body, all of them very important for a catcher.  Torn ligaments in a thumb and in a knee can carry long-term consequences.  They heal, yes; but they donít necessarily go back to being what they were before the injury. Yet it *seems* to be blithely assumed that DíArnaud will show no ill effects from them.  Why is that?  Has anyone actually seen the man recently?  He may be durable;  but we cannot yet know that, of course.   Heís still our #1 prospect on paper, but howís he doing in real life?  The man still hasnít caught a ML game.  Again, I really hope heís a superstar for the Jays; but I just donít get (apparently) overlooking torn ligaments, especially in his knee.  My question, to repeat, is simply does anyone know how he looks these days?  (This is not at all unrelated, of course, to Samís wariness about stats-only conclusions.)
Richard S.S. - Tuesday, August 21 2012 @ 10:02 PM EDT (#262518) #
Yeah sam!
TheBunk - Tuesday, August 21 2012 @ 10:49 PM EDT (#262519) #
Another interesting DSL prospect for the Jays(no scouting report, based off of stats of course)

Alejandro Solarte 6'4, left handed, just 17

34.2 IP 11H 6ER 11BB 30K
Gerry - Tuesday, August 21 2012 @ 11:11 PM EDT (#262520) #

We do minor league reports so we can have 150 days where there is a forum for minor league discussion. If we only have threads when someone sees a team and produces a report we might only have ten threads a year.

I think minor league stats are more valuable for hitters than for pitchers. There are a lot of readers who are interested in the statistical performance of prospects, even though its predictive value might be limited.
TamRa - Tuesday, August 21 2012 @ 11:13 PM EDT (#262521) #
"Nolin's inclusion in a Jays Top 10 would be difficult, and likely dependent on Gose, Sierra and Hechavarria all losing their rookie status this year."

The rule states 45 days in the roster when it's a 25 man roster...if Gose is not demoted in August he would have exactly 45 days (I think) on August 31. Assuming his clock starts in the day he was added (July 18) inclusive.

Seirra and Hech have a lot better chance of not losing their status: Seirra would need to start and complete about 30 f the remaining 40 games. And Hech more like 35 (and once Lawrie returns that ain't happening)

The text of the rule: A player shall be considered a rookie unless, during a previous season or seasons, he has (a) exceeded 130 at-bats or 50 innings pitched in the Major Leagues; or (b) accumulated more than 45 days on the active roster of a Major League club or clubs during the period of 25-player limit


"Yet it *seems* to be blithely assumed that DíArnaud will show no ill effects from them.  Why is that?"

It's hard to find the very specific quote on this answer, but let's start with this:

TORONTO -- Blue Jays' top prospect Travis d'Arnaud likely will miss the rest of the Minor League season with a torn posterior cruciate ligament in his left knee.

d'Arnaud suffered the injury on June 25 while attempting to break up a double play at second base. He was originally expected to be out at least six to eight weeks and with the season in Triple-A Las Vegas coming to an end on Sept. 3, there doesn't appear to be enough time for a return.

"At the outset of the injury, it was expected that this was a six to eight, possibly 10-week, recovery," Blue Jays manager John Farrell said. "To look forward on how he responds when he gets into that later part of the rehab process will determine whether he gets back on the field."

d'Arnaud initially was projected as a possible callup in September when rosters can be expanded to 40 players. He is now expected to head to the Arizona Fall League at the end of the year as a way to make up for the lost at-bats.

The California native is ranked the Blue Jays' No. 1 prospect according to He was hitting .333 with 16 home runs and 52 RBIs in 67 games with Las Vegas prior to the setback.

Knee injuries can often be devastating for catchers to overcome, but the Blue Jays remain optimistic this one isn't severe. Both the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) and medial collateral ligament (MCL) avoided any damage, while the PCL can be healed without surgery.

"Every indication was because the MCL and the ACL were sound, there was no meniscus damage, it's a little less of a concern," Farrell said. "But any time you're talking about the position, sure, a knee injury is of some concern.

"It's an injury that will heal on its own."

There were other professional reports at the time which basically said "a PCL injury is no big deal for a catcher, it's the ACL (especially) and the MCL that are huge" - I haven't found the right search terms to call up such articles yet. But they were out there and that, I believe, is what leads to the casual attitude towards the knee (like you, when I first heard he had hurt his knee i was in a bit of a panic because I get that the knees and the back are huge fora catcher)

Now, I don't have any info either way on the thumb - except that he was hitting the crap out of the ball in Vegas so one can take that as some evidence it's not bothering him.

TamRa - Tuesday, August 21 2012 @ 11:27 PM EDT (#262522) #
returning to the idea of where Nolin ranks, I certainly credited him for the good report from Johnson re his velocity, but I don't think it's THAT hard to find 10 players in the system you'd rank (arguably) more highly:

d'Arnaud and the big 3 obviously get four of the spots, and Marisnick is in there. Those five will be on every Top 10 list you see.

Beyond that, there's Stroman, Osuna and Norris which usually get that kind of notice, and you only need two other names to push Nolin out of the top 10. there's Hech, Stilson, Jimenez, and Smoral among others. Certainly you CAN argue for Nolin in there, but you wouldn't be obliged to put him there.Right now I tentitively have him in the 15-20 range.

Hodgie - Tuesday, August 21 2012 @ 11:28 PM EDT (#262523) #
Does anyone really believe that Anthopoulos or Johnson for that matter really don't know what the numbers are on the Jays top prospects? "I am not a numbers guy" would seem to translate into "We know the numbers do not look good on the surface and talking about them does not serve any purpose in this conversation".
Kasi - Tuesday, August 21 2012 @ 11:36 PM EDT (#262524) #
Tamra made a good point in that it wasn't horrible as far as knee injuries go, but the main point I wanted to make is the knee injury really has nothing to do with him being "durable". There are players out there who do seem to get injured all the time, but I'm not sure we can slap that label on Travis yet.
Gerry - Tuesday, August 21 2012 @ 11:40 PM EDT (#262525) #
Numbers are important in AA and AAA. They are less important in lower ball and less important for pitchers. The minor league managers have to file a report after each minor league game.

Dane Johnson would pay a lot of attention to the written reports from the managers but would almost never check or some other stat source.
John Northey - Tuesday, August 21 2012 @ 11:56 PM EDT (#262526) #
For low minors the stats to look at are walk rate and strikeout rate. Walks to see if the guy has a bit too much 'wild thing' in him, strikeouts to see if he is dominating his opposition - always a good thing.

The big issue though is guys who have developed a quality breaking pitch but don't have a great fastball - they can dominate in A ball but once they reach AA, or even A+ they can fall apart as hitters learn how to deal with it. I remember a prospect the Expos had years ago who had an ERA sub-1 as a starter in low A and I thought 'wow, future superstar' and could not understand why he wasn't being pushed up. He never reached the majors, in fact I don't think he reached AAA even. Thus the value of stats mixed with 'stuff'.
uglyone - Tuesday, August 21 2012 @ 11:56 PM EDT (#262527) #
"Nolin's inclusion in a Jays Top 10 would be difficult, and likely dependent on Gose, Sierra and Hechavarria all losing their rookie status this year.


Interesting list, but let's focus on your #4 prospect there - slightly built Nicolino who dominates with pitchability, but who doesn't have a whole lot of velo. Sits around 90, tops out about 92. Scouts don't really love him because of his lack of great stuff, and he's dominating in a similar way as Brett Cecil did when he started out.

Nolin is a big horse approaching 6'5"/250lbs, also has excellent pitchability without dominating stuff, but now is apparently sitting low 90s and topping out at 94 regularly, according to this interview.

Nolin (A+/AA, 22): 91.1ip, 9.7k/9, 2.3bb/9, 0.7hr/9, 1.08whip, 2.17era, 2.94fip
Nicolino (A, 20): 109.1ip, 8.8k/9, 1.3bb/9, 0.5hr/9, 1.06whip, 2.63era, 2.50fip

Now I have no problem with you claiming Nicolino is better than Nolin, but I'm not sure there's all that much separating Nolin from the guy you have ranked as our #4 prospect.

Nolin's had a big, big year, has the kind of pitching frame that you can dream on, has good command and good secondary pitches....and is now apparently starting to show a legit fastball as well. And his year last year was pretty darn good as well.
uglyone - Wednesday, August 22 2012 @ 12:15 AM EDT (#262528) #
Just to add some "stuff" to that comparison.....Nolin was considered a guy with a 90mph fastball, good change, and questionable curveball.....which sounds pretty similar to the book on Nicolino's "stuff" (though, to be fair, Nicolino's change apparently has the makings of a true plus pitch which Nolin doesn't seem to have). According to Johnson in this interview, though, Nolin has made serious improvements in both his fastball (93-94) and curve ("major league average"), and has added the makings of a slider in there as well.
sam - Wednesday, August 22 2012 @ 12:52 AM EDT (#262529) #

I enjoy the minor league reports and certainly see their worth in engaging readers and commentators. I meant my questions more rhetorically than anything. I do err, perhaps more than most, on the side of scouting and seeing is believing than those who sit behind a computer and dream on low-A or even AAA stats. It would seem from the multiple and very informative interviews published here that my views may perhaps be more in-line with those of the Jays front office and pro development staff. I think as a rule you have to start at what you see--the raw stuff, physical projection, etc. For example, even on Pedroia scouts certainly were not unanimous in saying he had no future as many believed in his bat-speed. The stats, if anything, tend to confirm what you see, but never the other way around and never should the stats skew your evaluation of a player.
TamRa - Wednesday, August 22 2012 @ 01:57 AM EDT (#262530) #

Now I have no problem with you claiming Nicolino is better than Nolin, but I'm not sure there's all that much separating Nolin from the guy you have ranked as our #4 prospect.

You make a good argument there.
TamRa - Wednesday, August 22 2012 @ 02:01 AM EDT (#262531) #
I remember a prospect the Expos had years ago who had an ERA sub-1 as a starter in low A and I thought 'wow, future superstar' and could not understand why he wasn't being pushed up. He never reached the majors, in fact I don't think he reached AAA even. Thus the value of stats mixed with 'stuff'.

I used to be constantly on the lookout for the "next Jimmy Key" and for a while i was fixated on this lefty that K'd 193 in 162 Low-A innings while only giving up 112 hits (and 46 walks) at age 20.

He did eventually pitch 20.2 ugly innings for the Jays, but Clayton Andrews never got remotely close to that age 20 season at the higher levels.

brent - Wednesday, August 22 2012 @ 03:20 AM EDT (#262532) #

Well, the Jays do use their own internal stats. GM AA has talked about how they track hard hit balls and they check for velocity for pitches that are strikes.


I just wish they could release all the information for Jays fans to pour over.

Thomas - Wednesday, August 22 2012 @ 07:39 AM EDT (#262534) #
Sam, I agree that more first-hand scouting reports would be useful. I don't think too many readers of Batter's Box would disagree. For prospects like Norris and Osuna, as primary examples, a scouting report would be of more interest to me than a stat line of one or a couple of his starts. The stats become more relevant the higher prospects rise, as it doesn't take a genius to see that something has gone wrong for McGuire this year, but a scouting report can potentially help identify the precise nature of the problem(s). In the meantime, all most of us have to go on are his stats, both as indicators and places to discuss the minor leagues.

That being said, the Box encourages anyone who has a scouting report or a live game report that they'd like to submit to do so. The more opinions we can read the better. Whether this comes in the comments of an existing minor league thread or as a pinch-hit, I'm sure most readers would be very interested. Your notes have been widely appreciated and if others would like to similarly contribute, the Box would certainly welcome it.
Jdog - Wednesday, August 22 2012 @ 08:23 AM EDT (#262535) #
I don't think Stroman should be an automatic inclusion in the top 10 either. If the Jays see him as a reliever his ceiling is limited and we should wait to see some killer peripherals.
uglyone - Wednesday, August 22 2012 @ 11:43 AM EDT (#262545) #
sam -

There's nobody here who thinks that MILB stats stand by themselves, and that scouting reports are useless.....but there's not many who think that stats are useless and that reports from scouts who watch a handful of games a kid plays in are the end all and be all either.

As far as Johnson's quotes in this article regarding Norris''s pretty obvious he knows some of Norris' stats are terrible, or else he never would have said that at all - so basically he's lying - he knows full well what Norris' stats are, he just believes that in this case they're deceiving. And that's more than fine - even the most extreme statshead acknowledges that MILB stats suffer not only from insanely varying competition but also always from extremely small sample sizes. MILB stats can be deceiving quite often.

But we also have to realize what Johnson is likely talking about with Norris stats' - and that's probably the "standard" stats like ERA, WHIP, W/L record. Those are the only stats of his that actually look bad, and those are the stats that statheads largely ignore nowadays.

Because if you look closer at the stats that matter, Norris' line actually doesn't look bad at all: 9.8k/9, 3.3bb/9, 3.0k/bb, 3.80fip. His relevant stats actually look pretty good, and support Johnson's scouting report that his stuff is nasty and effective, despite the poor ERA. Johnson is most likely aware of this. Or at least he better be.

Truth is we should be very worried if our organization as a whole has thrown stats out the window with prospects. That's just crippling yourself for no reason.

And let's be honest - it's probably better to trust in the stats lines overall rather than take the word of an organizational coach pumping up all of his "boys" in an interview at face value, anyways. Both need to be taken with large handfuls of salt.
John Northey - Wednesday, August 22 2012 @ 12:42 PM EDT (#262548) #
I suspect in-house stats would be more detailed than we get.  Things like average fastball speed, break on curve ball, swing & miss percentage on balls in strike zone, stuff like that.  Things that go beyond the end results (biased by quality of fielders, quality of opposition, quality of field maintenance even).  Well, swish percentage (% of time batter swings and misses) would be influenced by quality of opponents but still worth checking imo.

What you want is for pitchers (and hitters) to be dominate against weaker competition and to always be improving the key elements for a ML career.  A minor league pitcher might be forced to throw breaking balls 25% of the time even though his breaking pitch sucks just because the team knows he needs to develop it to succeed in the majors and you can't develop if you don't throw.

Pitch f/x (as well as field f/x and the like) would be of extremely high value to teams for evaluating minor leaguers.  You then have a summary for every last pitcher/hitter/fielder of their end results and what their tools are doing in game action.  For simulated games I'd use it as well (spring, etc.) just to track progression.  Amazing tools exist now that can do what scouts do for mature players.  Now, projecting out where a pitcher will be in 3/5/10 years, especially a high schooler who is still growing, that is something you still need a human touch for.  But if you want to know if pitcher ABC has developed his fastball this year then check the numbers.

Dewey - Wednesday, August 22 2012 @ 01:15 PM EDT (#262552) #
Thanks, TamRa, for the report on D'Arnaud's injuries.  That's reassuring.  I'd still love it if someone had seen him loping around a diamond somewhere, of course.  And I hope he resumes hitting the crap out of the ball wherever he appears next. 

I lost my other Travis.  I need another one.

hypobole - Wednesday, August 22 2012 @ 01:42 PM EDT (#262553) #
"it's pretty obvious he knows some of Norris' stats are terrible, or else he never would have said that at all - so basically he's lying"

If I say I don't know what the price of gas is today, am I a liar? Of course he knows some of his stats are terrible, but that is not what he said. He said he's not a numbers guy and doesn't know what Norris' numbers are. In what universe is terrible a number? Maybe it's just me, but I find it disgusting when people twist things around to accuse people of lying.
uglyone - Wednesday, August 22 2012 @ 02:33 PM EDT (#262555) #
meh, 'lying' isn't that ugly a world.

but let's say he was just playing dumb instead.
Ryan Day - Wednesday, August 22 2012 @ 03:03 PM EDT (#262556) #
There's really no reason for Johnson to be concerned with the numbers. Particularly with a guy like Norris, who's in his first pro season - Johnson's going to be far more concerned with his delivery and stuff. A year or two from now, no one is going to care what Daniel Norris' numbers were in Bluefield.

I'm sure there are people in the Jays' organization who are well-versed with Norris' numbers. That's not Johnson's job, though.
Richard S.S. - Wednesday, August 22 2012 @ 03:52 PM EDT (#262557) #

...A player shall be considered a rookie unless, during a previous season or seasons, he has (a) exceeded 130 at-bats or 50 innings pitched in the Major Leagues; or (b) accumulated more than 45 days on the active roster of a Major League club or clubs during the period of 25-player limit...

(a) exceeded 130 at-bats or 50 innings pitched:  If I'm not mistaken, this qualification(s) includes September(/October) time, but not post-season time.

(b) accumulated more than 45 days on the active roster...25-player limit :  If I'm not mistaken, this qualification(s) excludes September(/October) time, and post-season time.


As much as I like Prospect ranking lists, I'm opposed to including 2012 Draft Picks in those lists prior to offseason.  If you have a desire to rank them, rank 2012s with all our other 2012s.   Rank everyone else as they always are.  This offseason rank everybody, but also rank Pitchers and Hitters separately (3 lists).  This is more work, but why not do the best job possible?

Moe - Wednesday, August 22 2012 @ 04:05 PM EDT (#262558) #
"meh, 'lying' isn't that ugly a world."

wasn't there some rule that it's not lying if you know the truth?
Richard S.S. - Wednesday, August 22 2012 @ 04:29 PM EDT (#262560) #
I find it amazing someone gets so much abuse for not knowing the numbers (150 players x year numbers + month numbers + streak numbers + game numbers).  That is not Johnson's job (which he gets paid more to do, than we could), his job's different, perhaps much better.   It's no-one's job to criticise that job, you're not his boss.   Just because you're bored or disappointed or just contrary, doesn't mean you should be lazy too (the interwebby is vast, it's all out there somewhere).   Somewhere your numbers are waiting.  
dan gordon - Wednesday, August 22 2012 @ 07:20 PM EDT (#262564) #

With regard to the stats vs scouting issue, I'm a firm believer that stats do indeed have considerable value.  You need to use them appropriately - make adjustments for the age of the player, the park/league he's playing in, etc.  Certainly scouting is important as well, but scouting is a more subjective tool, and is dependant on the skill, personal biases, etc of the scout.  Stats give you a quantitative measure of what a player has done in the actual games.

I used to read every word of the Bill James Abstract when he was producing one each preseason.  When he decided to call it quits for that particular project, he talked about what would be the one thing he would like people to have understood from all the info that he had produced in the great many abstracts he had done, and he wrote that he would like people to understand that major league performance can be projected from minor league performance, if you make the appropriate age/park/league adjustments.  He said there are very few instances of a player who consistently hit well through the minors, at an age appropriate level, and then was given a legitimate, fairly long time in the majors, who did not become a good major league hitter.  He said there are many cases where such a player did not get a good long look in the bigs, and eventually got labelled a AAAA player, without getting a couple of full seasons to show what he could do.  

TamRa - Thursday, August 23 2012 @ 02:33 AM EDT (#262569) #

(a) exceeded 130 at-bats or 50 innings pitched:  If I'm not mistaken, this qualification(s) includes September(/October) time, but not post-season time.

(b) accumulated more than 45 days on the active roster...25-player limit :  If I'm not mistaken, this qualification(s) excludes September(/October) time, and post-season time.


This is correct.

An Interview with Dane Johnson - August 2012 | 63 comments | Create New Account
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