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It is only a couple of weeks until the 2014 minor league rosters will be announced.  Today I am discussing my predictions of the opening day assignments for the hitters.  Tomorrow I will look at starting pitchers.


Dioner Navarro and Erik Kratz appear to be the major league catchers

Josh Thole, Mike Nickeas and Sean Ochinko all spent time catching in Buffalo in 2013 and I believe they will repeat in 2014.

That leaves AJ Jimenez to return to AA.  Some of you might think that AJ should be in AAA.  Last year AJ only caught 40 games in AA and between 2012 and 2013 he has caught 67 games.  He can easily take another go around in AA go work on his hitting as much as his catching.  AJ has hit .269 with a 703 OPS in his two partial seasons in AA.  He can do with more time there to improve those numbers.  Jack Murphy is likely to be the backup.

If Jimenez is staying put then Derrick Chung will have to stay put too.  Chung had a pretty good year last year as a first time catcher.  He put up a 677 OPS but he only caught 64 games.  He needs catching reps and he can get them in Dunedin as well as he can get them in New Hampshire.  Even though Chung is 26 the Jays are interested to see if he continues to develop as a late bloomer. 

With everyone standing pat then Santiago Nessy will have to do so too.  Nessy did not have a great 2013 and it could be time for some tough love for Nessy who seemed to be coasting on his repuation last season.

The final name worth noting is Mike Reeves of Peterborough, Ontario.  Reeves was drafted in 2013 and made a strong first impression, good enough to be invited to help out at major league camp this spring.  It makes most sense to send Reeves to Lansing but as a college senior he could be sent to Dunedin too.  If he is sent to Lansing it will be interesting to see how at-bats are distributed by the manager.


First Base

Toronto - EE and Adam Lind

AAA - Dan Johnson seems to be the guy

AA - Gabe Jacobo has been injured a lot over the last three years, he has averaged 300 at-bats each season.  Last year he had 135 of those at-bats in AA and he delivered a OPS over 1000.  It would be nice to see him have a full, injury free season.  I think newly returned Mike McDade might return to New Hampshire.  Given the extra bodies in AAA I am not sure if there is room for him there.

A+ - KC Hobson hit just .215 last season in Dunedin, he needs to try again.

A - The most interesting name at this position is LB Dantzler.  Dantzler is a college senior who hit very well in Vancouver last season.  As a college senior he could be challenged with an assignement to Dunedin.  The other first baseman in the mix for Lansing is Matt Dean.  Dean and Dantzler could switch between 1B and DH in Lansing.  Or Dantzler could bump Hobson in Dunedin.  In general it is safer to bet on the lower assignment as the Jays are usually not aggressive in their promotions.


Second Base

Toronto - Ryan Goins

AAA - Chris Getz plus Munenori Kawasaki and Jon Diaz

AA - Jon Berti.  Berti had a good season for Dunedin in 2013 and deserves the promotion

A+ - This where it gets unpredictible.  There are several candidates for this position, none of whom you would call a strong candidate.  Christian Lopes was the 2B in Lansing last season, started well but struggled in the second half.  Has he earned the Dunedin job?  Probably not.  Peter Mooney has been injured a lot over the last two seasons, he could get it by default.  Jorge Flores is another who spent some time in Dunedin last season, he could get the job.  The guy who won the job at the end of last season was Shane Opitz who hit over 300 for the D Jays.  All of these guys are candidates.  Often these jobs come down to draft position and reputation.  Given Lopes draft position he would be the favourite to grab the job unless the Jays have soured on his potential and give it to Opitz.

A - There is no obvious candidate for Lansing either.  Any of Mooney, Lopes or Flores could get sent back to Lansing.  The wild card is one of the latin kids.  I thought Franklin Barreto might have a shot at the job but the Jays have downplayed that.  Just like Gustavo Pierre two years ago or Emilio Guerrero last year, the Jays might be impressed by one of the young kids.  Another option is Dickie Thon who seems to have been passed at shortstop by Dawel Lugo.  Thon could cover second with Lugo at short.



Toronto - Jose Reyes

AAA - Steve Tolleson, Jon Diaz and Munenori Kawasaki will take turns

AA - Kevin Nolan back for a second year in his home state.  If he can put up better numbers this year he could get to play in the major leagues.

A+ - Emilio Guerrero who was promoted here at the end of last season

A - Dawel Lugo and Dickie Thon.  Expect to see them flip flop from time to time.


Third Base

Toronto - Brett Lawrie

AAA - Andy LaRoche

AA - Andy Burns, but I think Burns might get some time at second base too.

A+ - Gustavo Pierre, can he take enough pitches to help his hitting?

A - Mitch Nay.  Matt Dean could play here too, when Nay rests.


Centre Field

Toronto - Colby Rasmus

AAA - Anthony Gose, sorry Anthony your hitting still needs work

AA - Kenny Wilson, can he pass Gose on the depth chart this season?

A+ - Dalton Pompey, looking to build on a break-out 2013

A - DJ Davis.  This will be a big test for Davis, can he cut down on his strikeouts and hit for a good average?  Davis will turn 20 in July so this is a big year to show he belongs.


Left Field

Toronto - Melky Cabrera

AAA - Kevin Pillar

AA - Up for grabs.  All of the Dunedin outfielders from last season will be trying to make the AA squad, Matt Newman, Nick Baligod, Marcus Knecht will all get a shot.  Brian Van Kirk could also be in the mix if he is still in the organization after his failed drug test.  Finally Ryan Schimpf has played left field from time to time.  Given that Berti and Burns are in his spots, he might get some reps here.

A+ - Dwight Smith.  Smith and Pompey moving up the ladder together.

A - Another slot that could be up for grabs but I think the Jays will give Jacob Anderson a shot at it.  Anderson was drafted in 2011 and will be 21 years old at the start of the season and has never played full season ball.  It's time for Anderson to show what he has.  If it is not Anderson it could be Ian Parmley, Chaz Frank, JD Davis or Derrick Loveless.


Right Field

Toronto - Jose Bautista

AAA - Brad Glenn.  Glenn got a few looks with the big club in spring training.  Glenn has power but needs to cut down on his strikeouts to have a shot.

AA - See left field.  Likely Michael Crouse gets this spot.

A+ - Chris Hawkins.  Hawkins was disappointing last season in Lansing and arguably hasn't earned the promotion.  But he has spent two years in Lansing so he needs a change of scenery.

A - Carlos Ramirez.  Sleeper candidate for 2014.  He has lots of power but is very raw, he could break out if he can put it all together.


There are a few extra AAA players looking for playing time.  Brett Carroll and Chad Goedert could go on the phantom DL, get released or be a DH.



Tomorrow we will look at the starting pitchers.


Minor League Projected Assignments - Hitters | 17 comments | Create New Account
The following comments are owned by whomever posted them. This site is not responsible for what they say.
lexomatic - Tuesday, March 18 2014 @ 09:03 AM EDT (#283432) #
Right field?
TangledUpInBlue - Tuesday, March 18 2014 @ 09:22 AM EDT (#283433) #
"Right field?"

Well, OK, I'll do the heavy lifting on this, and then you guys take care of the rest:

Toronto -- Jose Bautista
Gerry - Tuesday, March 18 2014 @ 09:23 AM EDT (#283434) #
Fixed, mental block I guess.
greenfrog - Tuesday, March 18 2014 @ 09:35 AM EDT (#283435) #
The Jays have some good pitching prospects, but this post shows just how weak they are on the positional player side.

Keith Law says the 2014 rule 4 draft could the best since 2005 and 2011 for overall quality. He said that the early rounds are dominated by pitching (and prep hitters), though. It will be interesting to see whether the Jays draft more pitchers at #9 and 11. (I would support this if a pitcher is the BPA.)
China fan - Tuesday, March 18 2014 @ 10:26 AM EDT (#283436) #
Gerry, do you see Andy Burns being promoted to Buffalo after a couple of months at New Hampshire? The Jays seem very high on him, and he's already done a half-season at NH.
Gerry - Tuesday, March 18 2014 @ 10:46 AM EDT (#283437) #

First, I will be interested to see how many games Burns gets at 2B.  To me he is a mid-season plan B for Goins.  If Burns hits in April and May I can see him getting a month at AAA and then the major leagues around the all-star break.  Now that depends on a job being available to him.  If Lawrie was to get injured they might see if Burns is ready at 3B.  If Goins is hitting they might slow down Burns promotion to AAA until the all-star break.  

Burns has 5 spring training at-bats and he is 3-5, small sample I know, but maybe his improvement in August and his time in the AFL have helped him get ready for 2014.

China fan - Tuesday, March 18 2014 @ 01:39 PM EDT (#283442) #
Thanks, Gerry. I agree with your points, and I'm a little puzzled why Burns is starting at NH if he's a mid-season Blue Jays candidate. He's had a half-season at NH already, he's had the Arizona stint, he's had spring-training action, and he could be a mid-season replacement for Goins, or an injury replacement for Lawrie -- so why is he starting at NH rather than Buffalo? (If that's what happens.) Or is there really so little difference between AA and AAA competition? Given his fast trajectory, I would have pegged him for Buffalo this year.
Gerry - Tuesday, March 18 2014 @ 02:09 PM EDT (#283445) #

Well I am just guessing at New Hampshire, maybe the Jays will send him to AAA.  My reasoning for assuming AA is that Burns was promoted midway through 2013 and he struggled for his first month to six weeks in AA.  Burns needed to take a timing step out of his swing which he did.  He hit better in August last year but I don't think we can say that he dominated AA for any length of time.  I think he still needs some seasoning at AA.

I also don't know if the Jays see Burns as a mid-season replacement for Goins, I do, but they might not.  The standard model for Burns would be half a season in AA, half a season in AAA, call-up in September and ready to play in 2015.

China fan - Tuesday, March 18 2014 @ 02:27 PM EDT (#283450) #
Thanks, Gerry.
John Northey - Tuesday, March 18 2014 @ 11:20 PM EDT (#283466) #
The outfield is where opportunity is knocking.  The question is who will answer?  CF and LF could both be vacant at the ML level in 2015 - it is time for someone to step up.  We all know the big 3 (Pillar, Gose, Sierra) but who else might step up?

Kenny Wilson: career 229/329/312 in minors sounds like a no hope guy, especially after 2095 PA but... from age 18 to 21 he was at A+ and lower and had OPS of 565 to 616 while stealing 122 bases.  Then in 2012 something changed and he had a 720 OPS in A/A+, then a 735 mainly in AA (21 PA lower) while recovering from an injury.  Still a long way from being a major leaguer but in his age 24 season he has a chance to open some eyes.  His 333/429/500 performance in 14 PA (10 games) this spring certainly won't hurt.

Matt Newman: 3 pro seasons, OPS of 641-813-777 but not above A+ yet and is 25 this season - needs a breakthrough season to push him to the majors
Nick Baligod: 3 pro seasons, OPS of 690-765-733 again not over A+ yet and entering age 26 season - no real shot at being a ML regular unless he suddenly becomes a 900 OPS guy in AA
Marcus Knecht: 4 pro seasons, OPS of 748 lifetime but sub 700 the past 2 years in A+, entering age 24 season and needs to hit a heck of a lot better
Michael Crouse: 6 pro seasons, 740 OPS lifetime but has yet to reach AA, entering age 23 season, youngest of this group but with that much experience he should've been in AA well before now.

All 5 guys listed need to really improve if they are to have a shot at unseating the big 3, let along reach the majors. The Jays really needed Gose to become what he was projected to be a few years ago. Now they need two of these 8 guys to really step up and show skills beyond what they've demonstrated before or they need to acquire someone or they need to resign Rasmus which will be very, very expensive.  The outfield will be AA's big challenge next winter, no doubt on that one.
Mike D - Wednesday, March 19 2014 @ 12:36 AM EDT (#283468) #
The system's cupboard is really, really bare when you exclude pitchers. There's a decent chance that not a single player named as a minor leaguer in this article plays 500 MLB games.
uglyone - Wednesday, March 19 2014 @ 02:36 AM EDT (#283470) #
I think you're being too conservative. I see all three of burns, jimenez, and wilson starting in AAA.

I'm also hoping that the college seniors who were in vancouver last year start in dunedin. They're much too old for lansing.
gabrielthursday - Wednesday, March 19 2014 @ 05:31 AM EDT (#283473) #
Gerry, I've heard murmurings of Tellez being in Lansing this year - any substance to it? Jason Parks, for one, put him on his list of players to see in Lansing, though perhaps he was anticipating a mid-season promotion. As a possibly-related question, might the Jays keep some guys in extended (e.g. Tellez, Davis, Anderson, Barreto) for a few weeks only to assign them to Lansing directly from extended?

As an aside, I do think there are some decent guys in the upper minors. Burns and Jimenez have the kinds of well-rounded skill sets that could make them decent starters but should at least make them top-calibre backups, and between Pompey, Wilson and Gose there are a number of chances for a defensively-gifted CF with excellent speed to learn to hit well enough to be a valuable CF for years to come.

John Northey - Wednesday, March 19 2014 @ 08:00 AM EDT (#283475) #
Hmm.... I wonder... is there anyone in the draft this year who could be a 'John Olerud'?  IE: someone who could skip the minors and go straight to the majors (or close to it)? With two picks in the top 11 a lot of quality players should be around when the Jays draft.

B-R doesn't list anyone in the first round as making it from 2013's draft yet, but 3 guys from 2012's did play in the majors (52 games for Mike Zunino leads, Michael Wacha threw 64 2/3 IP mainly as a starter with a 131 ERA+...he was picked 2 picks after the Jays took Davis).  8 from 2011 have reached led by Jose Fernandez (2.19 ERA in 28 games), with 4 pitchers over 0 for WAR.  The last significant hitter to reach (100+ games) is from 2010 in Bryce Harper and Manny Machado (the only ones over 100 games so far).  4 hitters from 2009 have 100+ games. is hard to find quality hitters who can reach quickly lately isn't it?  Seems like 3+ years in the minors is mandatory for a hitter now. 
Gerry - Wednesday, March 19 2014 @ 09:02 AM EDT (#283477) #

Over the last few years the Jays have been conservative in their promotions so that is why I put the players where I did.  Tellez is apparently hitting well in Florida but he was in high school this time last year.  I just don't see the Jays being that aggressive with him this early.

I also don't see why the Jays would hold players back for a few weeks in extended, I don't understand what's the reason for doing that.

short - Wednesday, March 19 2014 @ 11:35 AM EDT (#283488) #
Great read! Thanks!

Any thoughts on Sweeney and Patterson?
Gerry - Wednesday, March 19 2014 @ 11:50 AM EDT (#283493) #

The Jays have a lot of first basemen and I think Patterson is in tough for a job.  He has shown he can hit in Lansing but not in Dunedin.  I think it comes down to the DH job, is he a candidate versus someone else?

Sweeney could get a 2B job somewhere but I think he is out of luck at 3B.  Because he was a higher draft pick he might get another shot but I think it will be as a backup. 

Both could also be release candidates.

Minor League Projected Assignments - Hitters | 17 comments | Create New Account
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