I talked with Doug Davis this morning about several minor league players. Unfortunately my voice recorder ran out of battery almost at the start of the discussion so I have reproduced my notes of our discussion. I think I got it all. In this you will hear that Max Pentecost is out for the year, that Roemen Fields is working hard on his defense, that Conner Greene can be compared to Drew Hutchison, at least by me, and that Shane Dawson has been compared to mark Buehrle by more than me.
I started by asking about a change in philosophy in the Jays system this year where prospects are being promoted faster than in previous years. Davis acknowledged that they had indeed changed their philosophy particularly in regard to pitchers. He noted that they had discussed it as a group in the off-season and he said Alex Anthopoulos prodded them in this direction. He also mentioned another change in monitoring pitcher workload that they implemented with input from Sal Fasano. Davis said the Jays were less dogmatic about pitcher inning limits this year and were focused more on pitcher stress. He didn't go into detail about what exactly that means but we know that one theory of pitcher tiredness focusses on stressful innings rather than an innings total.
Max Pentecost will not play this year, he is still rehabbing and has good days and bad days. They are working on getting a full range of motion in his shoulder. I asked if they intended to use him as a DH as he is hitting as part of his rehab. Davis said they were worried about the running and sliding and so he wouldn't do that. He probably will hit in the instructional league where they can sub in a pinch runner if he reaches base.
AJ Jimenez is also done for the year but his news is a little better. He is almost fully recovered and should be ready for a full season of winter ball.
Davis was not sure of the status of John Stilson.
Davis expects Ryan Borucki to pitch again before the end of the season.
Travis Bergen suffered a minor injury pitching for Vancouver. The staff determined that he was fatigued after a long season in college ball so they decided to shut him down until the fall and have him come back strong next season.
Moving on to players who are, you know, playing I asked Davis about this years fast mover, Conner Greene. Davis said that Greene matured a lot this year and he is a very confident pitcher. He pitches to contact, has very good fastball command and a good change-up. His fastball has late life and that allows him to challenge hitters and induce weak contact. As he was discussing Greene I said his description reminded me of Drew Hutchison when he was in the minors. Davis agreed that was a reasonable comp but he noted that Greene has a better breaking ball than Drew did at the same level.
Clinton Hollon is a smaller pitcher who has moved up too this year. Hollon is listed at 6'1" but not not be that height. Davis said that Hollon has a good feel for pitching and he can throw any pitch on any count. His fastball does have decent downward plane. Hollon doesn't overpower hitters but mixes it up. Hollon had a bad start yesterday and Davis said they were half expecting that, that pitchers coming back from missing a lot of time hit a wall at some point.
Jose Espada is a 2015 high school draftee that has started well. Davis noted that Espada shows good poise and competitiveness. He is not a big physical specimen like some pitchers, he is listed at 6'1" and 170 pounds. In terms of body size he reminded him of Aaron Sanchez. Espada has good arm speed and throws strikes and that can be very effective in the GCL.
Another 2015 draftee is Justin Maese whose name Davis pronounced ays "my-ess". He is bigger and heavier than Espada with a more typical pitchers body. He too pitches in the zone with a fastball, slider mix. He is learning a change-up.
I wondered what happened to Grayson Huffman who had a great 2014 and is having a terrible 2015. Davis said it all comes down to command, that Huffman has good stuff but is regularly falling behind in the count and that in turn is hurting his confidence.
Francisco Rios has been improving this season and Davis said that Rios has added velocity this season. Rios can now get it up to the mid-nineties and he too is a strike thrower who can throw his breaking ball for strikes.
I talked to Davis before I started listening to this weeks Around the Nest podcast. I had heard that Shane Dawson was Buehrle like and that question was asked this week on the podcast too. Davis said that Dawson can throw his fastball up to 90 but he really mixes his pitches and speeds and most often his fastball sits 86/87. Dawson has tremendous feel for pitching and really keeps the hitters off balance.
Some commenters here have asked about Roemen Fields defense so I asked Davis how it was? Obviously he mentioned Fields speed which lets him track down a lot of balls but he also said that Tim Raines and Rich Miller were working a lot with Fields to improve his reads and decisions. He noted that Fields was improving all the time.
Dwight Smith has not had a great year based on expectations. Davis said that AA is a challenging level and that Smith was still young enough. He said he has seen progress but mentioned that Smith has been dealing with a few nagging injuries this season.
Lane Thomas was recently promoted to Lansing and the 19 year old has shown power but reports are he is still a work in process at second base. Davis said that Thomas was working a lot on his defense and that probably took focus away from his hitting. Thomas has terrific power but Davis felt that Thomas was selling out some for power and pitchers in the NWL, who were often experienced college pitchers, were taking advantage. He said Thomas saw a very high percentage of change-ups in the NWL as he tried for the fences.
Finally Davis is very happy with the progress of Rodrigo Orozco (last name pronounced just like Jesse Orosco). Orozco is a switch hitter who controls the zone and can show some power if he gets a fastball to hit. Given that Orozco is 20 he could be in Lansing next season.
I asked Davis about losing so many players at the trade deadline. He gave the usual answer about supporting the big league team. But he also added that some pitchers who might have had much opportunity will now get more innings and maybe they can find another pitcher or two from that extra playing time.
As usual we thank Doug for his time.