With the season almost over I thought I would review the season from the affiliates perspective. On the field we discover that Nate Pearson is human. Ridge Smith hit a grand slam for Lansing. Kevin Smith and Lourdes Gurriel also had important hits. Teoscar Hernandez hit another home run.
There is an interesting competition between Bo Bichette and Vlad Guerrero as to who will end with the best batting average in high A. Bichette is hitting .338 and Vlad .342 with just a few games left.
This was a disappointing year for Buffalo and marks the third straight year with a losing record. The Jays did sign a number of experienced players to balance out the roster but a combination of under performance and losing players to Toronto sunk those hopes. Winning plays a big part in how Buffalo views the affiliation and the losing seasons are not a good sign. The Bisons best run in recent years was when they were a Cleveland affiliate and Mark Shapiro was the Indians GM. The Bisons finished first in seven of their 14 Indians seasons. I think that link to Shapiro will be a glue in the relationship for a while. Other than winning, attendance is a big factor in the affiliation. The Bisons have been helped by fans coming over from Ontario to see the games and the prospects.
On the field as mentioned performances have been disappointing. Rowdy Tellez and Dwight Smith were the main prospects on the roster to start the season and Tellez has been a sporadic performer while Smith has been steady but not spectacular. The starting pitching was mostly made up of experienced AAAA guys, none of whom exceeded expectations. The recent arrival of Danny Jansen and Chris Rowley is a bit more exciting but its little and late. The Bisons are likely looking at the New Hampshire and Dunedin rosters and hoping to have some of those prospects on hand for a while. Buffalo would be upset if Bo and/or Vladdy jumped from AA directly to the majors. They would want them to get some AAA time to boost marketing and attendance. The Bisons front office will probably make sure that Shapiro and Russ Atkins are aware of this.On the field the game went to the 12th inning before the Bisons lost. Pawtucket scored four in the top of the ninth and the Bisons answered with a two run home run by Teoscar Hernandez. Hernandez is getting hot at the right time. Rowdy Tellez had two hits, still no home run. Dwight Smith and Jason Leblebijian also had two each.
New Hampshire and Toronto have been affiliated for all 14 years of the teams existence. The Fisher Cats were strong in 2010 and 2011 with future major leaguers such as Travis D'Arnaud, Anthony Goss, Adeiny Hechavarria, and Henderson Alvarez among others. Since 2011 the Fisher Cats have had a losing season each year with 2017 being one of the worst. The Blue Jays are always second fiddle in Manchester with the Red Sox being the big draw. If the Red Sox ever thought of moving their affiliation from Portland the NH front office would be throwing themselves at Boston like teenage girls at a Ed Sheeran concert.
On paper this was supposed to be a big season with lots of prospects on the roster. The starting pitchers have been OK but ultimately disappointing. Conner Greene, Jon Harris and Sean Reid-Foley have shown flashes but have been inconsistent. Likewise Richard Urena, Max Ramirez, Anthony Alford and Reece McGuire have been below expectations or injured. Like Buffalo, New Hampshire's FO will be applying pressure on the Jays front office to deliver a winning team. Several of those prospects will be back in 2018 and the arrival of Bo and Vlad will be on a clock watch. The Jays will be under more pressure in New Hampshire than in Buffalo and if the demands for a winning team go unfulfilled the affiliation could be under threat.
Conner Greene had one of his not so good performances but the bullpen was outstanding. Harold Ramirez, Gunnar Heidt and Lourdes Gurriel each had two hits. Tim Lopes drove in three runs.
The Dunedin affiliate is owned by the Jays so results technically don't matter. Having said that the Jays are headed for the playoffs with good performances from Bo, Vladdy, Conor Panas, and Jordan Romano.
The Jays were tied in the eighth before their bullpen gave up nine runs in a half inning. Juan Kelly homered while Vlad Jr. was 2-2.
The Jays have been tied to Lansing for 13 years. Their best season was 2012 when Sanchez, Syndergaard, Nicolino as well as Andy Burns and Kevin Pillar were there. The team has had an up and down last few sesons. This year the team had a very good first half record with Bo, Vlad and Brad Jones leading the way. It wasn't enough to make the playoffs and their second half has been weak with poor starting pitching. Pitching has been the weak link for Lansing this year and there is some hope on the horizon on that front. Vancouver and Bluefield have some good young pitchers who will be battling with the holdovers for the five starting spots next year. With the Jays returning to a college heavy draft approach those newly drafted players should be aiming for Lansing for 2018. The Bo and Vlad half year will have gained some goodwill in the Lansing FO and there is hope on the horizon so I think the relationship will survive.
Ridge Smith hit a grand slam and ended with two hits and five RBI. Mitch Nay also homered and had three RBI. Josh Palacios, Yeltsin Gudino and David Jacob also had two hits each.
The relationship with Vancouver is very strong, its a Canadian relationship, the Jays are on TV in BC and attendances are strong. The C's had a few winning years back in three to six years ago but the last two years have been losing ones. THe return to the playoffs in 2017 is welcome.
Nate Pearson finally allowed a run, two in fact. Pearson pitched into the fourth inning and gave up three hits and three walks with five K's. Pearson had been sporting a zero ERA but now its jumped up to 0.95. The best pitcher on the day was not Pearson but a competition between Canadian Brayden Bouchey who struck out four in two innings and Travis Bergen who had six K's in 3.2 innings.
Norberto Obeso had two hits and drove in both runs. Brandon Polizzi had two hits to raise his average to .194. Polizzi was hitting the cover off the ball in Bluefield but has found Vancouver to be tougher going.
The Jays have been linked with Bluefield for seven years and they have been generally successful. Dennis Holmberg does a great job with the "kids" and is well liked locally. The only drawback of Bluefield is the location, it is very hard to get to for roaming instructors and other coaching staff. On the positive side most teams are fairly local so there are few long bus rides or overnight stays away. Bluefield is not a team with a lot to offer a major league club in comparison with the other options so it seems as though the power in the relationship lies with the Jays.As befits a playoff team the Jays have had a lot of stand-out performers such as Ryan Noda, Yorman Rodrigues, Ryan Gold, and pitchers Randy Pondler and Maximo Castillo.
The Jays scored five late runs to win Wednesdays game. Kevin Smith tied the game with a two run single in the eighth and added another RBI single in the ninth. Ryan Noda also had two hits.
Like Dunedin the GCL Jays are owned by the Blue Jays. They had a good season but just fell short of the playoffs at the end. On the field on Wednesday the Jays won 2-1 despite registering just four hits. 17 year old Felipe Castaneda finished his season with an excellent start, five innings, five K's, five hits, one run. 19 year old Luis De Los Santos had two hits, scored a run and drove in a run. He has had a very nice season.
3rd star: Lourdes Gurriel
2nd star: Kevin Smith
1st star: Ridge Smith