Batter's Box Interactive Magazine Batter's Box Interactive Magazine Batter's Box Interactive Magazine
Three affiliates started their seasons last night, all of the them on the road, and they all won. It was a fine night on the farm. It is easy to overreact to one game at the start of the season so we will try not to do that but there were some performances that caught the eye.

The Fisher Cats had a nice 6-0 win. Five pitchers combined on the shutout and racked up 12 strikeouts in the process. Francisco Rios started and went four innings. He was not perfect but had five K's in his four innings. Rios is likely targeted for a bullpen spot in the major leagues but even bullpen guys start in the minors to get as many consistent innings as possible.

Three Cats had two hits each, Lourdes Gurriel, Cavan Biggio and Connor Panas. Gurriel had the best night, as noted in yesterdays thread. Even his two outs were loud. He had two doubles and two RBI. Vlad was 1-4 with one loud out, Bo Bichette had a quiet debut, 0-4 with a walk. Neither Vlad or Bo struck our, in fact the Cats had only three K's as a team.

Dunedin played the tightest game, needing a run in the seventh to win 5-4. TJ Zeuch pitched well except for two pitches. Both left the yard and accounted for all four Philly runs. Zeuch went six innings and had five K's.

It was nice to see Josh Palacios and John La Prise get off to good starts. Palacios had injury troubles that had a negative impact on his 2017 season, while La Prise missed the entire year. Ivan Castillo, signed as a free agent, had a double and a triple. Castillo has more than 300 at-bats at the AA level between 2016 and 2017 so he should be able to handle A ball.

Yennsy Diaz was the star of opening day, with ten K's in 5.2 innings. We know Diaz can throw hard but he has had an issue with command. He didn't have that issue yesterday, he didn't walk anyone and threw 63 strikes out of 89 pitches.

The Lugnuts had their hitting shoes on. The boxscore says that Samad Taylor went 4-6, and that Ridge Smith and Reggie Pruitt had three hits each. Note, there is some dispute over the actual box score. Jesse Goldberg-Strassler says milb screwed up.

Here is what Jesse is reporting. This fits better with what I remember as I was tracking the game last night. Kevin Vicuña, Reggie Pruitt and Chavez Young each notched three hits to lead the offense, with Vicuña and Pruitt knocking two-run singles in a six-run ninth to blow the game open. The Lugnuts’ offense, meanwhile, manufactured an early lead with two runs in the first inning and a solo tally in the second off Loons starter Max Gamboa (Loss, 0-1). Kevin Smith’s two-run single made it 5-0 in the fifth against reliever Andre Scrubb. Pruitt (3-for-5, 2 runs, 3 RBIs) singled home Christian Williams for a 6-0 lead in the eighth. After the Loons ended Lansing’s shutout bid on Brayan Morales’s eighth-inning RBI single off reliever Donnie Sellers, the Lugnuts put the game away with an 11-batter, five-hit, two-walk, six-run rally against Great Lakes relievers Devin Hemmerich and James Carter in the top of the ninth. Shortstop Vicuña and first baseman Kacy Clemens each scored three runs while third baseman Smith and center fielder Pruitt drove in three runs apiece.

3 Stars

3rd star: Ridge Smith

2nd star: Lourdes Gurriel

1st star: Yennsy Diaz

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Gerry - Friday, April 06 2018 @ 11:44 AM EDT (#355634) #
Today's Lansing game has been cancelled due to snow. The two teams will play a doubleheader on Sunday.
bpoz - Friday, April 06 2018 @ 12:09 PM EDT (#355637) #
Pitching is always important.

I hope the defense is good all around. I don't know what to expect from the Dunedin offense. Lansing has speed and NH has power.
Gerry - Friday, April 06 2018 @ 12:18 PM EDT (#355641) #
Buffalo game is postponed too.
China fan - Friday, April 06 2018 @ 12:57 PM EDT (#355645) #
Does the acquisition of Darnell Sweeney suggest that Espinosa is likely to exercise his opt-out clause at the end of this month?

If so, that's a downgrade in team depth. Espinosa is a better hitter than Sweeney.

Or did they acquire Sweeney as a back-up outfielder? He has played more in the infield than the outfield in his career, and you wouldn't think that the Jays need any OF depth with the imminent return of Alford and probably Pompey fairly soon.
bpoz - Friday, April 06 2018 @ 01:03 PM EDT (#355648) #
I heard from somewhere that Maese could be back soon. No details, just shoulder impingement I think and back soon. I really hope so.
Gerry - Friday, April 06 2018 @ 01:04 PM EDT (#355649) #
Sweeney makes it 12 position players on the roster, 2 catchers, five infielders and five outfielders. If Espinosa left the Jays would be down to 4 infielders, so i don't think it has anything to do with Espinosa.

I assume one of the outfielders will always DH so the fifth outfielder is on the bench.
China fan - Friday, April 06 2018 @ 01:12 PM EDT (#355652) #
Gerry, you're assuming Sweeney will be an infielder or an outfielder? He has played both, but far more in the infield than the outfield over the course of his career. That's why I assume that his acquisition is linked to Espinosa's possible departure.
Gerry - Friday, April 06 2018 @ 01:25 PM EDT (#355653) #
Thats my bad, I thought he was an outfielder.
China fan - Friday, April 06 2018 @ 01:27 PM EDT (#355654) #
Sweeney has played everywhere, but I am guessing that he was acquired as an infielder since that's the area of greater need. But maybe I'm wrong.
uglyone - Friday, April 06 2018 @ 01:29 PM EDT (#355655) #
that would be great news on maese, bpoz.
jerjapan - Friday, April 06 2018 @ 02:00 PM EDT (#355658) #
Good to see Travis Bergen healthy to start the year.  This is his fourth year in the org and he still hasn't hit 30 total IPs.  a 7th rounder in 2015 who scored a $170,000K bonus, he doesn't have big stuff but I like his chances to be a fast rising lefty reliever. 
China fan - Friday, April 06 2018 @ 02:25 PM EDT (#355662) #
And one last question on Sweeney: any reports on his defensive skills? If he can play SS as effectively as Ngoepe, the Jays might be able to upgrade a little bit on the bench.
Mike Green - Friday, April 06 2018 @ 03:28 PM EDT (#355663) #
The Fisher Cats' lineup for tonight has Pentecost catching and batting 5th.  It's snowing in Hartford, so we'll see whether they play or not.
bpoz - Friday, April 06 2018 @ 04:29 PM EDT (#355666) #
I am going to try to evaluate 1B and DH prospects as the season unfolds. At the moment we have Smoak and Morales on the Jays for 2018 and 2019. They will not break the bank.
DH and 1B need to provide offense. Tellez's tools qualify. Now he has to develop. The prospects after that are not regular DH/1B types.

NH used C Biggio and Guillote. Dunedin used B Jones and N Knight. Lansing K Clemons, M Williams. Some OFs can also be considered. Noda for example.

Gerry - Friday, April 06 2018 @ 04:35 PM EDT (#355667) #
BA is reporting that Nate Pearson tweaked his back and won't pitch until next week.
ramone - Friday, April 06 2018 @ 09:04 PM EDT (#355689) #
Watching the Cats game, pitchers don't want much to do with Vlad, 1st inning Bo on third and 1 out, 4 straight balls nowhere close, he has an RBI ground out on a 3-2 count and worked another walk on a full count after that so far. Two hard line drive singles for Bo and Lourdes is hammering the ball with some authority in these first two games.

Pentecost has allowed 3 stolen bases tonight on the down side.
Gerry - Friday, April 06 2018 @ 10:02 PM EDT (#355691) #
Fisher Cats go to extra innings. It will be the first Blue Jay minor league game with a runner on second to start the inning.
China fan - Friday, April 06 2018 @ 10:18 PM EDT (#355692) #
Gameday has decided to transfer the "Jr" title from Guerrero to Gurriel. So now it appears that the former Montreal Expo is in the Fisher Cat lineup, while Gurriel is reduced to the status of his own non-existent son. It's all very confusing really.
China fan - Friday, April 06 2018 @ 10:31 PM EDT (#355693) #
I'd like to see Gurriel promoted to Buffalo within the next few weeks. He needs to be challenged with a higher level. And among the benefits: it would allow Biggio to play full-time at 2B for New Hampshire, rather than DH as he has played so far.
Spifficus - Friday, April 06 2018 @ 10:37 PM EDT (#355694) #
While I am entertained by the sci-fi possibilities, I think Gurriel is a Jr as well.
China fan - Saturday, April 07 2018 @ 08:09 AM EDT (#355706) #
You're right, I had forgotten that Gurriel is a Jr. too. However, in the case of Guerrero Jr., he wears it right on his uniform and has been stripped of it on Gameday.....
Shoeless Joe - Saturday, April 07 2018 @ 08:39 AM EDT (#355709) #
After two good games I don't think you can give Gurriel a pass on AA. He was terrible last year, and I want to see at least two months of sustained production. Dwight Smith had a similar start to AAA last year.
scottt - Saturday, April 07 2018 @ 09:33 AM EDT (#355711) #
They need good hitters in AA or nobody will pitch to Guerrero and Bichette.
lexomatic - Saturday, April 07 2018 @ 09:49 AM EDT (#355713) #
After two good games I don't think you can give Gurriel a pass on AA. He was terrible last year, and I want to see at least two months of sustained production. Dwight Smith had a similar start to AAA last year.

China fan - Saturday, April 07 2018 @ 10:11 AM EDT (#355716) #
"....He was terrible last year..."

Last year he was repeatedly injured, rusty from a year-long layoff, and struggling with the difficult adjustment from Cuba to North America. None of those factors apply this year. Of course he won't be promoted after 2 games, which nobody suggested, but I also doubt that the Jays will wait for two full months if he continues to crush the ball. They've invested a lot of money in him, and they're not going to treat him like Dwight Smith or any other ordinary young prospect who is working slowly up the ladder. The media reports suggest that the Jays have a very high assessment of him and they see him as a potential major-leaguer by the later stages of this season. If that's true, and if he continues to hit well, they're not going to leave him sitting in AA for two months to "prove" himself. They're going to take a chance on accelerating his promotion, even if it doesn't fit with normal statistical calculations of his minor-league "career" (which hasn't been a normal career anyway).
PeterG - Saturday, April 07 2018 @ 11:02 AM EDT (#355720) #
Virtually everyone who saw Gurriel in ST came away with the impression that he could really hit and will be an impact bat. Barring injury, he will almost certainly play in the majors this year.

Someone asked about Espinsoa earlier. It seems likely that he will opt out at end of April as Jays have no plans for him barring multiple infield injuries. He is simply early season insurance.
uglyone - Saturday, April 07 2018 @ 01:02 PM EDT (#355723) #
if they were as high as that on gurriel, he'd be in buffalo. actions speak louder.
jerjapan - Saturday, April 07 2018 @ 02:07 PM EDT (#355726) #
Zach Jackson had 5 Ks last night in 2 IPs for NH.  Has anyone seen him pitch?  His curve gets lots of love, and if he can get the BB% down at all, he's another fast-track bullpen candidate for the Jays this year.  A lot of people disliked the pick - a 3rd rounder projected as a reliever - but to me these sorts of unsexy picks have real value when they speed through the minors, especially given that you can go underslot with a lot of guys like this. 
bpoz - Saturday, April 07 2018 @ 03:01 PM EDT (#355727) #
Let us say "that circumstance allows/makes the Jays have a low cost pen recently. Only BJ Ryan was expensive. Osuna is headed that way.
$3-5mil each for 1-3 bullpen arms seem the recent history.

I don't know how much C Janssen got paid.

I think there is some kind of design in building a "good and affordable" pen. St Louis got D Leone from us @ $1.2mil. He probably is expected to be an important piece like B Cecil who is expensive.
dan gordon - Saturday, April 07 2018 @ 04:09 PM EDT (#355731) #
I'm with China Fan on Gurriel. Given all the stuff he was dealing with last year, it's not surprising he struggled. It was good that he got the chance to play in the AFL, and he hit well there, with an OPS just over .800. Starting him in AA this year seems to be in keeping with their usual plans of having a player show he can handle a certain level before promoting him, and I would expect Gurriel to get a quick promotion to AAA if he continues to hit well. I think it's a pretty good bet that we'll see him in Toronto some time this year, at least as a September call up, if not sooner.
Gerry - Saturday, April 07 2018 @ 04:45 PM EDT (#355732) #
Buffalo game is cancelled again, they still haven't started their season. Reportedly the tarp was frozen to the field.
Gerry - Saturday, April 07 2018 @ 05:14 PM EDT (#355733) #
Nick Tepesch starts for NH today. The opposing pitcher is ex-Jay Jesus Tinoco.
Gerry - Saturday, April 07 2018 @ 05:32 PM EDT (#355734) #
Temp is -1 at the start of the Lugnut game today.
bpoz - Saturday, April 07 2018 @ 06:17 PM EDT (#355737) #
Zack Logue is pitching for Lansing. He is a 2017 university draft pick. So he is definitely not young for the league. He may be old. What age is ok ... Avg and mean/median?
bpoz - Saturday, April 07 2018 @ 07:33 PM EDT (#355739) #
Lansing has scored 4 runs. NO hits but 10 walks.
Shoeless Joe - Saturday, April 07 2018 @ 07:34 PM EDT (#355740) #
I personally just don't buy into the excuses for the Jr Gurriel for last season. If you look across the poor performers from last year you can always make excuses. I'm sure he'll get promoted because the front office did give him a mountain of money, but I won't buy into him until I see improved results.

On a separate note I have read a few tidbits here and there that the Jays were high on the pitchers they took in the draft last year, and they all performed pretty well in short season.I think there might be a few surprises from that group emerge this year and Logue could be one of them.
dan gordon - Saturday, April 07 2018 @ 09:11 PM EDT (#355741) #
Yah, sometimes excuses are just that, excuses, and they don't really have any relevance. I think one of the most important things to be able to do in evaluating players is to assess who has a legit reason for a poor year, and is therefore likely to bounce back. You've got to look at the previous history of the player, injuries, age, and other factors, like Estrada's sleeping problems last year. I think Diaz is a great bounce back candidate, and I like Oh's chances as well. In Gurriel's case, the combination of factors all of which could have an adverse affect on his performance, happening at once, and then the good performance in the AFL, make me pretty optimistic about him.
Shoeless Joe - Saturday, April 07 2018 @ 09:35 PM EDT (#355742) #
I can understand why there are some who can see Gurriel the finished product, and why you can dream on the tools and pedigree, but I think baseball is a unfortunately a game of failures and most prospects who have bad/terrible years don't ever bounce back.

However choosing the ones we want to cheer for is what makes baseball fun. For example personally I think Tellez has a better chance of bouncing back after a putrid 4.5% Hr/FB ratio and dealing with his mother's health issues.
Gerry - Saturday, April 07 2018 @ 09:36 PM EDT (#355743) #
bpoz Logue is only 21. I think age matters less for pitchers, they can change their performance levels if they learn a new pitch or change one.

Generally if you are in the Midwest league at 21, the FSL at 22, AA at 23 and AAA at 24 you are doing well.
PeterG - Saturday, April 07 2018 @ 10:00 PM EDT (#355745) #
Gurriel is a much better prospect than Tellez imo. He hit well in AFL, well in ST and had been squaring up balls so far in the early going. He also has the pedigree and good results from his time in Cuba. There is no reason to be anything but bullish.
scottt - Sunday, April 08 2018 @ 08:29 AM EDT (#355748) #
There is no room for Tellez on the team right now unless Smoak is hurt.
Maybe he could eventually replace Morales as a platoon DH. 
He's gonna need to be patient and refine his hitting and defense.

Gurriel needs to hit a lot to make up for his poor defense.

China fan - Sunday, April 08 2018 @ 10:09 AM EDT (#355751) #
Yet another cancellation for the Bisons today -- their entire opening series has now been cancelled due to the weather.

Bad weather is always a risk for Buffalo (at home and on the road) in that league in April. It might also help to explain why the Jays put some prospects in other leagues, rather than trying to get playing time on the Bisons in these early days of the season. Although I guess the Eastern League has similar weather risks.
bpoz - Sunday, April 08 2018 @ 10:21 AM EDT (#355752) #
Prospect failure is to be expected. I have a positive approach to their development in many cases.

Repeating a level without improvement looks bad. This will happen. DJ Davis is very slow moving for example.
China fan - Sunday, April 08 2018 @ 10:22 AM EDT (#355753) #
I'm not an expert on weather patterns in the northeastern US, but it seems to me that the cities in upstate NY state, such as Buffalo and Rochester, typically have worse weather and colder weather than the cities a little further south or east in Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Jersey etc. Was it madness for the International League to try to schedule games in Rochester in the first week of April?
scottt - Sunday, April 08 2018 @ 12:41 PM EDT (#355756) #
April is always flaky. The Ottawa Lynx operated between 93 and 2007 and Ottawa is colder than Buffalo.
You known, when it's cold in Texas...

Richard S.S. - Sunday, April 08 2018 @ 12:44 PM EDT (#355757) #
Scheduling regular outdoor games of any sport in the snow belt areas of the North, the North-West and the North-East in the first 10-12 days of April is irresponsible, too many injuries could occur.
China fan - Sunday, April 08 2018 @ 03:01 PM EDT (#355762) #
Brilliant performance by Sean Reid-Foley today: 6 innings, 7 strikeouts, no runs, only one hit allowed.
GabrielSyme - Sunday, April 08 2018 @ 06:45 PM EDT (#355785) #
Lourdes Gurriel with another couple hits today, and a stolen base. He hasn't struck out yet. Given what he did in the AFL, I think he may have made the necessary adjustments and could move quickly.
uglyone - Sunday, April 08 2018 @ 07:08 PM EDT (#355790) #
kid is a monster
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