Its mid-season so how are our top prospects performing? Today I rate their first halves against expectations. On the field it was a bad night. Tim Mayza gave up three runs in the bottom of the ninth to turn a two run lead into a loss. New Hampshire and Lansing lost easily. Dunedin were on their way to a big loss until they scored four in the ninth to make it a more respectable one run loss.
The Bisons went down 5-1 and came back to lead 7-5 until Tim Mayza coughed it up in the ninth. Ryan Borucki started and pitched through some trouble. He did concede five runs, they came on a home run and two doubles. But he knuckled down and went seven innings retiring the last eight hitters in a row. His line was 7 5 5 4 4.
Dwight Smith went 3-4 with a home run. Lourdes Gurriel was 2-4 also with a home run, and a double. His average is up to .292.
Jordan Romano was outstanding through April and May but this was his second rocky start in a row. Maybe he is working on something. He was fine for two innings, gave up a couple of runs in the third, was routine in the fourth, but the wheels came off in the fifth and he was done. The seven runs he allowed were all earned even though there were a couple of errors behind him. On the hitting side, Gunnar Heidt had three hits. had two hits, his average is up to .299.
Marcus Stroman started and pitched 4.1 innings with 60 pitches. He only had one hit off him but he walked four. Angel Perdomo, the scheduled starter, pitched two innings.
The Jays scored four in the bottom of the ninth to make it a close, 6-5 game. Kacy Clemens, Josh Palacios and Eduard Pinto each had two hits. Logan Warmoth came off the DL, played DH, and was 0-4, all strikeouts.
Lansing qualified for the playoffs on Monday and since then they have relaxed, and lost. This game was an 11-3 loss. Chavez Young had three hits. Brock Lundquist and Ryan Noda homered.
3rd star: Gunnar Heidt and Chavez Young
2nd star: Lourdes Gurriel
1st star: Dwight Smith
The minor league season is about at the half way mark and the short season teams are starting to play. This seems like a good time to look at the top 30 prospects and take stock. I always remind the reader that one third of the prospects should improve, one third disappoint and one third stay about the same.
Prospects whose stock has improved
Obviously Vlad Guerrero Jr and Bo Bichette have exceeded expectations. Before the season we were unsure whether they would return to Dunedin or move up to New Hampshire. They did move up and both have played well and exceeded expectations. You could argue that Bo was a premium prospect and is only meeting expectations but when you are in AA you are very close to the major leagues and for him to be there at age 20 is exceptional.
Danny Jansen is another improver. He had just a brief time in AAA last season and coming into 2018 the question was, could he do it again. Well he has and at a premium position. Jansen's best pal, Ryan Borucki, has also played well in AAA. Borucki has been the Bisons best starter and is in line for a call up this year.
I am going to put Sean Reid-Foley in the improve camp. Coming into the year SRF was thought of as a reliever who couldn't command his pitches. He has pitched well, mostly, and earned a promotion to AAA where he has shown flashes of potential. I don't think he is ready for the big leagues and he is probably a candidate to break in as a reliever, old school style, but he has a better chance of being a major league starter than he did at the start of the season.
Gurriel was our number 13 prospect and there were many doubts over his bat and his defensive position. The defensive issues remain, and defensively he is a work in process, but he has hit well in AAA and, for flashes of time, in the major leagues. In the off-season many thought that he might not ever be a major leaguer. I think he can be although it still could be in a utility role.
Kevin Smith is probably the biggest riser on top 30 lists. He was #21 for Da Box but likely top 10 now.
Jordan Romano has arguably been New Hampshire's best starter. He needed to improve his change up and it is a lot better this year. He is doing well, albeit with a recent hiccup.
Angel Perdomo was Da Boxes number 28 prospect. He was injured to start the season but now has made 9 starts. His WHIP is 1.09 and he has 48 K's in 43 innings. His command has improved this year with his walk rate down to 2.9 per nine innings. The tall lefties take time to get it right but this year its working.
Prospects who have disappointed
I am disappointed in Anthony Alford for this reason: he has been injured with some regularity and when he returns he takes some time to get back into playing form. Usually when he gets back into form is about the time he gets injured again. Is this just a run of bad luck or is it a permanent issue of his? I hope its just bad luck. Alford has scuffled since being injured this year and only recently has been starting to hit. Can he keep hitting without suffering another injury?
Max Pentecost has had an injury riddled career. He is still not an everyday catcher and his bat hasn't come around yet. He gets good reviews from scouts but needs more dedicated playing time behind the plate.
Justin Maese picked up an injury and it could derail his career, shoulders are tricky. Thomas Pannone was suspended when it looked like he was heading for AAA.
Yeltsin Gudino is hitting .284 in Lansing at age 21. He has a decent eye at the plate but no power so he is unlikely to be top 30 material this off-season.
Josh Palacios was the #29 prospect and he got off to a great start in April. But May was bad and June is average. He is just 22 but he is striking out at a 28% pace. H was injured a lot in 2018 but he needs a big second half.
Prospects whose expectations have stayed the same
Nate Pearson has been injured so its hard to say. He will have fewer innings on his arm and he will be a candidate for the fall league if healthy.
Richard Urena had a lot of questions about his bat coming into 2018 despite being the #6 prospect. This year, when he was not injured he showed some hitting ability in the major leagues. Its a small sample size but he did well at the plate when given the chance.
I am not sure of Logan Warmoth belongs here or in the disappoint category. However I look at him like I do at Riley Adams. The promotion of both of them to Dunedin was a leap after being in Vancouver last season. Adams had a horrible April before getting better in May and setting himself up for a good second half. Warmoth was injured and hasn't had the chance to show that improvement. So I will stay on the fence with both.
TJ Zeuch has pitched well without dominating. Can he improve his strikeout numbers or can he continue to induce weak contact?
Rowdy Tellez is hitting better than he did last year but still not at a major league level. He is still young for AAA so he has time, just needs to keep improving. Similarly Reese McGuire is starting to play better but not yet at a major league level.
Kevin Vicuna is 20 years old in Lansing with a .685 OPS. That is Ok but not great. He is a slick fielder but he needs to get stronger. He is still a bit of a hacker too but the tools are there.
Zach Jackson has 33 K's in 26.2 innings, that's good. he has allowed 11 hits in those 26.2 innings, that's really good. He has walked 23, that's not good. Somewhat like Tim Mayza, who we have seen in Toronto, Jackson needs to improve his command but so far he has the stuff.
Jon Harris could have been in the disappoint category but he was the #27 prospect so expectations were not high. Also he just pitched a six inning no hitter. At this stage his future could go in a number of directions.
Patrick Murphy has a 1.44 WHIP in Dunedin. It was 1.5 for April and May but is 1.22 in June. Has he learned something or is it a blip? His numbers are generally average and he could fall off the top 30 without a strong second half.
Among those outside the top 30, Chavez Young has had an excellent first half. In Buffalo, Dwight Smith Jr., Conor Fisk, Justin Dillon and Justin Shafer have played well. In New Hampshire, Cavan Biggio and Jonathan Davis have hit well, Francisco Rios has been disappointing. At the lower levels, Yennsy Diaz and Zach Logue have pitched well. Samad Taylor and Reggie Pruitt have not lived up to expectations. Taylor has shown some signs of improvement recently but it is not yet a full pattern. Maximo Castillo is young and has been up and down as a starter. The unknown category includes Hagen Danner and Erick Pardinho.
Overall it has been a positive first half of the season for the Blue Jays farm system.