In our last dangling conversation installment, we took a close look at Adam Lind, who looks like he's going to be a big part of the Jays' 2009 offense. Today, we'll look at some Jays who are in a similar situation to where Lind was 3 years back, and see what role they are likely to play this season.
Rincewind: What can we expect from the Jays other top prospects in the high minors: J.P. Arencibia, David Cooper, Brett Cecil, Scott Campbell, Ricky Romero, Robert Ray, Brad Mills?
Hugo: I was glad to see the Jays sign Michael Barrett and I hope he is healthy because I think having two veteran catchers plus Thigpen will mitigate the tendency for the Jays to rush Arencibia. Unlike, Snider, I don’t think Arencibia is ready to contribute at the major-league level this year. He still needs work on his defense and his plate discipline, and the major leagues isn’t a great place for a young catcher to hone those skills. In addition to just being more patient, he also needs to recognize pitches better, especially breaking balls. I expect Arencibia to start at AA or AAA (if he starts at AA, he won’t be there long) and I would like to see he and Jeroloman playing at the same level. Their skills compliment one another well and it will be good for them to start getting used to sharing playing time. And even though Jeroloman is a fellow minor-leaguer, that doesn’t mean JP can’t learn from his discipline and defensive skill. I do think Arencibia will appear, but I'm hoping it's as a September callup.
Rincewind: The catcher thing, I’m fairly comfortable with Barrett as the backup with Arencibia the call up and everyday catcher if/when Barajas breaks down. It isn’t like he will play a lot, how many teams have a decent backup catcher? I’m not too much against Arencibia getting some on the job training at the major league level mostly because things have to break really well for us to be in the race, so if they don’t break that well, let’s look at some of these him. I can’t imagine the drop off from Barajas to Arencibia would be that huge.
Hugo: David Cooper moved very quickly last season and I would expect him to begin this season in AA and quite possibly even see some big league action later in the season as a late callup.
Brett Cecil is another guy I would like to see begin in the minors. Cecil’s stats have been fantastic but his durability is not where it needs to be in order to be a major-league starter, and that’s what the Jays need in order to get full value from Cecil. Ideally, he would start in AA (perhaps not Vegas due to the extreme hitter’s environs of the PCL) and get some bullpen work in for the Jays later in the season, but I would also love to see him make a couple of starts for the Jays. The Jays have been cautious with him and I hope they continue to do so.
Ricky Romero, on the other hand, is about ready to be thrown into the fire, though how well he will perform is open to debate. Romero struggled in AA last season but impressed in 7 starts in AAA. That slightly rehabilitated his prospect status, but it means nothing if he doesn’t have a good season this year. Ideally, he would start in AAA and pitch his way into the rotation, but he will compete for a starter’s job right out of the spring. He has three quality pitches so I wouldn’t be shocked to see him do a decent job, but he needs to limit walks. I don't really buy into the concerns about his makeup.
Brad Mills could also see some time with the major-league team this season. The lefty has dominating numbers in the minors but doesn’t have great stuff. Let’s face it, the Jays have had a lot of success with this type of pitcher over the last few years so let’s not count Mills out. Robert Ray had a great season last year and looks like he could be a serviceable pitcher as well.
Rincewind: I agree I don’t want to see Cecil up here at least till the end of the season, he wasn’t getting much past 5 innings last year and I don’t trust Cito to use kid gloves on him. But Ricky Romero would be good to get a look at. Mills and Ray I’d like to see pitch AAA for a bit but if/when we need an arm I’d like to look at them. Mills, to me, would need an extended look. I wouldn’t expect him to be great right out of the blocks but would imagine he would need some time to get used to major league batters.
Hugo: Finally, Scott Campbell. I, for one, am hoping to see the young Kiwi get his chance in the majors this season. He had an excellent year last season with New Hampshire. The only thing counseling against his debut this season is that he seems to offer a lot of what Inglett did last season – a nice lefty bat, reasonable defense at a couple of positions, little power or basestealing speed, and an ability to get on base. It will be interesting to see if he adds some more power to his hitting game, and how he does defensively.
Rincewind: Campbell I’d like to see, other than it would mean something bad for Hill or Rolen, and I’m hoping each of them have a big year. Cooper, I can see him coming up if there is an injury in the outfield/DH/1B group. The other guy I could see coming up in that situation is Brian Dopirak, I think he could fill in at DH, if worst came to worst.
That's all for now, folks. Here are our past installments:
Part 1: Good and Bad of 2008
Part 2: Jays Priorities for the Offseason
Part 3: Should the Jays Rebuild?
Part 4: Who Should Lead Off For the Jays?
Part 5: How Should the Jays Fill Out Their Rotation
Part 6: Can the Jays Complete with Barajas catching and Scutaro at Short?
Part 7: Should the Jays Trade From Their Bullpen?
Part 8: What Should Be Done About the DH Spot?
Part 9: What Should Snider's Role Be?
Part 10: What Can We Expect From Adam Lind This Season?