Minor League Recap: the Nestor Molina show

This will be a bit of a different recap, but I hope you'll still enjoy it. We're not starting out in Vegas, but in fact we head straight for last night's best performer, which is Nestor Molina.

Nestor Molina, before yesterday, had already caught some Jays fans' eyes with his impressive K/BB rates. But few really know how good his stuff is. So I planned to listen to the Dunedin broadcast, hoping to find out. Unfortunately, it didn't work, but luckily the Charlotte Stone Crabs broadcast did work. I tuned in late though, and never heard how hard Molina's fastball was coming in. Molina's changeup was in the low-80s, and he also threw a "breaking ball" according to the Stone Crabs' announcer. Like we'd expect, Molina was described as firing strike after strike to the Stone Crabs hitters, but they were all in good places, "pitcher's strikes". Molina pitched down and in, down and away, but not over the heart of the strikezone. The announcer couldn't help but be impressed by Molina, who had a great day.

Nestor went 6 innings and struck out 10 batters, walked one, and got exactly half of the balls hit in play to be groundballs. That's very, very dominant. And it's not just this game: he has K'd at least a batter per inning in all but one of his starts. He has 11 strikeouts per walk. He has a decent to good groundball percentage. Molina can do it all right now, and has come out of nowhere to be the best performing pitcher in the Jays' farm system. At some point, you've got to start believing in him.

While Molina was good, the Baby Jays' relievers had an awful night. They gave up 8 runs in 3 innings of relief. It didn't cost Molina the win though, as Dunedin's hitters had already put 8 runs on the board by the 2nd inning, chasing Crabs' starter Alex Colome from the game very early. Ryan Goins was a star in this game, hitting 3 doubles and drawing a walk, while making at least one great play at shortstop (according to the Crabs' announcer). Justin Jackson was 1-for-4 with a triple and a walk. The triple was hit a long way and would've been a home run if he hadn't hit it to dead center. Jon Talley added a home run (Brad Glenn didn't play so someone had to do it).

Henderson Alvarez was also pitching yesterday, and did a good job, surrendering only one run. He K'd only 2 in 6 innings while also walking 2, but his groundball rate of over 75% was impressive. And if those grounders are hit to defensive wizard Hechavarria, that's a good strategy for getting outs. The Fisher Cats turned 3 double plays, all of which involved the Cuban glove wizard. It's also worth noting that Henderson Alvarez has only recently reached 21 years of age and is therefore young for the level. The one report I got on Alvarez's velocity yesterday was 94 mph on his fastball.

The Fisher Cat's offense had to deal with a good (and relatively old) pitcher in Alex Wilson. It led to Travis d'Arnaud breaking his streak of reaching base at least twice a game, but he did get a groundball single. Moises Sierra went 3-for-4 (hit 3 line drives, too), Michael McDade was 1-for-3 with a strikeout and a walk, and Anthony Gose walked twice, while also striking out twice. He did make the pitcher work, that much is certain.

 

Brad Mills struck out 6 in 5 innings while walking none, but still gave up 4 runs. His groundball percentage was 39% in that game. Brett Lawrie had a bad game, going 0-for-3 with a strikeout and a hit by pitch, while also making a fielding error and getting thrown out trying to take 2nd base on a flyout. Travis Snider was 1-for-4 and did not strike out for the 4th consecutive game. Dewayne Wise was held hitless for a change, but David Cooper was 2-for-4 with a double, despite two strikeouts. Brian Jeroloman earned the golden sombrero, congrats to him on this utterly dismal hitting display.

Gustavo Pierre is probably trying to set a record as he collected his 28th error of the young season in a Lansing game that went only 6 innings due to rain. Marcus Knecht made the most of the three plate appearances he had, hitting a double and drawing a walk for a 1-for-2 game. Lance Durham and Markus Brisker added doubles of their own, but both also struck out. Jake Marisnick is out with a wrist injury, according to Lugnuts' broadcaster Jesse Goldberg-Strassler (twitter: @jgoldstrass), but he should be playing again pretty soon.

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