Minor League Recap: prospects Q&A


Disclaimer: these are not real questions sent in by real people, it's just a different format to switch things up a little. That said, my answers are real, of course.

Q: Brett Lawrie had another good day at the plate (2-5, HR, triple). When is he coming up?

If I could read AA's mind I would charge you fans a fortune for that information. Seriously, I think AA just wants to give him enough time in triple-A to make sure he's ready in terms of discipline at the plate. His swing% is still a bit higher than Cooper's and Thames' percentages, but he has seen more pitches per plate appearance than either. So I think it would be hypocritical of AA to keep Lawrie up for another month when Thames and Cooper did get the call earlier, with less impressive triple-A stats.

Q: Should we be concerned about Lawrie's fielding errors?

No, definitely not. On the Lansing radio I've heard plays being called errors when a defender jumped for the ball but couldn't come up with it cleanly. Error stats in the minors are not to be trusted (nor those in the MLB, actually). Besides, Lawrie has had to learn a new position in the difficult infield of Vegas. Last but not least, there's Brian Butterfield who can work with him when he's brought up. No, I'm not conerned at all.

Q: Is there any progress with Travis Snider and Brett Cecil?

From what we can tell from the minor league recaps, Snider has turned into a groundball machine, so that's definitely not what we're looking for. Cecil, 7.1 IP, 5 ER, 2 BB, 4 K in his last start, has decent K/BB numbers but does give up a lot of homers. But it is the PCL, so those numbers can't be trusted. I haven't read any recent reports on Cecil's velocity or his command, so it's hard to say if he's making progress. The stats are definitely more positive than they are for young Travis.

Q: Is Adam Loewen a legitimate prospect?

I would like to see him make it, but I'm afraid he won't cut it as a starter and he doesn't offer much defensive value as a bench player either. With a .455/.489/.750 line in his last 10 games he has brought his season line up to a respectable .306/.371/.566, but guys who strike out as much as he does (29% of his at bats) don't seem to become good major league players very often.

Q: What's up with Zach Stewart? He was really impressive in his last start (8 IP, 0 ER, 1 BB, 6 K, 53% GBs).

I wish I knew, he's been very inconsistent. He's cut down on the walks compared to last year, but the strikeouts have also dropped (alarmingly so) as well as his groundball rate. Stewart was supposedly working with some mechanical issues, and maybe he's throwing a lot of pitches that he needs to improve. If he doesn't cut it as a starter he could still have some bullpen potential.

Q: Do you think Carreno (7 IP, 0 ER, 3 BB, 11 K in last start) will get a shot at starting for Toronto?

At this point I don't think so, considering his high walk rate and the limited number of spots available in the Jays' rotation. I think he could make an excellent reliever though, as he strikes out a lot of guys and supposedly relies mainly on a knockout slider. If the Jays feel he can develop enough command and enough secondary pitches, he just might get a chance at starting.

Q: Who do you like more, Travis D'Arnaud or Moises Sierra?

I think they're actually quite similar hitters. They've both struggled with injuries and are having a breakout season. Both don't strike out much, and d'Arnaud has even developed a good habit of getting on base by means of the walk. Both are regarded to have good raw power and are starting to show it. Both also have good defensive reputations, with d'Arnaud playing the more important defensive position. While the higher walk rate and defensive position favour d'Arnaud, Sierra has two things in his favour as well: he hits more line drives (25% as opposed to 20%) and he pops up less (d'Arnaud's popup rate is in Aaron Hill territory I'm afraid). I really like both, but Sierra has become a bit of a personal favourite.

Q: Is it unfair to compare Asher Wojciechowski to Zach Stewart?

Well yes, but I can see where you're coming from, dear voice in my head. Both apparently have a good fastball/slider combo but need to work on their other pitches. Both have struggled so far with very inconsistent outings and low strikeout numbers. Both had a great start yesterday, as Wojciechowski went 7 innings allowing no runs, 1 walk, 7 Ks and 44% groundballs. But Wojciechowski, while not that young, is in his first season of pro ball, while Stewart is in his third. Hopefully Wojciechowski's next outings will be much like the one he had yesterday.

Q: Ryan Goins or Justin Jackson?

Goins went 2-for-3 with a walk and a double yesterday, while Jackson was just 2-for-4 with a double (and a hit by pitch). So obviously Goins. Just kidding, Jackson is actually younger (22) and has been the better hitter this season, with a .423 OBP in both April and May, although he's hit for more power in May. Goins (23) shows a much larger split: he was hitting just .225/.267/.366 in April, but broke out with a .344/.411/.473 line in May. His average power remained the same, but his K/BB ratio improved a lot. I think Goins has a small shot at becoming a second baseman for the Jays in the future, though he's more likely to become a utility player, if anything. If Jackson's defense is still rated as highly as it was some years ago, he might have a chance at beating Hechavarria to a middle infield job with the Jays. Hey, it's fun to dream!

Q: Any updates on the velocity of prospects like Nestor Molina, Drew Hutchison?

Funny you ask, I actually do! Molina was clocked at 93 mph according to this article, so the Josh Banks comparisons might have to be thrown out of the window. I think if he pitches 89-91 mph with great command he shouldn't get lit up like Banks was. Did you know that Brandon Webb has never averaged even 89 mph on his fastball in any year? So I think Molina has a good chance to be just fine (though I don't want to come off as saying Molina will be as good as Webb). Hutchison, according to Lansing's broadcaster, sits around 92-93 mph, while Sean Nolin (first bad outing yesterday) pitches in the high-80s. But Nolin is a lefty and there's actually plenty of "crafty" lefties around who pitch in the high-80s.

Q: Will Marcus Knecht rank highly among Jays prospects if he keeps this up?

With "this", you mean his .321/.416/.518 slashline, right? First off, I don't think he'll keep it up, because he has a very high BABIP and a very low line drive rate. Knecht plays a fine left field, but that still doesn't give him a lot of defensive value. With 5 walks and just 1 strikeout in his last 4 games, he obviously has the potential to be a solid, patient hitter. How high he'll be ranked will of course depend on the Jays' draft picks and the performances of the guys who are now in extended spring training and will play in short-season ball come mid-June. I've read that Mitchell Taylor (7th round pick) has absolutely destroyed extended spring training. Given the amount of high draft picks, it would not surprise me if Knecht dropped to a ranking in the low-20s.

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