Minor League Recap: Lawrie goes 3-for-5

Las Vegas (won 10-5)

At this point in time, following Lawrie's results in Vegas is probably the most interesting for Jays fans, as he could be with the big club soon if he does well. After striking out a combined 5 times in 7 tries on Tuesday, Lawrie had a much better night yesterday, going 3-for-5 with a double. I was wondering if he's going up there as the free swinging Lawrie from April, or the patient Lawrie from after AA had told him to be more selective, so I went through his at bats on MiLB Gameday.

In Lawrie's first at bat, he would take a strike, then two balls, before finally swinging the bat and grounding out. In his second at bat, he would take two balls, then single on a groundball. In his third at bat he'd take a ball, then two strikes, fouled off two more pitches, and the he hit a line drive double to the left field corner. In his fourth at bat he took three straight balls before flying out to center. In his fifth and last at bat he took a ball and a strike before singling on a groundball. So yes, Lawrie was being selective, working the count well, and when he did swing he made contact 100% of the time!

Accounting for the tough PCL, Jesse Litsch' latest outing wasn't bad: 7 innings, 4 ER, 3 walks, 6 Ks, and a good number of groundballs. He had two balls fly out of the park against him, but then it was in Colorado Springs, which is to be the highest stadium in all of North American baseball (yes, it's significantly higher than Coors Field). I don't think they have a humidor over there, either.

Kyle Drabek was a lot more affected by the altitude, as he walked 5 in 6 innings, while striking out three, surrendering 5 runs. He had some success in two of his starts, but how much of that was undisciplined hitters swinging at his pitches out of the strikezone? Hard to tell of course. If he pitches like this he won't be back up anytime soon.

David Cooper has seven walks and just two strikeouts in his last 10 games. He sure seems to love hitting in Colorado Springs: he's gone 9-for-14 with 2 walks and no strikeouts in the four games Vegas has played there. That's a .688 OBP for the series. He hasn't hit for much power recently, but if your OBP is .525 in those (last 10) games, that's excusable.

New Hampshire (won 4-3)

Moises Sierra (2-for-4, home run) is one of my favorite sleepers: he's got the rare combination of not striking out a lot while hitting a good number of home runs and line drives. Statcorner's regressed wOBA (taking into account LD% and other batted ball types to adjust BABIP) thinks Sierra is a better hitter than Travis d'Arnaud. Travis d'Arnaud (0-for-4 with 2 Ks in both of his last 2 games) Ks more than Sierra and hits less line drives, and yet somehow has a .381 BABIP, where Sierra's is .296. D'Arnaud of course has more defensive value and is the better prospect, but don't count out Sierra's future as a major leaguer, and if he learns a little more patience, maybe even a star player. After hitting the home run yesterday, Moises once again leads the Cats in dingers.

In the category "things you were not expecting to see": Adeiny Hechavarria has drawn four walks in his last five games! Over the past two months his K/BB isn't bad, in fact it is good compared to Michael McDade for example. But now he'll have to make more solid contact. His 15.8 LD% isn't horrible, so he's probably had some rotten luck as well (.241 BABIP). If he can refrain from making contact with bad pitches, maybe he can become an acceptable hitter. Don't write him off just yet.

Henderson Alvarez pitched 7 innings, striking out 4 and walking none, while giving up no earned runs. I wouldn't rule him out as a good pitcher with low K and low walk totals and high groundball percentage in the mold of (good) Fausto Carmona, but I do not agree with how in love some prospect evaluators seem to be with him. The chances of any pitcher developing a good major league breaking ball should be pretty low, right? And hasn't he had a lot of minor league playing time to try and develop it already? I'm not saying there's no chance it will happen, just that we shouldn't all assume that he's going to develop a breaking ball and be dominant, simply because we want him to. Meanwhile, Zach Stewart K'd 7 in 7 innings in his last start and has been more a bit dominant since the second half of May, but he too has a weakness - the changeup - and I wonder how that one's coming along.

Dunedin (lost 5-6)

Dustin McGowan worked 2 1/3 innings striking out four and walking two, giving up no runs. He went 2 2/3 innings last time out, so there wasn't any progress as far as going deeper into games goes. Kevin Ahrens teased us a little with a 2-for-3 night including a double and two walks. Ahrens has now walked 9 times and struck out just 4 times in his last 10 games, but he has just four (!) hits over that span, including a homer and two doubles. There's a lot of 23 year old fringe prospects and Dunedin, and some filler, but nothing really notable on the hitting side when A.J. Jimenez doesn't play. Tonight is Nestor Molina night!

Lansing (won 6-5 in extras)

Sean Nolin (another one of those sleepers I like) had a rough first inning in which he gave up 4 runs, but after that he was good. All in all he gave up those 4 runs in 5 2/3 innings, striking out 5 and walking 0 batters and getting over 50% groundballs. I don't think it's very likely he becomes a major league starter, but he has a chance, and it's good to have a lot of guys like that in your system. I'd like to see more scouting reports on him to see if he's reaching the 88-90 mph range that is pretty much necessary for most pitchers to be viable major league starters.

Michael Crouse hit his 12th homer and went 3-for-5 without striking out. He's another sleeper in the shadow of Jake Marisnick and Marcus Knecht. He's a good defender with a strong arm, very good raw power, some patience, but strikeouts are a big problem for him. Jake Marisnick went 1-for-5 with a walk and a strikeout, while Marcus Knecht was 1-for-6 with 3 strikeouts, so yesterday it was they who were in Crouse's shadow and not the other way around. Crouse also stole three bases and he now has 31 on the season, with 6 caught stealings.

Vancouver (lost 6-11)

I'm sorry, you're a few days early, Nicolino's next start is probably on Friday night. All other interesting Jays prospects are that, that and that way (pointing to the east, southeast and south). Strange thing is that Vancouver seems to be running a 6-man rotation now. That's less Justin Nicolino for us, and that's just mean!

Bluefield (won 16-5)

No, no, no! I was all ready to jump on the Aaron Sanchez bandwagon after two lights out starts, but then he went and walked four in just 1 2/3 innings, striking out one and giving up all of the 5 runs Bluefield pitchers gave up yesterday. I hope the Danish Destroyer can bounce back from his own wild outing, or I'm going to be very sad. There's still Myles Jaye, who struck out 5 in 5 innings, walking one and not giving up any runs. Jaye's got 24 Ks in 26 1/3 innings now, pitching distinctly under the radar. He doesn't walk enough to have control problems, doesn't strike out enough guys to be considered dominant but he also doesn't strike out few enough to be considered a non-prospect at this point. Myles Jaye's just there, and he really hasn't hinted at whether he'll be a good prospect, or just one who can throw hard enough but isn't anything special. Still, like Nolin in Lansing, it's good to have these guys in your system, and not too long ago they would be some of the better prospects in the system.

Chris Hawkins was 1-for-3 with a triple and a strikeout, hitting .314/.348/.514. He's gotta take more walks as a left fielder, although with his speed his defense could be a positive. Andy Fermin is a bit too old for the Appy League, but when you're hitting .352/.413/.582 you deserve some credit. Kellen Sweeney is still out and on the DL, which is a bummer but hopefully the crazy strikeout numbers were caused by his injury and he'll be better once he's back.

GCL Jays (lost 6-7)

Zak Adams has an intriguing combination of Ks and groundballs, but he's had problems with wildness. Yesterday he walked 2 in 4 innings, but he also struck out 5. He ended up with 3 ER, but 75% of the balls in play against him were on the ground, so I'm calling it a positive outing. Adonys Cardona wasn't good, with 2 walks and 2 strikeouts in 3 2/3 innings and a whole lot of balls in the air, leading to 4 runs tagged to him.

On the hitting side, Dalton Pompey, a Canadian CF, is quickly becoming one of my favorite sleepers. He was just 1-for-5 yesterday, but he did hit a home run. He's hitting just .220/.328/.310 but he is improving and has a 15/21 BB/K ratio, which is impressive for an 18 year old like him. Dickie Thon has hit 2 homers in 2 days now and is hitting .308/.423/.431. He's been on fire lately, hitting .345/.472/.586 over his last 10 games. He struggled with strikeouts initially, but he may be improving in that area. Another infielder, "Chino" Vega-Rosado, is hitting .326/.392/.483, giving us some long-term hope up the middle. Yet another sleeper is 3B Seth Conner, who has a 10/14 BB/K ratio, and 2 homers, but just a .187/.287/.307 line. He has been showing some the ability to hit balls for hits in his last few games, but I expect he'll need to keep improving for a while if he's going to pop up on prospect radars.

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