Minor League Recap: Knowns and unknowns

After months of following the results in the Jays' farm system, I'm beginning to be unmoved by the lines of some players, as their results just don't vary much. So it seems like some players are known quantities at this point, even if they might at some point (though more likely next year) change drastically for the worse or for the better.

Las Vegas (won 12-4)

Kyle Drabek, who allowed 4 runs in 6 innings, walking three and striking out none, seems to be one of those relatively predictable players. He'll walk a few, have an unimpressive number of strikeouts, with a decent-but-not-great groundball rate. He's almost always unimpressive, even though coming into the season he was often rated our number one prospect (albeit with unimpressive minor league stats apart from ERA). Good stuff that can not be thrown for strikes is useless, and Kyle needs to find a way to throw strikes consistently.

Adam Loewen, 2-for-5, homer, strikeout, is still improving, but still doesn't hit well enough to make us think he's likely to be of value in the majors. David Cooper has been pretty consistent: he hits everything, with good but not impressive power, and he walks more than he strikes out (and more than Loewen does and Thames did as well). Travis Snider went 2-for-5 in his first game back in Vegas, showing the same bad signs he was showing when he was first sent down: he hit 4 groundballs and just one ball in the air: a line drive. He'll need to hit balls in the air for extra base hits to make us believe his swing is healthy again.

New Hampshire (off-day)

Deck McGuire made his third start for NH on Sunday, striking out 8 but walking 4 and giving up 4 runs in 5 2/3 innings. Despite a pretty good strikeout rate, Deck has just a 4.82 ERA after 3 starts, thanks in part to giving up some home runs. He'll probably be fine once he gets used to this new level, but that's not written in stone. Henderson Alvarez, of course, was called up to the Jays, he struck out 5 in 5 innings of work in his last start. Strikeouts-wise he has been doing fine since July came around, so perhaps that third pitch is coming along nicely?

Anthony Gose has been striking out too much since the month of June, alternating awful months with very good months. Since July was a good one, will Gose have an awful August? Travis d'Arnaud's patience and contact rates are slight question marks that may keep him from being a great hitter in the majors, but since he's a catcher who gets good defensive grades from scouts, he doesn't need to be great. He can just be a good hitter and we'll be happy.

Michael McDade is on the DL and Moises Sierra seems to have lost his power and, despite good line drive rates, also his BABIP. McDade needs to drastically improve his discipline for me to call him a real prospect, and Sierra needs to improve on almost everything to get back to where he was at the start of the season. Adeiny Hechavarria needs to find a league with only left-handed pitchers, he'd be awesome there.

Dunedin (won 4-3)

Drew Hutchison kind of disappointed me with just 5 strikeouts in 6 innings, after striking out 8, 7, 8 and 8 in his previous four starts. Still, with no walks and no runs allowed, Hutch has confirmed that he knows how to dominate hitters in the FSL as well. He deserves to start 2012 in New Hampshire, in my opinion, unless he runs into some problems in Dunedin at the end of the season, but that would surprise me. Nestor Molina struck out five in five IP, allowing 2 earned runs, in his last start on Sunday. Three of those strikeouts came in the fifth, when he struck out the side. Unsurprisingly he didn't allow any of the batters to reach base by drawing a walk. It will be nice to see what Nestor can do with AA hitters next year.

A.J. Jimenez had some power in the first two months, but that disappeared, and now he needs to find a way to get it back. Improving on the 60+ groundball percentage he's had over July/August would certainly help. With Arencibia and d'Arnaud ahead of him, there's plenty of time to see if Jimenez can develop some power. He probably doesn't need much power to be valuable, as he's supposed to be a very good defensive catcher.

Lansing (won 8-2)

Jake Marisnick hit a home run and a triple to go 2-for-5 with a strikeout. He went 4-for-5 with another triple on Sunday. Jake has been very, very good since July came around, improving his walk rate, his strikeout rate and his power all at the same time. It's weird that he has not been moved up to Dunedin. Even more weird is that Marcus Knecht, with his season line of .302/.404/.500 has not been promoted yet, despite his age being appropriate for high-A. Knecht was 1-for-4 with a double and a walk yesterday. Carlos Perez (2-for-4, BB, K) has a very bad month of May and was abandoned by BABIP in June, but he totally re-established his control over the strikezone in July with a 9/11 BB/K (3/3 so far in August) rate and a .351/.424/.473 line. Like Jimenez, he lacks power, but with his superior strikezone control Perez is probably the slightly better prospect.

Vancouver (lost 1-5)

Vancouver had not one, but two very good pitching prospects on the mound on the same night. Noah Syndergaard started and gave up 2 runs in 4 innings, but he did strike out 6 of the 19 batters he faced, which is very encouraging. Justin Nicolino pitched in relief and struck out just 2 in 3 innings, though he did get a good number of groundballs, as per usual. I wonder if the Jays just want to limit Nicolino's innings badly or if they moved him to this day to fit him into the Lansing rotation better (it was Casey Lawrence's day, and he could conceivably move up while Alvarez and McGowan are also on the move). Nicolino has been very, very dominant: there's a world of difference between Hutch last year and Nicolino this year in terms of K%, and Hutch was far from bad for Auburn.

Bluefield (lost 5-8)

With Sanchez and Jaye struggling in their last outing, and with little good news coming from Chris Hawkins, I'm hoping for another dominant Mitchell Taylor start tonight. Peter Mooney's debut has been very encouraging though: .292/.375/.618 in 24 ABs so far for the small (5'6) shortstop whose calling card is his defense. Another guy who supposedly is a good defender, Daniel Arcila, has hit .227/.323/.461: the strikeouts are a problem but he's shown promising power and patience, especially for a middle infielder. He's already 21 though, so he's not going to be on prospect lists.

GCL (suspended)

With the GCL having a day off every Sunday, the GCL Jays have not played for two consecutive days, so we'll have to wait and see if Eric Arce is still awesome. Same goes for Seth Conner, Dalton Pompey, Dickie Thon and Jorge Vega-Rosado and Santiago Nessy of course. Andy Burns, from the 2011 draft, was moved to Vancouver after hitting .625/.650/.813 in 16 ABs in the Gulf Coast League.

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