What's an 'Aspiring Jays'?
I'm glad you asked (if you didn't, we'll just pretend that you did). This column aims to keep you, the reader, up to date with what's happening in the Blue Jays' minor league system. While it's not a full overview, listing every possible stat line you could think of, it will hopefully provide you with some valuable insight. Perhaps it will be funny. Or perhaps it will make you all want to tear your eyes out and Tom will forbid me to ever write anything again. Even his grocery lists. The point is, what this column will do for you, and me, is very much in the realm of uncertainty. There's a good chance that Aspiring Jays will evolve along the way, so if you want it head in a certain direction, please do submit your feedback. No, "off a cliff" is not a valid direction.
Minor league baseball celebrated opening day yesterday, and the Buffalo Bisons got off to a good start; a 12-7 win over Rochester is usually something a fan would consider to be positive. Reasons for optimism are plenty, with Anthony Gose going 3-for-4 with a double, Josh Thole getting 2 hits (one double) and 2 walks and Ryan Goins having a 2-for-4 day with, you guessed it, a double, but also a stolen base. Perceptive moderator-turned-radio listener Minor Leaguer will probably point out at this very moment that Gose should have been out at second on his "double", if not for an error by the Rochester infielder who should have turned Gose's aggressive running into an out. Those are the joys of minor league baseball, Anthony, may you not enjoy them for much longer.
Gose, of course, is Buffalo's premier prospect. His talent level is head and shoulders above anyone else in the system, and it should be interesting to watch how well he does away from the launching pads of the Pacific Coast League, where he hit .286/.366/.419 last season. I personally hope Gose is ready soon, so that he can push Adam Lind to the bench and DeRosa to the minors. Speaking of pushing people to the minors, I'm hoping for Josh Thole to do well and push Blanco off the team. Thole, for those who don't know, is a left-handed catcher who has caught Dickey before. Thole's bad hitting in 2012 can probably be explained by a concussion he suffered in May. If he's back to form, he'd make a good platoon partner for J.P., in my humble opinion.
New Hampshire (Double-A)
New Hampshire won 9-0 to start the season, with homers from John Tolisano and Ryan Schimpf. Kenny Wilson, who has been in the Jays' minor league system for as long as anyone can remember, celebrated his promotion to Double-A with a 3-for-5 outing. Since this is his 6th year in the system, and he spent most of last season in Lansing, it might seem easy to dismiss the guy as a bust. However, the speedy center fielder is still just 23 years old and had a .362 OBP last season, so there is some hope that he turns his career around for the better. With Sean Nolin, John Stilson, A.J. Jimenez, Danny Barnes and Chad Jenkins all on the DL, there aren't too many guys to write about on the Fisher Cats right now. Kevin Pillar went 0-for-5 yesterday, he was the only Fisher Cat not to get a hit. Austin 'roster filler' Bibens-Dirx surprised everyone by pitching 6 scoreless innings with 6 Ks.
Another affiliate, another win. The Dunedin Blue Jays won 4-2 over Clearwater, with a 3-for-4 night from Marcus Knecht and an unlikely homer from Jonathan Berti. Sleeper infielders Peter Mooney (injured all of last season) and Andy Burns (injured for half of last season) both went 1-for-3 with a walk, while Michael Crouse was 2-for-4 with a double. While Crouse and Knecht had good nights, Jays fans would've been hoping to see them tear up Double-A right now after their great 2011 campaign with the Lansing Lugnuts. The fact that Jake Marisnick is now no longer in the system does not help either. Aaron Sanchez is the one important prospect in Dunedin this year, with the aforementioned infielders and outfielders hoping to become a decent side meal for prospect hungry Jays fans.
In 2011, Lansing had three promising outfielders. In 2012 the team had three promising starting pitchers. This year, they have Roberto Osuna, Daniel Norris, Dalton Pompey, Santiago Nessy and Christian Lopes as most interesting players. Complimenting the list of age appropriate prospects is Emilio Guerrero, who surprisingly made the roster. Apparently the guy improved a lot over of the off-season, we'll see how that works out. Guerrero did have a promising start, going 2-for-4 with a double, for what it's worth. Daniel Norris, meanwhile, is not off to a great start. By allowing 3 hits and 2 walks on just 3 outs, he spoiled a great Javier Avendano outing (5 scoreless innings, 6 ks) and cost the Lugnuts the win. Non-prospect Balbino Fuenmayor hit a homer and went 2-for-3 with a walk.
Well, not much to say after one game, but despite all the trades the minor league system still has enough player of interest to make following the farm system worthwhile. Until next Friday!