I'm back again with another look at the standout and notable performances in the Blue Jays system from the past week. I'll be adding in my own thoughts on the minor league games I've watched and listened to as well as mix in some of what the actual experts thought.
I'll start with Drew Hutchison who went 4.1 innings in his start on August 20 giving up five hits, one earned run with one walk and five strikeouts. He looked markedly better than the last time out. According to the Pawtucket Red Sox broadcast, Hutch's fastball was in the low 90's and he was "putting it wherever he wants it."
They also mentioned that Hutch had great arm action on his changeup. He wasn't as sharp near the end of his start but he is on a limited pitch count and was likely tiring at that point, but an encouraging start.
I've finally been able to watch A.J. Jimenez now that he's with the Bisons and he's come as advertised, the great arm and the contact bat I've read about have been on full display.
I got the rare luxury of seeing a Marcus Stroman start on MiLB.TV on August 22, the camera angle was terrible and the broadcast was unique to say the least as at one point an unannounced guest walked into the booth and began asking about a car he saw for sale outside the stadium. Stroman had another strong performance in this game and I got to see how incredibly fast he works, he's the anti-Jason Frasor on the mound. The Reading broadcast had this to say about Stroman:
"It's so hard against this guy when you're behind in the count, he can spot 93, 94 and 95 on the black".
For the most part Stroman looked great in this game but he did give up another home run which is now his 13th in 100.2 innings pitched, which could be a problem especially in the Rogers Centre.
If I had a mediocre category that's where I'd put Kyle Drabek, but just for the fact that's he's healthy and throwing in the low to mid 90's is great to see after his second Tommy John surgery. He still has a lot of deep counts but his curveball has been filthy in both starts and Drabek actually looked great for his first three innings on August 25, but the wheels absolutely fell off in the fourth inning and he was hit hard and started to hang some curve balls. So again as with Hutch hopefully this was just Drabek tiring.
The Bisons broadcast in Drabek's last start noted that he's looked really quick off the mound covering first, and said he's lost 20 or more pounds during his rehab. The most interesting thing I learned watching his last two starts was the Pawtucket broadcast mentioned that Drabek said he came back too early from Tommy John the last time and could never really get rid of the pain, and this time he feels much better. So that alone warrants enough to place him in the Good.
I'll throw out this timely question from Keith Law's chat on August 21st regarding Drabek:
Kyle Drabek is rehabbing from Tommy John, and one positive in the small sample size is that he's avoided walks. Anthopoulos has said that the Jays are optimistic that his awful command/control could have been caused by the need for Tommy John, and that with it behind him, his command should rebound. Is that just wishful thinking or could their be something to it that leads to Drabek reaching some of his potential?
Klaw (2:15 PM)
His explanation is plausible, but I don't think we'll know for sure until he reaches the majors.
It's been a disastrous year for Ricky Romero so putting him here feels like kicking a guy while he's down so I'll be brief. Romero was hit hard in this start and his fastball velocity was around 88 mph according to the few times the broadcast mentioned it, I heard nothing over that during the game. He gave up nine hits and five runs (four earned) in 5.1 innings and was saved by his defense from giving up more. On the plus side Romero was getting far more swing and misses than I recall him getting earlier in the year and only walked one batter, but still.
Blue Jays 30th round draft pick Rowdy Tellez, paid $850,000 to sign hasn't exactly gotten off to a great start sporting a .185/.276/.250 slash line in 108 at bats. He obviously has tons of time to turn this around though. Here's what Baseball Prospectus had to say about him in their Monday Morning Ten Pack last week:
"If Tellez can make some adjustments to his approach and swing while somehow finding a way to get his power to cross over from BP to live game action, he will be dangerous. Tellez has a lot to prove, and will for a while to justify the money he was given."
All right just to cause this fan base more pain here's some more soul crushing information this time courtesy of Baseball America. First BA on former Blue Jay Noah Syndergaard:
"Syndergaard throws just as hard as Wheeler, but his fastball command is well ahead of Wheeler's. With the improvement of his secondary stuff this year, he has the look of a potential No. 2 starter."
BA on former Blue Jay Justin Nicolino:
"Nicolino has the look of a mid-rotation starter, with enough upside to potentially end up as a frontline guy."
And from Ask BA Jim Callis projects the top prospects for the 2014 draft class and this name should sound familiar to Jays fans as Callis has him ranked seventh:
"7. Tyler Beede, rhp, Vanderbilt
Can make hitters swing and miss with three pitches but can't always control and command them."
Finally from BA an exciting name to add to the list of starting pitchers available this offseason, perhaps just maybe an area the Jays could use an upgrade at:
"The most prized talent in Japan is [Masahiro] Tanaka, a 24-year-old who some scouts project as a potential No. 2 starter who can immediately step into a major league rotation. That could make him the most coveted pitcher on the market this offseason"
They mention he has a low 90's fastball and can touch 96, but some scouts worry that it comes in on a flat plan, they also mention he has two secondary pitches that have earned grades of 60 or better on the 20-80 scouting scale, a splitter and a slider.
So, press conference at 9:00 anyone?
And lastly some nuggets from John Gibbons interview on XM from Thursday:
Gibby said there was talk at one point this year of putting Josh Johnson in the pen.
Gibby commenting on some of the recent offensive struggles:
"one of our problems this year is we are a dead hooking team, we've got to be willing to use the whole field"
Gibby on Anthony Gose:
"you've got to hit at this level, if he can make some adjustments and become a pretty good hitter the sky is the limit"