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A Look at the Minor League Affiliates

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It's time to check up on the oft-neglected (by me at least) Blue Jays farm system. A poster/reader of the site, FisherCats, posted all sorts of pictures from his time in New Hampshire, home of the Blue Jays AA affiliate. And if you peruse closely enough, you'll come across a couple pictures of former major leaguer Pete Incaviglia, a favourite of mine as a child (I had idiosyncratic tastes during my youth). Looking at the pictures, it's amazing to see how different the atmosphere seems to be in the minor leagues. The small, quaint town in which the games are played is the anithesis of the loud, bustling cities in which most major league teams find themselves. I've never attended a minor league game, but I I'd probably enjoy it very much.

Syracuse Skychiefs (AAA):

26-34 (.433), 6th place in the North division.

Josh Towers (2-1, 2.86 ERA):

Towers had a productive outing last night, pitching eight innings while allowing only two runs in a 6-2 victory against Norfolk. He's only allowed one walk in 22 innings, which is of course a great sign that he's recovering from his terrible start to the season. He's allowed an average of one base hit per inning pitched, too, which is also a cause for celebration. He's demonstrated, especially in tonight's start, that he's too talented to be a AAA regular. However, unless he can overcome the troubles he encountered with the Blue Jays, he'll unfortunately become one of those rare, inglorious AAAA players.

Russ Adams (.291/.361/.473, 26 TB in 55 AB)*:

*note: Adams' stats and all subsequent players' stats do not include last night's performance.

Adams, who went 4-4 last night, is hitting fine, much like he was, for the most part, in the majors. But until his glove is adequate enough to play second base for the Blue Jays -- Aaron Hill is the everyday shortstop now, as he should be -- he'll most likely remain in the minors. His defense will likely never be great, but playing at second base will maximize his value much more than playing at shortstop ever could.

Josh Banks (5.65 ERA, 1.33 WHIP in 65.1 IP):

Prior to the season, I had high hopes for Banks and firmly believed that he, like Casey Janssen, would produce at the major league level this season. Of course, he's best known for being incredibly stingy with walks, and that hasn't changed this season, despite his woes. He's posted a 4.8 K/BB ratio, though that has been significantly outweighed by the fact that he's allowed 77 hits in 65.1 IP. His results can't be blamed on BABIP, either, because his totals aren't out of the ordinary. Oddly enough, he's performed much more poorly at home than on the road, which is not in line with most of the team's other top starters. Much like Towers, Banks relies heavily on his control in spite of his poor stuff. If it's off by the slightest degree, he'll falter.

Brandon League (2.33 ERA, 1.37 WHIP in 38.2 IP):

I was very low on League entering the season. His numbers were considerably worse across the board in 2005 and his status as a legitimate prospect soon became clouded. However, whatever flaw existed in his mechanics or his mental approach appears to have been overcome during the past few months. His strikeout rate has increased markedly and his high number of base runners allowed can be attributed in part to his high BABIP. Considering the Blue Jays' bullpen troubles -- which were once again on display tonight in their 7-5 loss to the Orioles -- he should be promoted soon, barring a complete collapse.

New Hampshire Fisher Cats (AA):

26-31, 5th place in the Northern division.

Adam Lind (.307/.353/.537, 110 TB in 205 AB):

As of now, Lind is far and away the team's top hitting prospect. He makes good contact, has promising power potential, and has decent plate discipline. Even though he's a left-handed hitter, he's demonstrated that he's capable of hitting well against both lefties and righties. He's still a ways away from playing in the majors, but his future appears to be very bright. By the way, I never realized he was so slight in stature.

Davis Romero (2.93 ERA, 1.02 WHIP in 67.2 IP):

A Batter's Box favourite for years, Romero is enjoying a great campaign. He's allowed virtually no home runs and the rest of his peripherals are all positive. However, he's 23 years old, which is rather old for the league and debases his value a good deal. He should be promoted soon, though, and could become a solid left-handed option out of Toronto's bullpen in the not-so-distant future.

Ismael Ramirez (1.56 ERA, 1.04 WHIP in 63.1 IP):

Ramirez has been great, of course, but that doesn't necessarily make him a great prospect. For one, it's unlikely he'll sustain his current production, since his BABIP is below .250 and he allows so many walks. More importantly, however, is that he's 25 year old and repeating the league. That doesn't necessarily mean he won't make it to "The Show," but it suggests that it's significantly less likely. It's a shame too, because he seems to be very open to signing autographs and granting pictures.

Dunedin Blue Jays (A+):

34-26, T-1st place in the West division.

Finally a team with a winning record! A lot of the team's success is likely premised on the fact that a large portion of its roster is comprised of older players. In fact, not one player on the team is below the age of 21 and only two players are younger than 22. One of those players is Ricky Romero, who was drafted sixth overall in the 2005 first-year player draft.

Romero (2.84 ERA, 1.14 WHIP in 31.2 IP):

Romero's progression through the minors was postponed at the beginning of the season due to a minor injury. Now that he's healthy, he's performed rather well and should be the deserving recipient of a promotion at some point during the season. His stuff isn't overwhelming, especially considering how high was drafted, which is partly the reason why he projects to be a middle-of-the-rotation stater in the majors. Part of me wishes the Blue Jays drafted Mike Pelfrey, the top pitcher in last year's draft, in Romero's place, but I'll overcome it someday. Also of note is how remarkably few left-handed batters he's faced this season; he's seen almost five times as many righties than lefties.

Ryan Patterson (.310/.353/.556, 129 TB):

Congratulations to Patterson, who ranks second in the league in home runs and fourth in OPS. He's awfully old for the league, which precludes him from ranking among the team's top prospects. But hopefully a promotion to AA is in store for him.

Lansing Lugnuts (A):

36-23, 2nd place in the Eastern division.

Chi-Hung Cheng (3.75 ERA, 1.58 WHIP in 57.2 IP):

Cheng, the team's ace entering the season, has experienced severe control issues thus far. He's allowed too many men to reach base and he leads the team in unearned runs allowed, which suggests that his ERA should be slightly higher than its current total. He's only 20 years old, however, so he has time to improve, though he'll need to do so quickly if he ever hopes to crack a major league lineup.