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Minor League Recap: This Weekend on the Farm

I was away over the weekend, so I missed three awesome Jays games, as well as a lot of minor league action. Let's recap!

Las Vegas (all-star break)

Vegas didn't play yesterday, and lost all of its three games on Friday and Saturday. Jesse Litsch was lit up for 9 runs in 4 2/3 innings, but as commenter siggian pointed out in our last recap, pitching at altitude is hard, especially for pitchers relying on movement rather than velocity. And while Vegas isn't in Coors Field territory, it's about a 1,000 feet higher than Chase Field, the 2nd highest altitude park in the Majors. A guy like Litsch who pitches to contact and is extremely oriented towards the movement on his cutter, slider and changeup will lose a lot of his effectiveness in Vegas. He K'd 5 and walked 3, so his command wasn't the best, hopefully he'll get sharper as he adjusts to the PCL's extreme environment.

Of course, the fact that the PCL is especially tough on control pitchers is also a problem for Brad Mills. The lefty gave up 7 runs in 7 innings on Friday, striking out three and walking one but giving up three home runs. He has never had an extended look in the big leagues unfortunately, and this would have been a good season for that. Hopefully the Jays will have an International League affiliate by 2013.

Adam Loewen had a homer and a double in those three games, and he has a 6/7 BB/K ratio so far in July (9 games). David Cooper though, has a 7/3 ratio, and his .444 OBP on the season is just nuts. Darin Mastroianni didn't get any hits this weekend, but he did walk 5 times.

New Hampshire (won 5-4)

Robert Ray had a great outing yesterday, going 6 innings and giving up just one earned, with 6 Ks and 0 BBs. Chad Jenkins had bad luck on balls in play on Saturday, registering 7 Ks and 0 BBs in 6 innings, but allowing 6 earned runs. But Zach Stewart had even worse results on balls in play: he allowed 6 earned runs in 4 IP, with 6 Ks and 0 BBs.

Travis d'Arnaud can not be stopped: he hit 3 doubles and a homer this weekend, and he's now hitting .314/.387/.555 in a pitcher friendly environment, as a catcher. That's got to make you a top prospect, and he once again made Baseball America's Hot Sheet this Friday. Anthony Gose is very streaky, but right now he's on a hot streak: he's hitting .316/.409/.684 in July. John Tolisano hit two dingers this weekend, he's at .236/.329/.423 for the season but has been better in June and July. He's 22 and having made the difficult step to AA-ball, he shouldn't be written off yet. The Cats won 2 of their 3 weekend games, both on walkoff homers; one from Tolisano, and the other from Moises Sierra.

Dunedin (lost 0-1, won 5-1)

Ninety-three is the number of Ks Nestor Molina has registered this season. Eight is the number of walks Nestor has issued this season. Six is the number of Ks Molina collected yesterday, while four is the number of innings he pitched. Zero is both the number of earned runs and walks he gave up. Eleven is Nestor Molina's Awesomeness Rating on a scale of 0 to 10. Oh, and Dustin McGowan had another two inning long rehab outing, which is why Molina could only go four innings of the first part of a doubleheader. Asher Wojciechowski pitched seven shutout innings on Friday, striking out six and walking none, but he's teased us with good starts before. He'll need to do it more often to prove his status as a good prospect.

Ryan Schimpf and Ryan Goins are both left-handed middle infielders named Ryan who were drafted from college and are on the old side, but hitting well at Dunedin. Goins has recently returned from the DL and is now hitting .305/.363/.460 after homering and tripling this weekend. Schimpf hasn't had many hits lately, but 10/11 BB/K ratio (61 ABs) is very promising when combined with his excellent power. When talking about 23 year old middle infielders, Kevin Nolan is another one who is performing well, after another homer yesterday he now has 7 homers this season (211 ABs) after hitting zero in his first two seasons (452 ABs). A.J. Jimenez seems to have been working on his patience at the plate, drawing 5 walks in his last 5 games. This is very unusual for the usually aggressive catcher, but definitely a good sign.

Lansing (won 7-1)

Tall but soft-throwing lefty Egan Smith got 7 Ks in 5 innings and allowed just a single earned run yesterday. Based on age he should be in NH, or at least Dunedin, so he's not that highly regarded. Sleeper lefty Sean Nolin returned from the DL on Saturday and K'd 4 of the 15 batters he faced, but he did give up too many hits.

Michael Crouse's bat has been hot, but he's struck out a lot (he collected a golden sombrero on Friday). Marisnick hasn't been hitting as spectacularly (but did homer this weekend), but he has hit solidly, while Marcus Knecht seems to have nothing left to prove in low-A. Meanwhile, Carlos Perez has been a bit better, and K.C. Hobson is an on-base machine who doesn't display much in-game power (even though he should).

Short-season affiliates

A general trend seems to be that the hitting prospects are not impressing while the pitching prospects are performing well enough to have us excited and dreaming about a future rotation of great starter after great starter. Justin Nicolino might be the first to achieve that label. After striking out 9 (!) hitters in 5 innings on Saturday, Justin has now struck out an absolutely magnificent 36% of the batters he's faced while keeping the walks in check. Like Hutchison last year, I'd expect Nicolino to finish the season in Lansing.

Aaron Sanchez had been very disappointing until striking out 7 in 4 innings on Saturday. He also walked two and gave up a hit, but he didn't give up any runs. Myles Jaye was good as well, striking out 4 in 5 innings of work, allowing just a hit and a walk and no earned runs.

Meanwhile, Zak Adams is improving all the time, and he K'd 7 in 4 innings of work on Saturday while walking one, allowing two hits and giving up no runs. Adonys Cardona would finish the shutout with 3 Ks in 3 innings (it was game one of a doubleheader). Dalton Pompey hit his first professional home run.