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Minor League Recap: Five Inning Madness

In the Jays' organization, pitchers aren't considered 'cool' unless they have at least a five inning no-hitter. Drew Hutchison has been a bit of a slacker in that regard, as he's got just a six inning one-hitter. He also went six scoreless outings in a row at one point, but the Jays organization should have high standards: Hutch just isn't cutting it! It has to be mentioned, though, that Aaron Sanchez has been "even worse" as the best he's done was a four inning one-hitter. Even Myles Jaye has a five inning one-hitter to his name.

Members of the five inning no-hit club included Nestor Molina, Justin Nicolino and Mitchell Taylor up until yesterday night. Because yesterday night, Noah Syndergaard auditioned for the club and was accepted. He would go the standard five innings, striking out eight batters, walking two and getting five grounders (not counting a bunted groundball) and just one flyball. So not only did he not allow a hit, Syndergaard also allowed only one ball to be hit out of the infield. In attendance was Sportsnet reporter Shi Davidi, who tweeted that Syndergaard was lighting up the radar gun with fastballs at 97 miles per hour consistently. That's hard, but he also either broke the stadium gun, or he had one pitch clocked at 102 mph, as it showed "02". Observers have noted that the pitch was not travelling at 2 miles per hour, so it was either a faulty reading, or Syndergaard just wanted to show Henderson Alvarez that he can throw harder than him.

After the game, both Kevin Goldstein and Keith Law responded to tweets asking if Syndergaard was a top 100 prospect, and they both responded negatively. Now here's the thing: I don't even have Law or Goldstein in my twitter feed, because I do not think they are very good prospect evaluators at all. The one top 100 prospect list for me is the one by Baseball America, and of course I also think John Sickels is pretty good. And besides, who cares about top 100? 18 year old throwing 97 mph and getting results like this? I'll take him over many guys who are "top 100 prospects". Almost lost due to the greatness of Syndergaard's performance was the fact that Andy Burns hit his first homer for the Vancouver Canadians. As guest writer Marc Hulet noted yesterday: Burns was in the top 100 college prospects eligible for the 2011 draft coming into the 2011 season. His stock probably took a bit of a hit because he didn't play in 2011, but Burns should be considered a sleeper.

But Syndergaard can't have all the praise in this recap. His no-hitter was not a perfect game bid, as only Mitchell Taylor has gone five no-hit innings without a walk this season (but he did hit two batters), so we'll be moving on, slightly unimpressed, to Nestor Molina. Molina's first outing was a magnificent one-run outing with eight strikeouts. But Molina wasn't too impressed himself, apparently, as he followed it up with a five inning two-hit shutout with nine strikeouts and no walks. Oh, and he got more than half of the balls hit in play to be groundballs too, for good measure. Not that many balls were hit in play, of course. It's pretty crazy that Molina, after being promoted to Double-A has pitched even better than he was doing in Dunedin. I know the scouts don't love him as much, but there's no reason not to love Nestor Molina. Here's some nice footage of Molina and his delivery (looks fine to me, but I'm not an expert).

Also from that game: Travis d'Arnaud went 2-for-5 but had two strikeouts, as well as a triple (because the diving outfielder let it get past him). Moises Sierra was 3-for-4 with a walk and a double, and he's hit .324/.410/.529 over his last 10 games now. I still think Sierra's got a good chance to mash next year in Vegas and excite Jays fans about his future. Brazilian catcher Yan Gomes was 3-for-5 with a double and a homer, he's hitting .256/.326/.474 on the season, which is pretty good for a catcher. The news from Vegas was sad as Travis Snider collected a golden sombrero (that's 4 Ks in a single game) and Hechavarria had his first game in Vegas without multiple hits. Over in Lansing, Jake Marisnick was 2-for-4 with a double and a strikeout, and in the GCL Jake Anderson had both his first walk, his first hit by pitch, and his first strikeout of his professional career, and all that in a game that was just over 5 innings long due to rain. But really, that's it for offensive performances, as we head to Bluefield for another amazing pitching performance.

Bluefield's game lasted just five innings, but in those five innings shortstop Peter Mooney still managed to get 2 hits in 3 tries. Listed at 5'6, Mooney was drafted for his defense, but has been an offensive standout so far for Bluefield with a .313/.424/.604 line. Of his 15 hits, 10 have gone for extra bases, but it's unlikely he keeps hitting that many doubles and triples (he has one homer). But the real story of the game was the pitching performance of Myles Jaye. Now "Mystery Myles" had been pretty solid so far, but he didn't have any games to his name in which he was dominant, like most other rookie-ball pitching prospects. Last night he addressed the issue by striking out 8 in 5 innings, giving up just one run on 2 hits and one walk. The one blemish was that he allowed 6 out of 8 batted balls to be hit in the air. Getting groundballs has been a struggle for Jaye, and knowing the Jays' coaching staff, they'll be working with him to improve in that aspect of the game. Mystery Myles is not as exciting as Syndergaard, Nicolino, Sanchez and Taylor, but he doesn't have to climb mountains to get to that level where he also becomes a good prospect. Unlike Griffin Murphy's and Zak Adams', Jaye's season has been a positive, even if that's easy to overlook with so many great pitching prospects around him.