Over the last couple week or so, a number of injured Blue Jays have begun rehab assignments, including a some key pieces. Let's check in on them.
Devon Travis made his first rehab start for Dunedin last Friday, and then played the last three days as well. He's hit in every game, going 2/3 yesterday. Not that the numbers mean much, but overall he's 5/14 with 2 doubles and a walk and strikeout. Hopefully he'll be ready to go sooner than later
Aaron Loup has now made two appearances, each of just over 20 pitches, and is yet to finish an inning as he's not been sharp. In fairness, he's faced all opposite handed batters, facing 9 and walking 4 against one strikeout. His fastball has been around 90 MPH. With Cecil out, it would be nice if Loup could quickly find his form.
Finally, Bo Schultz has been on rehab assignment for about 3 weeks, moving from Dunedin to Buffalo. He's not been terribly sharp either, with three rough outings (one at each level) in 7 appearances. His rehab stint will end soon and he'll likely be optioned
After struggling with a somewhat aggressive placement in AA, Rowdy Tellez had found his stroke. On May 10th, he broke an 0-15 slump that had left his season line at a brutal .143/.299/.275. Over these last eight games, he's hitting 429/.484/.857 with 3 home runs and 3 doubles in 31 PA. In the early going, he had posted solid plate discipline metrics, which was nice but hard to make too much of considering he wasn't hitting at all.
It's too early to say definitively that he's figured things out, but it's a solid step in the right direction. AA is a pretty big leap given hoe few at-bats he had in high-A, and it's also where some of the flaws that skeptics of Tellez see should start to be exposed by better and more experienced pitchers. This is the third time Tellez has started slowly before finding his groove after about a month (Bluefield 2014, Lansing 2015). One thing I really look for in hitting prospects specifically is the ability to make adjustments at new levels, so the fact that Tellez may be doing so once again is a very encouraging sign.
Elsewhere, Max Pentecost continues to hit in Lansing, following up his 3/4 debut going 6/16 over the next four games (all singles) to push his season line to .450/.476/.600 in 21 PA.
Since the last pitching prospect rundown, the affiliates have gone once through the order, so let's check in how the top pitching prospects in the organization that done (spoiler: on the whole, pretty well). Since this is covering a larger time period than usual, Lansing will be covered tomorrow.
Drew Hutchison had a good start last weekend, going 6 innings that were fairly typical for his 2016 campaign. He got plenty of strikeouts by way of missing 14 bats, counterbalanced with a little bit of wildness. Also typically, he had one rough inning that was his downfall, loading the bases with none out in 3rd via a double, single and HBP and then tossing away a double play comebacker to allow both runs to score. His fastball touched 94 and his slider was working.
Jeremy Gabryszski also had a really good, if uncharacteristic 6 inning start on the weekend. Usually his trademark is pounding the strike to get ahead, and missing a few bats here and there. This time, he was below average at getting called strikes in the zone, but got an unusual 15 swinging strikes (per GameDay, I didn't catch this one). As per usual, he was good at getting weak contact in the air. He did seem to fade the last time through the order, when he gave up his walks and HBP, as well as two hits including a double (only xBH).
Finally, Shane Dawson had his best start of the season as well, completing the trifecta here of 6 inning quality weekend starts. His fastball was only in the mid to high 80s, but he kept the Portland Red Sox off balance to pile up 7 strikeouts and a lot of weak contact both in the ground and in the air.
Francisco Rios had an excellent start yesterday in his second FSL start, outduelling 2015 6th overall pick Tyler Jay. Early on, both starters were totally rolling through the lineups, with the first 4.5 innings over in 45 minutes. Early on, Rios was inducing quick and soft contact, picking up all but one strikeout from the 4th inning onward. He worked with his fastball in the 90-93 range, and his breaking balls in the low 80s were very effective, as he was able to spot them in the zone for called strikes, as well as finish batters off when he had them in a 2-strike hole.
Conner Greene's latest start was pretty in line with the rest of 2016. His fastball was good, ranging mostly 92-95 and touching 96-97 a couple times. And his curveball was working better than previously, getting at least 4 swinging strikes. However, his peripherals were pretty mediocre and he wasn't dominating the way he did last year. Interestingly, he didn't really pound the zone, but did manage to work ahead most of the game and manage contact.
Justin Shafer had a positive start on the weekend. The pitching line doesn't really pop with 3 walks against 3 K, but he induced a pile of weak contact which resulted in just two infield singles. He was very efficient though not overpowering, needing just 74 pitches over 21 batters despite working behind more then he worked ahead.
Finally, Chris Rowley posted a couple of quality appearances, one short start and one long relief appearance, He's an interesting story, signing in 2013 out of West Point, dominating the GCL for a summer before entering military service, and now on the other side assigned directly to high-A. He had some struggles the past few weeks, but was back in excellent form this week. He did pretty much everything you want to see: strikeouts, ground balls and weak contact, and overpowering dominance in missing 21 bats for a 65% contact rate.