When Jon Harris fell to the Blue Jays picking 29th overall last June, the consensus was that they had received good value on a player who was generally ranked in the teens going into the draft and slipped. It's taken perhaps longer than expected through struggles last summer for Vancouver, a rough 2016 debut followed by strong but not overwhelming outings; but Harris is now showing the form that got him a $2,000,000 signing bonus.
Following up his best professional start last Wednesday, Harris threw another 7 shutout innings, with another 11 strikeouts while allowing just 3 hits and a walk. I've included his more in-depth numbers on the table below, which show he did pretty much everything you want to see in an outing: he pounded the zone, got ahead, missed missed and put batters away once they were in a hole. He was particularly successful on that latter point with his fastball, which touched 96 on the stadium gun in the early going, getting 5 of 7 swinging strikeouts on the fastball. He used both his breaking balls a fair bit and both were effective to in terms of getting ahead and finishing batters off. If we're nitpicking, he did give up a little more quality contact than one wants to see, including two doubles.
Since not making it out of the first inning in his first start, Harris has thrown 32 innings over 6 starts without allowing an earned run (and just one run period). In the first four of those, he was inducing weak contact but had just 10 strikeouts against 9 walks and HBP in 18 innings, which was a little concerning considering the mismatch in experience levels. The dominance in the last couple starts is the last piece of the puzzle, and a promotion to Dunedin should be in order very soon (as it happens, his starting day lines up with Dunedin's only non-prospect starter). There's really no reason to keep him down in low-A facing younger/inexperienced hitters now that it appears he's figured things out, and with continued success it's conceivable he could get to AA later in the summer.
A week ago, Rowdy Tellez was on a hot streak that had turned his season around. Over the last week, he's added another home run and two doubles to maintain his season line at .216/.333/.412. But he isn't the only New Hampshire hitter who has turned his season around (the entire lineup was almost uniformly awful for the first month.
On May 8th, Dwight Smith Jr.'s season line was a putrid .147/.227/.187 which was made worse by the fact he was repeating the level and should be better. In 15 games since then, he's hit .414/.477/.690 over 65 PA, with 3 home runs and 7 doubles. That's pushed his overall 2016 line to a respectable .270/.338/.431, which is almost literally twice the rate of production. It's the reverse of last year, when he started strong and then tailed off as he went around the league multiple times. Interestingly, the nadir of Smith's 2016 campaign matches almost perfectly the peak of Kevin Pillar's, when he had a 118 wRC+. How quick things change.
Finally, the usual pitching pitching rundown:
Trenton hitters definitely didn't take Victoria Day off, chasing Shane Dawson with four consecutive RBI hits in the second inning. It simply wasn't his day as he struggled to find throw strikes and when he did find the strike zone, he got hit hard.
Justin Shafer likewise struggled to find the strike zone (barely 50% strikes), though he was nonetheless able to be reasonably effective thanks to inducing a lot of ground balls. He gave up two home runs, an error resulted in another run but otherwise he was able to scatter baserunners working with his fastball in the low 90s. Shafer is still pretty new to pitching (primarily an infielder in college), and while the strong ground ball profile is a plus, he's now walked or hit 17 batters this year against 12 strikeouts, and that's not going to work.
Angel Perdomo was also true to form Tuesday, variously overpowering his way to 7 strikeouts and 12 whiffs, while struggling to throw enough strikes and work ahead of batters with a lot of deep counts early. He too was let down by a 5th inning error prolonging the inning and ultimately Perdomo yielded two RBI hits with two out. On the plus side, his offspeed pitches were effective weapons.
Ryan Borucki continued to turn over a new leaf in Lansing, throwing 6 shutout innings yesterday in his best start of the year. He was excellent at getting ahead of batters, which set him up to use his changeup (and to a lesser extent breaking ball) to put batters away. His fastball hit 94-95 on the stadium gun in the last couple innings, but is probably actually more like 92-93.
Patrick Murphy piggybacked behind Borucki and successfully finished off the last three innings. It hasn't the cleanest outing, with a lot of deep counts and too many free passes, but a couple errors behind him didn't help matters. Most importantly, there didn't appear to be any ill effects from last Friday's comebacker that hit him, and the contact against him wasn't very good.
Finally, Conner Greene had a really weird start. I didn't catch most of it, so I can't add much colour, but three errors behind him meant all 7 runs were unearned, though he did give up three extra base hits including a grand slam so it wasn't all defensive miscues. On the positive side, a lot of metrics look good: good K/BB, a lot of ground balls, worked ahead, missed bats....just not able to finish a number of batters off.