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Minor league opening weekend notes

Overall, the system got off to a fine start in 2022

MLB: Spring Training-Toronto Blue Jays at New York Yankees Jonathan Dyer-USA TODAY Sports

In addition to the start of the major league season, this past weekend marked the beginning of the minor league season. For most levels at least, with Triple-A kicking off Tuesday and getting a full week in though I missed the first two. Below are some notes on more notable performances in the Toronto Blue Jays system at each level (this was supposed to go up earlier this week, but better late than never...)

Buffalo

  • Nick Allgeyer made two very good starts against Iowa, allowing just 3 hits in 11 innings while striking out 13 and allowing just two walks.
  • Conversely, Anthony Kay got off to rough start, knocked out in the 3rd inning after allowing 5 hits and 4 walks
  • Shaun Anderson turned in a strong 6-inning start, with three hits and a walk against eight strikeouts. I confess to being surprised he’s being stretched out a starter, my thought was any future was as a short reliever
  • Bowden Francis was somewhat in between, allowing two home runs in 4.2 innings but otherwise avoided damage and striking out five but not missing many bats.
  • Graham Spraker made two relief outings, striking out the side in the opener but struggling with control in the second though the two hits were weak. Brandon Eisert pitched two innings in that opener and struck out 5
  • Kyle Johnston had two scoreless outings, touching sitting 97-98 on the fastball, though falter a bit in the second with a walk and hard double.

New Hampshire

  • Elvis Luciano got absolutely shelled on opening night, allowing six runs over two innings to Portland in a reversal of 2021 when the Fisher Cats blew out the Sea Dogs in the opener before dropping the next four and going on to a miserable season.
  • Joey Murray came in later essentially as a piggyback starter to make his first appearance since 2019. He was shaking off the rust in the first inning, allowing two walks with two outs before a grand slam. he rebounded for three scoreless innings after that, working around a couple of hard hit doubles. On the positive side beyond just being back on the mound, he struck out seven batters (four looking) and he had good depth on his curveball. The big issue was falling behind too many hitters (10 of 15) and he didn’t miss many bats (8 whiffs on 35 swings, 23%)
  • Nick Fraze has a strong debut, scattering three hits and a walk over 4.1 scoreless innings. As usual, it wasn’t by overpowering hitters as he sat around 90 MPH, but mixed in offspeed effectively.
  • Adrian Hernandez followed with a short outing in which he completely lost the zone in his second inning as it started raining and the game was called.
  • Challenged with an aggressive (yet justified) placement, Hayden Juenger got the the start Sunday and picked up where he left off 2021 with seven strikeouts in the dominant three innings. He battled control for about 10 pitches in walking the first batter, and then buzzsawed through the order. His fastball was registering up to 95 and 96, and got 9 whiffs on just 24 swings.
  • Paxton Schultz (acquired for Derek Fisher) followed with four scoreless innings of his own, scattering two hits with five strikeouts
  • Hagen Danner didn’t fare so well, he came out firing at 96-97 but was wild landing just 17 of 33 pitches for strikes. He got the first two batters but couldn’t finish out the inning, allowing the last four to reach including two walks as he ran deep counts (at least five pitches to every batter but the last who chased him with a hard line drive).
  • Offensively, Tanner Morris and Spencer Horwitz were the standouts. Morris homered in his first at-bat of the season, then walked another five times. Horwitz had five hits, including two hard singles and a double off the wall to deep centre

Vancouver

  • Adam Kloffenstein got the start on opening night and it was more or less a continuation of 2021 as he allowed 4 runs on 8 hits over 4 innings, with 6 strikeouts and no free passes. He was lucky to avoid damage in the first, allowing three straight singles, the last of which was off the ball but the runners had to hold up before a strikeout and double play. The second began with two singles, this time scoring on two further hits, and then a solo shot in the third. He did finish strong with three strikeouts to the last five hitters, and got 13 whiffs on 29 swings (45%) which is a strong number.
  • Trent Palmer has a messy start as he struggled with control in throwing only 35 of 67 pitches for strikes over 3 innings in which he allowed 4 runs on 4 hits with 3 walks against 5 strikeouts. An error opened the door to a four run second, but he had already gotten in trouble. His last inning started with a hard double, and then careened between walks and strikeouts. He got only six whiffs on 23 pitches (26%).
  • Sem Robberse got off to a rocky start, allowing 3 runs on 4 hits in the first inning, though only one (a double) was well struck with the others a bunt single and two on the ground. After a hard leadoff single to start the second, he settled down and mostly cruised, setting down 12 of the last 13 batters he faced. he wasn’t overpowering, with just 3 strikeouts in free innings (though a solid 12 whiffs on 44 swings), but was very much in control with by landing 52 of 73 pitches for strikes and avoiding any free passes.
  • Offensively, Addison Barger homered in the opener and had a two hit game. Garrett Spain had a two hit game and followed that with a pair of doubles and homer; and Trevor Schwecke also had a good series.

Dunedin

  • Ricky Tiedemann dominated on opening night with 8 strikeouts over 5 innings. He piled up 18 whiffs, or just under half the 38 swings Bradenton took. He started off very strong managing contact, with the first five batted balls weak on the ground the first time through the order, though the second time the three balls were elevated with two hit hards for extra bases. The velocity bump was as advertised, up to 96 MPH though in a fairly wide range of 91-96.
  • #28 prospect Kendry Rojas, who posted nice numbers in the complex league in 2021, had a rough debut not making it out of the first inning after a couple walks and then a home run and double. Velocity-wise, he was in the low 90s
  • 2019 draft pick Michael Dominguez came in for a piggyback appearance in the 6th, striking out five in 2.2 innings but allowing two runs on two hits. The damage came on a long home run, and then he was ejected after the next batter was hit and then another pitch got away touching off a fracas. He had swing and miss stuff, with 11 whiffs on 20 swings as he sat 92-94, using a high-70s curveball and the odd low-80s slider.
  • In the last game of the series, Rafael Ohashi got the start and dominated over four no-hit innings, with the only blemish two walks against 10 strikeouts. He sat in the low-90s, 90-93, with a breaking ball in the low-80s and mixing in the odd mid-80s change-up. he had a strong start last year before tailing off and getting demoted to the complex, so it’ll be interesting to see if he can avoid that in 2022.
  • #19 prospect Dahian Santos following with two innings, bouncing back in the second after getting tagged for 5 runs on 5 hits in his first inning. On the plus side, he did strikeout 5 while avoiding any free passes. He sat a very consistent 91-92 on his fastball, heavily mixing in his breaking ball which ranged 78-82. He also threw a couple very firm (though very low spin) change-ups in the high-80s.