With the opening of the short season leagues, things are becoming very busy for a prospects blogger.
We thought we would provide a brief summary of the many and varied things going on in the Blue Jays system this past weekend.
The Bisons enjoyed the presence of a rehabbing Jose Reyes both on the field and at the box office this weekend.
Reyes went 5-13 for the Bisons, as they took 2 of 3 from Durham. Sunday's finale was a 14-inning affair, which the Bulls won, 1-0.
Outfielder Kevin Pillar, who was promoted from New Hampshire, went 3-11 for the weekend.
Buffalo drew over 40 000 fans for the series.
AA - New Hampshire
The Fisher Cats took 2 of 3 from Harrisburg.
On Friday, Marcus Stroman continued his mastery of Eastern League hitters, giving up a run on 3 hits over 5 innings, with one walk and 4 K's. The bullpen couldn't hang onto the lead Stroman had left them, dropping the opener.
Sean Nolin matched his career high with 7 strong innings on Saturday, getting his 4th win of the season, as the Fisher Cats topped the Senators, 4-1. Nolin gave up a run and 4 hits, struck out 7, and walked none.
Marcus Walden gave New Hampshire their third straight strong starting performance on Sunday, tossing a 3-hit shutout in a 7-0 victory. Walden, a 9th round draft choice in the 2007 draft, rarely tops 90 on the radar, but kept Harrisburg hitters off balance all day, scattering 3 hits, and allowing no walks while striking out 5. In his tidy, 90-pitch effort, Walden had 19 groundouts.
High A - Dunedin
The D-Jays lost 2 of 3 to Daytona, and took on Brevard County on Sunday.
Top prospect Aaron Sanchez returned to the mound on Friday night after a month-long shutdown because of shoulder issues, and showed no effect from the layoff, tossing 3 scoreless innings. Sanchez allowed only one hit, walked none, and struck out 3. The lights-out bullpen duo of Tyler Ybarra and John Anderson recorded the win and save, respectively, in the Jays' victory.
On Saturday, righthander Kyle Drabek made his first rehab start after sitting out almost a year recovering Tommy John surgery. In 2 1/3 innings, Drabek allowed 5 hits and a pair of runs, striking out 2 and walking 1. Drabek took the loss as the D-Jays fell to the Cubs, 2-1.
Low A - Lansing
The Lugnuts had their hats handed to them by division rival Bowling Green Hot Rods, who swept all three games.
In the opener, 4 Hot Rods' pitchers combined to toss a no-hitter against Lansing.
On Saturday, Roberto Osuna, in his 3rd start since returning from a stint on the disabled list, was roughed up for 6 runs in 3 innings by Bowling Green hitters. Osuna gave up only 3 hits, but was uncharacteristically wild, allowing 4 walks, while striking out 3.
Short Season - Vancouver
After dropping 3 of their first 4 games, the two-time defending Northwest League champs reeled off 5 wins in a row.
Thunder Bay, ON, native Eric Brown has started the season 2-0, with a 1.54 ERA. The Jays selected the UBC grad in the 50th round of the 2011 draft.
Rookie - Bluefield
The Jays took 2 of their first 3 games.
Chase DeJong, Toronto's 2nd round choice in the 2012 draft, threw 5 scoreless innings to get the win in the club's Appalachian League season opener. Shane Dawson, of Drayton Valley, AB, tossed 4 innings without giving up a run to get the save and preserve the shutout. Dawson surrendered only one hit and one walk, and struck out 5.
Shortstop Dawel Lugo, a 2011 international free agent signing, went 5-13 over the first 3 games, while centrefielder DJ Davis, the Jays' first round pick in the 2012 draft, opened the season 5-14, including a pair of triples. Davis is repeating at Bluefield after struggling at Vancouver after a late season promotion last year. At the rate he's going, Davis may not be in the Appy League for long.
Rookie - GCL Blue Jays
If a home run is hit in the GCL, does anyone hear it?
The Gulf Coast League is the league that nobody sees.
Played at the major league clubs' spring training complexes, the GCL doesn't charge for admission - since the games are played mostly in the heat and humidity of a Florida summer afternoon, attendance is minimal, anyway. Throw in a lack of concessions, and there isn't much incentive to go.
Populated mostly by high school grads and international signees getting their first taste of pro ball and life in America, the GCL is all about development.
Two players of note that we've been following are shortstop Franklin Barreto and outfielder Anthony Alford. Barreto, a top international signing last year, went 2-5 and drove in a pair of runs in his pro debut this weekend. Baseball America had this to say about him:
There are few amateurs who have ever had Barreto's extensive track record of dominance representing Venezuela during international competitions. Barreto has played in international tournaments since he was 10 in 2006. He was the MVP at the Pan American 12-and-under tournament in September 2008, then later that month led Venezuela to another title by winning the Criollitos de America title en route to being named the 2008 athlete of the year by the Corporacion Criolltos of Venezuela. He won another MVP in July 2010 at the 14-and-under Pan American championship, then last August starred at the 16-and-under World
Barreto only turned 17 this past March. Normally, kids his age would be kept in the Dominican complex league for the summer, but his advanced approach at the plate has likely accelerated his development.
Alford, the Jays' 3rd round pick in last year's draft, has been seen as a gamble because of his football committment. After a brief audition last year, Alford is repeating the GCL again. He went 1-5 in his first game. Alford was late coming to extended spring training because of football, and will be leaving in early August to continue to chase his football dreams, but will be quickly promoted by the Jays just the same if he shows signs of progress. He is easily the best athlete in the system, a true five-tool player.