Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Clutchlings Notebook: Updates About Boyd/Stroman/Norris & the Draft

   We didn't call it, but Blue Jays lefthander prospect Matt Boyd was promoted to AA New Hampshire on the weekend, and we can't say we're surprised.
   The Jays 6th round choice out of Oregon State in last year's draft has dominated High A hitters in the Florida State League this season, posting a 4-0 record, with a tiny 0.29 ERA.  Boyd has given up but one run in 31 innings, striking out 37. With nothing left to prove at that level, it makes sense for the Jays to promote Boyd to the next level to help get a truer read on exactly what they have.
   Daniel Norris has been just as dominant as Boyd with Dunedin.  The 2nd round 2011 draft pick pitched 5 scoreless innings last night in picking up the win against the Yankees High A club, lowering his ERA to a microscopic 0.75.
  So, should Norris be promoted at some point soon, and join Boyd in the Fisher Cats rotation?  Probably not.
   Norris just turned 21 on the weekend, and is obviously on a lower pitch count than the 23 year old Boyd is.  Norris has also thrown a total of 157 innings since turning pro, vs the 280 innings Boyd has logged between 4 years of college ball and not quite a year of pro ball.  While the organization is trying to be more aggressive with the promotion of their young pitchers (see the Lansing Lugnuts staff), there's a fine line to be walked between challenging them and developing them. Norris may see New Hampshire if he continues his torrid start, but it will likely be later in the season - the club would prefer to up his pitch count gradually and have him work deeper into games first.
  Speaking of the Lugnuts, we see that they have placed righthander Adonys Cardona on the 7-day Milb disabled list after lasting only 3 hitters and not recording an out in his most recent start against Dayton.  The physically talented Cardona has yet to live up to the heights his skills would seem to prophesize, and he was simply all over the place with his command in that start. Cardona is 0-3 with an 8.44 ERA so far, giving up 13 hits and 8 walks in 10.2 innings.  He's obviously overmatched at full season ball, and he may be hurt to boot.
  In his stead, the Jays promoted pitcher Yeyfry Del Rosario from extended spring training.  Del Rosario has an interesting power arm.
   Del Rosario's stats, courtesy of minor league central, can be found here.
  And, of course, we would be remiss without discussing Marcus Stroman's lights-out, electric stuff outing against Louisville last night.
  Stroman was simply dominant over 6 innings against a team that is among the lightest-hitting outfits in the International League.  He gave up no hits, walked 1, and struck out 10 in a tidy, 80-pitch effort.  He now leads the IL in strikeouts. We've mentioned that we would like to see Stroman stop nibbling, and keep his pitch counts down so that he can go deeper into games.  That he was limited to 6 innings may be more due to the fact that he is being readied for a promotion to the majors, but Stroman had excellent command last night, and had many Louisville hitters reaching for his wipeout slider in the dirt and missing. Dustin McGowan may have redeemed himself with a solid start for the parent club last night, but Stroman is only a Brandon Morrow stint on the DL or a makeover of the bullpen away from making his MLB debut.
   We also just received word that Kendall Graveman, who took a no-hitter into the 9th for Lansing last week, has been promoted to Dunedin.

  As we mentioned in an eariler post, there's a group at the top of this year's draft that has separated themselves from the pack, and will in likely be off the board by the time the Blue Jays have their two (9th and 11th) first round picks.
   Brady Aiken, Carlos Rodon, and Tyler Kolek will go 1-2-3 in the draft, possibly not in that order.  Blue Jays 2011 1st rounder Tyler Beede will likely be taken in the next few picks after #3, with Jeff Hoffman and Alex Jackson joining the top group.
   A couple of sites have updated their top 100 picks this week, and we thought it was worth a quick look.
   MLB Pipeline has Evansville LHP Kyle Freeland at #9, and TCU Lefty Brandon Finnegan at 11.    Freeland is the type of tall, lean (6'4", 185) pitcher the Jays like.  Finnegan, at 5'11", is undersized, but the Jays have shown that doesn't scare them off (see Stroman, Marcus).  Both have deliveries that have been termed high effort, which concerns us a bit. South Carolina prep righty Grant Holmes, who also fits the undersized bill, comes in at #12 on their list.
  Over at Christopher Crawford's, they have LSU righty Aaron Nola at 9, and Boyd's former OSU teammate Michael Conforto at 11.  Nola's stock has slipped a bit, but we see him closer to the top group of the draft.  Conforto has a good approach from the plate and above average lefthanded power, but his defensive value is limited, and is a bit of a basepath clogger. MLB pipeline isn't as high on Conforto, ranking him 19th. Conforto doesn't really fit the profile the Jays prefer in a position player.
  We, of course, have no clue as to who the Blue Jays are following at the moment, but odds are it's a tall/lean pitcher, or an athletic/toolsy position player with one or both picks.  Given their recent history, they could also go outside of the box with one of those picks and take a high risk/high upside player.
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