Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Monday Notebook


 It was another week of comings and goings in the Blue Jays minor league system...

  We were somewhat surprised to see that Deck McGuire was DFA'd.
The Blue Jays first round pick in 2010 had mostly underachieved since turning pro, repeating AA for the third time this season.  He had pitched well at New Hampshire over the last half of the season, and gave the club reason to place him on the 40-man roster, in order to avoid potentially losing him the the Rule 5 draft.
Promoted to Buffalo in May, he was rock solid in his first three starts, the highlight being an outing against Toledo where he struck out 10 over 7 innings, but seems to have progressively lost the strike zone with each passing start, to the point where he walked 7 in just 4 innings in his last start.
   The move was made in order to accommodate the re-acquisition of lefthander Brad Mills, likely to help bolster the big league bullpen, but it was curious in that it left Buffalo with only 4 starters, with Kyle Drabek and now Aaron Sanchez plying their trade in relief for the Bisons.
   McGuire watched the Bisons the night he was DFA'd not from the dugout, but on his tv, and you had to feel for him:

Watching the on tv right now is one of the hardest things I've ever done!

   Taylor Cole took over the minor league strikeout lead with a 12 K performance over 6.2 innings earlier today for Dunedin-.
   Not known for being a strikeout per inning guy prior to this season, it would appear that the work that Cole has done with the weighted ball program has paid off.  Just the same, the club placed him on the 7 day DL in late June.  Over three starts from June 18th to 28th, Cole was hammered, giving up 23 hits in 14 innings, and sported an ERA of 9.00.
   Likely suffering from a dead arm, Cole was given 12 days of rest, and it appears to have paid off.  In his last 3 starts, Cole has struck out 27 over 16.2 innings, and has surrendered only 2 earned runs.  The 12 strikeouts today were a career high, and raised his total to 133 for the season.
   At 24, the BYU Grad is a little old for High A, of course.  The 29th round 2011 draftee did a two-year mission after his first year of university at the College of Southern Nevada (which produced Bryce Harper), and was drafted in the 31st round by Arizona, but opted for missionary work for the Church of Latter Day Saints.  He was sent to Canada, and spent time knocking on doors in Toronto as part of his mission.  After completing his two year stint, he transferred to BYU in 2010.
   This year, Cole has used his fastball, which was clocked at 94 in today's game, early in the count to get ahead of hitters, then has used his slider and change to keep hitters off balance.  Cole has walked only 29 hitters in 109 innings.
   One would think that Cole will be in line for a promotion at some point and join his former D-Jays rotation mates Matt Boyd and Daniel Norris in AA, although with Dunedin already having clinched a spot in the Florida State League playoffs, we could see him remain in the Sunshine State for the rest of the season.

   Roberto Osuna hasn't pitched since his first post-TJ surgery outing almost two weeks ago, and it's been the cause for some alarm amongst some of our friends on Twitter.
   We're not surprised that he hasn't thrown since that 1-2-3, 2K inning, in which he sat between 95 and 97 with his fastball.  He's less than a year removed from the surgery, and setbacks during recovery are not uncommon.  That the Blue Jays haven't said a word about it isn't all that unusual, either.  Really, 2014 should be a write off for the still-young righthander, who we didn't think would see game action until August, anyway.  There may have been some soreness after that July 9th outing, or maybe after a subsequent sideline session, and a shut down of a couple of weeks shouldn't be a huge concern.  We will, of course, continue to monitor the situation.

   And as we were about to hit the "publish" button this morning comes word of the promotion of Aaron Sanchez to the big club, along with infielder Ryan Goins.  Sanchez has pitched out of the Buffalo bullpen for the past week in preparation for this move.  As a starter, we don't think that Sanchez is quite ready, although he has been a bit of a victim of BABIP the past few weeks, and for that reason, we think the promotion of Goins was a wise one.  Goins has been the Bisons' best defensive player, and has actually hit well in AAA after struggling at the plate in his first big league go-round.  His presence in the infield, wherever he plays, will be a help to Sanchez, who has morphed into a groundball pitcher.   Marcus Stroman did not take well to the bullpen role when he was first called up this season, but he and Sanchez are different pitchers, and while we ultimately want to see Sanchez in a starting role, he might be a shot in the arm to the club's sagging pen down the stretch.

   Lastly, we were remiss last week in not talking about Dunedin RHP Kendall Graveman.  The 2013 8th rounder out of Mississippi State, Graveman may have been overshadowed by his more illustrious D-Jay fellow starters Norris, Cole, and Boyd, but he has been just as effective in his own right.  Graveman started the year in Lansing, but was quickly promoted to High A.  In 90 innings, Graveman has surrendered 81 hits, and sports a tidy 2.30 ERA, with 62 Ks and only 16 walks.  There may not be room above him for another promotion, but Graveman has been a mainstay in the D-Jays rotation.
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