Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Monday Notebook


One next-to-last edition of the Monday Notebook is here for you, Blue Jays Prospect Fans..

 As the minor league season entered its final weekend, three Blue Jays affiliates were in contention for a playoff spot.
   The Vancouver Canadians clinched the second half Northern Division title in the Northwest League by virtue of a victory over Spokane, the first half champs.
  Vancouver played some inconsistent ball over the second half, but made what is becoming for them a patented run in the last week of the season, and clinched a playoff birth against Spokane on Sunday.  They open their first round series against - you guessed it - Spokane today.
   Buffalo was well back of a playoff spot over a month ago.  Bolstered by the additions of Dalton Pompey, Daniel Norris, and Kendall Graveman from AA, and the return of Cole Gillespie and acquisition of Matt Hague, the Bisons went 24-9 in one stretch, and even briefly overtook Pawtucket for the final playoff spot.  The Bisons entered the final weekend of play needing to sweep playoff-bound Syracuse for the wild card spot, but fell short on Sunday.  Despite a perfect game through 5 and a no-hitter through six by the newly promoted Paolo Espino, the Bisons scored runs in the 7th, 8th, and 9th to tie the contest, only to lose on a walk-off home run in the bottom of the 9th.
   Lansing entered the weekend with a shot at a wild card spot, but failed to make the Midwest League playoffs.
  Dunedin already clinched a spot in the post-season by winning their first half Florida State League division title.  Even though they stumbled a bit down the stretch, the D-Jays are anchored by a rotation of Matt Boyd, Taylor Cole, and Roberto Osuna/Miguel Castro, and have a decent shot at a title.


   Late last night, our Twitter feed was exploding with news of Blue Jays promotions.  Pompey, Graveman, and Norris were promoted, according to Sportsnet's Shi Davidi, along with Sean Nolin, George Kottaras, Ryan Goins, Dan Johnson, Anthony Gose, and a rehabbing Brendan Morrow.  There has been no confirmation yet from the Blue Jays, and we admit that we're surprised that AJ Jimenez was not part of that group.  Stay tuned....


   We've been meaning to look into this for a while, but we give a tip of the hat to fellow Blue Jays prospect follower Minor Leaguer for pointing out the the Blue Jays Player Development Contracts with two of their minor league affiliates expire at the end of this season.
   The vast majority of minor league teams are owned by private or community interests.  Toronto owns only one of its minor league clubs outright, its Dunedin club in the Advanced A Florida State League.  PDCs usually come up for renewal every other September in even years.

   The Blue Jays PDCs with the Low A Lansing Lugnuts and the Rookie Level Bluefield Blue Jays come up for renewal next month.  A number of minor league teams have already renewed or switched affiliations, but the Blue Jays have yet to give any indication about their plans. The Jays have been affiliated with Bluefield since 2010, and Lansing since 2005.

   In case you're wondering, the Blue Jays have a PDC with Buffalo through 2016.  Even though there was a glimmer of hope they might switch affiliates if Ottawa's city council had voted if favour of stadium improvements in order to house an Eastern League team, the Jays re-upped with New Hampshire until 2016 as well.  The Jays also have a PDC with Vancouver, their short season affiliate, until 2016.  All three have solid local ownership, and draw well.  The 90 minute drive from Buffalo to Toronto is a huge benefit. The partnership with Vancouver has been wildly successful, and has helped to grow the Blue Jays brand in B.C.

   Would the Jays consider moving one or both of their expiring affiliations?  We can't see it in the case of Lansing.  The Lugnuts play in a great stadium, draw well despite fielding losing teams the past several seasons, and is only a 4 1/2 - 5 hour drive away from Toronto, making it the closest of the 8 other teams in the Midwest League which  have PDCs coming up for renewal.   One drawback of Lansing's northern location is that prospects who were raised in temperate climates sometimes struggle in the cold temperatures of the season's opening weeks.
   As for Bluefield, they don't draw as well, but they have been relatively successful in the Blue Jays short time there, after being an Orioles affiliate for decades.
    Other factors, such as quality of facilities, proximity to airports and interstates for roving instructors and front office personnel, likely come into play when deciding whether or not to extend a PDC, as does the affiliates' level of satisfaction with the major league club.  Only one other Appy League team has a PDC expiring this year, and only three Pioneer League (the other short season rookie level league) have ones due for renewal.

   One last note:  we had said in our last post that we thought that if Osuna pitched anywhere this off-season, it would be in Mexico.  We were working off some information we were given that he was a protected player, but obviously that information was false, as the righthander tweeted himself that he was going to the Arizona Fall League.  And we're thrilled, both to see what he can do against some tough competition, and so that we can follow his progress more closely than we likely could if we was pitching in his homeland.

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