Monday, April 20, 2015

Clutchlings Notebook - Week 2

   Here's a wrap of the week that was in the Toronto Blue Jays minor league system:

Buffalo (6-1)
   The week got off to a bizarre start for the Bisons when their Monday game with Pawtucket that was suspended by rain and moved to Tuesday to completed as part of a doubleheader.  The second game of that set, in turn, was postponed by a power failure.
   Buffalo lost that suspended game, but then ran off six wins in a row, culminating with a sweep of Lehigh Valley when the Bisons went into the botton of the 9th trailing 4-1,  to close their home stand.
   Jeff Francis pitched five innings of shut out ball in the first game of the Wednesday twin bill, and fellow Canadian Andrew Albers responded with six frames of runless ball in the night cap.  Scott Copeland followed that up with a sparkling 7 innings the next day, allowing only one run on three hits.  Randy Wolf and Chad Jenkins each had strong starts over the weekend.
   With Colt Hynes needing some rest, he was optioned to Buffalo, and Francis was recalled to take his place.  Francis' great week continued with four innings of scoreless relief for the Blue Jays on Sunday.
  Andy Burns was promoted from New Hampshire, and was a scintillating 4-4 in his International League debut on Friday.

New Hampshire (1-6)
   The Fisher Cats got off to a good start by beating Reading to start the week, but then promptly lost their next six games in a row.
   Matt Boyd struck out 9 batters over 5 innings for the second straight start.  Scoring runs has become a bit of a challenge for New Hampshire.  Leadoff hitter Jon Berti was supposed to be a table setter, but has struggled at the plate.  Dwight Smith Jr has been hitting, on the other hand, and closed the week at .317.  A.J. Jimenez was activated from the disabled list to the Fisher Cats, and was in the lineup this weekend.

Dunedin (3-4)
   The D-Jays had a win one/lose one pattern for the week.
Jairo Labourt couldn't get out of the first inning in his start on Monday, but redeemed himself with 8Ks in 4 innings on Saturday.
  Scoring runs has been an issue for Dunedin as well, having been shut out in back to back games against Bradenton.

Lansing (5-2)
  It was a great week for the Lugnuts, who we were able to see a fair amount of during their series with Great Lakes, thanks to
   Lansing had a six game winning streak snapped during that series, the day after winning a 16-inning marathon against the Loons.  Great Lakes, wanting to save what was left of their bullpen, sent a position player in to pitch the top of the 16th, and he served up a two run homer to Rowdy Tellez.
   Conner Greene and Sean Reid-Foley made their full season debuts this week, and pitched well.  Greene struck out 5 in as many innings while surrendering only one run, while Reid-Foley K'd 6 in 3 scoreless innings in his debut.  Greene is piggybacking with Alonzo Gonzalez for the first part of the season, while Reid-Foley is working in tandem with Justin Shafer.
   Starlyn Suriel and Shane Dawson were dominant in their piggyback start in the extra inning game.  Suriel is not a big guy, and doesn't overpower hitters, but relies on movement and location.  Dawson, who missed much of last year, seems to be getting his velocity going, as he hit 92 in his appearance.
   Dan Jansen has shown fine receiving skills, but has struggled at the plate.  He made his first MWL hit a memorable one, though, hitting one over the left field wall at Great Lakes.
   Much has been made of DJ Davis.  The first round pick from 2012 is repeating Low A, and I was concerned about his pitch selection in the at bats I saw him have this week.  He seems to take pitches in the zone, and swing at a lot of pitches outside of the zone.  At the same time, he reached base in the Lugs first 10 games.  In the outfield, his speed allows him to cover a great deal of ground, and he hauled in several drives against Great Lakes that at first looked like they were headed for extra bases.  Davis still needs to cut down on the Ks (15 in his first 45 PAs), but I still want to give him a bit more time.  Davis was one of the youngest players taken in his draft year, and that and the fact that he played his HS ball in Mississippi means that his developmental curve may be longer than most.

  I asked Lugnuts broadcaster Jesse Goldberg-Strassler when he thinks Anthony Alford will return from injury, and he thinks the speedy outfielder will be back by the end of the month.
  I also was in contact with Canadian pitcher Jordan Romano, who was reportedly hitting 95 on the gun earlier in spring training, before suffering a torn UCL.  Romano had Tommy John surgery performed by Dr James Andrew on March 30th, and while he's still wearing a brace, he has already started rehab.
  Jeff Hoffman is slowly building up his innings as he approaches the first anniversary of his Tommy John surgery.  He threw two innings in an intrasquad game at extended spring training, hitting 97 on the gun.  If all continues to go well, Hoffman should pitch in a game that counts, likely at Lansing or Dunedin, by mid-May.

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