Well….let’s hope you all made it through polar vortex week better than my family room window, which now sports a parabola of a crack from top to bottom thanks to the extreme temps.
It’s been a bit of a black hole for minor league news in the usual down period after Christmas, but things have been picking up of late. Earlier this week, Blue Jays President/CEO Mark Shapiro made himself available for some questions about some of the reshuffling of portfolios among the higher-ranking front office officials, the Army Ranger Camp a number of top prospects attended in December, and the whole issue of chronically underpaid minor league players. Look for that post early next week.
Top of the list for links this week has to be the news that five Blue Jays prospects cracked MLB Pipeline’s Top 100. This truly is an exciting time to be following the Jays system, as the investments in player development the team has made are just starting to pay off.
With the trade of Russell Martin to the Dodgers, the battle for the job of backing up Danny Jansen will come down to Luke Maille and Reese McGuire. With Maille probably the favourite to help provide some MLB experience while Jansen continues to learn the trade at the major league level come April, McGuire is likely ticketed for Buffalo, but several sources in the team’s minor league ops department have sung his praises, and see him as more than a potential part-time player. Jeff Quattrociocchi had a chance to talk to McGuire at Winterfest, and talked to him about the Army Camp experience, and the adjustments he made at the plate last year.
Eric Longenhagen of Fangraphs hosted a chat today, and in addition to fielding the usual questions about Vlad, had a brief but surprising answer to a question about OF Chavez Young.
Part way through the season last year, then-New Hampshire hitting coach (and now minor league hitting co-ordinator) Hunter Mense pointed out to Harold Ramirez that he had the highest average exit velocity on the team, but didn’t have the results that would stat would seem to project. Mense helped Ramirez alter his launch angle, and the rest was history. Ramirez won the Eastern League batting title, and was the playoffs MVP, as everything he hit in the post season seemed to be a rocket. Ramirez was left off the 40 man roster in November, and declared free agency. He recently signed with the Marlins, leaving more money on the table from other teams, but he may be one of the steals off the off season, according to Baseball America.
Mississauga’s own Dalton Pompey had a breakout season in 2014 – 2014!! – slashing .317/.392/.469 at three levels, and reaching MLB in September. The Blue Jays in the Anthopolous era were not afraid to challenge their prospects with aggressive promotions, but it was too much, too fast for the 2010 16th rounder, who has struggled to stay healthy since them. Things may have bottomed out for him when he had a confrontation with Buffalo Manager Bobby Meacham last year, but in a Sporting News article by Jenn Smith, the out-of-options Pompey says he’s looking forward to challenging for a spot with the Blue Jays.
Over at Cs+ Baseball, Niall O’Donohoe attended the annual Vancouver Canadians Hot Stove Luncheon, which featured Blue Jays GM Ross Atkins, and former Manger Cito Gaston, and filed a report.
As you read this, I’m finalizing details of a mid-March trip to spring training, by which time MiLB exhibition games will be in full swing. An April trip to Lansing, July jaunt to Vancouver, and an August outing to Erie to catch New Hampshire are all on the agenda, with maybe a Buffalo trip or two in the offing. I promise to take copious notes during my travels.