Fisher Cats Rotation Looks Promising

This past weekend, the defending Eastern League champion New Hampshire Fisher Cats received a dozen innings of lights out ball from their scheduled starters.

That would be their #3 and #4 guys in the rotation, Zach Logue and Yennsy Diaz, respectively.

On Saturday, Logue tossed six frames, allowing just a pair of hits and an unearned run.

On Sunday, Diaz faced the minimum over six.  He allowed a one out single in the 2nd, and promptly picked him off.

Neither pitcher walked a batter.

Top of the rotation arms Patrick Murphy and Hector Perez may have struggled with the cold in games one and two of the Fisher Cats opening series with the Mets Binghamton affiliate, but it was the work of Logue and Diaz that earned them a series split.

************************************************************************************

Logue caught my eye in his rookie year at Vancouver, after the Blue Jays had selected him in the 9th round of the 2017 draft.  He was very solid at both Lansing and Dunedin last year, fanning 129 in 154 innings, while only walking 34 – Logue’s 5.5% walk rate would have been 3rd lowest in the Florida State League if he’d had enough innings to qualify.  Initially pegged as a bullpen guy, Logue’s mix of pitches and command of them has helped him move up fairly quickly in a starting role.

Logue does not blow hitters away, sitting in the high 80s/low 90s.  He throws a two-seamer which he commands to an eye-level changing both sides of the plate – it has some cutting action when he throws it on the inner half to right handed hitters.  Logue also throws a four seamer, and a sweeping, slurvy slider that looks to have tightened up this year, along with an improving change up.  More importantly, he can throw his breaking ball consistently for strikes, and since he tends to get ahead of hitters, it becomes more effective late in counts. He had this to say about his off speed pitches about a year ago:

I feel pretty comfortable with throwing my slider for strikes but I need to work on throwing it in the dirt with two strikes to put guys away. And my change up needs to be more consistent. When its down, its good. But I need to be able to throw it down all the time. Sometimes I get on the side of it and it just floats a little bit.

 

Lefty Logue works from the first base side of the rubber, and his three quarters delivery can be deceptive to left handed hitters.  By sequencing and avoiding the heart of the strike zone, Logue keeps hitters off balance and can be tough to square up.

Logue was asked a few questions after his Saturday start.

  1.  You had a very good spring training, by several accounts.  What’s the secret of your success? I just wanted to come in prepared and have a good spring training so I just tried to come in and throw strikes and execute pitches the best I could.
  2. What was the focus of your off-season workouts?  This offseason I really focused on building my stamina, especially in my legs to be prepared for a long season and be strong late in the year. On the pitching side, my change up development was my biggest focus.
  3. What adjustments have you had to make with the jump to AA?  Obviously I only have one start in AA so I don’t have a ton of experience against those hitters but I just tried to locate my fastball and get ahead to open up the entire plate. One thing I did notice was the guys up here won’t swing at as many pitches out of the zone.
  4. Your thoughts about the Blue Jays raising the pay of their minor league players?  I’m very grateful for the bump in play. It really helps us with rent and food. It’s nice to not have to worry about that stuff as much with the pay raise.
  5. Which NHL team will you be watching in the playoffs (Logue was a defenceman in high school):  I played hockey growing up so I love watching it, especially playoff hockey. If I had to pick, I’d go with the blue jackets since I’m from Ohio.

*************************************************************************************

Diaz can dial his fastball up to 97, and it can be electric.  His fastball has bought some development time for both his breaking ball and change up, both of which appear to have improved since his time in Lansing two years ago.  Diaz was dominant in a half season back in Lansing last year, but seemed to struggle a bit with fatigue (2018 was his first full season) and the higher level of competition at High A Dunedin.

With Andrew Sopko (who came over from the Dodgers with SS Ronny Brito in the Russell Martin deal) as the 5th starter, New Hampshire has one of the stronger rotations in all of AA.  Three of its members (Murphy, Perez, and Diaz) have all been added to the Blue Jays 40 man roster.  And they have what appears to be a strong defensive club behind them.  With the athletic Josh Palacios and Forrest Wall in the outfield (Brock Lundquist has been moved to Left, where he’s probably best suited), Kevin Smith and Santiago Espinal in the infield, a lot of ground will be covered this year.  In Logue’s start, Wall came a long way to make a catch in the RF corner (Wall and Palacios will likely split duties in RF and CF this year), while Smith made a fine bare-handed play on a pitch that ricocheted off of Logue to nip the runner at 1st.

*************************************************************************

Finally, speaking of Palacios, he appears to be showing signs of tapping into his considerable upside.  From a sample of ABs so far this year, he’s showing a better knowledge of the strike zone, and has cut down his swing with two strikes.  There is still room for improvement with his game, but he could be a sleeper prospect if he continues on this path.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.