Yes, we’re ten days into August, but my Twitter followers probably know that I was spending time climbing mountains in British Columbia at the end of the last month, so, better late than never – here are the top five performers in the Blue Jays system over the past month.
Ideally, you want your best players to be your best players, and July was a month where the stars lined up for the Blue Jays in that regard.
1. Kevin Smith SS New Hampshire .330/.370/.708 8 HR
July finally saw last year’s helium-fuelled riser break the Mendoza line. Smith had spent a lot of the season prior to that in Pitcher’s counts, expanding his strike zone, and chasing a lot of pitches. The Blue Jays still have to be concerned with his 31.3% K rate, and the fact that he drew only 5 walks for the month. Still, he cut down on the Ks in July, showed more 2-strike patience, and made a lot more hard contact. The jump from A to AA is the highest in the minors, and Smith showed proof of that over the first half.
2. Gabriel Moreno C Lansing .330/.380/.567
The Blue Jays have stockpiled a great deal of talent at his position, and with Danny Jansen and now Reese McGuire having graduated to the bigs, the athletic Moreno may now be the best of the minor league crop behind the plate.
Moreno puts balls in play (7BB/9K in July), but his 4 HR in July show some evidence of future pop, and not necessarily just a contact-oriented swing. Just over a year ago, he had been promoted to Bluefield from the GCL in his first stateside season. He’s come a tremendous distance over the past year and a half.
3. Nate Pearson RHP New Hampshire 19K/19 IP .123 OppBa 0.88 WHIP
There’s not much more to say about Pearson. He was about as dominant as he could be in innings-managed July outings.
4. Eric Pardiño RHP Lansing 1.88 ERA 23K/24 IP
One of the youngest players in all of Low A, Pardiño was nothing short of brilliant in 5 July starts. With his outings limited to five innings, Pardiño has still been able to work through his four pitch arsenal, with his velo growing and everything flashing plus.
5. Maximo Castillo RHP Dunedin 1.32 ERA 27IP/33K .206 OppBA
Castillo has quietly put together an outstanding season as one of the youngest players in the Florida State League. The Blue Jays have to be pleased with the number of bats he missed in August, as the Ks were down earlier in the season.