The following players got off to good starts in May, and were among the leaders in the Blue Jays system. This is not a ranking of prospects, of course, although several top 10 guys showed why they’re in that stratosphere with a strong month.
1. Gabriel Moreno, New Hampshir
What he hit: the organization’s top catching prospect was not overwhelmed by the jump to AA. Moreno continues to put balls in play, although his K rate (21%) is higher than his career average. He’s using the whole field, and really, he should be in Trenton/Buffalo by mid-season. For May, Moreno slashed .400/.459/.646.
2. Spencer Horwitz, Vancouver
What he hit: Horwitz was an on-base machine for the C’s in May, posting an incredible .521 OBP – his 28.7% walk rate is the second highest in all of minor league baseball. The power is just starting to show up for the 2019 24th rounder, who knocked his first round tripper of the season this past weekend.
3. Addison Barger, Dunedin
What he hit: The 2018 6th rounder fell a bit short of expectations with two seasons of rookie ball that were marked by injury and inconsistency. But the multi-position Barger (drafted as a SS, he’s played all four infield positions this year) has busted out in a big way, his 5-5 cycle night with a pair of long balls on Friday part of a four consecutive game stretch of multi-hit efforts. That outburst brought Barger’s OPS up to 1.039, and he’s hit 4 HRs. A mid-season jump to Vancouver should be in the cards for him.
4. Tanner Kirwer, Vancouver
What he hit: The Albertan made High A look easy last month, and he and Horwitz provided much of the C’s offence. Kirwer posted a .964 OPS, and some surprising pop with 4 HRs. Add in 13 steals in the new A-ball base stealing environment, and you have a player flashing five tools.
5. Otto Lopez, New Hampshire
What he hit: the 2019 Midwest League batting champ has turned from a singles to a doubles hitter this spring. He’s selling out a bit for power (21.4% K rate), but his ten doubles lead the organization. Some time in the weight room and a more mature approach at the plate has given Lopez’ relatively flat bat path some added oomph. Lopez has yet to hit one out of the park, but with his growing gap power, it may be just a matter of time.
The top storyline belongs to Alek Manoah, who after showing mastery of AAA hitters has rightfully found a place in Toronto. Nate Pearson hit a bit of a speed bump in his last Buffalo start, and needs to just stay healthy and, well…pitch. But there have been some notable performances.
1. Zach Logue, New Hampshire
How he pitched: Logue is repeating AA, and truth be told, he doesn’t have a lot left to prove at this level. The crafty southpaw had a career start on Saturday, fanning 12 in six innings, and has generally been a guy you can pencil in for a quality start every time out. Logue is 3-0 with a 2.96 ERA, and more impressively for a guy with his finesse tendencies, he’s struck out 39 hitters in 21 innings. For the month, he posted a 0.77 WHIP, and limited opponents to a .188 batting average.
2. Simeon Woods Richardson, New Hampshire
How he pitched: Overlooked somewhat in the wake of Manoah’s spectacular start, SWR – currently with the US Olympic team at a qualification tournament in Florida – has been just as effective. His 14.7K/9 rate is higher than Manoah’s, and he’s been dominant. A 10% walk rate and some contact in his last start are of minor concern, but SWR has been as advertised.
3. Nick Fraze, Vancouver
How he pitched: The surprising C’s are in a three way tie after a month of play in the High A West, and the team’s pitching has been a major factor. Fraze, a 22nd round day two guy from the 2019 draft class, has been among the most consistent Vancouver arms. In 5 appearances including 3 starts, his stats tell a strong story: 1.57 ERA, 0.61 WHIP, and .145 OppBA. Striking out just better than a batter per inning, Fraze is inducing a lot of weak contact.
4. Roither Hernandez, Dunedin
How he pitched: The D-Jays woeful 6.28 team ERA is the next-to-last in the Low A Southeast, but the performance of Hernandez out of the pen has been a bright spot. In 8 appearances totalling 15 innings, Hernandez has fanned 23, and posted a 0.98 WHIP, and his 21.1% SwStr rate leads the organization. It’s been a very long road for the 2016 IFA, but he appears to have carved out a role as a once-through-the-order guy in Dunedin’s pen.
5. Paxton Schultz, Vancouver
How he pitched: A recent addition to the organization, Schultz came to the Blue Jays when they came to their senses about Derek Fisher. His first two starts were reasonable, but he’s been lights out in his last two. The last of those was against a prospect-laden Eugene team, six innings of 3-hit shutout ball. On the season, Schultz has struck out 27 in 20 IP, and has limited opponents to a .188 batting average.
6. Adrian Hernandez, Dunedin
How he pitched: the other Hernandez has been mostly lights out as the D-Jays close, fanning a whopping 29 hitters in only 14.2 innings. A couple of rough outings fluffed up his ERA – an occupational hazard for relievers – and has three Saves in four opportunities.
7. Parker Caracci, Justin Maese, Vancouver
How he pitched: Caracci and Maese have been a dependable duo at the back of Vancouver’s bullpen. Caracci’s 3 Saves are tied with Hernandez for the system lead, while Maese, on the comeback trail after missing almost two full seasons prior to Covid, has fanned 15 in 11 innings.
8. Buffalo’s bullpen
How they pitched: Southpaws Kirby Snead and Tayler Saucedo, along with righties Bryan Baker and Hobie Harris have helped the Bisons, a team without a home, to an above .500 start. Harris (3 Sv), Baker (0.00 ERA), Saucedo (0.83 WHIP), and slider specialist Kirby have combined to fan 56 in 41 innings, while allowing only 5 Earned Runs.