Blue Jays Minor League Notes and Thoughts May 14th Edition

A day late, but hopefully not a dollar short.

Dunedin Blue Jays/MiLB.com photo

WHO’S HOT………top performers over the past seven days

LINES OF THE WEEK

May 11th – Cuban southpaw Kendry Rojas received some notice last year when he struck out almost 15 batters/9 in the Complex league. He’s had some uneven results in Low A, but he turned in a fine outing:

May 12th – Luis Quiñones has long been one of my favourite power arms in the system. Slated to return to New Hampshire, he began the season on the IL, and made his first appearance of the season for Dunedin.

Quiñones came on in relief for Yosver Zulueta, who appears more than ready for the challenge of a higher level:

May 13th – what would this section be without a Ricky Tiedemann line? What’s impressive about this latest outing is that it came against a prospect-laden (and apparently free-swinging) Yankees’ Tampa affiliate:

On that same night, Buffalo reliever Jeremy Beasley had his third successive scoreless outing:

May 14th – A trio of Dunedin pitchers combined to fan 24 – yes, 24 – of those aforementioned Tampa top prospects:

Yes, that’s a rehabbing Nick Frasso who starred the game for the D-Jays. Frasso missed much of 2021 with a partial UCL tear.

Just as impressive was the work of Dahian (say Di-an) Santos, who tossed four scoreless frames. In his last three outings adding up to 12 IP, Santos has allowed but 3 hits and 1 earned run. He totalled 23 whiffs on the night, the majority of them on a wipeout high spin rate slider:

The 24 Ks were a record for a 9-inning game since MiLB began seriously keeping track of these things in 2005.

May 14th – Hunter Gregory has pitched much better for Vancouver than his numbers would indicate. He fanned all but one of the batters he faced in a relief outing:

Leo Jimenez

It has been a while since we’ve been able to connect with Blue Jays VP of International Ops Andrew Tinnish about the club’s IFA signings. I will endeavour to speak with him again, because the conversations we’ve had have been among my favourites since I started this blog in 2013 (yes, kids, it’s been that long).

When we talked in the fall of 2017, while signees Eric Pardinho and Miguel Hiraldo got much of the media attention, Tinnish gushed about another signing:

Jimenez made his pro debut in 2018, and the following year posted a respectable .754 OPS in his stateside short-season debut. Injuries limited him to only 59 games this year, but an .898 OPS with Dunedin convinced the club to place Jimenez on the 40-man in order to protect him from the Rule 5 draft.

Starting at High A this year, Jimenez got off to a slow start (.163/.369/.265) in April, but he has caught fire this month, posting a 1.104 OPS, albeit in only games, as the Pacific Coast weather has played havoc with the Northwest League schedule. There’s no exit velocity data available, but a sampling of a number of his ABs this month saw a lot of hard-hit balls. Jimenez’ .408 OBP leads the Northwest League.

The Jays have taken their time with Jimenez, but it’s clear – even if they don’t say so out loud – that he’s regarded as the SS of the future. He just has to demonstrate that he can hit. Given his defence, even if he developed into more of a bottom-of-the-order hitter, once the front office feels his bat is ready, Jimenez will be in Toronto. He’s not spectacular at Short, but he has sure hands, good range, and a strong, accurate arm – he seems to make just about all the plays.

Hayden Juenger

Baseball America’s draft report on Juenger:

Toronto took Juenger in the 6th round last July, and all he’s done, it seems, is strike guys out (14K/9 in 39 career MiLB innings to date), last season at Vancouver, and so far this season at New Hampshire:

Used to being in the back of the bullpen in college, Juenger has started six games at AA, pitching 2-3 innings per outing. BA has taken note:

Opposing scouts view Juenger as one of the top players in the system at present and like his velocity and feel for a pair of secondaries. Juenger is sitting 94-96 mph, touching 97 mph on his fastball from a flat vertical approach angle, allowing him to miss bats on his four-seamer. He mixes two mid-80s secondaries in a changeup with heavy arm-side run that grades as his best bat-missing pitch and a slider in the mid 80s with sweep and slight ride. It’s a high-octane pitch mix that has scouts taking notice, as he’s produced solid results despite an aggressive assignment.

Does this mean that Juenger is now viewed by the org as a starter, or are they trying to fast-track him to the bigs by building him up? I asked Cory Popham, the Blue Jays Pitching Development Coordinator if they view Juenger as a starter or reliever long term:

We are viewing him as a guy who can get 9-15 outs in high leverage situations. His stuff is electric and he’s a bulldog on the mound. We’ve wanted to give him opportunities to start this year and have been really pleased with how he’s done.

More on Frasso……

When we heard that Frasso had torn his UCL last summer, the last thing we thought we would see would be the 2020 draftee back on a mound by mid-May. But Frasso underwent a relatively new technique known as UCL repair with internal brace. The surgery involves repairing the damaged ligament (as opposed to replacing it) by use of a surgical tape infused with collagen. The recovery time is almost half of that of Tommy John.

The surgery is not for everyone – it can’t repair a torn UCL. But for partial tears, it can be effective. The technique has been around for at least five years, but it’s hard to find a successful candidate to this point. Cardinals reliever Seth Maness tried the procedure four years ago, but was not able to make a comeback.

But the early results for Frasso are encouraging, especially compared to Eric Pardinho, who underwent Tommy John almost 18 months ago, and is still pitching in Extended (and, as is suggested in the links below, perhaps it’s time to consider moving on from him as a top prospect).

I asked Blue Jays Blue Jays Rehab Pitching Coach Greg Vogt about the technique:

I can’t give too much detail about the medical side of things but it is a newer surgery for certain candidates. It’s not for everyone as it depends on several variables with tearing/history. It’s been successful in other organizations as well. Little bit less invasive and shortened recovery time, if all goes well.

LINKS

-ok, first off, I must explain what has taken up much of my attention this week. I am now a published author. My first (yes, I have more in draft form) book is about the Chatham Coloured All Stars, who broke the colour barrier in Ontario amateur baseball in 1934. Using newspaper and first-hand accounts, I’ve created a fact-based fictionalized re-creation of that historic season. The story is somewhat personal for me: Chatham’s opponent in the final series was the Penetanguishene Rangers, led by future MLBer Phil Marchildon. Growing up next door in Midland, I played hockey in Penetang many, many times over the years. The lobby of the Penetang arena was graced by a huge black-and-white photo of Marchildon in his Philadelphia A’s uniform. Unlike most kids I grew up with, hockey was something to do between baseball seasons, not the other way around, and while I never had a chance to meet the man, I’ve spoken to many who did – an all around athlete, Phil is still revered in his hometown. I was thrilled to bring his story, as well as that of the Chatham Stars back to life. On Account of Darkness is available in paperback and Kindle from Amazon, as well as most e-book platforms.

https://www.amazon.com/Account-Darkness-Ontario-Baseball-Barrier/dp/1989346898/ref=sr_1_2?crid=1P1MJBTHZFSLO&keywords=on+account+of+darkness&qid=1652554217&sprefix=On+Account%2Caps%2C75&sr=8-2

-Fangraphs’ Eric Longenhagen spent some time in Florida in late April, and compiled notes on Pardinho, Frasso, Manuel Beltre, and Irv Carter, among others, that makes for essential and informative reading: https://blogs.fangraphs.com/in-person-scouting-notes-headlined-by-blue-jays-lefty-ricky-tiedemann/https://blogs.fangraphs.com/in-person-scouting-notes-headlined-by-blue-jays-lefty-ricky-tiedemann/

-Trevor Schweke has been one of Vancouver’s best hitters. He’s travelled a tough road just to make it to High A, as Steve Ewen documented.

-Mitch Bannon of Si.com takes a look at Samad Taylor, and the adjustments he’s made this season. https://www.si.com/mlb/bluejays/analysis/blue-jays-prospect-samad-taylor-full-count-approachhttps://www.si.com/mlb/bluejays/analysis/blue-jays-prospect-samad-taylor-full-count-approach

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