This year we decided as a staff to preview each of the team’s preliminary assignments to the 2012 AFL and our goal is to tackle each of the 30 organizations over the next 7-10 days. We hope you will follow along with us, check in several times each day and enjoy reading what we come up with. If you’re not familiar with the eligibility rules or how the rosters are constructed just click here to brush up.
The Toronto Blue Jays hope they’re a year or two away from angling for a run at the AL East crown, a la the Baltimore Orioles or Tampa Bay Rays. They aren’t going to be able to outspend New York and Boston, and instead are putting their faith in the draft and scouting department in hopes of stocking their Minor League system with grade-A talent that can be traded away or developed. Unfortunately for the Jays, this year’s club was decimated with injuries, and is still probably a year or so away from making a serious run. In the mean time, GM Alex Anthopoulos has shown to be adept at turning around the Jays farm system, highlighted this year by the seven Jays farm players suiting up for the Salt River Rafters in this year’s Arizona Fall League.
RHP – Sam Dyson (24) – Blue Jays’ 2010 4th Round Pick
2012 – Dunedin (A+): 4.08 ERA, 2-0, 16 K, 5 BB, in 74.0 IP (6 starts)
2012 – New Hampshire (AA): 2.38 ERA, 2-2, 22 K, 15 BB, in 45.1 IP
This College World Series champion (from the University of South Carolina) has pitched both as a starter and as a reliever in the Blue Jays farm system. Coming off a lost 2011 season due to Tommy John surgery, Dyson had a decent go of things in High A Dunedin, tossing 2 wins and a 4.08 ERA in 6 starts, spread over 74 innings. He has good command, as is evidenced by his low walk totals. After spending the early spring down in Florida, he was called up to Class “AA” New Hampshire, although this time, he was used solely out of the bullpen. After a blistering run in the Fisher Cats ‘pen, where he put up a 0.75 ERA in his first 15 games, and only three months after making his Minor League debut, Dyson was given a shot at “The Show”, and made his way up to Toronto. While he just had the proverbial “cup of coffee” this time around, expect Dyson to be given another look in the Jays ‘pen next season—he has a wealth of experience with pitching for a big-time college program, and if he’s fully recovered from his surgery, Jays fans will become quite familiar with him, hopefully.
RHP – Deck McGuire (23) – Blue Jays’ 2010 1st Round Pick (11th overall)
2012 – New Hampshire (AA): 5.88 ERA, 5-15, 97 K, 62 BB in 144.o IP (28 starts)
Well…Mr. McGuire doesn’t exactly have eye-popping numbers, as you can see from above, but the Arizona Fall League isn’t always for this past year’s Minor League stars. On occasion, it’s a place where prospects with a forecasted high ceiling will end up after struggling for a touch, and this is what appears to have happened to McGuire. Scouts have said that he has a nasty slider that helps his low-90s fastball and average off-speed pitch. McGuire had a solid debut in the Minors in 2011 after posting a 7-4 record with a 2.75 ERA. Then, after being sent up to Class “AA” New Hampshire later that year, his ERA went up a touch, and he hasn’t quite been able to recover. Hopefully he’ll be able to regain his early 2011 form this fall in Arizona.
RHP – John Stilson (22) – Blue Jays’ 2011 3rd Round Pick
2012 – Dunedin (A+): 2.82 ERA, 3-0, 47 K, 23 BB in 54.1 IP (13 starts)
2012 – New Hampshire (AA): 5.04 ERA, 2-4, 44 K, 23 BB in 50.0 IP (9 starts)
Stilson will head to Arizona after hitting the DL with a shoulder injury in mid-August. I would think the Jays sent him to play fall ball in hopes of getting him some extra work in to recuperate lost time due to injury. The power pitcher had an excellent beginning to the year as a starter in Dunedin, posting an ERA under 3 with a 3-0 record (in 13 starts). His numbers went a bit south as he was called up to New Hampshire. Scouting reports indicate that he has been more of a “thrower” than a “pitcher” but more seasoning in the minors and playing fall ball will help remedy this problem before gives AA ball another crack this coming spring.
RHP – Ryan Tepera (24) – Blue Jays 2009 19th Round Pick
2012 – Dunedin (A+): 7.71 ERA, 1-3, 14 K, 12 BB in 21.0 IP (5 starts)
2012 – New Hampshire (AA): 4.84 ERA, 7-3, 57 K, 37 BB in 74.1 IP (15 starts)
Continuing a common theme, Tepera started out this season in Dunedin before being moved up to AA. Unlike Stilson or McGuire, his numbers actually improved (quite considerably) after the move. Scouting reports indicate he doesn’t have that special “out pitch” that would help his stock rise in front of Blue Jays big wigs. If he cuts down on his number of walks and works towards finding that “out pitch” this fall, he’ll probably put up decent numbers next spring in New Hampshire, and maybe even earn a start or two up in AAA.
SS – Ryan Goins (24) – Blue Jays’ 2009 4th Round Pick
2012 – New Hampshire (AA): .289 AVG, 33 2B, 4 3B, 7 HR, 61 RBI
Goins has always been dogged as not having quite the talent/skills to make a serious run at the Majors, but he keeps putting up solid numbers to allow him to continue to climb the ladder. He doesn’t do anything spectacularly, but he his a fairly sure-handed fielder, has some speed around the base paths, and is pretty disciplined at the plate. I imagine his invitation to the Arizona Fall League is to gauge him against high-level talent. Maybe if he continues at this pace, he could be a utility infielder in the Bigs. He’ll be a fun player to follow and see if he continues to develop.
OF – Jake Marisnick (21) – Blue Jays’ 2009 3rd Round Pick
2012 – Dunedin (A+): .263 AVG, 18 2B, 7 3B, 6 HR, 35 RBI
2012 – New Hampshire (AA): .233 AVG, 11 2B, 3 3B, 2 HR, 15 RBI
Marisnick really regressed after a breakout campaign in Lansing last season. After putting up a .320 (!) AVG last year, and looking like a five-tool stud ready to climb the ladder, he fell off the wagon and was far too undisciplined at the plate this season. He still has solid speed around the base paths and in the outfield. It’s not uncommon to have a player struggle after having a huge season in a rookie league or in low “A”, so I fully expect to have Marisnick heat up in the desert this fall, and put up better numbers next season in New Hampshire.
OF – Kevin Pillar (23) – Blue Jays’ 2011 32nd Round Pick
2012 – Lansing (A): .322 AVG, 20 2B, 4 3B, 5 HR, 57 RBI
2012 – Dunedin (A+): .323 AVG, 8 2B, 2 3B, 1 HR, 34 RBI
Pillar started out hot, and kept the streak alive as he moved from low “A” Lansing to Class “A” Advanced Dunedin in the latter-part of this summer – and even after the promotion, he was still named the Midwest League MVP. He isn’t necessarily a speedster around the base paths, but he hustles and throws his body around with reckless abandon in the outfield, crashing into a wall to take away an extra-base hit, or sliding in foul territory to snag a fly ball. Pillar will most certainly begin next season in AA New Hampshire, and is shaping up to be among the top Jays prospects going into next season. He should be a blast to watch this fall, and hopefully he’ll continue his strong play. If he does dip this fall, give the man a break—he’s already scorched the Midwest League and Florida State League.
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