The Toronto Blue Jays endured an injury plagued year so far in the 2012 season. The season isn't quite over yet, but September has now begun and the Jays are now on the outside looking in after being in the thick of things before the massive rash of injuries kicked into gear.
With losing Jose Bautista, Adam Lind, Brett Lawrie, JP Arencibia and Colby Rasmus for extended periods of time over the course of the season, the Blue Jays offence was inconsistent at best, and their pitching, well what can you say, it was much worse.
Ricky Romero lately has pitched better, but for most of the summer, he couldn't hit the ocean if he was sitting on a lifeboat in the South Pacific. Brandon Morrow has been injured for about two months and severely hurt the Jays' chances.
Henderson Alvarez's inexperience began to show this season as he began to look very hittable, and for the most part, his mistakes were leaving the yard in a big way.
Anyways, the Blue Jays are well on their way to yet another year of missing the playoffs. That begs the question, will the Jays ever make it back to the playoffs? Well, if Baltimore and Oakland stand a good chance at making it to the postseason this year, then anything is possible.
First and foremost, we start to look from within. Here is a summary of what the Jays' minor leaguers did this season at every level.
Triple A—Las Vegas 51's (Pacific Coast League 78-62 as of September 1st)
Team MVP—Adeiny Hechavarria
Biggest Surprise—Yan Gomes
Most Improved—Adeiny Hechavarria
Biggest Disappointment—Evan Crawford
Best Hitter—Travis D'Arnaud
Best Starter and Reliever—Sean O'Sullivan and Chad Beck
The 51's will miss the playoffs this season, but to be honest, unlike the division champs, the 51's had to endure losing most of their roster to the MLB due to injuries. Gone are Travis Snider and Eric Thames via trade, David Cooper, Adeiny Hechavarria and Moises Sierra are with the big club, and not to mention, Anthony Gose, Brett Cecil, Chad Beck, Yan Gomes and Evan Crawford all spent time North of the Border this season.
Double A—New Hampshire Fishercats (Eastern League 61-78 as of September 1st)
Team MVP—Ryan Goins
Biggest Surprise—Mike McDade
Most Improved—Mike McDade
Biggest Disappointment—Deck McGuire
Best Hitter—Mike McDade
Best Starter and Reliever—Yohan Pino and Sam Dyson
The Fishercats struggled mightily this season in the tough Eastern League. In a league that is pitcher dominant, the Fishercats just didn't show enough on the pitching end to help compensate for a young group of hitters that struggled.
Ryan Goins and Mike McDade were two steady performers, as well as a later arrival second baseman Ryan Schimpf. Prospect Jake Marisnick struggled all season to keep his average above the Mendoza line in his first season in Double A.
You can pretty much guess when Yohan Pino is your best pitcher, that the Fishercats had a pretty bad season. No offence to Pino, but when you have first round picks Chad Jenkins and Deck McGuire on the roster and they're not listed here, you know things went badly for them.
High A—Dunedin Blue Jays (Florida State League 78-54 Overall First + Second Half Record as of September 1st)
Team MVP—Sean Nolin
Biggest Surprise—Sean Nolin
Most Improved—Kenny Wilson
Biggest Disappointment—Marcus Knecht and Michael Crouse
Best Hitter—Kevin Nolan
Best Starter and Reliever—Sean Nolin and Danny Barnes
The Dunedin Blue Jays are heading to the playoffs after taking their division. A strong group of pitchers anchored this team to a division win. An undefeated Sean Nolin posted a 9-0 record before getting promoted to AA.
Kenny Wilson went from a low .200 hitter this season to better than .295 with the Jays, and .265 overall with the Lansing Lugnuts and Jays. Wilson cut down the strikeouts this season and stole 54 bases, too.
Two thirds of the wicked outfield trio of Jake Marisnick, Michael Crouse and Marcus Knecht ended up severely playing under their potential this season. Both the Canadians, Crouse and Knecht, struggled this season adjusting to the new league and the tougher pitching. Both batters struck out far too often and only got on base at a .300 clip.
Reliever Danny Barnes helped shut the door, finishing with 34 saves and a tidy 1.40 ERA with 63 K in 51.1 IP.
A Ball Full Season—Lansing Lugnuts (Midwest League 81-54 First + Second Half Record as of September 1st)
Team MVP—Noah Syndergaard
Biggest Surprise—Kevin Pillar
Most Improved—Kevin Pillar
Biggest Disappointment—Kellen Sweeney
Best Hitter—Kevin Pillar
Best Starter and Reliever—Justin Nicolino and Ajay Meyer
The three-headed pitching monster consisting of Syndergaard, Nicolino and Aaron Sanchez carried the Lugnuts to a division title. Along with a 10-3 Anthony DeSclafani and a 6-1 David Rollins before he was dealt by the Blue Jays, made the Lugnuts one of the best starting pitching teams in all of minor league baseball.
Offensively, Kevin Pillar ran the show until he was promoted to Dunedin. He finished with a .322 average in Lansing along with an .841 OPS and stole over 35 bases. He got on base at a clip of .390, which always helps inflate the stolen base numbers when you are quick on the base paths.
Closer Ajay Meyer closes the door for the Lugnuts finishing with 33 saves, averaging more than a K/IP and a tidy WHIP of 1.07.
A Ball Short Season—Vancouver Canadians (Northwest League West Champions 45-30 Overall Record)
Team MVP—Javier Avendano
Biggest Surprise—Roberto Osuna
Most Improved—Javier Avendano
Biggest Disappointment—Kellen Sweeney
Best Hitter—Balbino Fuenmayor
Best Starter and Reliever—Javier Avendano and Ian Kadish
The Vancouver Canadians, a mish-mash group of college graduates and senior level players, are heading back to the playoffs again this season.
Javier Avendano pitched out of this world for them going 8-1 with a 1.27 ERA along with 91 K/78 IP. The 17-year-old starting pitcher Roberto Osuna was nearly unhittable in a league with players three to six years older than him. Definitely a name Jays fans should keep an eye out for in the next couple of years.
Kellen Sweeney split time between Lansing and Vancouver, and neither spot really helped out his game. He averaged a little better in Vancouver at .232, but it's still not the numbers you expect from a highly drafted third baseman.
Ian Kadish only pitched 22 innings and picked up five saves, but it was his power arm that obviously got me interested. With 36 K's in 22 innings, along with a tidy 3:1 K/BB ratio, Kadish has potential. Only a little bigger than Jason Frasor, Kadish will have to rely on his arm to get him to the Majors.
Rookie Ball—Bluefield Blue Jays (Appalachian League 29-37 as of September 1st, Missed Playoffs)
Team MVP—Christian Lopes
Biggest Surprise—Tucker Jensen
Most Improved—Griffin Murphy
Biggest Disappointment—Jacob Anderson
Best Hitter—Christian Lopes
Best Starter and Reliever—Tucker Jensen and Griffin Murphy
Obviously as you can tell only a handful of players had good seasons down in Virginia with the Bluefield Jays. Lopes hit near .300 with the team while he was there, while Tucker Jensen was easily one of the teams' best starters.
High draft picks Jeremy Garbryszwski, Kevin Comer (property of Houston Astros), Joseph Musgrove (property of Houston Astros), Daniel Norris and Tom Robson had a mixed bag of reviews on the season. Some days they were good, some days they were very hittable, but that's the life as a youngster in the minor leagues.
2010 second-round pick Griffin Murphy went from starter to reliever this past season and saw remarkable results. Averaging far more than a strikeout per inning, Murphy was a stopper down in the Jays pen. Expect good things from him in the future.
Other Prospects of Note
DJ Davis advanced quite well this season going up three levels. He started out in the Gulf Coast League, managed to hit fairly well there and stole 18 bases. He moved onto Bluefield where he hit a tidy .340 and stole six bases in only 47 at bats. At the end of the year, he advanced to Vancouver and has 13 at bats with the team only managing one hit in his time with the club.
Adonys Cardona battled control issues this season and only started two games. With 20 K in 15 IP, he's obviously got the stuff, its just up to the Jays to cut him loose.
Chase De Jong pitched 12 innings for the Gulf Coast League Jays and impressed in his short time there. With 15 K and only one walk, De Jong showed great control for a kid his age.
As for my last prospect, Ryan Borecki, the 6'4" 175 pound lefty only had six IP due to signing late with the Jays, but in those six innings he struck out 10 batters, didn't walk a batter and only gave up four hits for a tidy 0.67 WHIP. He gave up a two-run home run, so his ERA is 3.00 to finish the year.
Thanks for reading.