Toronto Blue Jays’ Fans Still Have Reason To Believe
The trading deadline has passed and fortunately for many Blue Jays fans, their franchise player remains with the ball club.
Roy Halladay was the center of all trade deadline speculation, but JP Ricciardi was unable to find that “wow” deal that would have forced his hand into dealing his ace.
I must admit, I was one of those fans that believed that trading Halladay was the only way for the franchise to move forward, but after reviewing some of the progress and promise that some players are showing this year, it may be a little premature to say that the franchise is in need of an overhaul.
In this slide show, I will examine players who are key pieces for the Blue Jays moving forward this year and for the upcoming decade.
Hopefully this presentation can rekindle some hope that seems to have been lost with all the negativity over the last couple of months.
Many baseball writers doubted if Aaron Hill would ever play baseball again after viciously colliding with teammate David Eckstein last year, but boy has he rebounded in a big way.
Hill is enjoying a huge breakout season with the Blue Jays in 2009 where he is hitting for a solid average while putting up huge power numbers with an impressive 24 home runs and 68 runs driven in.
He is on pace to finish the year with close to 40 homers and over 100 RBIs, which would put him in the upper echelon of players in the whole entire league.
Now it is tough to say that this type of performance will be an annual occurrence for the 27-year-old second baseman, but Hill has shown he can be an all star for years with the Jays under a very cheap contract.
Adam Lind has been considered by Jays’ management as a player with top tier potential for years now, but after showing some solid contribution during the second half of last season, Lind has come out in 2009 and done nothing but produce.
He arguably should have been an All-Star this month and already has over 20 homers and 60 runs driven in. What makes Lind a special player is his plate discipline and his power to all fields.
Lind is highly praised by manager Cito Gaston for sticking with his game plan at the plate. Lind goes to the plate with an idea of what pitch he is seeking and doesn’t change his mind while he is up there. He waits for his pitch and when it comes, he crushes it.
Now Lind can be streaky at times, but he is such a solid hitter that Blue Jay fans can easily expect 30 homeruns and 100 runs batted in every year for the better half of the next decade.
Snider began the season with the Jays and put up some great numbers in April, but unfortunately slumped badly in May and was demoted to Las Vegas shortly after.
Upon returning to Triple-A, Snider was placed on the disabled list with a bad back, and only recently returned to playing everyday. He is becoming more comfortable at the plate and over his past ten games he has hit an impressive .343 with 4 homeruns and 11 runs batted in.
Snider is still regarded as an elite prospect and most definitely will end up back in the majors some time this year. It is tough to say how dominating Snider can be as a major league player, but he has the power to be 30-40 homerun hitter every year if he fully blossoms.
Nonetheless, Travis Snider has a huge future with the Blue Jays and will be the cornerstone of the franchise for years to come. Oh yea...he is only 21!
After years of taking heat due to his high draft selection, Romero has suddenly flourished under the direction of Jays pitching coach Brad Arnsberg.
With an arsenal which includes a hard fastball, solid curve and a devastating change, Romero has shown the potential to be a great pitcher in the majors and has put together a fantastic rookie season in the Toronto rotation.
It is tough to predict how effective Romero can be in future years, but his confidence, swagger and abilities have me believing that he can be a productive piece in the rotation for the future.
I'm not saying he has potential ace written all over him, but Romero can be a solid number two pitcher on Toronto's staff within the next couple of years.
The return of Shaun Marcum to the majors should arrive any day now, but many question how effective he could possibly be after undergoing an extensive surgery like Tommy John.
Personally, I believe Marcum will battle with his endurance and effectiveness over the last two months of this season and may possibly struggle at times with getting batters out, but I don't believe it is something that will trouble him long term.
What made Marcum such an effective pitcher is his ability to mix up speeds to keep the batter guessing.
He relied heavily on his pitch location and never threw hard to begin with, so he shouldn't suffer from those aspects of his game due to his surgery.
When healthy, Marcum can be a top of the rotation pitcher especially when he is able to locate his pitches.
Greg Maddux was able to front line a fantastic Atlanta pitching rotation for years without throwing hard and just depending on his location, so it is not out of the question to believe that Marcum can have similar potential.
In 2007 and 2008, Marcum thrived as a starter and posted a solid 3.39 ERA in 25 starts last season. A healthy Marcum in 2010 would be a great sign for the Jays and all fans alike.
Cecil should never have arrived in the majors this early in his career, but he has been a great pitcher in the Toronto rotation thus far.
He features a low 90 fastball with sink and an above average slider, and has the potential to be a solid 2-3 slot pitcher in the big leagues one day.
He is only 23 years old and still needs some more seasoning before he could be relied upon in a major league rotation, but he has showed a good indication with his high strikeout totals that he has the abilities to produce in the Bigs.
Rzepczynski has soared through the Jays’ minor league system and has put up some impressive strikeout totals. Last year in Single-A, Rzepczynski had a 2.83 ERA and totaled more strikeouts then he did innings pitched.
He was presented with the Jays’ Minor League Pitcher of the Year Award and continued on in 2009 with an even better performance. Before being called up with the Jays, Rzepczynski put together an impressive 9-5 record with a solid 2.66 ERA, while striking out an astounding 104 men in 88 innings pitched.
During his short stint in the majors, Rzepczynski has been able to keep up his high strikeout numbers, but has battled with control issues. He has walked 17 batters in 27 innings pitched and those free passes have continuously crossed the plate for the opposition.
Rzepczynski has shown promise that he could be a solid contributor to a major league rotation one day, but he definitely needs a lot more polishing. With pitching guru Brad Arnsberg as his mentor, Rzepczynski has the opportunity to become a special player for the Jays.
And Still To Come....
Although most of the Jays’ top prospects are already in the majors, there are a few who have yet to make their debuts, but should be very shortly.
The next guy to most likely get a call up with the Jays is Brian Dopirak, who has been crushing the ball all year long in the minors.
In both Double and Triple-A, Dopirak has hit well over .300 with 21 homers and 79 runs batted in.
Originally drafted in the second round by the Chicago Cubs, Dopirak was a can’t miss prospect after a huge year in A ball in 2004 when he hit 39 homers and was named Minor League Player of the Year.
After that early success as a 20-year-old, Brian’s contributions took a dive and after a terrible finish with Chicago’s Double-A affiliate, the Cubs released him.
Dopirak signed with Toronto to get the opportunity to play in his hometown of Dunedin and he has been stellar ever since.
This year’s success is no fluke either since last season Dopirak swatted 29 homeruns and drove in over 100 runs.
At the age of 25, Dopirak may finally come within reach of his major league ambitions which he thought he was on the face track for over five years ago.
JP Arencibia is another can’t miss prospect in the Jays’ farm system, but is currently struggling at the plate this season. Arencibia is a power hitting catcher, but his plate discipline is atrocious and he is prone to striking out way too often.
He is currently hitting below 230 in Triple-A this season, but his power numbers show that he still can produce.
Arencibia needs to work on making contact at the plate and most definitely requires another season in the minors before being promoted to the majors.
He has shown in Single and Double-A that he could hit the ball hard and drive in a lot of runs, but his scuffling in Triple-A shows there is still work to be done.
If he sorts out these issues at the plate however, Jays’ fans will be in for quite the treat when he makes his anticipated debut.
One look at Tim Collins and the average fan would assume I mistook a child for a professional ball player, but to this particular gem there is a lot more that meets the eye.
Collins is a generous 5’6" relief pitcher for the Dunedin Blue Jays who has been said to have a deceptive Tim Lincecum like delivery with a plus fastball.
In Low A Ball last season, Collins held batters to an unbelievable .156 batting average while posting a fantastic 1.58 ERA and striking out an amazing 98 batters in 68 innings pitched. As amazing as his 2008 season was, Collins is having just as good of a season in 2009.
Once again he is holding batters to a ridiculous .193 batting average and has struck out 87 batters in 58 innings pitched. Collins has great potential and could become a dominant reliever in the majors one day.
If that doesn’t pan out, he should at least have a future as a great lefty specialist (lefties are hitting below .100 off of him).