We are now two months into the 2011 MLB season and the Toronto Blue Jays affiliates are performing well at every level. Each level consists of prospects who figure to be a prominent part of the Jays' future.
Las Vegas 51's (Triple-A), 32-25, 2nd in PCL Pacific South Division
The 51's are off to a pretty good start thanks to an extremely good offense, but they will need their starting pitchers to improve if they want to overtake Sacramento for first place in the division.
Leading the way for the 51's are a trio of promising prospects in 1B David Cooper (.396 AVG, 39 RBI), 3B Brett Lawrie (.354 AVG, 15 HR) and OF Eric Thames (.333 AVG, 39 RBI). Both Cooper and Thames were rewarded for their great play with stints in the majors.
Also helping the offense is veteran OF Dewayne Wise (.349 AVG) and OF Adam Loewen (.320 AVG, eight HR). Disappointments include OF Travis Snider (.282 AVG, one HR) and C Brian Jeroloman (.227 AVG, one HR).
When it comes to the starting pitchers, Brad Mills (4-5, 3.09 ERA) in the only guy having a good season so far. Guys like Scott Richmond (3-3, 6.22 ERA) and Mike MacDonald (3-2, 6.09 ERA) have been major disappointments. Brett Cecil (7-1, 5.06 ERA) started horribly but has improved each and every start, and he is looking like an MLB-caliber pitcher again.
New Hampshire Fisher Cats (Double-A), 35-21, 1st in EAS Northern Division
The Fisher Cats are off to a fast start due to some great starting pitching and bats that are starting to come alive as of late.
Leading the way offensively is 1B Mike McDade (.321 AVG, 36 RBI), while C Travis d'Arnaud (.294 AVG, five HR) has been on fire since coming off the DL after suffering a concussion.
One of the Jays top prospects, OF Anthony Gose (.255 AVG, 27 SB), started off slowly but is finally starting to get used to Double-A pitching. SS Adeiny Hechavarria (.232 AVG, four HR) has had a slow start but should improve as the weather heats up.
The Fisher Cats have also had good to great starting pitching from Reidier Gonzalez (6-1, 2.56 ERA), Joel Carreno (4-3, 3.75 ERA), Chad Beck (5-1, 3.90 ERA) and B.J. LaMura (3-4, 3.83 ERA).
The major disappointment in that department has been Zach Stewart (3-3, 4.66 ERA). Many people believed Stewart could see time in the majors this year. Another intriguing prospect pitching for the Fisher Cats is Henderson Alvarez (2-1, 3.22 ERA), who started the year on the DL and has pitched great early on in his season.
Dunedin Blue Jays (Single-A), 31-26, 3rd in FSL North Division
The Baby Jays are an interesting team in that they possess four starting pitchers with good potential, and all four have good chances to make it to the majors.
That includes two 2010 first-round draft picks, Deck McGuire (3-3, 3.24 ERA) and Asher Wojciechowski (4-4, 4.53 ERA). Both figure to be solid middle of the rotation pitchers.
The most intriguing pitcher on the Jays is probably converted OF Nestor Molina (6-3, 2.45 ERA, 58.2 IP, 70/7 K/BB). He is striking out well over a batter an inning and is walking almost nobody. This is just his third year pitching and he is only 22 years of age.
Chad Jenkins (4-5, 3.07 ERA) completes the quartet and he may see himself in New Hampshire very soon.
The 21-year-old catching prospect A.J. Jimenez (.357 AVG) and OF Justin Jackson (.309 AVG) are both off to good starts with the bat.
Lansing Lugnuts (Low-A), 32-23, 1st in MID Eastern Division
The Lugnuts possess an intriguing outfield that consists of LF Marcus Knecht (.331 AVG, 29 RBI), RF Michael Crouse (.278 AVG, 19 SB) and 20-year-old CF Jake Marisnick (.296, 17 SB).
The Lugnuts have also been helped to first place by pitchers Drew Hutchison (3-2, 3.50 ERA) and Casey Lawrence (4-5, 3.66 ERA).