Friday, November 25, 2011

Blue Jays minor-league staffers in limbo

The whole Red Sox managerial search, which has been a complete debacle, has left a ripple effect throughout Toronto's farm system. Tory Lovullo remains a longshot to succeed Terry Francona in Boston, but until the Sox hire a manager, the Jays don't know if they'll need to replace Lovullo as first-base coach. Also, if Gene Lamont gets the job, Lovullo may join him as bench coach. Anyway, the inside word is that Bobby Valentine is the Red Sox ownership's choice.

Meanwhile, Sal Fasano and others don't have their assignments for 2012. The Double-A Fisher Cats manager won't be named for at least another week, though Sal is the logical choice to return if he doesn't move up. New Hampshire's pitching coach will be Tom Signore, who joined the Fisher Cats in 2009-10 before a stint in Vegas.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Poultry in Motion

More than 1,200 runners gathered at the home of Double-A New Hampshire for the inaugural Thanksgiving Fisher Cats 5K this morning. What a turnout! As always, Northeast Delta Dental Stadium looked beautiful.

HAPPY THANKSGIVING!: Here is this morning's view from the home of the New Hampshire Fisher Cats. I ran the Fisher Cats 5K while carrying this turkey leg like a baton. 

Now if they only had a bullpen ...

The Blue Jays haven't made any bold off-season moves, but when I look at the 2012 lineup, I see major upgrades at center field and third base. Colby Rasmus, who'll be the only player in the clubhouse with a World Series ring, is going to have a career year. Although he had a rough start in Toronto, batting .173 in 133 ABs, Rasmus loved the atmosphere and overall mojo during a post-trade stint with the Jays.

We talked quite a bit during his rehab stop at Double-A New Hampshire. Rasmus really opened up and told me about his crippling relationship with TLR and how he couldn't step off the field without being micro-managed. It just didn't work there -- just like it didn't work for Yunel Escobar at the end of his time with Atlanta. Rasmus will have a career in 2012 with 26 HR, 80 RBI, .277.

A full-time Brett Lawrie at third base, for my money, is the most significant team upgrade. There is no substitute for the energy and power of The Beast. It's contagious. Lawrie's August 10 grand slam beat the A's and woke up the Blue Jays (winning six of nine). Lawrie's year? 27 HR, 91 RBI, .280, 22 SB. 

Monday, November 21, 2011

Top 10 Blue Jays Prospects, scouting reports

1. C Travis d'Arnaud -- Eastern League MVP  proved to be a complete catcher and offensive force. Showed raw power and the right approach in a .311/.371/.542 season. Good situational hitter and knows how to move runners and reach base. Oppo-Tacos are always a plus. Video of lower-case d talking about his season here.

2. RHP Drew Hutchison -- Young, efficient. Easy delivery, pinpoint control and good movement. Hutch, a 15th-rounder, will start next season in Double-A and be throwing complete games in the majors by 2013. Good listener, worker and teammate. Sound bites here.

3. RHP Noah Syndergaard --  Love the 6-foot-5 frame and arm action. Call me crazy, but he reminds me of Daniel Bard. Gets on top of pitches with excellent extension, leading to riding action on 4-seamers. Throws a 2-seamer with late sink. Gym rat. Good makeup.

4. SS Adeiny Hechavarria -- Elite glove, range and arm. We watched Adeiny win games with his defense. Had a promising 2011 and finished with a .389 stop in Las Vegas.  Personally, I'd package him in a trade while stock is soaring. He'll never hit big-league pitching like Yunel Escobar.

5. C Carlos Perez -- Baseball player. The Blue Jays rave about his defense, quick bat and approach to the game. Gap hitter with good instincts everywhere on the diamond.

6. OF Jake Marisnick -- When talking about a prospect's "tools," there is a tendency to overrate players or fail to mention a glaring weakness -- Moises Sierra and poor base running, for example -- but Marisnick is a legit athlete with all the tools. Average (.320) & power (14 homers) spiked in '11. 

7. RHP Aaron Sanchez -- Lean and mean, Sanchez is going to tantalize the Blue Jays until he develops better command. Plus fastball. High ceiling. Relies on his curveball a little too much.

8. RHP Deck McGuire -- Though still a work progress, Deck made significant strides and looked unhittable at times with the slider and sinker. When I saw him dominate at Portland, I was convinced.

9. OF Anthony Gose -- No shortage of star power. Showed 4 of 5 tools, swagger along with 70 stolen bases in 2011 but got himself out way too much. Hard to believe he didn't turn 21 until August.

Goseman: .253, 16 HR, 70 SB, 154K  (Kevin Littlefield photo)

10. LHP Justin Nicolino -- Slender southpaw has a slight edge over Daniel Norris as the best lefty in the system. Have heard great things about his off-speed stuff and changeup. More muscle and physical maturity are going to make him a scary prospect in the near future.