September 2, 2014
The Lansing Lugnuts wrapped up their season on September 1st with a 5-4 rain-shortened loss to the South Bend Silver Hawks. The Blue Jays low-A affiliate finished the second half with a 30-40 record (62-77 overall) and three games out of the final Midwest League playoff spot. Even though the season didn’t end the way Lugnuts fans would have liked, members of the 2014 Lansing Lugnuts remain high on the talent that was developed in Lansing all season.
“The 2014 season was awesome. We really came together as a team in the clubhouse,” said Lugnuts reliever Scott Silverstein. “I feel we had a championship caliber ball club and we would’ve loved the opportunity to play in the playoffs, but it wasn’t in the cards. Even though the playoffs didn’t happen, I feel we had a great season as a team and I feel it was a great success overall.”
Players that came through Lansing in 2014 included recent Blue Jays September call up Kendall Graveman who started four games for the Lugnuts to start the season, where he went 2-0 with a 0.34 ERA. Graveman only allowed one earned run in 26 1/3 innings of work in Lansing.
Reliever Jimmy Cordero also displayed an excellent fastball that consistently hit triple digits; and starter Miguel Castro made a pit stop in Lansing where he posted a 1-1 record with a 3.74 ERA in 21 2/3 innings of work in the Midwest League before earning a promotion to high-A.
The Lugnuts also saw some excellent young prospects at the plate. 2013 draftee Rowdy Tellez joined the team in August and collected 15 hits in 42 at-bats which included two home runs and seven RBIs in Lansing. In July, Lansing received Anthony Alford from Bluefield. Alford collected eight hits in 25 at-bats before returning to Ole Miss for the college football season.
It’s safe to say the Blue Jays are developing some excellent young talent in their minor league system. Below is a breakdown of some of the players who made a major impact on the Lugnuts roster in 2014.
Lansing’s top hitters for 2014
* Players with at least 300-at bats with Lugnuts
1) Mitch Nay (3B) – Nay led the Lugnuts with 34 doubles and 59 RBIs. The young prospect was the starting third baseman for the East team in the Midwest League All-Star Game. Nay received a late-season promotion to the Dunedin Blue Jays. He was also selected as a Midwest League post-season All-Star, becoming Lansing’s lone representative on the list.
2) Matt Dean (1B) – Dean led the team with 9 home runs and 43 extra base hits. He was the starting first baseman for the East team in the Midwest League All-Star Game and displayed solid defense throughout the season.
3) Dawel Lugo (SS) – Lugo finished third on the team in hits (behind only Nay and Dean) with 123. He also showed excellent plate discipline with the lowest strikeout to at-bat ratio, only striking out 72 times in 474 at-bats.
4) Derrick Loveless (OF) – Loveless had a breakout year in 2014. The young outfielder led the team with 9 triples and a .363 OBP. Loveless also joined the Midwest League All-Star team as a reserve player.
5) D.J. Davis (OF) – Davis displayed excellent speed and extra base power in 2014. He led the team with 19 stolen bases and finished second in home runs (8) and triples (7).
6) Jason Leblebijian (SS) – Leblebijian had an incredible August and was named player-of-the-month. The young prospect collected 30 extra base hits and 48 RBIs in his first full season.
7) Dickie Joe Thon (SS/2B) – Thon displayed an excellent bat all year, collecting 27 extra base hits and 40 RBIs on the season. With 20 doubles and four triples, his speed was on display this year.
Lansing’s Top Pitchers in 2014
** Players who pitched at least 64 innings with Lugnuts
1) Jeremy Gabryszwski (RHP) – Gabryszwski led the Lugnuts in most pitching categories including innings pitched (141 1/3), wins for a rotation member (6), and strikeouts for a pitcher in a Lansing uniform (91).
2) Brady Dragmire (RHP) – Dragmire was Lansing’s most reliable reliever all season. Dragmire was 3-6 with a 2.91 ERA, and recorded 45 strikeouts, and five saves in 77 1/3 innings of work.
3) Chase De Jong (RHP) – The 2012 second round pick was one of Lansing’s most reliable starters all season. He finished the season 1-6 with a 4.82 ERA and 73 strikeouts in 97 innings of work.
4) Roberto Espinosa (RHP) – Espinosa was one of Lansing’s top relievers and only allowed 13 earned runs since the beginning of June. In his 70 innings of work, Espinosa was able to strike out 72 batters and allow no more than two home runs. While his 4.37 ERA may not turn heads, his 3.47 FIP is more in line with his impressive second-half. Espinosa may well be a pitcher to pay attention to in 2015.
5) Brad Allen (RHP) – Brad Allen joined the Lugnuts in May after being released by the Diamondbacks organization. He provided excellent pitching right when the Lugnuts needed him most. He recorded a 3.11 ERA and 82 strikeouts in 75 1/3 innings of work.
6) Scott Silverstein (LHP) – Silverstein spent time as a closer, set up man, and long reliever in Lansing. The left-hander led all Lugnuts in wins with an 11-4 record. He recorded 4 saves and pitched to an excellent 9.4 K/9 ratio as he struck out 67 batters in his 69 innings pitched.
7) Alonzo Gonzalez (LHP) – Gonzalez finished his first full season as a reliever and had an excellent season, collecting 90 strikeouts in 79 1/3 innings.
“The 2014 Lansing Lugnuts team was really young, but really talented,” said Lugnuts infielder Jason Leblebijian. “We’ve had a lot of young talented guys coming through our team this season and it’s outstanding to see the future of this organization moving forward.”
While Lansing’s team record doesn’t fully reflect the talent on display, it’s clear that the future is bright for the Blue Jays farm system. We look forward to seeing which prospects will impress in a Lugnuts jersey in 2015.