JaysProspects http://jaysprospects.com A Blog of Toronto Blue Jays Prospects Interviews, Evaluations and News Mon, 20 Jul 2015 12:54:59 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.2.3 Repetition Helping D.J. Davis FInd Successhttp://jaysprospects.com/2015/07/19/repetition-helping-d-j-davis-find-success/ http://jaysprospects.com/2015/07/19/repetition-helping-d-j-davis-find-success/#comments Mon, 20 Jul 2015 03:43:56 +0000 http://jaysprospects.com/?p=10135 Repeating a level in the minor leagues was never what Toronto Blue Jays’ outfield prospect D.J. Davis wanted to do. However, there can be some definite advantages to performing at the same level for a second season that can pay dividends down the road. The Toronto Blue Jays assigned Davis back to the low-A Lansing [...]

Author information

Brian Crawford

Brian Crawford

Mr. Crawford is currently in his fourth season of covering the Lansing Lugnuts for JaysProspects. Dedicated to bringing you the most up-to-date information on the Blue Jays low-A affiliate, Mr. Crawford hopes you find his articles both engaging and informative.
Feel free to follow Mr. Crawford on Twitter: @CrawDaddy222, or you can email him directly with any questions, or requests: briancrawford@mail.com

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D.J. Davis

D.J. Davis is finding success by repeating a year with the Lansing Lugnuts. (MiLB.com)

Repeating a level in the minor leagues was never what Toronto Blue Jays’ outfield prospect D.J. Davis wanted to do. However, there can be some definite advantages to performing at the same level for a second season that can pay dividends down the road.

The Toronto Blue Jays assigned Davis back to the low-A Lansing Lugnuts for the 2015 season in hopes that he can improve on both sides of the ball after a subpar 2014 in the Midwest League.

Fortunately, 2015 has been completely different.

So far this season, Davis is improving in the right areas in his second go-round in Lansing. A major issue with the former first round pick in 2014 was how much he struck out in the batter’s box, striking out 167 times in 494 at-bats. But this season he has only struck out 77 times in 333 at-bats, working an impressive 10 percent drop in his strikeout/at-bat ratio.

A major component to this success is the fact that Davis has refined his approach at the plate. In previous seasons, his approach was basically stepping into the batter’s box and swinging. The Blue Jays and Davis have found an approach that fits what the young prospect is trying to achieve with his career.

“I’ve developed more of an approach at the plate,” explained Davis. “I’m seeing all of the pitches way better than I did in my previous seasons of pro ball.”

Another major improvement is his base stealing. Known for his athleticism, Davis had trouble finding consistency on the bases last season as well, only successfully stealing 19 bases in 39 attempts in 2014. It was obvious that the young prospect was going to have to find a way to use his plus speed more to his advantage to continue to climb the ladder.

Getting better reads on when to go and when to stay back this season, Davis has successfully stolen 13 bases in 21 attempts. While there’s still some room for improvement moving forward it’s a great sign seeing the young prospect developing his speed more.

All of this hard work is showing in Davis as he has improved his slash line to .282/.336/.390 this season compared to just .213/.268/.313 a year ago. These improvements are largely in part to Davis learning how to handle hitting off-speed pitches better.

“I’m getting way better at hitting off-speed pitches,” stated Davis. “You just have to see them and make sure to not chase balls out of the zone. That’s something I have worked on this past off-season and I’m continuing to work on it daily.”

Impressed with the way Davis has handled himself in his second season in the Midwest League Lansing Lugnuts’ hitting coach Kenny Graham has nothing but appreciation for the way Davis competes every at-bat and helps his team win ball games.

“D.J. has been great,” said Graham. “Since the first few series of the year D.J. has continued to have great at-bats for us. D.J. has drawn some walks in key situations and got some big hits that have really helped the team out. D.J. has got some RBIs late in games that helped us go up in the game, or get the score closer for us. D.J. has very competitive at-bats every time as he’s still working on being consistent. For the most part he’s done that this season. It’s good to see him getting better.”

While Davis has improved leaps-and-bounds offensively you cannot overlook what he’s doing defensively either. With the emergence of Dalton Pompey and Anthony Alford, Davis is not viewed as high on the Blue Jays centerfield depth chart so the organization is having him take reps at the corner outfield spots as well.

Playing his best defense in left-field, Davis has yet to commit an error at that position in 31 fielding opportunities. Having also made a strong outfield assist in left, there’s a chance that Davis could continue to develop there at higher levels of play.

Committing just nine errors between the three outfield positions this season, Davis is carrying a .945 fielding percentage, while picking up three outfield assists. The young prospect has also taken part in a double play this season as he put his strong arm on display nabbing a runner trying to tag up on a fly ball.

“My defense has got a lot better,” said Davis. “The biggest difference is I’m playing all three outfield positions now and it’s great seeing the outfield from every angle.”

Some fans might have jumped ship on this prospect prematurely as Davis was viewed as a five year project player when he was drafted back in 2012. Now in his fourth season of professional baseball, fans are starting to see the kind of potential the organization saw in Davis on draft day; if he can continue to develop the way he has this season, there’s still a good chance that Davis could make it to the Rogers Centre one day.

Until then, we just wait to see Davis improve every day.

Author information

Brian Crawford
Brian Crawford
Mr. Crawford is currently in his fourth season of covering the Lansing Lugnuts for JaysProspects. Dedicated to bringing you the most up-to-date information on the Blue Jays low-A affiliate, Mr. Crawford hopes you find his articles both engaging and informative. Feel free to follow Mr. Crawford on Twitter: @CrawDaddy222, or you can email him directly with any questions, or requests: briancrawford@mail.com

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Meet Your 2015 Lansing Lugnuts’ All-Starshttp://jaysprospects.com/2015/06/23/meet-2015-lansing-lugnuts-stars/ http://jaysprospects.com/2015/06/23/meet-2015-lansing-lugnuts-stars/#comments Tue, 23 Jun 2015 12:42:03 +0000 http://jaysprospects.com/?p=10107 The Midwest League will hold their annual all-star game at O’Brien Field in Peoria, Illinois on June 23rd. This game is always exciting for fans of big prospects as the Midwest League has a long history of developing promising young players into major league stars and this talent will be on full display during this [...]

Author information

Brian Crawford

Brian Crawford

Mr. Crawford is currently in his fourth season of covering the Lansing Lugnuts for JaysProspects. Dedicated to bringing you the most up-to-date information on the Blue Jays low-A affiliate, Mr. Crawford hopes you find his articles both engaging and informative.
Feel free to follow Mr. Crawford on Twitter: @CrawDaddy222, or you can email him directly with any questions, or requests: briancrawford@mail.com

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Midwest League All-Star Game logo

The 2015 Midwest League All-Star game is on June 23rd at 8pm.

The Midwest League will hold their annual all-star game at O’Brien Field in Peoria, Illinois on June 23rd. This game is always exciting for fans of big prospects as the Midwest League has a long history of developing promising young players into major league stars and this talent will be on full display during this game.

Fans of the Toronto Blue Jays will definitely want to pay close attention to this game as the organization will be represented by five up-and-coming stars that could one day be playing at the Rogers Centre. Of the five Lugnuts’ to take part in this prestigious event, three of them will be in the starting lineup, which is a great sign for the organization moving forward.

Starting for the East squad will be: first baseman Rowdy Tellez, outfielder Anthony Alford, and designated hitter Ryan McBroom. Also representing the Lugnuts’ will be shortstop Richard Urena and left-handed pitcher Shane Dawson.

Proud of the accomplishments of his players, Lansing Lugnuts’ manager Ken Huckaby is excited for the guys that were selected by the Midwest League managers to represent the Blue Jays organization in Peoria on June 23rd.

“I think the managers got it right,” said Huckaby. “The guys that will represent us all deserve this honor. I feel the managers did a good job at picking the teams.”

Obviously receiving the news that you’re an all-star is a very special moment that the players will remember forever as it’s a unique experience that only a select few players get to accomplish at any level of play.

While it’s an individual honor to be part of this team, first baseman Rowdy Tellez wants to give full credit to his teammates for helping him achieve this distinction. Currently leading the team in RBIs with 49, the California native understands he couldn’t have achieved this stat without the players around him reaching base frequently so he can bring them home with a hard hit ball.

“Being named a Midwest League all-star is something that is cool and really special,” stated Tellez. “Being an all-star is something that everybody wants to achieve during the season. I’m looking forward to the experience.”

“It’s really cool being the starting first baseman,” Tellez added. “I just want to thank my coaches and teammates for helping me get this far.”

But Tellez’s game is more than just RBIs as he also has 19 doubles and seven home runs on the season. Carrying a .296/.351/.444 slash line throughout his first half of play, Tellez is turning heads daily and has a very bright future moving forward.

The biggest question mark in Tellez’s game when he entered professional baseball was his defensive ability. This is an area he is working hard on this season as he is getting the most reps at first and has done a respectable job. Committing just six errors so far this season, while takien part in 35 double plays, and assisting on another 35 plays is showing the progression the 20-year old is making at his position.

A major story of the 2014 off-season was the news of Anthony Alford giving up football to pursue baseball full time. That was news Blue Jays fans wanted to hear since his 3rd round selection back in 2012 and many wondered how the speedy outfielder would fare with a full season workload.

Alford has handled the transition very well as the prospect leads the Lugnuts’ in walks with 39, which has been a tremendous component to his.418 OBP and his league leading 49 runs scored. It’s evident that Alford made the right decision to focus primarily on his baseball career.

Honored by his selection, Alford is looking forward to sharing his moment with family and friends that have supported him through all of his endeavors. Although the trip from Mississippi to Illinois is long, it’s something his loved ones will do gladly to support this humble young man.

“Being a Midwest League all-star means a lot,” said Alford. “It means a lot personally being my first full season. But I take it more as a team accomplishment, because if it wasn’t for my teammates picking me up when I’m down I wouldn’t have achieved this honor. They have helped me find success all season.”

Alford added. “My parents and siblings will most likely make the trip to Peoria. I think my high school baseball coach and high school football coach might make the trip. I’ll most likely have friends there supporting me. My wife’s parents are going to try and make it and my wife will definitely be there. I’m looking forward to seeing everybody and I’m thankful for their support.”

Relegated to more of a designated hitting role in Lansing Ryan McBroom is continuing to show the same promise at the plate as he did last season in Vancouver. Carrying an impressive .330/.405/.478 slash line through his first half of play where he has a team leading 23 doubles.

Seeing less action at first base this year due to the fact that Rowdy Tellez is at the same level and one of the two was needed to DH more to keep both power bats in the lineup. This pick was an easy one for the organization as McBroom is already an excellent defender and can get away with fewer days at his natural position.

Committing just one error at first base this season in 141 chances, McBroom has taken part in 14 double plays and has assisted on another six in 20 games at first. The organization has also started to give McBroom some reps in left-field to keep the prospects defensive skills crisp and that change has worked out very well as he is 22-for-22 on his chances in the outfield.

Excited to be taking part in his second all-star game in just two seasons of professional baseball, the young prospect is really looking forward to getting out to Peoria to take in all the festivities that an all-star event brings to the table.

“Being named a Midwest League all-star means a lot. I’m really looking forward to representing this Lugnuts team and the Blue Jays organization as well,” said McBroom. “I’m excited to be sharing this moment with four of my teammates. I’m very proud of their accomplishments as well. It’s going to be a lot of fun.”

“I’m really looking forward to spending time with my teammates and meeting the guys from the other teams,” McBroom added. “All-star games are always fun and I’m really looking forward to getting out to Peoria to have some fun the couple days I’m there.”

Shortstop Richard Urena was added as a reserve player one day after the initial all-star roster was announced. Many fans were shocked that Urena wasn’t picked initially as he’s having a specular season in the Midwest League. But once the league received word that Tampa Bay Rays prospect Coty Blanchard was unable to participate they knew right away who they wanted to fill that void. Contacting Lansing quickly to see if Urena would be interested in taking Blanchard’s spot on the roster and it took the Dominican Republic native little time to say yes.

“I was extremely excited when I found out I was added to the Midwest League all-star team,” stated Urena. “I was surprised when they added me. But being named an all-star was one of my goals prior to the season. It’s something I mentally train for every day.”

Carrying a .271/.293/.450 slash line in Lansing; Urena currently leads all Lugnuts’ in home runs with 11 and he’s second to only Rowdy Tellez in RBIs with 46. But the young prospect is more than just a great bat he’s also an above-average defender who has committed just 10 errors through his first half, while taken part in 26 double plays, and assisting on another 126.

Selecting just one pitcher from the Lugnuts’ the Midwest League went with lefty Shane Dawson, a second year Lugnut that’s turning a lot of heads with his phenomenal play. Currently 9-4 with a 3.16 ERA and 68 strikeouts in his 74 innings; Dawson has shown excellent command in his 14 appearances this season as he is currently maintaining an impressive 1.23 WHIP.

While a second season in Lansing wasn’t what Dawson had in mind when he entered spring camp. He has taken his assignment in stride and has been a consistent arm in the Lugnuts’ rotation all season. Humbled by his selection, Dawson admits that a lot of his early success can be contributed to the excellent defenders behind him every outing.

“I came to Lansing this year with an opportunity to build of what I did here last year,” explained Dawson. “I feel I have done that and the all-star nod proves that as well. I’m just hoping I can keep it going for the rest of the year.”

“I’m very thankful for my teammates because without them I wouldn’t have achieved this honor as they have saved a couple runs for me with excellent defensive plays all year,” Dawson added. “But I’m very happy about the honor and I hope I can continue to be an all-star moving forward.”

Be sure to tune in to the Midwest League All-Star Game on June 23rd at 8:00 PM EST

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Brian Crawford
Brian Crawford
Mr. Crawford is currently in his fourth season of covering the Lansing Lugnuts for JaysProspects. Dedicated to bringing you the most up-to-date information on the Blue Jays low-A affiliate, Mr. Crawford hopes you find his articles both engaging and informative. Feel free to follow Mr. Crawford on Twitter: @CrawDaddy222, or you can email him directly with any questions, or requests: briancrawford@mail.com

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Interview: Blue Jays’ 2015 draftee Marrick Crousehttp://jaysprospects.com/2015/06/15/interview-blue-jays-2015-draftee-marrick-crouse/ http://jaysprospects.com/2015/06/15/interview-blue-jays-2015-draftee-marrick-crouse/#comments Tue, 16 Jun 2015 03:47:11 +0000 http://jaysprospects.com/?p=10105 Focusing on the big talent in the 11th round of the 2015 draft, the Blue Jays selected right-handed pitcher Marrick Crouse out of Dana Hills High School in California. Some people were probably surprised that Crouse was still on the board at that point of the draft as the 6’3 righty already has the ability [...]

Author information

Brian Crawford

Brian Crawford

Mr. Crawford is currently in his fourth season of covering the Lansing Lugnuts for JaysProspects. Dedicated to bringing you the most up-to-date information on the Blue Jays low-A affiliate, Mr. Crawford hopes you find his articles both engaging and informative.
Feel free to follow Mr. Crawford on Twitter: @CrawDaddy222, or you can email him directly with any questions, or requests: briancrawford@mail.com

The post Interview: Blue Jays’ 2015 draftee Marrick Crouse appeared first on JaysProspects.

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Marrick Crouse

Marrick Crouse was selected in the 11th round by the Toronto Blue Jays in the 2015 MLB Draft. (KDahlgren Photography/Dana Point Times)

Focusing on the big talent in the 11th round of the 2015 draft, the Blue Jays selected right-handed pitcher Marrick Crouse out of Dana Hills High School in California. Some people were probably surprised that Crouse was still on the board at that point of the draft as the 6’3 righty already has the ability to pitch at up around 94 miles per hour with his fastball. Although surprising, Crouse had no preference where he was selected. He was just thankful for the opportunity.

“Being drafted by the Blue Jays was pretty surreal. I had known all along that they were interested in me and my advisor told me 20 minutes before the pick that they were going to select me,” said Crouse. “But none of that really hit me until I heard my name called while I was listening to the draft on my phone. I’m very grateful for the opportunity.”

Staying on the board later due to a strong college commitment to the University of San Francisco, the young prospect goes into detail of why he chose to commit to the Dons and how his recent draft news will play out on his decision in the upcoming weeks.

“I picked the University of San Francisco because it’s a great academic school that has some very good coaches that have been part of that program for 15+ years,” explained Crouse. “I went up there a couple times and every time I went it felt like a family. My selection by the Blue Jays will definitely play a big part and what I decide to do. It’s a big decision with pros and cons both ways. I’m just trying to take some time and decide what’s best for my future.”

Obviously Blue Jays fans are hoping that the 18-year old decides to join their organization, especially noting that the young pitcher already throws four pitches. Mixing in a slider, a curveball, and a changeup to compliment his already great fastball; all of which makes Crouse look well-prepared for the competition he will face in professional baseball.

With that said, Crouse understands if he goes the professional route it’s going to be a challenge as you have more adversity in pro ball compared to what you see in high school baseball.

“I feel my biggest strength on the mound is that I’m very even-keel and I don’t let anything bother me. I keep a level head and handle adversity really well,” stated Crouse. “I understand that some days you just won’t have it and that’s just something that everyone has to accept. The guys who seem to get that are normally the ones who stick around a long time.”

That ability showed during his senior season at Dana Hills when Crouse went 8-4 with a 1.63 ERA in 77 1/3 innings pitched. If those numbers weren’t impressive enough, Crouse pitched five complete games in 13 outings averaging close to a strikeout an inning by picking up 75 Ks on the year.

His excellent senior season capped off an impressive high school career where Crouse went 20-8 with a 1.83 ERA and 172 strikeouts in 187 1/3 innings pitched over three seasons. Opposing hitters only managed a .194 batting average against the righty for his entire varsity career.

But, for Crouse, his time at Dana Hills was more than just great pitching. He was also an outfielder on non-pitching days and it’s an area he speaks very highly as his time in the batter’s box prepared him for knowing what pitches to throw in certain situations.

“I think playing both sides of the game helps you understand pitching a little bit. But only in the aspect of when you’re hitting you try to understand what pitchers do and I think that’s helped me a lot in terms of not being as predictable as most pitchers my age,” explained Crouse. “I see stuff other guys do on the mound. I just try to make sure I don’t do those same things.”

Always throwing out of a ¾ arm slot since the beginning of his pitching days; Crouse was encouraged by others to change his approach over time. But Crouse remained committed on his technique and he’s happy he did as he really likes the movement he can get on his pitches on any given day.

“I started to throw out of the ¾ arm angle the first time I picked up a baseball. When I was little everybody tried to change that and get me away from throwing that way. But I never did and it has benefitted me I guess,” said Crouse. “I’ve never had an injury of any kind from pitching or throwing. The ¾ arm slot just felt comfortable for me. I think it gives me an advantage on hitters, especially from the run and sink it puts on the baseball when I pitch. But I have to make sure I keep the pitch down in the zone or that run and sink turns into a pitch in the upper inner part of the plate and that’s where anybody can get hurt pitching.”

Another area Crouse excelled at in high school was on the basketball court. Many people thought that the young prospect might pursue a career on the hardwood instead of the pitcher’s mound. But Crouse admits that was never the case as he felt that he had a better opportunity in baseball.

“I loved playing basketball and I actually think it helped in most areas of baseball. It really made me more of an athletic person and being an athlete is a good thing,” stated Crouse. “What led me away from basketball was just the fact that I wasn’t getting as much baseball work in as I could before the season. I knew my future was in baseball so I made a tough decision to give up basketball to focus on baseball.”

In fact, Crouse has spent a lot of time following major league baseball focusing primarily on pitching. Spending a lot of time following Felix Hernandez’s career growing up, Crouse admits he likes the way King Felix handles his business in any situation.

“Growing up my biggest baseball influence was Felix Hernandez,” said Crouse. “Every time Felix goes out there something special could happen and he’s been doing it for so long on a team who really before last year didn’t give him any run support. He handles his business well and he’s a constant professional.”

While Hernandez was his biggest baseball influence growing up there’s another young pitcher that’s starting to turn heads that Crouse is really starting to become a fan of and it’s a guy Blue Jays fans know well.

“As much as I like Felix Hernandez’s game. I have really become a big Aaron Sanchez fan of late,” Crouse added. “I love Sanchez’s pitches. He’s got electric stuff.”

Officially done with high school now Crouse can only reflect on what has been an amazing experience at Dana Hills. While there are many memories that will stay with him forever; there are not many that will top playing baseball with his younger brother Hans this past season.

“Pitching on the same team as my brother was very special. It was my last year of high school and I was lucky enough to be pitching alongside my brother who’s also my best friend,” explained Crouse. “The experience was great. We really pushed one another to be better this year, because of a little sibling rivalry. We always wanted to be better than the other guy, but at the end of the day we never let that get between us as brothers and I was very happy and fortunate to be his teammate. I know he’ll do great things as well at Dana Hills the next two years.”

Hopefully Marrick Crouse can continue to make memories in baseball for years to come.

Author information

Brian Crawford
Brian Crawford
Mr. Crawford is currently in his fourth season of covering the Lansing Lugnuts for JaysProspects. Dedicated to bringing you the most up-to-date information on the Blue Jays low-A affiliate, Mr. Crawford hopes you find his articles both engaging and informative. Feel free to follow Mr. Crawford on Twitter: @CrawDaddy222, or you can email him directly with any questions, or requests: briancrawford@mail.com

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2015 MLB Draft: Jon Harris Select 29th Overallhttp://jaysprospects.com/2015/06/09/2015-draft-jon-harris-selected-in-first-round/ http://jaysprospects.com/2015/06/09/2015-draft-jon-harris-selected-in-first-round/#comments Tue, 09 Jun 2015 04:07:48 +0000 http://jaysprospects.com/?p=10092 If the name Jon Harris sounds familiar to Blue Jays fans, it should, as the recent Missouri State grad was originally selected by the Blue Jays in the 33rd round of the 2012 MLB Draft. This year the Florissant, Missouri native was drafted in the first round – with the team’s first pick – with [...]

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April Whitzman

April Whitzman

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Jon Harris

Toronto Blue Jays select RHP Jon Harris as their 1st round choice at 29th overall. (MLB.com)

If the name Jon Harris sounds familiar to Blue Jays fans, it should, as the recent Missouri State grad was originally selected by the Blue Jays in the 33rd round of the 2012 MLB Draft.

This year the Florissant, Missouri native was drafted in the first round – with the team’s first pick – with the 29th overall selection.

“I heard my name and I broke down in tears because it’s one of those childhood dreams that every kid has,” Harris said on a conference call with Toronto media.”I look forward to fulfilling that dream in the Toronto organization. It’s a blessing in disguise to be drafted by them again.”

Originally projected by MLBPipeline.com to be drafted with one of the top 10 picks, the Blue Jays appear to have opted for the best player available; one that is ready to bolster their deep farm system of young, talented arms. RHP Jon Harris features four plus pitches including a mid 90’s fastball, a curveball, a slider, and a changeup.

Declining the Blue Jays’ offer in 2012, Harris instead attended Missouri State University. In 2015 he posted an 8-2 record for the Missouri Bears with a 2.45 ERA in 103 innings, striking out 116 batters, and walking 36.

The Blue Jays originally would have possessed the 16th overall selection, but conceded that slot with the signing of catcher Russell Martin. The rejected qualifying offer to Melky Cabrera and his subsequent signing with the Chicago White Sox gave Toronto the 29th overall pick which carries a recommended bonus of $1,944,800.

“I haven’t heard anything about if there’s a deal in place or what I would get,” said Harris. “All I know is I’m the 29th overall pick for the Toronto Blue Jays and that’s about all I know.”

Jim Callis, executive editor for Baseball America, describes the Blue Jays selection as being one of his favorite pitchers in this Draft, proclaiming, “I thought he was the fourth-best college pitcher available and has a higher floor as a starter than the three guys we had ranked ahead of him in Fulmer, Jay and Tate. Missouri State has produced nine big league pitchers in the last 10 seasons and here’s another one on the way.”

Callis is not alone with the thinking. As Blue Jays Scouting Director Brian Parker said they had rated Harris higher than 29th. Shi Davidi tweets that they feel confident about his signability.

This, of course, is great news for the Blue Jays, who failed to sign their top selections in both 2012 and 2013 with both Tyler Beede and Phil Bickford declining to sign. Coincidentally, both have now signed with the San Francisco Giants in back-to-back years.

“Toronto’s going to be a great fit for me. It’s going to be a new home for me,” Harris concluded. “I’m going to do what I can to wear that Toronto blue proudly.”

Author information

April Whitzman
April Whitzman

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Blue Jays’ Class of 2014 Highlight their Draft Experienceshttp://jaysprospects.com/2015/06/08/blue-jays-class-2014-highlight-draft-experiences/ http://jaysprospects.com/2015/06/08/blue-jays-class-2014-highlight-draft-experiences/#comments Mon, 08 Jun 2015 19:29:39 +0000 http://jaysprospects.com/?p=10084 Every baseball player dreams about the opportunity to play the sport they love at the next level. But to get that opportunity to play professional baseball is very hard and takes a lot of sacrifice from both the player and their family to achieve this lofty goal. For the players that do get an opportunity [...]

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Brian Crawford

Brian Crawford

Mr. Crawford is currently in his fourth season of covering the Lansing Lugnuts for JaysProspects. Dedicated to bringing you the most up-to-date information on the Blue Jays low-A affiliate, Mr. Crawford hopes you find his articles both engaging and informative.
Feel free to follow Mr. Crawford on Twitter: @CrawDaddy222, or you can email him directly with any questions, or requests: briancrawford@mail.com

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Ryan McBroom

Ryan McBroom was drafted by the Toronto Blue Jays in the 15th round of the 2014 Draft. (Cam Tucker/Metro)

Every baseball player dreams about the opportunity to play the sport they love at the next level. But to get that opportunity to play professional baseball is very hard and takes a lot of sacrifice from both the player and their family to achieve this lofty goal.

For the players that do get an opportunity to join a major league organization, every June through the Rule IV amateur draft. The experience is unforgettable as they patiently wait to hear their name get called by an organization that will let the player take part in their minor league system with hopes of potentially achieving the ultimate goal of playing in the big leagues one day.

Members of the Toronto Blue Jays draft class of 2014 highlighted their experiences on entering professional baseball. Some of the players knew the Blue Jays were high on them, while others had no idea that they were going to be part of the Blue Jays system. But one thing is for certain they are all thankful for the opportunity to prove themselves at the next level.

 

RHP Sean Reid-Foley

Selected in the 2nd round (49th overall) out of Sandalwood High School in Florida:

“Being drafted by the Blue Jays was very exciting,” stated Reid-Foley. “Instead of focusing on college I wanted to focus on a professional baseball career and the Blue Jays gave me that opportunity.”

 

RHP Justin Shafer

Selected in the 8th round (234th overall) out of the University of Florida:

“It was definitely a dream of mine to get drafted and have a chance to play at the next level,” said Shafer. “It really didn’t matter to me what team took me. I just wanted an opportunity to play professional baseball.”

“Entering the draft I was focused on signing instead of returning to Florida for my senior year,” Shafer added. “I wasn’t sure where I was going to get picked as I hadn’t pitched much prior to the draft. But once the Blue Jays took me in the 8th round I was ready sign.”

 

IF Gunnar Heidt

Selected in the 13th round (384th overall) out of the College of Charleston:

“Being drafted by the Blue Jays was a dream come true,” explained Heidt. “Obviously we play this game our whole lives dreaming of an opportunity to play professional baseball. Knowing I was given an opportunity to do just that was a dream come true for sure.”

 

RHP Chase Mallard

Selected in the 14th round (414th overall) out of the University of Alabama-Birmingham:

“My draft experience was very surreal and exciting,” said Mallard. “I didn’t know much about the Blue Jays. But once I got here I realized I loved the Blue Jays. I love their coaching staff and management throughout their entire organization.”

 

1B Ryan McBroom

Selected in the 15th round (444th overall) out of West Virginia University:

“Being selected by the Blue Jays was a special moment for my family and I. Going in a later round in 2013 I chose to go back to school for my senior year, get my degree, and finish college on a positive note,” stated McBroom. “I was able to polish up my skills during my senior year and was lucky enough to get picked up by an amazing organization like the Blue Jays.”

 

RHP Dusty Isaacs

Selected in the 18th round (534th overall) out of Georgia Institute of Technology:

“Being drafted by the Blue Jays was a special moment. It was something that I had put a lot of time and hard work into. It was cool to see a part of a long time dream starting to surface,” said Isaacs. “The Blue Jays were one of the teams that I had been in consistent contact with and I had developed a pretty good relationship with my regional scout. I felt good joining their organization.”

 

RHP Conor Fisk

Selected in the 24th round (714th overall) out of the University of Southern Mississippi:

“Being drafted by the Blue Jays was an exciting moment in my life that has given me an opportunity to continue to play the sport that I love,” said Fisk. “I honestly had no idea. I heard from a few teams before the draft, but not the Blue Jays. With that said, I’m very thankful they have given me this opportunity.”

 

OF Chris Carlson

Selected in the 28th round (834th overall) out of California Polytechnic State University-Pomona:

“Being drafted by the Blue Jays was really exciting. My draft experience wasn’t just exciting for me, but for my family as well,” said Carlson. “Obviously playing professional baseball isn’t an opportunity that every player gets to do. So getting a chance to do just that was really cool.”

 

RHP Chase Wellbrock

Selected in the 33rd round (984th overall) out of the University of Houston:

“My draft experience was a very exciting time. I was a little on edge because I didn’t know if I was going to get an opportunity in professional baseball,” recalls Wellbrock. “When I heard my name called I was ecstatic. I celebrated with family, friends, and old teammates. It was very exciting.”

 

LHP Michael Kraft

Selected in the 37th round (1104th overall) out of the University of Texas-San Antonio:

“Being drafted was one of the proudest moments of my life,” stated Kraft. “I wasn’t sure if I would get drafted, so hearing my name called was special for both my family and I. It was really a dream come true moment.”

“There were a couple organizations I was in touch with before the process and they all said that if I got picked it was going to be in the later rounds,” Kraft added. “I really didn’t talk to the Blue Jays too much. I met with a guy one time early in the college season and that was it. I talked to a guy from the Angels a few times and didn’t have much contact with anybody else. Heading into the draft I really thought the Angels were going to be the team that selected me. But the Blue Jays called late and picked me. I’m happy with the result.”

Author information

Brian Crawford
Brian Crawford
Mr. Crawford is currently in his fourth season of covering the Lansing Lugnuts for JaysProspects. Dedicated to bringing you the most up-to-date information on the Blue Jays low-A affiliate, Mr. Crawford hopes you find his articles both engaging and informative. Feel free to follow Mr. Crawford on Twitter: @CrawDaddy222, or you can email him directly with any questions, or requests: briancrawford@mail.com

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RHP Jesus Tinoco and Fine Wine: Only Getting Better with Timehttp://jaysprospects.com/2015/06/03/jesus-tinoco-and-fine-wine-only-getting-better-with-time-lansing/ http://jaysprospects.com/2015/06/03/jesus-tinoco-and-fine-wine-only-getting-better-with-time-lansing/#comments Wed, 03 Jun 2015 04:31:05 +0000 http://jaysprospects.com/?p=10072 The number one focus of the minor leagues is to develop your game for continued success at the major league level. Unfortunately some players have struggles at times during this process that can make their stats look like they are having trouble when they’re actually getting better. That’s why it’s important to watch prospects play [...]

Author information

Brian Crawford

Brian Crawford

Mr. Crawford is currently in his fourth season of covering the Lansing Lugnuts for JaysProspects. Dedicated to bringing you the most up-to-date information on the Blue Jays low-A affiliate, Mr. Crawford hopes you find his articles both engaging and informative.
Feel free to follow Mr. Crawford on Twitter: @CrawDaddy222, or you can email him directly with any questions, or requests: briancrawford@mail.com

The post RHP Jesus Tinoco and Fine Wine: Only Getting Better with Time appeared first on JaysProspects.

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Jesus Tinoco

RHP Jesus Tinoco is a starting pitcher in his first year with the Lansing Lugnuts. (Kyle Castle/MiLB.com)

The number one focus of the minor leagues is to develop your game for continued success at the major league level. Unfortunately some players have struggles at times during this process that can make their stats look like they are having trouble when they’re actually getting better.

That’s why it’s important to watch prospects play in person to fully appreciate their ability and to understand their value moving forward.

This concept definitely holds true for right-handed pitcher Jesus Tinoco. Currently 1-3 this season with the Lansing Lugnuts; Tinoco has only won three games in his professional career that began back in 2012 in the Dominican Summer League.

Sitting on a career record of 3-22 and a 4.56 ERA and 152 strikeouts in his 175 2/3 innings of professional baseball; Tinoco has performed better than his record would indicate as the prospect features excellent control with his pitches. Recognized for his above-average sinking fastball that has the ability to hit around 96 miles per hour during the season, the righty knows he has a direct advantage over most guys who throw sinking fastballs, as most sinkers top out in the low-90’s.

“My sinker is something that came natural to me as I got older,” explained Tinoco. “The harder I threw the ball the more it sank I can’t explain how it happened, but I’m happy with the results. My fastball is definitely my biggest strength on the mound. I’m confident throwing it in any situation.”

Using this pitch to get ahead in counts every outing in his career, Tinoco has carried a respectable 7.8 K/9 ratio for his four year professional career. The biggest question mark for Tinoco when he signed with the Blue Jays as an international free agent in 2011 was whether he could find consistency with his off-speed pitches during his minor league development.

Jesus Tinoco

RHP Jesus Tinoco outside the Blue Jays Spring Training Complex. (Facebook)

If any fans were worried about the future of this prospect their minds can be put to ease a bit, as Tinoco is commanding his curveball and changeup extremely well in the early stages of his first full season. Understanding the importance of keeping hitters off-balance, Tinoco is also developing a slider as well. Focusing on this pitch during the off-season, Tinoco now has the ability to throw four different pitches on any given day.

“Every day my secondary pitches are getting better,” stated Tinoco. “Improving my command on my secondary pitches is something I work hard on daily and they’re getting better. I feel I’m commanding them way better than I did last year and I’m happy with the results.”

The increased command of his secondary pitches is showing through his six starts in Lansing, as the prospect is currently sporting career bests in ERA at 3.26 and in opponent batting average with hitters only managing a .242 average against him.

But it’s not just the command that’s helping Tinoco improve every facet of his game. It’s his mindset when he goes out to the hill every night.

“Last year my confidence went down a bit over the season, so this year I’m working on keeping my confidence up all year,” explained Tinoco. “No matter what happens on the field this season I’m 100% focused on keeping my confidence up.”

Impressed with the 20-year old’s pitches, Lansing Lugnuts’ pitching coach, Jeff Ware, is helping Tinoco a lot with his mechanics. As they work on the techniques he needs to master during his bullpen sessions, Ware feels the prospect isn’t too far away from being an elite pitcher in the Blue Jays’ system.

“I think Jesus Tinoco is doing well here in Lansing,” stated Ware. “I know his numbers don’t show it right now as he is currently 1-3. But with that said he has thrown the ball well. Jesus had a few tough breaks early in the year with runs being scored on hits that just found the holes. I think he’s throwing well though and he’s only going to get better. He’s 20-years old and got a good arm with good secondary pitches. Jesus is going to do well here this year.”

Jesus Tinoco

RHP Jesus Tinoco at the Toronto Blue Jays’ Spring Training camp. (Facebook)

Ware added, “With Jesus we want him to repeat his delivery. Sometimes he’ll land a little bit soft on his front side and spin off towards first base. We’re just trying to get him to do the things we want him to do in games in the bullpen so he can build trust in it and be able to take it out to the games. Once he gets that down he’ll be a really good pitcher.”

Knowing he would have a great opportunity to pitch in Lansing all season if his spring went well. Tinoco put in a lot of work this past off-season to be prepared for the challenges of an increased workload that a full season schedule brings to the table.

“In the off-season I basically just focused on getting stronger,” said Tinoco. “Knowing I was going to have an opportunity to make it to Lansing this year I was focused on preparing my body for a full season of baseball. Another area I focused on was my slider and my mechanics. I felt if I could get those areas down I would be prepared for the challenge.”

“Obviously, I’m going to throw more innings this year than ever before, so I need to focus on maintaining my weight and condition my body in the right ways,” he added. “I keep those ideas in the back of my mind every day so I can keep my arm in the best shape possible to compete every fifth day.”

Arriving in Lansing in April gave the young prospect another valuable skill that he’ll be able to take away from his Midwest League experience. Playing in cold weather is an ability he’ll need to possess to compete successfully at higher levels of play.

“Pitching in cold weather was really different for me as I have always pitched in warm weather,” said Tinoco. “At first it was kind of hard, but after a while you get used to it. I’d say two or three games into my season I felt better pitching in cold weather and now that I got that down I’m confident pitching in any condition.”

Hopefully Jesus Tinoco can take all the skills he has learned along his professional journey and take his game to the Major League level one day.

Author information

Brian Crawford
Brian Crawford
Mr. Crawford is currently in his fourth season of covering the Lansing Lugnuts for JaysProspects. Dedicated to bringing you the most up-to-date information on the Blue Jays low-A affiliate, Mr. Crawford hopes you find his articles both engaging and informative. Feel free to follow Mr. Crawford on Twitter: @CrawDaddy222, or you can email him directly with any questions, or requests: briancrawford@mail.com

The post RHP Jesus Tinoco and Fine Wine: Only Getting Better with Time appeared first on JaysProspects.

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Carlos Ramirez Latest Outfielder Turned Pitcherhttp://jaysprospects.com/2015/05/27/carlos-ramirez-latest-outfielder-turned-pitcher-dunedin/ http://jaysprospects.com/2015/05/27/carlos-ramirez-latest-outfielder-turned-pitcher-dunedin/#comments Wed, 27 May 2015 22:38:29 +0000 http://jaysprospects.com/?p=10061 One of the major stories in the Blue Jays minor league system from a year ago was the conversion of outfielder Carlos Ramirez into a relief pitcher. Even though the Blue Jays have a long history of transitioning players that’s having trouble piecing it together at the plate, Ramirez’s story is a little bit different [...]

Author information

Brian Crawford

Brian Crawford

Mr. Crawford is currently in his fourth season of covering the Lansing Lugnuts for JaysProspects. Dedicated to bringing you the most up-to-date information on the Blue Jays low-A affiliate, Mr. Crawford hopes you find his articles both engaging and informative.
Feel free to follow Mr. Crawford on Twitter: @CrawDaddy222, or you can email him directly with any questions, or requests: briancrawford@mail.com

The post Carlos Ramirez Latest Outfielder Turned Pitcher appeared first on JaysProspects.

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Carlos Ramirez

Carlos Ramirez has found new life as a relief pitcher after converting from an outfielder. (Jay Blue/bluejaysfromaway.com)

One of the major stories in the Blue Jays minor league system from a year ago was the conversion of outfielder Carlos Ramirez into a relief pitcher. Even though the Blue Jays have a long history of transitioning players that’s having trouble piecing it together at the plate, Ramirez’s story is a little bit different than most that came before him.

The difference is the fact that Ramirez has never pitched in his life. Unlike a lot of his counterparts in professional baseball who have pitched a bit in high school, or college Ramirez has strictly been a position player his whole life.

This transition could definitely be viewed as a risky one on the Blue Jays part. But Ramirez had one thing going for him and that was a strong arm which picked up 28 assists in 319 games during his outfield career. Viewing this skill as a tremendous asset that could transition Ramirez into a pitcher with a lot of velocity on his pitches, the 2014 Lansing Lugnuts’ coaching staff took the prospect into the office and presented the idea to Ramirez, who was surprised by the news.

“Of everything they could have said to me that day the thought of becoming a pitcher was the last thing on my mind,” said Ramirez. “When they first asked me to switch I couldn’t say anything for a few minutes as I was lost for words. But after thinking about it for a couple minutes I said okay that’s fine with me.”

His transition meant he had to leave Lansing to report to extended spring training to prepare to be a pitcher in just four weeks. Dedicated to do just that, Ramirez took his new assignment in stride by developing a fastball and a slider in one month.

As expected Ramirez has the ability to dial it up on his pitches. With the talent to hit the mid-90’s with his fastball there’s no question why the 24-year old has found continued success as a pitcher. Mix that in with his high-80’s/low-90’s slider that he uses as his strikeout pitch and all things are pointing in the right direction for the prospect.

Ramirez is quickly becoming a reliable bullpen arm that can be used in any situation of the game. Since beginning his pitching career he has only allowed 16 earned runs and has racked up 38 strikeouts in his 44  innings pitched that has seen him perform for the Bluefield Blue Jays, Lansing Lugnuts, and Dunedin Blue Jays.

Impressed with the progress that Ramirez has made from his time in extended spring training in 2014 until now, Lansing Lugnuts’ pitching coach Jeff Ware is in awe of the transition Ramirez was able to complete at such a high level of play.

“I feel Carlos Ramirez has developed a lot,” stated Ware. “When I first saw him last year after he was sent down from Lansing to extended spring training he was really raw in his delivery. Carlos has come a long ways in one year. He always had a cannon of an arm in the outfield and he’s translating it to pitching. His fastball is in the mid-90’s and he has made a lot of adjustments. Carlos has given himself a chance to pitch in the minors and potentially at the big league level one day.”

Ware added. “I think the transition from being an outfielder to a pitcher is a tough one, especially if you have been in a system for a few years. It’s different if you’re a college guy that plays a position and occasionally throws a few innings here and there. Carlos has never pitched until he started the transition last year. The one thing that’s good for Carlos is that he has seen both sides of the game at the professional level. Carlos spent time as a hitter and he can take the things he learned as a hitter and put that in his pitch philosophy to help him get guys out.”

Obviously there were a few bumps on the road for Ramirez who found his position change challenging at first. But he is starting to really enjoy his opportunity to come out of the bullpen and compete against elite hitters every night.

“The transition to pitching was really hard as I have been hitting my whole life,” said Ramirez. “It was hard for a little while, but I feel I’m getting better with it. I really like the change to pitching right now.”

“Another adjustment I had to make was with my legs,” he added. “I’ve always had a strong arm. But as a pitcher you use your legs more than you do as an outfielder and I’m still adjusting to that aspect.”

Finding continued success in pitching due to his calm demeanor when he’s on the hill. Ramirez feels it’s important to always go out there and just focus on your job, while avoiding as many distractions as possible.

“I try to never over analyze any situation because that’s when you make mistakes,” stated Ramirez. “If there are runners on base I don’t panic I’m just focused on making my pitches and working on my command every outing.”

Be sure to follow Carlos Ramirez as he continues to develop his game with hopes of pitching in the big leagues in the near future.

Author information

Brian Crawford
Brian Crawford
Mr. Crawford is currently in his fourth season of covering the Lansing Lugnuts for JaysProspects. Dedicated to bringing you the most up-to-date information on the Blue Jays low-A affiliate, Mr. Crawford hopes you find his articles both engaging and informative. Feel free to follow Mr. Crawford on Twitter: @CrawDaddy222, or you can email him directly with any questions, or requests: briancrawford@mail.com

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