JaysProspects http://jaysprospects.com A Blog of Toronto Blue Jays Prospects Interviews, Evaluations and News Sun, 07 Dec 2014 02:31:05 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.9.3 Chase Wellbrock Exceeded Expectationshttp://jaysprospects.com/2014/12/06/chase-wellbrock-bluefield/ http://jaysprospects.com/2014/12/06/chase-wellbrock-bluefield/#comments Sun, 07 Dec 2014 02:28:59 +0000 http://jaysprospects.com/?p=9823 The Toronto Blue Jays put together arguably the best draft of all MLB franchises in 2014. After picking up more well-known names such as Max Pentecost, Jeff Hoffman, and Sean Reid-Foley, the Blue Jays selected RHP Chase Wellbrock from the University of Houston in the 33rd round. While it’s too early to reasonably speculate on [...]

Author information

Brian Crawford

Brian Crawford

Brian Crawford is currently in his third season of covering the Lansing Lugnuts for JaysProspects.com. Feel free to connect with Brian on Twitter @CrawDaddy222.

The post Chase Wellbrock Exceeded Expectations appeared first on JaysProspects.

]]>
Chase Wellbrock

Chase Wellbrock was the 33rd round pick of the Toronto Blue Jays and the first of the 2014 class to join a full season affiliate. (uhcougars.com)

The Toronto Blue Jays put together arguably the best draft of all MLB franchises in 2014. After picking up more well-known names such as Max Pentecost, Jeff Hoffman, and Sean Reid-Foley, the Blue Jays selected RHP Chase Wellbrock from the University of Houston in the 33rd round. While it’s too early to reasonably speculate on how any drafted player’s career will end up, the righty has hit the ground running. Of the 28 signed draftees, Wellbrock is the first to reach a full-season affiliate when he was promoted to the Lansing Lugnuts in late August.

“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.”

Beginning his professional career with the Blue Jays advanced rookie-ball club the Bluefield Blue Jays, Wellbrock made a great professional debut, going 2-2 with 34 strikeouts and two saves in his 24 1/3 innings of work in Bluefield.

What made Wellbrock’s numbers more impressive is that he only allowed 13 hits, one earned run, and opposing hitters were only managing a .153 batting average against the righty in the Appalachian League. As great as those numbers were; what really jumps off the page was Wellbrock’s 12.6 K/9 ratio and 0.575 WHIP, it’s safe to say Wellbrock was ready for a promotion out of a league that he was roughly 1.5 years older than most of his competition.

The organization did just that, giving the Texas native an opportunity in the Midwest League for the final week of the season. Joining the Lansing Lugnuts on their final road trip of the season in Dayton, Ohio, Wellbrock made his Midwest League debut on August 28th throwing three scoreless innings, allowing just two hits and striking out three. The 22-year-old made another Lugnuts appearance on August 30th against the South Bend Silver Hawks. In this outing, Wellbrock pitched four innings and after having a tough inning allowing five hits and four runs, the young prospect slammed the door retiring the last 12 batters he faced.

“I was really excited when I found out the organization wanted me to come to Lansing,” said Wellbrock. “I really liked Bluefield. My coaches and teammates were great, but coming to Lansing presented me with an opportunity to play on a higher level club in the organization.”

My Dad and my older brother are my biggest baseball influences in my life.

Enjoying his new pitching coach’s attitude when it comes to helping his players, the 2014 draftee discusses his favorite parts of working with Vince Horsman in Lansing.

“Vince is an awesome guy. I only had a couple days in Lansing to learn from him,” stated Wellbrock. “Vince is a guy that has high expectations for everybody on his staff. He’s easy to talk to if you ever need anything. He’s always willing to work on anything with you. He’s an awesome guy. I really like him as a pitching coach.”

Prior to getting an opportunity in professional baseball, Wellbrock played four seasons at the University of Houston. The young pitcher spent time as both a starter and a reliever. Wellbrock is the program’s all-time saves leader with 24.

Having a breakout season his senior year, Wellbrock was 5-0 with a 1.17 ERA, 37 strikeouts, and 12 saves in his 46 1/3 innings.

“I loved the University of Houston. It was a great place. I loved my coaches and teammates. I’ll remember my teammates for the rest of my life,’ explained Wellbrock. “Honestly, we had a lot of fun as a team. It was a great experience. This year we got a chance to play in the conference regional against Louisville and then we moved on to LSU. Getting that experience was awesome, then we got an opportunity to move up to Austin to play the University of Texas. After that there were a few mixed feelings. Some of us thought we deserved a chance in Omaha, but that’s baseball. That happens in this game.”

After a season of playing both college and professional baseball in the same calendar year, Wellbrock sees similarities between the two.

“Starting out in Bluefield, I knew some of the guys were younger. I’m 22 and I knew a lot of the hitters were only 19, 20, or 21,” Wellbrock said. “Honestly, after the first game in Bluefield I noticed the talent was pretty similar to D1 baseball. Everybody at this level is here for a reason. Every player in pro ball has certain things they’re really good at doing. Honestly, you can’t take anybody lightly. I try to take that mentality out to the mound every game. Whether I have a good or bad day you can always learn something new.”

For those who haven’t had an opportunity to see Wellbrock pitch yet, the young right-hander was kind enough to give you a scouting report on his game.

“I’m not a guy that’s going to blow people away,” explained Wellbrock. “I pound the zone when I can and I expand when I can. I throw strikes and work fast. I hate the dragging feeling a baseball game can have sometimes, so I like to keep the tempo up and I think it helps the defense stay focused. I also feel my tempo helps the offense as well. The faster I work, the quicker they can get back to the plate to hit.”

With a passion for the game instilled in him at a young age by his brother and father, Wellbrock decided to follow in his family footsteps and pursue the game he loves. He’s appreciative for all they have done for him over the years.

“My Dad and my older brother are my biggest baseball influences in my life,” stated Wellbrock. “Growing up watching my brother play baseball, I always tried to be like him and compete with him. Obviously he was better because he was older, but it was a lot of fun playing the game or just catch in the yard. My Dad was great too. He also played the game and he would get on me sometimes. But it’s okay, because they both taught me the game of baseball and how to play it the right way. Those are two guys I really look up to and it was great growing up with them.”

Now in his first professional off-season, Wellbrock will need to find a routine that works for him. The right-hander already has a plan on what he’s hoping to achieve this winter, before heading into his first spring training camp.

“I know I will work out in the off-season. I’ll continue to throw and get stronger,” said Wellbrock. “I’m planning on continuing lightly as I prepare for the spring. I’m hoping to get my body in the best shape I can for spring training.”

Watch for Chase Wellbrock, as he continues to be a great bullpen arm option for one of the Blue Jays full season affiliates in 2015.

Author information

Brian Crawford
Brian Crawford
Brian Crawford is currently in his third season of covering the Lansing Lugnuts for JaysProspects.com. Feel free to connect with Brian on Twitter @CrawDaddy222.

The post Chase Wellbrock Exceeded Expectations appeared first on JaysProspects.

]]>
http://jaysprospects.com/2014/12/06/chase-wellbrock-bluefield/feed/ 0
Rowdy Tellez Puts Power on Displayhttp://jaysprospects.com/2014/11/23/rowdy-tellez-lansing/ http://jaysprospects.com/2014/11/23/rowdy-tellez-lansing/#comments Mon, 24 Nov 2014 02:28:30 +0000 http://jaysprospects.com/?p=9838 Every June, MLB holds their annual draft, where all 30 teams are given the opportunity to select amateur players and fill them within their organizations as needed. In 2013, California-native 1B Rowdy Tellez was drafted in the 30th round by the Toronto Blue Jays. While Tellez originally believed he would be selected in the second-round, [...]

Author information

Brian Crawford

Brian Crawford

Brian Crawford is currently in his third season of covering the Lansing Lugnuts for JaysProspects.com. Feel free to connect with Brian on Twitter @CrawDaddy222.

The post Rowdy Tellez Puts Power on Display appeared first on JaysProspects.

]]>
Rowdy Tellez

Rowdy Tellez (MLBProspectPortal.com)

Every June, MLB holds their annual draft, where all 30 teams are given the opportunity to select amateur players and fill them within their organizations as needed. In 2013, California-native 1B Rowdy Tellez was drafted in the 30th round by the Toronto Blue Jays. While Tellez originally believed he would be selected in the second-round, the powerful hitter fell, as many believed he was unlikely to sign due to his stated intentions of attending college.

“My draft experience was different than most,” explained Tellez. “I talked to some guys who were selected where they were expected and they were happy. Then I got picked and that’s all that mattered. I’m really happy to be here in the Blue Jays organization.”

The Blue Jays negotiated a deal to sign a talented young player with a lot of upside, agreeing on an $850,000 signing bonus with a clause to pay for Tellez’s college education whenever he has an opportunity to pursue a degree.

The risk to sign a player over slot value has worked out well for the organization thus far. Tellez had a big 2014 season that began in advanced rookie ball with the Bluefield Blue Jays. While in the Appalachian League, Tellez batted .293 with 11 doubles, a triple, four home runs, and 36 RBIs. The quick start earned the California-native a promotion to the Midwest League. He joined the Lansing Lugnuts in August and even though he was 2 1/2 years younger than most of his competition, he made the transition look easy in his 42 Midwest League at-bats. In that time, Tellez picked up 15 hits including two home runs and seven RBIs with an impressive .357/.449/.500 slash line.

Summarizing his season, Tellez discussed what he most enjoyed from his 2014 campaign. “Bluefield is nice. The community showed us a lot of love being a small town,” he said. “The trips weren’t bad in the Appalachian League, but I was definitely ready to move up and play at a higher level.”

“I was shocked when I found out I was promoted to Lansing. It was shocking but exciting,” Tellez added. “It was definitely a surprise when I came out of the dugout for my first game and heard all the people in the stands. It was really cool. I really like playing here.”

Although fans in Vancouver didn’t get to see Tellez in the regular season, the opportunity to see the 19-year old presented itself in the Northwest League playoffs. The young first baseman joined the C’s in September and appeared in three games where he picked up a hit in 11 at-bats.

With a major emphasis on power among major league first basemen, Tellez is happy with the kind of power he possesses and his overall potential.

“I’m just 19-years old so I know that I still have a little growing to do,” he said. “I figure I’ll get bigger and stronger over the next couple years. Hopefully that will help my power. I’m hoping to be a game changer down the road.”

That potential is something that caught the eye of Lansing Lugnuts hitting coach Ken Huckaby who enjoyed working with the young prospect in August.

“Rowdy is a good young hitter,” stated Huckaby. “He has a lot of power and a lot of potential. It was great having him here with us.”

Even though Tellez has turned a lot of heads with his bat, he is equally proud of his defense. With a .986 career fielding percentage with 59 double plays and 32 assists in his 92 career games at first, Tellez feels his ability to play the field is overlooked due to his bat.

“My biggest strength is my offense. Definitely my ability to get hits and knock in runs, but I feel my defense is overshadowed sometimes,” explained Tellez. “I feel I’m a pretty good first baseman and I’m always striving to improve my defense. It’s an important part of the game.”

With a list of accolades from his high school days, the moments the stand out the most in his baseball career are memories he was able to share with his close knit family who has always been there to support him and push him in the right direction.

“Being an All-American was cool, but a lot of my favorite memories are with my family,” stated Tellez. “The first time my parents saw me play professional baseball in Bluefield really stands out. It was a special moment. Another moment that really stands out was when I told my Grandma I signed a professional contract. I’ll always remember her reaction and how proud she was of me.”

In fact, it was the same three family members that started his nickname ‘Rowdy’ for their son. Tellez’s real first name is Ryan, but he says everybody knows him as ‘Rowdy”.

“Not knowing if I was a boy or girl in my mom’s stomach. I just liked to kick and move around a lot, so my grandma gave me the nickname Rowdy,” explained Tellez. “The name always stuck. People know me as Rowdy.”

Be sure to keep your eye on Rowdy Tellez as he continues to develop his power and display excellent defense in 2015.

Author information

Brian Crawford
Brian Crawford
Brian Crawford is currently in his third season of covering the Lansing Lugnuts for JaysProspects.com. Feel free to connect with Brian on Twitter @CrawDaddy222.

The post Rowdy Tellez Puts Power on Display appeared first on JaysProspects.

]]>
http://jaysprospects.com/2014/11/23/rowdy-tellez-lansing/feed/ 0
Starlyn Suriel Made an Excellent First Impressionhttp://jaysprospects.com/2014/11/06/starlyn-suriel-lansing/ http://jaysprospects.com/2014/11/06/starlyn-suriel-lansing/#comments Thu, 06 Nov 2014 19:51:29 +0000 http://jaysprospects.com/?p=9811 Understanding what it takes to be successful on the mound is important for young pitchers but can be a real challenge.  While the area is not easy, it has yet to be an  issue for Blue Jays right-handed prospect Starlyn Suriel who just completed his first professional season during 2014. The young prospect flew under-the-radar throughout [...]

Author information

Brian Crawford

Brian Crawford

Brian Crawford is currently in his third season of covering the Lansing Lugnuts for JaysProspects.com. Feel free to connect with Brian on Twitter @CrawDaddy222.

The post Starlyn Suriel Made an Excellent First Impression appeared first on JaysProspects.

]]>
Starlyn Suriel

Suriel enjoyed playing with the Lugnuts in 2014 (Photo by Jay Blue, used by permission)

Understanding what it takes to be successful on the mound is important for young pitchers but can be a real challenge.  While the area is not easy, it has yet to be an  issue for Blue Jays right-handed prospect Starlyn Suriel who just completed his first professional season during 2014.

The young prospect flew under-the-radar throughout the spring and shocked a lot of fans when he joined the Vancouver Canadians in June, skipping over two Blue Jays rookie ball clubs. The leap to short season-A ball appeared to be easy for Suriel as he put up excellent numbers. The Domincan Republic native posted a 4-1 record with a 3.41 ERA and 26 strikeouts in his first 37 innings of professional baseball while maintaining an excellent 1.27 WHIP and a 6.3 K/9 ratio in the Northwest League.

The great start in professional baseball earned Suriel a promotion to the Blue Jays full season low-A affiliate, the Lansing Lugnuts in late July. While the talent jumped a little bit, Suriel’s game only got better. Going 2-4 in the Midwest League with a 3.21 ERA and 32 strikeouts in 42 innings, Suriel improved his already great WHIP to 1.14 and upped his K/9 ratio to 6.9.

“My 2014 season was better than I expected for my first professional year,” said Suriel. “I started in Vancouver and it was great. The city is beautiful and the fan support is outstanding. In July, I was giving an opportunity to come to Lansing and it was awesome. I feel it’s where God wanted me to be. I feel it’s just another piece of God’s plan. The stadium and facilities in Lansing are great. I’m very thankful for everything this season. It exceeded my expectations in every way.”

I’m excited for the opportunity to play winter ball in the Dominican Republic.

Knowing exactly what he can and can’t do on the mound is what gives Suriel an upper hand when facing opponents. The young righty, who turns 21 later this month, isn’t an overpowering pitcher, but mainly relies on his sinking fastball and his above-average changeup. In fact, his changeup actually makes his sinker better. The young prospect also features a slider and a curveball in his pitch repertoire.

Impressed by the first season play of Starlyn Suriel, Lansing Lugnuts pitching coach Vince Horsman detailed what kind of pitcher hte young Dominican Republic native is, discussing what he needs to do to be successful at higher levels in the future.

“Starlyn did a really nice job this season,” stated Horsman. “He throws his pitches for strikes which give him the ability to continually mix up speeds and keep hitters off-balanced. That’s the way Starlyn will have to pitch throughout his career and he’s shown that he has the ability to do that. He has gone out there every night and done that to keep us in games. He’s pitching to his capabilities and honestly he’s kind of fun to watch.”

Signed as an international free agent in July of 2013, Suriel was excited for the opportunity to play professional baseball. The opportunity came a year later than he expected, as he had to serve a 50-game suspension for a violation of the minor league substance abuse policy which made it impossible for Suriel to sign in 2012 like he originally planned.

“I was very excited when I found out Toronto wanted to sign me,” stated Suriel. “Getting an opportunity in professional baseball was something I worked very hard for and it felt great that the Blue Jays gave me that opportunity.”

Returning to the Dominican Republic this off-season, Suriel is excited to prepare for another great season in the Blue Jays minor league system in 2015, while playing winter ball in his home country for Toros del Este. Playing winter ball is exciting for Suriel as it will be the first time he plays professional baseball in his home country in front of family and friends.

“In my first professional off-season, I’m planning on doing a lot of weight lifting and running. Typical areas pitchers focus on,” explained Suriel. “I’m excited for the opportunity to play winter ball in the Dominican Republic. It will be the first time I’ve played professional baseball in my home country. Although I haven’t pitched a lot professionally in the Dominican I expect it to be similar to pitching in affiliate baseball.”

Be sure to follow Starlyn Suriel in 2015, as he continues to find success in the Blue Jays system. Whether he begins the year with the low-A Lansing Lugnuts, or the high-A Dunedin Blue Jays, watch for Suriel to continue to be tough on hitters with his excellent sinking fastball.

Author information

Brian Crawford
Brian Crawford
Brian Crawford is currently in his third season of covering the Lansing Lugnuts for JaysProspects.com. Feel free to connect with Brian on Twitter @CrawDaddy222.

The post Starlyn Suriel Made an Excellent First Impression appeared first on JaysProspects.

]]>
http://jaysprospects.com/2014/11/06/starlyn-suriel-lansing/feed/ 0
Jeremy Gabryszwski Reliable All Seasonhttp://jaysprospects.com/2014/10/21/jeremy-gabryszwski-lansing/ http://jaysprospects.com/2014/10/21/jeremy-gabryszwski-lansing/#comments Tue, 21 Oct 2014 19:13:08 +0000 http://jaysprospects.com/?p=9827 Every pitching staff has an ace – a top starter who is called upon to log the most innings and earn a win when the team needs it most. The 2014 Lansing Lugnuts had this role filled by right-hander Jeremy Gabryszwski who provided excellent pitching when his team needed him most. Leading Lansing in most [...]

Author information

Brian Crawford

Brian Crawford

Brian Crawford is currently in his third season of covering the Lansing Lugnuts for JaysProspects.com. Feel free to connect with Brian on Twitter @CrawDaddy222.

The post Jeremy Gabryszwski Reliable All Season appeared first on JaysProspects.

]]>
Jamey Gabryszwski

Jamey Gabryszwski spelled success in his time with the Lansing Lugnuts (Scott Mapes/milb.com)

Every pitching staff has an ace – a top starter who is called upon to log the most innings and earn a win when the team needs it most. The 2014 Lansing Lugnuts had this role filled by right-hander Jeremy Gabryszwski who provided excellent pitching when his team needed him most.

Leading Lansing in most statistical categories, Gabryszwski led the Lugnuts in inning pitched (141 1/3), wins for a rotation member (6) and strikeouts for a pitcher who played in the same organization the entire season (91).

The right hander showed excellent command all season walking only 21 batters. The low walk total and increased workload gave the Texas native an excellent 1.3 BB/9 ratio. Gabryszwski also maintained a fantastic 1.394 WHIP.

The only area of concern raised about Gabryszwski is that his k/9 ratio is lower than some scouts would like at 5.8 and his H/9 ratio was at 11.2 in the Midwest League. Lansing Lugnuts pitching coach Vince Horsman wasn’t fazed by these numbers, as he describes what kind of pitcher Gabryszwski is and what he liked about working with the 21-year old.

“Jeremy Gabryszwski has really figured out what kind of pitcher he is this past year,” stated Horsman. “The best part about Gabryszwski is he knows he wants to be a groundball guy that pitches to contact. A lot of young pitchers have trouble understanding when to throw hard, or take a little bit off, but Gabryszwski knows he wants to be a guy who throws 10 pitches and get three outs, instead of a guy who throws 22 pitches an inning and strike out the side. It’s the evolution of a pitcher, knowing what you need to do to be successful and Gabryszwski is figuring it out. He’s done a really nice job.”

Growing up in Crosby, Texas, a town roughly 20 miles from Houston, Gabryszwski attended several Astros games and enjoyed watching Roy Oswalt pitch. The righty is not only a big Oswalt fan, but he feels his pitching is similar to the retired big leaguer.

“Roy Oswalt was my favorite player growing up and I feel we’re similar in a lot of ways,” explained Gabryszwski. “Oswalt and I have similar work ethics. He liked to work fast, throw strikes, and get ground balls. Oswalt also had great command which is something I strive for every outing. I think we’re very similar.”

Originally joining the Toronto Blue Jays organization in the 2nd round (78th overall) of the 2011 MLB draft, Gabryszwski discussed what being drafted meant to him and what stood out about the organization.

“Coming out of high school at 18 years old, it was exciting to go right into pro ball, because you normally think its older guys playing professionally,“ said Gabryszwski. “But I decided to take the opportunity and I’m happy I did. It’s a lot of fun!”

“I really like the way the Blue Jays develop pitchers and handle their business,” he added. “The Blue Jays have a great staff to learn from and they have developed a lot of pitchers that have made it to the big leagues. I hope one day I can be another pitcher that made it from their system.”

Pitching 128 innings combined his first three seasons; Gabryszwski found his season in Lansing the most rewarding to date thanks to the help of pitching coach Vince Horsman.

“I’ve learned so much more about myself and my game from working with Vince than my previous three years in the organization,” explained Gabryszwski. “Vince is very knowledgeable from a big league standpoint and I’ve learned so much from him.”

Earning a promotion to the Dunedin Blue Jays in August, Gabryszwski was able to get a brief taste of the Florida State League and what he can expect for future games at the high-A level. Posting a 1-1 record and a 5.40 ERA in his 10 innings of FSL work saw Gabryszwski fan nine hitters. Although he would have probably preferred better numbers, he’s happy with the experience he gained in his two starts.

“Dunedin was a lot of fun. It was a different atmosphere there,” explained Gabryszwski. “Dunedin had already clinched a playoff spot when I was there, so it was a more relaxed atmosphere. I didn’t notice much of a difference between [Lansing] and here, it’s just baseball. You have to make your pitches no matter where you’re at, but I knew a lot of guys down there like Griffin Murphy, it was fun playing the game with them.”

“There’s not a big talent jump between Lansing and Dunedin,” he added. “Obviously the hitters are a little more disciplined and a little bit stronger because they’re older. Their hand/eye coordination is also a little better.”

The young prospect appreciated all the family support he received throughout his first full season. Having family and friends tuned in and travel to games meant a lot to Gabryszwski.

“My family listens to every game,” explained Gabryszwski. “My immediate family didn’t make it to Lansing, but my grandparents and fiancée did. My parents saw me pitch when I was down in Florida, but they’re always listening to the games. Their support is great.”

Heading back to Crosby for the winter, Gabryszwski enjoys the small town feel of his hometown that’s already produced one major leaguer in J.R. Towles. Hoping to follow in Towles footsteps, Gabryszwski discusses what it means to know another player from his hometown made it to the big leagues.

“It was really cool knowing that my high school produced a major leaguer,” stated Gabryszwski. “When J.R. first made it to the major leagues I was a freshman in high school and he came to our school to do an interview. When you look at our high school field there’s two signs up now that lists J.R.’s and my name, so if either one of us is around town people know us and know we play professional baseball. We gladly talk about the experience. It’s really cool.”

With his 2014 season in the books, Gabryszwski is planning a busy off-season, as he is closing on a house this fall and getting married in November. He feels he’ll be well prepared for 2015.

“In the off-season I follow the Blue Jays workout manual a lot,” stated Gabryszwski. “I work out a lot with my little brother and other players that play professionally; I do a lot of running and basically try to get stronger for spring training.”

Be sure to follow Jeremy Gabryszwski as he continues to log a lot of innings and climb the Blue Jays minor league ladder towards the show in 2015.

Author information

Brian Crawford
Brian Crawford
Brian Crawford is currently in his third season of covering the Lansing Lugnuts for JaysProspects.com. Feel free to connect with Brian on Twitter @CrawDaddy222.

The post Jeremy Gabryszwski Reliable All Season appeared first on JaysProspects.

]]>
http://jaysprospects.com/2014/10/21/jeremy-gabryszwski-lansing/feed/ 0
Jairo Labourt Rebounds in Vancouverhttp://jaysprospects.com/2014/10/06/jairo-labourt-vancouver/ http://jaysprospects.com/2014/10/06/jairo-labourt-vancouver/#comments Mon, 06 Oct 2014 20:16:59 +0000 http://jaysprospects.com/?p=9840 The Vancouver Canadians continued their Northwest League dominance in 2014 by reaching the league championship series for the fourth consecutive season. This edition of the Canadians featured a lot of talented young prospects that were anchored by an excellent rotation headed by staff ace Jairo Labourt. The left-hander led the Canadians in many pitching categories [...]

Author information

Brian Crawford

Brian Crawford

Brian Crawford is currently in his third season of covering the Lansing Lugnuts for JaysProspects.com. Feel free to connect with Brian on Twitter @CrawDaddy222.

The post Jairo Labourt Rebounds in Vancouver appeared first on JaysProspects.

]]>
Jairo Labourt

Jairo Labourt flourished with the Vancouver Canadians. (Tyler Tjomsland/PNG)

The Vancouver Canadians continued their Northwest League dominance in 2014 by reaching the league championship series for the fourth consecutive season. This edition of the Canadians featured a lot of talented young prospects that were anchored by an excellent rotation headed by staff ace Jairo Labourt.

The left-hander led the Canadians in many pitching categories including: Innings pitched (71 1/3), strikeouts (82), and ERA for a rotation member (1.77). Labourt also maintained an excellent 1.18 WHIP and a 10.9 K/9 ratio.

Labourt’s season in the Northwest League was just what he needed after a slow start in Lansing. During the first month of the season in Lansing, the lefty had some command issues walking 20 batters and hitting another four in his 14 innings of work. For Labourt, this was a disappointing setback following his breakout season in Bluefield last year.

The Toronto Blue Jays organization decided to send Labourt back to extended spring training at the end of April. The move paid off, as the coaching staff at their minor league complex in Dunedin, Florida spent the time getting into Labourt’s head, making him mentally stronger for his season in Vancouver.

The extra coaching was a big help for Labourt who features three excellent pitches, including a changeup, slider, and fastball. The Dominican Republic native showed excellent velocity all season continually hitting 95 mph or higher with his fastball.

The young southpaw feels his slow start in Lansing was partly due to the piggybacking system the Lugnuts were using early in the year. Starting the season with seven starters, the Lugnuts needed to team up two groups of younger players to start and relieve some games. Explaining the difficulties he had coming out of the bullpen Labourt describes why his season in Vancouver was more in line with what Blue Jays fans were expecting from a guy who struck out 45 batters in 54 2/3 innings and maintained a 1.92 ERA in 2013.

“With a deep rotation in Lansing, it felt good getting innings early in the year,” stated Labourt. “I found the relieving aspect of the piggybacking system tough because I’ve never been a reliever. I know learning to be a reliever has some benefits, but I found it tough this season.”

“The hardest aspect of the bullpen was getting my throwing in,” he added. “As a starter I do a lot of long toss before a game. I use the long toss exercise to warm up and as a reliever the opportunity to do long toss isn’t there due to limited space available.”

Breaking down the differences between his time in Lansing and Vancouver more, Labourt lowered his H/9 ratio from 9.6 to 5.9 and his BB/9 ratio from 12.9 to 4.7 all the while raising his K/9 ratio from 7.1 to 10.3. It’s safe to say whatever was done to change Labourt’s mindset in extended spring training worked well.

Staying positive on Labourt’s development, Lansing Lugnuts pitching coach Vince Horsman discusses what he liked about the 20-year old lefty.

“Jairo had a slow start in Lansing, but he’ll be fine moving forward. His pitches are really good,” explained Horsman. “In April, Jairo was leaving his pitches up in the zone. He just needed to lower them. He worked on that in extended spring training, as well as Vancouver. It’s great to see him getting better. He’s a good kid and I enjoyed working with him.”

Since joining the Blue Jays organization as an international free agent in 2011. Labourt has spent time with the Blue Jays’ Dominican Summer League, Gulf Coast League, Appalachian League, Midwest League, and Northwest League affiliates. Discussing his career in detail, Labourt was excited for every opportunity he has been presented with so far in his career.

“Signing with Toronto was a very happy moment,” Labourt recalls. “I remember being really happy. My family was happy and I remember smiling a lot at the opportunity to play professional baseball.”

“I felt great in Bluefield. I really threw the ball well there. My 2013 season was very successful and that great year was why I was able to start the season in Lansing,” he added. “I really liked playing in Lansing too. The city is nice and I enjoyed my opportunity there. Being from the Dominican I wasn’t used to the cold, but everything else was great.”

The Blue Jays’ 16th highest ranked prospect will be looking to continue building upon the success he found in this year as he moves forward to full season action. Whether his destination is the low-A Lansing Lugnuts or the high-A Dunedin Blue Jays, expect to see better command and a lot of strikeouts from Jairo Labourt.

Author information

Brian Crawford
Brian Crawford
Brian Crawford is currently in his third season of covering the Lansing Lugnuts for JaysProspects.com. Feel free to connect with Brian on Twitter @CrawDaddy222.

The post Jairo Labourt Rebounds in Vancouver appeared first on JaysProspects.

]]>
http://jaysprospects.com/2014/10/06/jairo-labourt-vancouver/feed/ 0
Jimmy Cordero Working on Commandhttp://jaysprospects.com/2014/09/22/jimmy-cordero-lansing/ http://jaysprospects.com/2014/09/22/jimmy-cordero-lansing/#comments Mon, 22 Sep 2014 21:37:12 +0000 http://jaysprospects.com/?p=9825 Baseball fanatics love the art of pitching. They revel in watching pitchers mix up looks and speeds as pitchers paint the corners of the plate like an artist making the final brushstroke on their masterpiece. One aspect most baseball fans agree on is they crave seeing a devastating fastball, which helps their favorite pitchers get [...]

Author information

Brian Crawford

Brian Crawford

Brian Crawford is currently in his third season of covering the Lansing Lugnuts for JaysProspects.com. Feel free to connect with Brian on Twitter @CrawDaddy222.

The post Jimmy Cordero Working on Command appeared first on JaysProspects.

]]>
Jimmy Cordero uses his 100+ MPH fastball to strikeout batters. (Justin Rinaldi/Flickr)

Jimmy Cordero uses his 100+ MPH fastball to strikeout batters. (Justin Rinaldi/Flickr)

Baseball fanatics love the art of pitching. They revel in watching pitchers mix up looks and speeds as pitchers paint the corners of the plate like an artist making the final brushstroke on their masterpiece. One aspect most baseball fans agree on is they crave seeing a devastating fastball, which helps their favorite pitchers get ahead in counts early.

Those fans need to get acquainted with Blue Jays minor leaguer Jimmy Cordero, who has arguably the best fastball in the system and the entire organization as a whole. The right-hander is proud of the fact that he has official readings of 101 miles per hour from 2013.

“My fastball hit 101 mph in 2013. At that point that was the highest I had ever hit,” explained Cordero. “Throwing that hard feels good. I’ve really learned how to command my fastball well and I’m really happy with my velocity.”

The velocity didn’t go down in 2014, as Cordero was consistently hitting 99 and higher as a member of the Lansing Lugnuts. As expected with his velocity, Cordero was tough on Midwest League hitters, striking out 34 batters in his 32 1/3 innings of work.

Like many hard throwers, one area of concern is command. The 22-year-old pitcher walked 21 batters and hit four others. Although one would like to see Cordero lower his walk totals in the upcoming seasons, the free passes didn’t hurt him much in Lansing as he maintained a 3.06 ERA despite a 1.732 WHIP.

Helping with Cordero’s command all season, pitching coach Vince Horsman was satisfied with the progress the young right-hander made from April to September.

“With Jimmy it was a matter of getting him out on the mound and being aggressive,” explained Horsman. “A big thing with Jimmy was the fact that he was leaving his fastball high earlier in the season. It was important for Jimmy to understand the importance of locating his pitches. I told him it was great you can throw hard, but if you’re not hitting your spots, it’s not helping you.”

“You could see the difference in his outings,” Horsman added. “When he went to the mound and followed the advice I gave him his outings were very good. When he didn’t follow my advice, hitters hit him well. Both kinds of outings have helped Jimmy a lot as they both serve as learning lessons.”

Even though most Blue Jays enthusiasts know Cordero for his fastball, he’s proud to say that he has four other pitches in his repertoire that he uses at different points of the game, so he doesn’t become complacent.

“I also use a curveball, changeup, sinker, and cutter,” said Cordero. “I try to use them every outing to mix up my speeds and keep hitters off-balance.”

Obviously, being complacent is the last thing Cordero wants and he’s done a great job moving up the levels since being signed as an international free agent in 2011. Since joining the Blue Jays organization, Cordero has pitched in the Dominican Summer League in 2012, the Gulf Coast League and the Appalachian League in 2013, and then the Midwest League in 2014. Cordero made the biggest jump on the Lansing Lugnuts, as he pitched only one game in Bluefield last season before an excellent spring training help land him in Lansing.

Discussing his professional career in detail, Cordero is excited for every opportunity he has been given and what’s still in store for him in the future.

“Signing with Toronto was a happy moment. It gave me an opportunity to do what I like to do which is play baseball,” Cordero said, smiling. “Getting an opportunity in professional baseball was great, because it presented me with a great opportunity to do something good with my life.”

“Last season I was called up to Bluefield the final week of the year and it was great because I played my first night game. My game in Bluefield was also my first game in front of fans,” said Cordero. “This season I got an opportunity to come to Lansing which was awesome. The town is really pretty. Lansing is the furthest north I have been in my life. Earlier in the year it was cold, but once it warmed up I had a great time with my teammates. The stadium and facilities in Lansing are great. I only heard good things about Lansing before I came here and I’m glad I had the opportunity to live it myself.”

Enjoying everything Lansing had to offer, Cordero was particularly excited to work with pitching coach Vince Horsman, who he found both helpful and informative.

“Working with Horsman was a really good experience,” stated Cordero. “He’s a pitching coach that really knows a lot about the game. He tells us every day to use all of our pitches and I feel my pitches are getting better working with Vince. He’s been really good for my development.”

With the 2014 season in the books, Cordero is focused on his off-season routine which includes a lot of working out and playing the game he loves with Escogido in the Dominican winter league. This season will be Cordero’s first season in winter ball and he’s really looking forward to it.

“In the off-season I continue to work hard. I stay busy with workouts to stay in shape,” stated Cordero. “Playing winter ball was something I was aiming for and I’m very excited to get an opportunity to play professional baseball in my home country.”

It is common for pitchers with powerful arms like Cordero’s to have issues commanding their fastball and often learn control later than other pitchers with different styles. If this young pitcher can continue to improve his command, limiting walks and staying down in the zone, he will find himself advancing through the Blue Jays farm system in short measure.

Be sure to keep your eye on Jimmy Cordero, as he continues to blow hitters away with his devastating fastball for years to come.

Author information

Brian Crawford
Brian Crawford
Brian Crawford is currently in his third season of covering the Lansing Lugnuts for JaysProspects.com. Feel free to connect with Brian on Twitter @CrawDaddy222.

The post Jimmy Cordero Working on Command appeared first on JaysProspects.

]]>
http://jaysprospects.com/2014/09/22/jimmy-cordero-lansing/feed/ 0
First Full Season a Success for 3B Mitch Nayhttp://jaysprospects.com/2014/09/11/mitch-nay-blue-jays/ http://jaysprospects.com/2014/09/11/mitch-nay-blue-jays/#comments Thu, 11 Sep 2014 17:33:20 +0000 http://jaysprospects.com/?p=9799 The 2014 season marked the first full season for Toronto Blue Jays third base prospect Mitch Nay. Many young baseball players look forward to the opportunity of playing a full 140-game minor league season, but the opportunity can also be nerve-wracking with the uncertainty surrounding how they will adjust to the increased workload of a [...]

Author information

Brian Crawford

Brian Crawford

Brian Crawford is currently in his third season of covering the Lansing Lugnuts for JaysProspects.com. Feel free to connect with Brian on Twitter @CrawDaddy222.

The post First Full Season a Success for 3B Mitch Nay appeared first on JaysProspects.

]]>
Mitch Nay experienced his first full season of professional baseball. (MLBlogs.com)

Mitch Nay experienced his first full season of professional baseball in 2014. (MLBlogs.com)

The 2014 season marked the first full season for Toronto Blue Jays third base prospect Mitch Nay. Many young baseball players look forward to the opportunity of playing a full 140-game minor league season, but the opportunity can also be nerve-wracking with the uncertainty surrounding how they will adjust to the increased workload of a full season schedule.

Nay understood these mixed emotions clearly. Currently ranked as the 7th best Blue Jays prospect by MLB, the third baseman competed in 120 Midwest League games with the Lansing Lugnuts and 11 Florida State League games with the Dunedin Blue Jays in 2014.

“It was a long year being my first full year,” said Nay. “My season’s had a few ups and downs, but more adjustment than anything, which I expected. My final couple weeks in Lansing I felt a lot more comfortable in the field, as well as at the plate. I figured out what worked for me this season. It took roughly three months to figure out, but once I found it, the confidence went up as well.”

Often, the biggest obstacle players encounter when first playing a full season is fatigue. But for Nay, it wasn’t as much of a concern as he had anticipated.

“My first full season had some surprises. At the beginning of the year I thought August would roll around and I would have trouble getting out of bed, but it’s not like that at all,” he added. “The cold weather in April took a little getting used to being from Arizona. At the end of the day, it’s just baseball. 140-game schedule and we all need to get used to it. There have been a few times I was tired, but I pushed through it. We all did.”

Indeed, the overall adjustment to full-season ball didn’t seem to hamper the third baseman as Nay was one of Lansing’s best hitters all season. The Arizona native batted .273 with 11 doubles, three triples, two home runs, and 34 RBIs in the first half of the season, and sported an excellent .339 OBP and .365 slugging percentage from April to mid-June. His performance enabled him to be named the starting third baseman for the East team in the Midwest League All-Star Game. As can be expected, it was an exciting moment for the young prospect.

“Being a Midwest League All-Star was fun. It was cool meeting all the guys on both squads,” Nay recalls. “It was a great experience to be able to meet guys that were in the same position you’re in. It was a good venue at West Michigan. The competition was excellent and I had a lot of fun.”

It’s a long season and you get better doing the same thing every day.

The confidence of playing in his first professional All-Star game really showed in the second half of the season, as Nay put up excellent numbers from late June to late August. He batted .299 with 23 doubles, a home run, and 25 RBIs in his second half in Lansing, not only raising his batting average, but also raising his on-base-percentage to .344 and his raising his slugging percentage over 50 points to .415.

Reflecting on his progress through the season, Nay indicated that he was content with how he developed over the season, both offensively and defensively.

“April and May weren’t my best production months,” Nay remembers. “When June came around I started to feel a lot better at the plate. I know people expect a lot of power out of me and I’m working on it. With that said, I’m really satisfied with the number of doubles I’ve hit. It was a learning year for me and I’m very happy with the results.”

“I’ve come a long way at third base from April to September,” said Nay. “Every month I have been in pro ball I’ve got a little better. The game is starting to slow down for me. I feel more comfortable making the plays and throws. Playing third [base] feels more routine now from repetition. It’s a long season and you get better doing the same thing every day. I’m really happy with my development defensively this season.”

Excited for the growth and development Mitch Nay made in 2014, hitting coach Ken Huckaby discussed what stood out about Nay’s 2014 campaign.

“Nay developed a lot between last year and this year,” Huckaby said. “He has matured a lot as a player and is becoming more of an independent thinker. When that happens, good things happen as well.”

Equally excited for the opportunity to be mentored for a second consecutive season by Huckaby, Nay pointed out that working with the same hitting coach in back-to-back years was a great benefit for him and one of the reasons he found success in 2014.

“I know Huckaby pretty well at this point,” explained Nay. “He knows what works for me and what doesn’t. I think the familiarity there is good. It’s been a great two years. We’ve experienced a lot of good things together. He’s a good hitting coach and I’ve really enjoyed learning from him.”

Nay’s great numbers in Lansing earned him a late season promotion to high-A. He joined the Dunedin Blue Jays in late August and appeared in 11 regular season contests, plus the D-Jay’s two playoff games. Nay collected seven hits in his first 37 Florida State League at-bats, which included a double and a RBI.

The young third baseman’s promotion was excellent for Dunedin in their two playoff games. Nay was the Blue Jays best hitter going 4-for-8, with a double, a home run, and three RBIs. The 21-year old also carried an excellent .500/.500/1.000 line in the Florida State League playoffs, definitely a great sign moving forward.

It’s safe to say, Nay has turned a lot of heads in his first full season and with his 2014 season is in the books, he is focused to finding success in 2015.

“In the off-season I work out a lot. I like to lift weights and run a lot,” stated Nay. “Hitting wise I will start hitting a month or two before spring training to get the cobwebs out. I’ll definitely stay busy.”

Watch for Mitch Nay, as he continues to develop his game every day with hopes of being the Blue Jays everyday third baseman in the near future.

Author information

Brian Crawford
Brian Crawford
Brian Crawford is currently in his third season of covering the Lansing Lugnuts for JaysProspects.com. Feel free to connect with Brian on Twitter @CrawDaddy222.

The post First Full Season a Success for 3B Mitch Nay appeared first on JaysProspects.

]]>
http://jaysprospects.com/2014/09/11/mitch-nay-blue-jays/feed/ 0