JaysProspects http://jaysprospects.com A Blog of Toronto Blue Jays Prospects Interviews, Evaluations and News Tue, 19 May 2015 05:37:48 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.2.2 Richard Urena Fine-Tuning his Gamehttp://jaysprospects.com/2015/05/17/richard-urena-lansing-lugnuts/ http://jaysprospects.com/2015/05/17/richard-urena-lansing-lugnuts/#comments Mon, 18 May 2015 03:13:56 +0000 http://jaysprospects.com/?p=10042 There has been a shift of power at the shortstop position throughout the Toronto Blue Jays minor league system. And even though Jose Reyes is locked up through the 2018 season with an option for 2019, it’s not too early to focus on who will be his successor. While there are a couple names being [...]

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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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Richard Urena

Richard Urena is transitioning to switch-hitting since 2014. (Kyle Castle/MiLB.com)

There has been a shift of power at the shortstop position throughout the Toronto Blue Jays minor league system. And even though Jose Reyes is locked up through the 2018 season with an option for 2019, it’s not too early to focus on who will be his successor. While there are a couple names being tossed around at the moment, it appears that Richard Urena is the frontrunner to be the Blue Jays shortstop of the future.

The attention this prospect is gathering is well-deserved. He is a promising young talent that has the potential to develop into a five-tool player at the major league level. Even though Urena has always had the ability to be great, he has been overshadowed the last couple of seasons by Franklin Barreto and Dawel Lugo.

However, after Barreto was included in the deal to the Oakland Athletics that brought Josh Donaldson to the Blue Jays and Dawel Lugo took a step back in his production in Lansing last season, Urena has quickly became the organization’s top prospect at his position.

The area that gives Urena a slight nod over Lugo is his defensive play. Even though both players are extremely talented with high ceilings, Urena has better range and a more accurate arm at shortstop which is huge when it comes to ranking players at this position.

Currently sporting a .954 fielding percentage with the Lansing Lugnuts this season, Urena has committed just five errors at shortstop. The young prospect has also taken part in 10 double plays, while assisting on another 64 plays since April.

Taking great pride in his ability at shortstop, Urena feels fans will definitely notice the way he plays defense before any other aspect of his game.

“I’m very confident in my defensive ability,” said Urena. “I feel it’s the most important part of the game and I work very hard at it every day. I feel my play in the field is my biggest tool to help my team win games.”

Finding success at the plate everyday is an area Urena will be working on this season and for years to come as his approach is still a work in progress. Feeling he has improved a lot since his days in the Dominican Summer League in 2013, Urena admits his plate approach is an area that needs a little work, but he is willing to do whatever it takes to achieve his dream of playing in the big leagues.

“I feel my plate approach has gotten a lot better since I began professional baseball,” explained Urena. “While I feel I’m getting better at my approach I understand there’s still areas I need to improve on in the future.”

While he’s a few years away from his dream, Urena can definitely achieve it if he becomes a little more patient at the plate. Like a lot of young hitters, Urena chases a lot of pitches and strikes out more than you would like to see. But one thing he doesn’t lack is power. Already registering 31 hits on the season, including a double and five home runs, Urena has surprising pop in his bat for a guy that only weighs 170 pounds.

Fans should also be aware of the fact that Urena is still in the process of transitioning to switch hitting. Beginning his new approach at the plate during the 2014 season, Urena decided to begin hitting from the right side versus left-handers to make himself more valuable to his team. Still adjusting to this aspect is contributing to his strikeouts early in the season as the Lugnuts have faced a lot of left-handed pitchers during the first month and a half of the season.

His ability to take this challenge on at a high level of play has really impressed Lansing Lugnuts’ hitting coach Kenny Graham who has nothing but admiration for the way the young prospect has been able to take on a full season at such a young age.

“Richard Urena is very young for the Midwest League as he just turned 19-years old earlier this year,” stated Graham. “Richard is very athletic and toolsy. This year is his first year playing in cold weather and he just began switch hitting last year, so he’s still adjusting to that area of his game.

“We’ve seen a lot of left-handed pitching this year, so he’s getting a lot of reps batting right-handed and Richard has held his own out there,” Graham added. “Between his age and this being his first experience playing in cold weather he is doing very well for himself.”

Obviously, it’s going to take some extra coaching and repetition to master switch hitting, so taking advantage of every opportunity to learn from the Lansing Lugnuts’ coaching staff is high on Urena’s list this season.

Especially appreciative of the mentoring he has received from both Kenny Graham and first-year Lugnuts’ manager Ken Huckaby, Urena admits he talks to both coaches frequently as he wants to take away as much information as possible from two of the Blue Jays most knowledgeable minor league coaches.

Urena says,“Even though Kenny is a new hitting coach to me, I really like the way he handles his business. Kenny is always willing to help you in the cage and with your approach.

“I talk to Ken Huckaby a lot,” he added. “What I like about Huckaby is the way he relates to his players. It’s great talking to him because he played in the major leagues and he understands what players need to know to advance to each level.”

Originally joining the Blue Jays organization as an international free agent in 2012, the Dominican Republic native remembers what that moment was like when he found out the Blue Jays wanted to sign him.

“I was very happy when I found out the Blue Jays wanted to sign me,” said Urena. “It was always a dream of mine to play professional baseball and it felt great knowing I was going to get an opportunity to prove myself in pro ball.”

Be sure to follow Richard Urena as he continues to develop every aspect of his game with hopes of playing 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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Sean Reid-Foley Experiencing His First Year of Professional Baseballhttp://jaysprospects.com/2015/05/11/sean-reid-foley-lansing/ http://jaysprospects.com/2015/05/11/sean-reid-foley-lansing/#comments Mon, 11 May 2015 04:27:48 +0000 http://jaysprospects.com/?p=10033 Looking to address their organizational needs through the draft, the Toronto Blue Jays really got after it last June, as they built quite arguably the best draft class of the 30 organizations in major league baseball. The Blue Jays success in the draft comes down to excellent scouting and their ability to go after the [...]

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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Sean Reid-Foley (mlb.com)

Sean Reid-Foley in the Perfect Game showcase (mlb.com)

Looking to address their organizational needs through the draft, the Toronto Blue Jays really got after it last June, as they built quite arguably the best draft class of the 30 organizations in major league baseball. The Blue Jays success in the draft comes down to excellent scouting and their ability to go after the high ceiling guys that might take a little time to develop, but has the skills to make the wait worthwhile.

Using this mindset in the 2nd round last June, the Blue Jays nabbed power right-hander Sean Reid-Foley with the 49th overall pick. Many fans were surprised that Reid-Foley was still available at that point, as he was slated as a 1st round talent. This led some people to believe he was going to be tough to sign, but that was not the case as the young prospect admits he was planning on signing through the entire process.

“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.”

Reid-Foley entered 2015 looking to build off the success he had in the Gulf Coast League last season, where he appeared in 22 2/3 innings maintaining a 9.9 K/9 ratio. He quickly jumped up to Lansing in April to take part in the Lugnuts’ annual Crosstown Showdown versus Michigan State University, an exciting moment for the young prospect.

“I was excited when I found out they wanted me to come up for the Crosstown Showdown,” said Reid-Foley. “I knew it was a great opportunity for my career and I took advantage of it. I had an absolute blast competing against the Spartans.”

But his excitement didn’t end there in a 9-4 victory over the Spartans. It came the next day when he was at the airport preparing to head back down to extended spring training in Florida when he received a phone call that changed his life minutes before boarding his plane.

“I was five minutes away from boarding my plane for Florida and my phone rang,” explained Reid-Foley. “I looked at the number and it was the Blue Jays. I answered and they said we want you to stay with Lansing. I was very excited by the news and since then I have been fully focused on making every start here in Lansing. If everything goes as planned I should make 25 starts here this year.”

Taking full advantage of his opportunity with the Blue Jays’ low-A affiliate; Reid-Foley has appeared in 17 1/3 innings for the Lugnuts’ racking up 26 strikeouts, while opposing hitters are only managing a stingy .210 batting average against the big righty.

One area that needs improvement is his control on the mound. It’s a common issue you see with a lot of young pitchers with big arms. Currently with 17 walks on the season and a 1.73 WHIP; these are two areas the young prospect will work hard to improve on all season.

Addressing this concern first hand, Lansing Lugnuts’ pitching coach Jeff Ware is satisfied with the 19-year old’s progress so far as he works on getting him to control every pitch better for continued success at higher levels of play.

“Sean Reid-Foley is good. He is still young and he’s currently getting amped up for every outing,” stated Ware. “I’m just trying to get him to control the excitement he has when he’s out there for a game. I’m trying to get him to locate his pitches better. He’s a hard thrower with a heavy fastball, so I’m trying to get him to take a little bit off in certain situations.”

There is no reason to panic on the young pitcher as he is still adjusting to professional baseball. Making the jump from high school baseball to professional baseball presented some new challenges for Reid-Foley that he is working hard on every day.

“The biggest adjustment for me in professional baseball is the way I go about my pitching,” explained Reid-Foley. “In pro baseball you’re over the ball more than just pushing the ball with your palm. In pro baseball the strike zone is a lot lower and smaller as well.”

Currently using three pitches in his repertoire that he throws out of a ¾ arm slot, Reid-Foley features a fastball, slider, and changeup. His fastball usually sits in the mid-90’s range, but can be dialed up a little higher at times during the season.

Enjoying his Midwest League experience to its fullest, Reid-Foley really loves the stadiums you get to play in every night. Getting to see some of the early renovations made to Cooley Law School Stadium first hand, the young prospect has enjoyed his time playing in front of the home fans and seeing some of the road stadiums as well.

“The facilities in Lansing are really good,” said Reid-Foley. “It’s a beautiful stadium and they added a lot of seats in the off-season. It actually looks like the AA park in my town. It’s a pretty big stadium.”

“It’s fun traveling around this league,” he added. “Fort Wayne’s stadium is the best one hands down. It’s absolutely beautiful and a fun place to play a game. Great Lakes is a nice stadium as well. It’s a little smaller than Lansing’s, but it’s really nice. There are a lot of great places in the Midwest League.”

There’s another aspect to his Midwest League experience that has made playing in Lansing really fun for Reid-Foley and that’s the opportunity to compete against his older brother David who is a member of the Dodgers’ affiliated Great Lakes Loons bullpen. While the two are rivals when their respective squads compete against one another the prospect says his relationship with his brother has always been a good one growing up.

“Towards high school I didn’t see him as much because he was in college,” said Reid-Foley, “but when we were younger we always had a really good relationship and he was a big reason I got into baseball.”

Be sure to follow Sean Reid-Foley all season as he works hard to compete in big league stadiums 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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Starlyn Suriel Improving with Better Commandhttp://jaysprospects.com/2015/04/25/starlyn-suriel-lansing-2/ http://jaysprospects.com/2015/04/25/starlyn-suriel-lansing-2/#comments Sat, 25 Apr 2015 14:15:07 +0000 http://jaysprospects.com/?p=10019 A name that drew intrigue in the Blue Jays minor league system last season was that of right-handed pitcher Starlyn Suriel. Many fans were curious about a guy that could skip over rookie-ball to go straight to low-A baseball in his first professional season and succeed like he was a veteran. Splitting time between Vancouver [...]

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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Starlyn Suriel

Starlyn Suriel returned to the Lansing Lugnuts to begin the 2015 season. (Photo by Jay Blue, used by permission)

A name that drew intrigue in the Blue Jays minor league system last season was that of right-handed pitcher Starlyn Suriel. Many fans were curious about a guy that could skip over rookie-ball to go straight to low-A baseball in his first professional season and succeed like he was a veteran.

Splitting time between Vancouver and Lansing in 2014, the up-and-coming prospect made another big jump after his first spring training by joining a full season affiliate in April.  While fans were torn on whether Suriel would begin this year by returning to the low-A Lansing Lugnuts or if he could make the jump to the high-A Dunedin Blue Jays, after pitching 42 innings last season in the Midwest League, and after maintaining an impressive 1.14 WHIP as a member of the Lugnuts’ in 2014, it was a valid question.

The team debate was not an issue for Suriel whose only focus was to play for a full season affiliate in April while improving on every aspect of his game.

“Coming back to Lansing was good with me. I felt it didn’t really matter, as I had a job to do wherever they sent me,” said Suriel. “My focus doesn’t change between the levels. When you’re promoted it’s the same thing, you have to go out there and do your job to the best of your abilities and that’s my mindset every outing.”

That mindset will definitely make Blue Jays supporters happy, as Suriel’s 2014 was nothing to be unsatisfied with. He went 6-5 with a 3.30 ERA and 58 strikeouts in his 79 innings between the two levels. But so far in his 2015 campaign he has delivered on his promise allowing only two runs in his first 13 1/3 innings of work. Midwest League hitters are only managing a .174 batting average against him, while he is currently sporting an impressive 0.83 WHIP.

“My only goal for 2015 is to do better than last year,” explained Suriel. “I feel I did well last season, but I had a couple areas I wanted to improve on this season and they are my only focus right now.”

Suriel’s success this season is coming largely in part to his improved command of his curveball and slider. Entering professional baseball Suriel was known for his excellent changeup and sinking fastball that could get him ahead in counts. But this past off-season Suriel focused on sharpening his breaking balls and the results are paying dividends so far.

“I worked hard on my slider and curveball this past off-season,” stated Suriel. “I knew those were two areas I needed to improve on to be successful at my game, so I put a lot of emphasis on those two pitches.”

“The improvement of my slider and changeup is helping my game a lot this season,” he added. “I feel it gives me two more pitches to put guys away with and they give me more options in certain situations.”

Consistently hitting the mid-70’s with his curveball and the low-80’s with his slider helps the young prospect keep hitters off-balanced, as he mixes in his low-90’s sinker and plus changeup. Suriel’s ability to throw four different pitches for strikes keeps hitters guessing every time.

Impressed with the progression Suriel has made over last season, Lansing Lugnuts’ pitching coach Jeff Ware is happy to see the increased command and confidence that the young prospect has made with all of his pitches during the off-season.

“Starlyn Suriel is similar to when I worked with him last year in Vancouver,” said Ware. “I would say he’s getting my consistent with his strike throwing. He has fantastic deception with his fastball, so that will get him some more swings-and-misses. You factor that in with him getting people out with his changeup, curveball, and slider. It’s great to see, as he keeps hitters off-balanced every outing.”

Ware added, “He’s getting better with his breaking balls. He’s able to repeat the delivery a little bit better and he has proven the quality of both of his secondary pitches so far this season.”

Known for his above-average control and efficiency on the mound. Suriel is not the kind of pitcher that blows a lot of hitters away with velocity, but his pitch movement and mechanics definitely keeps fans locked into his game from his first pitch to his last of the day.

The rise to the major leagues from the Midwest League can be a quick one at times, as Kendall Graveman and Miguel Castro proved recently. If Suriel can continue the kind of success he has enjoyed in the month of April he could easily rise through the system quickly and find himself pitching at the Rogers Centre in the near future.

Be sure to follow Starlyn Suriel as he looks to be tough on hitters all season, while working hard to earn another promotion soon.

 

 

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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Andrew Case Excellent Out of the Bullpenhttp://jaysprospects.com/2015/04/13/andrew-case-excellent-bullpen/ http://jaysprospects.com/2015/04/13/andrew-case-excellent-bullpen/#comments Mon, 13 Apr 2015 20:26:14 +0000 http://jaysprospects.com/?p=10004 The popularity of baseball in Canada has continued to rise in recent years. This increased love for the sport has led to more players competing and better development opportunities throughout the country and it’s starting to show throughout minor league baseball as more players from Canada are signing professional contracts than ever before. Showing some [...]

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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Andrew Case

RHP Andrew Case is thrilled to be in his second season of professional baseball with the Toronto Blue Jays organization. (Toronto Sun)

The popularity of baseball in Canada has continued to rise in recent years. This increased love for the sport has led to more players competing and better development opportunities throughout the country and it’s starting to show throughout minor league baseball as more players from Canada are signing professional contracts than ever before.

Showing some Canadian flavor on their opening day roster, the Lansing Lugnuts’ are proudly showcasing three Canadian born players, which is the most of any professional baseball team this season. Right-handed pitcher Andrew Case is one such Lugnut born north of the border and he’s incredibly excited to be joining a full season affiliate in just his second professional year.

“Lansing is a nice town. It’s a little colder than spring training in Florida, but I’m happy to be here,” said Case. “Downtown Lansing is nice and so is East Lansing. I’m just taking it day by day, but so far it’s been really good.”

It’s not just Case who is thrilled to be a member of the Blue Jays low-A affiliate, but his parents are equally excited for their son’s accomplishment. In fact, Case’s parents made the trip down to Lansing for the clubs opening series against the Lake County Captains.

“I always receive a lot of family support throughout the season,” explained Case. “My parents made the trip down for the opening series and its great having them here. They have always supported me in my decision to pursue baseball.”

His parent’s long trip was worth the while as they got to see their son pitch 2/3 an inning and pick up a save in a 3-2 Lugnuts’ victory in game one of a double header on April 11th.

Prior to playing in Lansing, Case’s career was primarily focused on pitching in his home country. Choosing to leave his home in New Brunswick and move west to Alberta to pursue a collegiate career at Leftbridge Community College showed the dedication the young prospect has when it comes to his craft.

Choosing Leftbridge for their long history of producing professional players, Case had only one focus when he was there and that was perform well enough to get noticed by a major league organization.

“When you’re playing college ball you always have one dream and that’s making it to the big leagues,” explained Case. “Obviously the second step towards that dream is becoming a pro ball player, so when I was at Leftbridge I went out there and competed every outing and every pitch.”

Two years later his dream became a reality when the Toronto Blue Jays signed the righty to a minor league deal after a dominant Tournament 12 performance where he threw a no hitter at the Rogers Centre.

“I really had no idea the Blue Jays were interested in me. I was in more contact with some other teams, but I’m happy with the result,” stated Case. “The Blue Jays were always my favorite team even before I started playing baseball, so I’m really happy that I’m a part of their organization. Being a Canadian boy playing for the Canadian team, it doesn’t get any better than that in my books.”

“I was signed shortly after throwing a no hitter at the Rogers Centre,” he added. “That moment was really special as Roberto Alomar was sitting behind the plate. He came up to me afterwards and gave me a hug. He told me I did a great job and he was proud of me. I was actually only one pitch away from a perfect game, but I was a happy with the no hitter. I don’t know any pitchers who wouldn’t be happy with a no-hitter.”

It was only fitting that Case would begin his professional career in the country that produced the talented young pitcher. Spending his entire 2014 season in the Northwest League, Case was a key piece of the Canadians bullpen.

The prospect did nothing but impress in his 44 innings of work for the C’s. Maintaining a 2.45 ERA and racking up 37 strikeouts was a nice way to start his career. But his ability to be tough on hitters in 2014 was his biggest attribute as the righty maintained an impressive 1.159 WHIP to put an exclamation point on an already great season.

“Playing in Vancouver was really cool as I was the only Canadian on the 2014 roster,” said Case. “It was great having a bunch of Canadians on my back. The support I received from all the fans was unbelievable.”

It was in Vancouver when Case began working with pitching coach Jeff Ware. With some shuffling in their minor league coaching pyramid this past off-season; the two will work together again in Lansing and Case is excited for that opportunity as he enjoys the way Ware handles his business.

“I like that Jeff Ware is down-to-earth and will tell you exactly what you need to work on,” stated Case. “Jeff is always there if you have anything you want to work on. He’s the right guy at the right time. I couldn’t say enough good things about him.”

Finding success due to his approach on the mound, Case likes to work fast, while throwing strikes with his three pitch repertoire, which includes: a fastball, a slider, and a changeup. Known for his ability to get through lineups quickly by getting a lot of groundballs, Case describes himself as a finesse pitcher.

“I’m not a really hard thrower,” said Case. “My fastball usually tops out around 91 or 92 miles per hour. I’m more of a finesse pitcher that relies on throwing strikes and hitting my spots.”

His ability to work fast is exactly what Lansing Lugnuts’ pitching coach Jeff Ware is looking forward to this season from Case. After coaching the up-and-coming pitcher last summer, the former major leaguer feels confident in Case’s ability to handle high pressure situations.

“Andrew Case is aggressive on the mound. You love that as a pitching coach,” stated Ware. “Andrew will challenge anybody who walks into the batter’s box. It doesn’t matter who they are, he’ll challenge them. Andrew is a hard worker that competes his butt off out there and that’s what I love about him as a pitcher.”

Be sure to follow Andrew Case all season as he works hard to get back to the Rogers Centre to make more memories 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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Ian Parmley Using His Speed to His Advantagehttp://jaysprospects.com/2015/04/02/ian-parmley-dunedin/ http://jaysprospects.com/2015/04/02/ian-parmley-dunedin/#comments Thu, 02 Apr 2015 10:00:39 +0000 http://jaysprospects.com/?p=9904 An important area for young baseball players to understand is their game and exactly what they have to do to reach their full potential in professional baseball. Thus is the case for Blue Jays outfield prospect Ian Parmley, who completed his third season in the organization climbing as high as advanced-A Dunedin by the end of [...]

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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Ian Parmley

Ian Parmley advanced to Dunedin during the 2014 season. (Scott Mapes / MiLB.com)

An important area for young baseball players to understand is their game and exactly what they have to do to reach their full potential in professional baseball. Thus is the case for Blue Jays outfield prospect Ian Parmley, who completed his third season in the organization climbing as high as advanced-A Dunedin by the end of the 2014 campaign.

Known for his excellent defense and above-average speed, Parmley is a grinder, known for giving long at-bats, while drawing walks, bunting for hits, and causing havoc on the base paths. These lost arts are what Parmley needs to do to be successful in professional baseball, as the Washington native has limited power in his bat, causing him to continually find ways to reach base and help his team manufacture runs.

Beginning his 2014 campaign with the Lansing Lugnuts, Parmley had a tough run to begin his season. He fought off multiple injuries and had to deal with limited action, as being named as the club’s fourth outfielder. Appearing in 41 contests for the Lugnuts, Parmley batted .209 with two doubles and nine RBIs. While those numbers don’t jump off the page, Parmley grinded out 20 walks and swiped 11 bases, all the while maintaining a .326 OBP.

Earning a late season promotion to the Florida State League, Parmley continued to display his strengths at the high-A level. The prospect batted .261 with three doubles and an RBI. Parmley continued to be tough on the base paths going 3-for-3 on steal attempts. Parmley registered seven more walks and maintained a .358 OBP in his 15 high-A contests.

Enjoying both opportunities presented to him in 2014, Parmley discusses what he enjoyed about his time in the Midwest League and the Florida State League. While there’s a slight talent jump between the two levels, Parmley feels its baseball and every aspect of the two leagues is just business as usual for him.

“What I really enjoyed about Lansing was how friendly the residents are,” stated Parmley. “We ran into a lot of people at the complex where we live and they’re all really nice and the fan support at the games is fantastic. The city really gets behind the Lugnuts, which just makes it a great place to play baseball.”

“I really loved playing in Dunedin,” he added. “The Florida State League has a great atmosphere for baseball and we played some really good ball there.”

“The difference between the Midwest League and the Florida State League is pitchers locate their pitches a lot better down there,” said Parmley. “Other than that the talent is very similar.”

Parmley has always had the ability to be a great base runner, but he feels his skills have continued to improve in the Blue Jays organization thanks to the help of Roving Outfield and Base Running Instructor Tim Raines.

“Raines has helped me a lot with my base running,” explained Parmley. “He’s one of the best runners of all time, so anytime he talks I make sure to listen. When he says something that I can use to improve my game, I’m going to use that information to my advantage.”

From a defensive standpoint, Parmley plays all three outfield positions. The 25-year old outfielder only committed one error on the season maintaining an excellent .989 fielding percentage between the three positions. The prospect also registered two outfield assists and was involved in one double play on the season.

Watch for Ian Parmley as he continues to put his skills on display with one of the Blue Jays minor league affiliates in 2015.

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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Seth Conner Looking to Rebound in 2015http://jaysprospects.com/2015/04/01/seth-conner-vancouver/ http://jaysprospects.com/2015/04/01/seth-conner-vancouver/#comments Wed, 01 Apr 2015 10:00:25 +0000 http://jaysprospects.com/?p=9954 With the season opener around the corner, players are putting the finishing touches on their routines as they prepare for the season to begin. While some players are looking to pick up where they left off the previous season, others are looking to get a fresh start and improve their game in certain areas. One [...]

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 Seth Conner Looking to Rebound in 2015 appeared first on JaysProspects.

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Seth Conner

Seth Conner plans to improve his consistency with his bat to remain with a full-season affiliate in 2015. (Scott Mapes)

With the season opener around the corner, players are putting the finishing touches on their routines as they prepare for the season to begin. While some players are looking to pick up where they left off the previous season, others are looking to get a fresh start and improve their game in certain areas.

One player in the Blue Jays system looking to improve in 2015 is catcher Seth Conner. After two seasons that had the same result of beginning the year in Lansing and finishing in Vancouver, Conner will be looking to stay on a full season affiliate the entire season this year.

And find success.

This result will happen if the Missouri native can find some consistency at the plate. Conner was a tremendous hitter in rookie ball, but the success he showed in Bluefield back in 2012 has yet to transfer to low-A. The 23-year-old batted .221 with three doubles and six RBIs last season in Vancouver. Even though those numbers don’t jump off the page, the utility player managed a respectable .312 OBP playing for the Canadians.

Known more for his defensive prowess, Conner committed just one error in 73 chances behind the plate in Vancouver, maintaining an excellent .986 fielding percentage at the toughest defensive position in the game. The young prospect also appeared in 12 Northwest League contests at first base. Conner’s play at first was flawless, as he maintained a 1.000 fielding percentage while taking part in six double plays and assisting on two.

“I developed a lot behind the plate. I feel comfortable back there. Now it’s developing the bat again,” stated Conner. “I feel if I can get both sides going. I’ll be a good player moving forward.”

Conner has enjoyed every aspect of his two stints in Vancouver. While the city is huge and has a lot to do from an entertainment standpoint, the young prospect’s favorite part of Vancouver is the continued fan support the C’s receive at Nat Bailey Stadium every night.

“Vancouver is an awesome city,” said Conner. “You’re in Canada, so there’s a bunch of Blue Jays fans. There isn’t a lot of baseball around there. Seattle isn’t too far. But Vancouver is great because it’s a big city and the fan support is outstanding. Home country affiliate. It’s really cool.”

Understanding that there are only so many chances to prove yourself in the minor leagues, Conner looks to put the past two seasons behind him in 2015, as he is looking to redevelop his game at the plate with hopes of finding his stroke from Bluefield when he carried an excellent .296/.421/.423 slash line.

“Going from an everyday player to a backup messed with my rhythem a bit at the plate,” said Conner. “I don’t like to make excuses, but it’s tough to make adjustments to pitching when you’re not playing every day. Baseball is a game of numbers and I didn’t make the most of my opportunities the last two years.”

Returning home to Missouri this off-season, Conner enjoyed spending time with his family. He also focused on doing some workouts to stay in shape and teaching lessons to younger players are just a few of Conner’s plans.

“My off-season was really good,” explained Conner. “I spend a lot of time with my wife Laura and I do my workouts. I also teach lessons. The kids I work with are between third grade and seniors in high school. Basically they’re anywhere from eight to 18-years old. Other than that I spend time with my family. I really enjoy seeing everybody!”

Watch for Seth Conner as he continues to be an excellent defensive option with hopes of improving offensively with one of the Blue Jays full season affiliates in 2015.

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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Matt Dean Getting Acclimated at First Basehttp://jaysprospects.com/2015/03/31/matt-dean-lansing/ http://jaysprospects.com/2015/03/31/matt-dean-lansing/#comments Wed, 01 Apr 2015 03:19:45 +0000 http://jaysprospects.com/?p=9899 Players always think they know how their careers will unfold when they’re entering professional baseball. While some are not far off, most are thrown a few curveballs along the way. Such is the case for Matt Dean who began his professional career at third base before the organization decided to transition him to first base [...]

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 Matt Dean Getting Acclimated at First Base appeared first on JaysProspects.

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Matt Dean

Matt Dean played first base with the Lansing Lugnuts in 2014. (Scott Mapes/MiLB.com)

Players always think they know how their careers will unfold when they’re entering professional baseball. While some are not far off, most are thrown a few curveballs along the way. Such is the case for Matt Dean who began his professional career at third base before the organization decided to transition him to first base prior to the 2013 season.

Playing first is still relatively new for Dean, who just completed his second year at his new position. The Texas native is developing nicely on the right side of the diamond and showing why he is one of the organization’s top prospects at the position.

Playing first presents some challenges for Dean in the field, as first baseman have different footwork drills to work on. Being more responsible for holding runners on and moving into the play as the pitcher is winding up are areas the young prospect is still working on, but he’s satisfied with his results so far.

“The footwork is coming around. I would say last year it wasn’t as good,” said Dean. “I feel this season it’s turning into muscle memory
which is a big plus for sure.

“Moving into the play with a runner on was a tough transition for me, especially with a big lefty at the plate,” he added. “The balls hit in your direction come quick. I’m still working on that as well. Hopefully I’ll work on that more this off-season.”

Another area Dean will be working on for 2015 is making a cleaner pickoff tag. With most first basemen being left-handed it’s easier to tag runners going back to the bag as they just go straight down with the glove after catching the ball. For a right-hander like Dean, it’s a little harder as they need to torque their body a little bit to make the tag.

“Being a right-handed first baseman the tag is a little bit tougher, but the coaching staff is working with me to make the move quicker,” explained Dean. “Obviously, it’s easier for a lefty because it’s straight down, but the coaching staff is trying to make it easier and I’m still learning as well. I’m trying to perfect it and I’ll keep working on the move in the future.”

In 2014, Dean performed well at first for the Blue Jays full season low-A affiliate Lansing Lugnuts. Appearing in 64 games, Dean maintained a .982 fielding percentage while taking part in 40 double plays and 16 assists. While his numbers were solid at the position, Dean admits there’s still a lot of work to be done at first base moving forward as he committed 11 errors.

“I still need a little work at first, but I’m starting to learn it,” explained Dean. “I’m starting to feel comfortable over there. I feel the more games I play there the more comfortable I’ll get. I just need to keep working at it and hopefully someday I’ll be a gold glover at the position.”

A big area for first basemen is their play at the plate. Generally regarded as a team’s big power threat, first basemen are usually expected to hit 30 or more home runs a year at the major league level. Still developing that area of his game, Dean showed excellent extra base power all season in the Midwest League. Registering 43 extra base hits on the season: which included 29 doubles, five triples, and a club leading nine home runs, all-the-while driving in 51 runs.

Dean’s excellent play earned him Midwest League Mid-Season All-star honors and he was able to take part in the league’s annual all-star game which was played on June 17th at Fifth Third Ballpark in Comstock Park, Michigan. Dean was the East’s team starting first baseman and went 0-for-2 in the game. Even though he would have preferred better numbers in the game, Dean enjoyed meeting players from other teams and sharing the moment with his family that drove up from Texas for the event.

“My All-Star experience was a lot of fun. I really enjoyed meeting all the guys from the league,” stated Dean. “They were all nice guys. It was fun hanging out with them and then getting the opportunity to play the game with them. It was a good experience.

“It was special having my family here for the all-star game, as it was the first All-Star game I’ve played in,” he added. “Having them here to share the moment with me was incredible.”

Excited to have his father witness his first professional All-Star game, Dean’s professional career was inspired by his father Martin, who played college baseball at Southeastern Oklahoma State University and was drafted by the Atlanta Braves in 1981. The older Dean’s professional career never took off due to an injury in college, but he put all of his knowledge and work ethic in his son. Matt admits it wasn’t always easy having his Dad as his high school coach. But he’s very thankful for what he did for him, as he taught him what he needed to know to play professional baseball.

“My Dad was a major influence on my career,” Dean said, smiling. “Growing up, I hated that he was my coach, but he was a great role model for me and he taught me how to play the game the right way. He pushed me hard and had higher expectations for me than I had for myself. I think that coaching made me the player I am today. He worked my tail off and I’m thankful he was my coach.”

Enjoying every aspect of his Midwest League experience, Dean was sad to see the 2014 season end, but was grateful for the experience he went through, as a member of the Lansing Lugnuts. Enjoying all the cities and stadiums along the way, Dean feels the Midwest League has amazing facilities for low-A baseball.

“The Midwest League is great because you usually have good crowds at every game. The stadiums are great. Good atmosphere with good playing surfaces,” recalls Dean. “The team made the experience fun. There were a lot of good players on this team. The coaching staff made it a lot of fun. I was very fortunate to be here the whole season. I was kind of sad when the season ended, but it was a great experience.”

Heading back to Texas this off-season, Dean is looking forward to giving his body a bit of a rest before jumping back into his busy off-season routine, which helps him get bigger, stronger, and faster, as he’s looking for more success in 2015.

“I’ll take a little break once I got home just to let the body rest a little,” said Dean. “After a short break jumped back in and hit the weights. [I’ve done] a little speed training. I’m going to try to get a little bit quicker and a little bit stronger while staying flexible.”

Be sure to follow Matt Dean this season as he is likely to jump up to high-A to continue developing his game at first base as well as at the plate.

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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