JaysProspects http://jaysprospects.com A Blog of Toronto Blue Jays Prospects Interviews, Evaluations and News Thu, 11 Sep 2014 17:49:14 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.9.2 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 [...]

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Miguel Castro Rises Through Jays Organizationhttp://jaysprospects.com/2014/09/10/miguel-castro/ http://jaysprospects.com/2014/09/10/miguel-castro/#comments Wed, 10 Sep 2014 18:09:44 +0000 http://jaysprospects.com/?p=9796 Every season presents a new opportunity for minor leaguers to showcase their skills as they work their way up the ladder. Nobody knows that better than right-handed pitcher Miguel Castro, who went from being in extended spring training to high-A this past season. Castro began his 2014 season as a member of the Vancouver Canadians [...]

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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.

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Miguel Castro

Miguel Castro rose through three levels of the Blue Jays organization in 2014. (MiLB)

Every season presents a new opportunity for minor leaguers to showcase their skills as they work their way up the ladder. Nobody knows that better than right-handed pitcher Miguel Castro, who went from being in extended spring training to high-A this past season.

Castro began his 2014 season as a member of the Vancouver Canadians in the Northwest League, where he dazzled in the 50 1/3 innings he pitched with the Blue Jays short-season A affiliate. The Dominican Republic native went 6-2 with a 2.15 ERA and 53 strikeouts, maintaining a 1.11 WHIP and keeping opposing hitters to a .202 average against him.

The great numbers quickly earned Castro a promotion to the Midwest League in early August. While the talent level may have jumped, playing for the Blue Jays full-season A affiliate, Castro’s numbers against opposing hitters only got better in his four starts. In Lansing, the young prospect maintained a 0.78 WHIP and an opposing hitter’s batting average of .133, an excellent addition to his 20 strikeouts in 21 2/3 innings of work.

Even though his time in Lansing was brief, Castro left a fantastic impression on his pitching coach Vince Horsman, who has nothing but praise for the 19-year old prospect.

“Miguel Castro is a special kid. He’s a player to watch for years to come,” stated Horsman. “He is an overpowering kid that can hit 94 to 96 mph consistently and has a sweepy slider and a very good changeup. Everything is in place for him, he just needs experience. Going from Vancouver to Lansing, he handled that transition well and then he moved up to Dunedin, it’s great seeing him continue to have success at higher levels. Miguel is a good kid and I wish him nothing but success at every level.”

I’m very thankful for everything I’ve experienced in 2014.

As Horsman alluded, Castro earned another promotion in late August to the Blue Jays High-A affiliate, the Dunedin Blue Jays. Castro, who was roughly 4.2 years younger than most of his competition wasn’t fazed by the older, more experienced players. He was 1-0 with a 3.12 ERA and five strikeouts in his 8 2/3 innings of work in the Florida State League. The young Dominican continued to be tough on hitters in the FSL, sporting an excellent 0.81 WHIP and hitters managed only a paltry .143 average against him.

Castro appreciated every opportunity he was presented and was pleased about his overall performance in 2014. “I really enjoyed every level I reached this year,” said Castro. “Vancouver was great. I thanked God for the opportunity, as I learned a lot in the Northwest League. Then I came to Lansing and it was great as well. The stadiums and atmospheres in the Midwest League are fantastic, and then I got an opportunity in Dunedin. This season has been unbelievable and I’m very thankful for everything I’ve experienced in 2014.”

It’s safe to say the young right hander has come a long way from the 17-year old kid that signed as an international free agent deal with the Blue Jays in 2012. Even though his signing is a memory now, it was a very special moment for him that he speaks highly of.

“When I found out Toronto wanted to sign me I was very happy and excited for the opportunity,” Castro recalled. “It felt great that an excellent organization like the Blue Jays believed in my ability the way they did. It was very exciting and a dream come true.”

With his 2014 season in the books, Castro is preparing for a busy off-season that will keep him in great shape for another excellent season in 2015.

“In the off-season I take one whole week off and then I get back to work on my routine,” explained Castro. “My off-season routine includes a lot of running. I also do a lot of weight lifting to get bigger and stronger. I’m very active in the off-season.”

Looking back on 2014, we can see that Castro had a lot of success that deserves to be celebrated; however, there are also some areas he will need to address in order for the Webster Award winner to find success at higher levels. Primarily, his impressive numbers appear to have been aided by a high number of stranded baserunners (81.2% LOB) and a moderately low .272 BABIP in Vancouver, implying he may have enjoyed a bit of luck.

His 50 innings in Vancouver may provide the most insight into what we can look forward to in 2015, despite the obvious small sample size caveat. In Vancouver, his 2.15 ERA appears to have been in spite of his 3.48 FIP. This, combined with his 2014 BABIP, implies Castro can likely expect some regression next season if he starts in Dunedin where he will be three years younger than the average age for pitchers in the Florida State League.

It should be emphasized that there are also positive aspects to Castro’s performance to take into account. Castro maintained an encouraging 26.8 K% throughout the season while also limiting the walks to just 9.5% of the 315 batters he faced. If he can maintain similar numbers he should continue to be a notable prospect as he advances through the minor leagues.

Watch for Miguel Castro in 2015, his power arm and sweeping slider will hopefully continue to befuddle batters and give his team every opportunity to win games.

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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.

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2014 Lansing Lugnuts Season Recaphttp://jaysprospects.com/2014/09/02/lansing-lugnuts-recap/ http://jaysprospects.com/2014/09/02/lansing-lugnuts-recap/#comments Tue, 02 Sep 2014 19:59:41 +0000 http://jaysprospects.com/?p=9776 The Lansing Lugnuts wrapped up their season on September 1st with a 5-4 rain-shortened loss to the South Bend Silver Hawks. The Blue Jays low-A affiliate finished the second half with a 30-40 record (62-77 overall) and three games out of the final Midwest League playoff spot. Even though the season didn’t end the way [...]

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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.

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Cooley Law School Stadium

Cooley Law School Stadium – Home of the Lansing Lugnuts (Al Goldis)

The Lansing Lugnuts wrapped up their season on September 1st with a 5-4 rain-shortened loss to the South Bend Silver Hawks. The Blue Jays low-A affiliate finished the second half with a 30-40 record (62-77 overall) and three games out of the final Midwest League playoff spot. Even though the season didn’t end the way Lugnuts fans would have liked, members of the 2014 Lansing Lugnuts remain high on the talent that was developed in Lansing all season.

“The 2014 season was awesome. We really came together as a team in the clubhouse,” said Lugnuts reliever Scott Silverstein. “I feel we had a championship caliber ball club and we would’ve loved the opportunity to play in the playoffs, but it wasn’t in the cards. Even though the playoffs didn’t happen, I feel we had a great season as a team and I feel it was a great success overall.”

Players that came through Lansing in 2014 included recent Blue Jays September call up Kendall Graveman who started four games for the Lugnuts to start the season, where he went 2-0 with a 0.34 ERA. Graveman only allowed one earned run in 26 1/3 innings of work in Lansing.

Reliever Jimmy Cordero also displayed an excellent fastball that consistently hit triple digits; and starter Miguel Castro made a pit stop in Lansing where he posted a 1-1 record with a 3.74 ERA in 21 2/3 innings of work in the Midwest League before earning a promotion to high-A.

The Lugnuts also saw some excellent young prospects at the plate. 2013 draftee Rowdy Tellez joined the team in August and collected 15 hits in 42 at-bats which included two home runs and seven RBIs in Lansing. In July, Lansing received Anthony Alford from Bluefield. Alford collected eight hits in 25 at-bats before returning to Ole Miss for the college football season.

It’s safe to say the Blue Jays are developing some excellent young talent in their minor league system. Below is a breakdown of some of the players who made a major impact on the Lugnuts roster in 2014.

Lansing’s top hitters for 2014

* Players with at least 300-at bats with Lugnuts

1) Mitch Nay (3B) – Nay led the Lugnuts with 34 doubles and 59 RBIs. The young prospect was the starting third baseman for the East team in the Midwest League All-Star Game. Nay received a late-season promotion to the Dunedin Blue Jays. He was also selected as a Midwest League post-season All-Star, becoming Lansing’s lone representative on the list.

2) Matt Dean (1B) – Dean led the team with 9 home runs and 43 extra base hits. He was the starting first baseman for the East team in the Midwest League All-Star Game and displayed solid defense throughout the season.

3) Dawel Lugo (SS) – Lugo finished third on the team in hits (behind only Nay and Dean) with 123. He also showed excellent plate discipline with the lowest strikeout to at-bat ratio, only striking out 72 times in 474 at-bats.

4) Derrick Loveless (OF) – Loveless had a breakout year in 2014. The young outfielder led the team with 9 triples and a .363 OBP. Loveless also joined the Midwest League All-Star team as a reserve player.

5) D.J. Davis (OF) – Davis displayed excellent speed and extra base power in 2014. He led the team with 19 stolen bases and finished second in home runs (8) and triples (7).

6) Jason Leblebijian (SS) – Leblebijian had an incredible August and was named player-of-the-month. The young prospect collected 30 extra base hits and 48 RBIs in his first full season.

7) Dickie Joe Thon (SS/2B) – Thon displayed an excellent bat all year, collecting 27 extra base hits and 40 RBIs on the season. With 20 doubles and four triples, his speed was on display this year.

Lansing’s Top Pitchers in 2014

** Players who pitched at least 64 innings with Lugnuts

1) Jeremy Gabryszwski (RHP) – Gabryszwski led the Lugnuts in most pitching categories including innings pitched (141 1/3), wins for a rotation member (6), and strikeouts for a pitcher in a Lansing uniform (91).

2) Brady Dragmire (RHP) – Dragmire was Lansing’s most reliable reliever all season. Dragmire was 3-6 with a 2.91 ERA, and recorded 45 strikeouts, and five saves in 77 1/3 innings of work.

3) Chase De Jong (RHP) – The 2012 second round pick was one of Lansing’s most reliable starters all season. He finished the season 1-6 with a 4.82 ERA and 73 strikeouts in 97 innings of work.

4) Roberto Espinosa (RHP) – Espinosa was one of Lansing’s top relievers and only allowed 13 earned runs since the beginning of June. In his 70 innings of work, Espinosa was able to strike out 72 batters and allow no more than two home runs. While his 4.37 ERA may not turn heads, his 3.47 FIP is more in line with his impressive second-half. Espinosa may well be a pitcher to pay attention to in 2015.

5) Brad Allen (RHP) – Brad Allen joined the Lugnuts in May after being released by the Diamondbacks organization. He provided excellent pitching right when the Lugnuts needed him most. He recorded a 3.11 ERA and 82 strikeouts in 75 1/3 innings of work.

6) Scott Silverstein (LHP) – Silverstein spent time as a closer, set up man, and long reliever in Lansing. The left-hander led all Lugnuts in wins with an 11-4 record. He recorded 4 saves and pitched to an excellent 9.4 K/9 ratio as he struck out 67 batters in his 69 innings pitched.

7) Alonzo Gonzalez (LHP) – Gonzalez finished his first full season as a reliever and had an excellent season, collecting 90 strikeouts in 79 1/3 innings.

“The 2014 Lansing Lugnuts team was really young, but really talented,” said Lugnuts infielder Jason Leblebijian. “We’ve had a lot of young talented guys coming through our team this season and it’s outstanding to see the future of this organization moving forward.”

While Lansing’s team record doesn’t fully reflect the talent on display, it’s clear that the future is bright for the Blue Jays farm system. We look forward to seeing which prospects will impress in a Lugnuts jersey in 2015.

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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.

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Anthony Alford: Two Sports, No Problemhttp://jaysprospects.com/2014/08/11/anthony-alford-blue-jays/ http://jaysprospects.com/2014/08/11/anthony-alford-blue-jays/#comments Mon, 11 Aug 2014 20:28:17 +0000 http://jaysprospects.com/?p=9702 Playing professional baseball can be a tough task with all the responsibilities that athletes undertake on a daily basis. Now, imagine mixing that busy schedule with college classes and football. Sounds tough, right? Well that’s business as usual for Blue Jays outfield prospect Anthony Alford. Juggling the two sports is nothing new to Alford who [...]

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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.

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Anthony Alford plays both baseball for the Blue Jays and football for the Ole Miss Rebels.

Anthony Alford plays both baseball for the Blue Jays and football for the Ole Miss Rebels.

Playing professional baseball can be a tough task with all the responsibilities that athletes undertake on a daily basis. Now, imagine mixing that busy schedule with college classes and football. Sounds tough, right? Well that’s business as usual for Blue Jays outfield prospect Anthony Alford.

Juggling the two sports is nothing new to Alford who has spent most of his life handling the schedules and demands of being a multi-sport athlete.

“Playing both baseball and football has been good to me so far,” explained Alford. “Growing up I always had to juggle the schedules of playing two sports, so I’m used to it.”

The Mississippi native enjoys playing both sports so much he decided he wanted to pursue both as a future path. Alford chose to pursue football at the collegiate level and baseball at the professional level. His dream of playing professional baseball became a reality when the Toronto Blue Jays selected him in the 3rd round of the 2012 MLB draft out of Petal High School. The moment was special for both Alford and his family.

“Being drafted by the Blue Jays was a neat experience,” Alford said. “It is really nice hearing your name called on draft day. My family was really proud of me. Everybody around town was proud. It was a great experience.”

Being drafted came after being named Mr. Baseball in the state of Mississippi, a memorable moment for Alford who edged out fellow Blue Jays prospect D.J. Davis and Dodgers prospect Zachary Bird for the honor.

“Being named Mr. Baseball was special,” explained Alford. “There were some excellent candidates in the state of Mississippi. It was an honor to be named the number one player in the state with that kind of competition.”

Since beginning his professional baseball career, Alford has spent time in the Gulf Coast League, Appalachian League, and the Midwest League. Most recently with the Lansing Lugnuts, Alford batted .320 with a double, a home run, and three RBIs.

The speedy center-fielder was four-for-four on steal attempts and didn’t make an error in the five games he played roaming the Lugnuts’ outfield. Alford explains how he uses his speed to his advantage.

“On the base paths I understand when it’s the right time to use my speed and when it’s the right time to shut it down,” stated Alford. “I feel I have good baseball instincts. I just let my athletic ability take over.”

Another aspect Alford enjoyed was playing for Lugnuts’ hitting coach Ken Huckaby.“I’ve really enjoyed working with Huckaby. He’s really cool and feels like a mutual friend to me,” Alford explained. “Ken feels like a mutual friend, because the guy that I work with back home was roommates with Ken for five years. From a coaching standpoint I feel he did a great job with me and I feel blessed to have worked with him.”

After completing his most recent stint with the Lansing Lugnuts, Anthony Alford was reportedly approached by Toronto Blue Jays GM Alex Anthopoulos in hopes of persuading the young athlete to commit to baseball on a full-time basis. Alford, however, politely declined and has returned to Ole Miss’ training camp for the collegiate season.

Alford is preparing for his sophomore football season at Ole Miss where he has now transitioned to safety in 2013, after sitting out a year due to transfer rules. Prior to joining Ole Miss, Alford spent a season at Southern Mississippi as a dual-threat quarterback in 2012.

“I’m really looking forward to helping my team any way I can at Ole Miss,” stated Alford. “I chose to transition to safety, because I felt it would be better for me in the future.”

“The transition started out a little slow, but it wasn’t hard,” he added. “The toughest part of the transition was learning the playbook.”

Much like baseball, Alford was named the best football player in the state of Mississippi, as he was named Mr. Football in both his junior and senior years of high school.

“Being named Mr. Football in the state of Mississippi was a huge honor,” stated Alford. “Football is a really big sport in Mississippi and to be named the number one player in the state meant a lot to me personally.”

Even though football takes up a lot of Alford’s time. He’s proud of the development he has made in baseball since being drafted in 2012. “I feel my development is going well,” stated Alford. “Every season I come here to play I feel I learn a little bit more than I knew before.”

“After every season I play with the organization, the Blue Jays coaching staff tells me what they want me to work on,” he added. “I take that information and work hard on it throughout the off-season, so my next season can be even better.”

Whether it’s one or two sports in Alford’s future, may he continue to develop and reach his future goals.

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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.

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Dawel Lugo's Season Impressing in Lansinghttp://jaysprospects.com/2014/07/30/dawel-lugo-lansing-lugnuts/ http://jaysprospects.com/2014/07/30/dawel-lugo-lansing-lugnuts/#comments Wed, 30 Jul 2014 18:49:45 +0000 http://jaysprospects.com/?p=9536 Every young baseball player dreams of being on the same field with their favorite player. While some players get the chance, very few are in the same position as Dawel Lugo who is gunning to be the Blue Jays shortstop of the future. A role currently filled by his childhood idol, Jose Reyes. Just as [...]

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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.

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Dawel Lugo

Dawel Lugo plays shortstop for the Lansing Lugnuts. (milb.com)

Every young baseball player dreams of being on the same field with their favorite player. While some players get the chance, very few are in the same position as Dawel Lugo who is gunning to be the Blue Jays shortstop of the future. A role currently filled by his childhood idol, Jose Reyes.

Just as Reyes is impressing fans in Toronto, Lugo is making a name for himself in Lansing. The Dominican Republic native is batting .282 with 16 doubles, two triples, three home runs, and 43 RBIs in the Midwest League. Lugo has also displayed above-average defensive skills, turning 41 double plays and currently sporting a .948 fielding percentage.

It’s safe to say Lugo is meeting all expectations of him which only got higher after an excellent 2013 season split between the Bluefield Blue Jays (Appalachian League) and the Vancouver Canadians (Northwest League). Lugo batted .297 with 11 doubles, two triples, six home runs, and 36 RBIs win Bluefield before finishing up his 2013 in Vancouver, where he batted .246 with four doubles and eight RBIs.

Lugo ended his season in Vancouver, helping his team the NWL Championship. A moment he said was something he would never forget.

“Winning the championship was a lot of fun,” said Lugo. “I remember getting really happy, because I made the final out. It was a big game for me.”

Working with Lugo the past two seasons, Hitting Coach Ken Huckaby has nothing but praise for the young shortstop. He also believes the fans in Lansing are in for a treat for the remainder of the season.

“Dawel is a kid that’s going to turn a lot of heads,” explained Huckaby. “He’s starting to show the signs of Lugo. Everybody knows he can hit, but he’s really warming up and will definitely start impressing people. He’s exciting to watch.”

Getting the opportunity to work with Huckaby again was exciting for Lugo who admitted that he really enjoys learning from his mentor. “I like his approach to the game,” he said. “He’s very knowledgeable and makes the game fun.”

“Huckaby always has tips for me before every at-bat,” he continued. “I’ve learned a lot from him the past two seasons. He’s a great guy.”

The Blue Jays are fully vested in Lugo’s future, giving the young prospect a $1.3 million signing bonus when he joined the organization as an international free agent in 2011.

“When I found out Toronto wanted to sign me, I was very happy,” Lugo recalled. “I knew I wanted to sign right away. I thanked God for giving me the ability to be a professional baseball player. It was an exciting moment for sure.”

Family is very important to Lugo. In fact his father Ursino was once a Cleveland Indians minor leaguer and evidently, his father had a major influence on Dawel’s career.

“[My dad] got me started and taught me what I needed to know to get to this level,” Lugo said with a smile. “I could never thank him enough for what he has done for me in baseball and life.”

At just 19-years old, Lugo’s road to the major league might take a little time. The process is fine with him, as he has enjoyed every stop he’s made so far in the Blue Jays minor league system and he’s excited for the future.

“Every place I’ve played has been a lot of fun,” said Lugo. “Each city had different things to do, but they were all great places to play with amazing fans.”

“Honestly, I just love playing baseball!”

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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.

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Daniel Norris Settling In With Fisher Catshttp://jaysprospects.com/2014/07/30/daniel-norris-fisher-cats/ http://jaysprospects.com/2014/07/30/daniel-norris-fisher-cats/#comments Wed, 30 Jul 2014 18:03:29 +0000 http://jaysprospects.com/?p=9730 After he produced some very solid numbers with the Dunedin Blue Jays, everybody thought that Daniel Norris would fit in just fine in the New Hampshire Fisher Cats rotation. Perhaps the 21-year-old left-handed product is just shaking off the jitters as he makes the transition to Double-A baseball.

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Patrick Cavanaugh

Patrick Cavanaugh

Patrick Cavanaugh is a 15-year-old sports journalist, covering the New Hampshire Fisher Cats for Jays Prospects. He is also the Voice of the Laconia Muskrats, one of the twelve teams in the New England Collegiate Baseball League. He spends his summer traveling all over New England to call the 42 game schedule. Patrick has covered the Fisher Cats for various outlets since 2010. Follow him on Twitter: @pcava12.

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Daniel Norris

Daniel Norris started the 2014 season in Dunedin (milb.com)

After producing solid numbers with the Dunedin Blue Jays to start the season, everybody thought left-hander Daniel Norris would fit in just fine in the New Hampshire Fisher Cats rotation. Perhaps the 21-year-old southpaw is just shaking off the jitters as he presently makes the transition to Double-A baseball.

Starting his career in 2012 with the Bluefield Blue Jays (Rookie Appalachian League), Norris has been known throughout the Blue Jays organization as a reliable starter who can fan batters left and right. He split his rookie season between Bluefield and Vancouver posting an ERA of 8.44, while allowing 58 hits, issuing 18 walks and striking out 43 batters in 42.2 innings pitched.

Last season, the up-and-coming lefty pitched with the Lansing Lugnuts (Single-A) and the Dunedin Blue Jays (Advanced-A). His season record of 2-7 did not give his performance on the mound any justice as in over 90 innings pitched, he gave up 85 hits, walked 46 and struck out 25% of the batters he faced (100). His performance was recognized by many and by the time the 2014 season approached, Baseball America had ranked Norris as the 6th best prospect in the Toronto Blue Jays organization

Daniel Norris

Daniel Norris is now with the NH Fisher Cats. (danielnorris18/Instagram)

Starting the season in Dunedin, Norris was flawless, going 6-0 in 13 starts. He pitched 66.1 innings, giving up 18 walks and striking out a total of 76 batters. After being activated from the temporarily inactive list on July 19, Norris has gone 1-1 with the New Hampshire Fisher Cats and unfortunately has had a had a couple of rough outings. In his last few outings, he’s allowed 27 hits and 17 walks in merely 29 innings pitched. The upside is that he continues to use a good mix of his five pitches well, striking out 41 batters during this time. If his past is any indication of what will come later in the season, his record will improve and ERA will drop as his number of appearances increases.

While his next start has yet to be officially announced, Norris will likely take the hill for New Hampshire this weekend against Reading Fightin Phils (Philadelphia Phillies) at Northeast Delta Dental Stadium.

Author information

Patrick Cavanaugh
Patrick Cavanaugh
Patrick Cavanaugh is a 15-year-old sports journalist, covering the New Hampshire Fisher Cats for Jays Prospects. He is also the Voice of the Laconia Muskrats, one of the twelve teams in the New England Collegiate Baseball League. He spends his summer traveling all over New England to call the 42 game schedule. Patrick has covered the Fisher Cats for various outlets since 2010. Follow him on Twitter: @pcava12.

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David Harris Offers Great Utility For Lugnutshttp://jaysprospects.com/2014/07/17/david-harris-lugnuts/ http://jaysprospects.com/2014/07/17/david-harris-lugnuts/#comments Thu, 17 Jul 2014 19:17:05 +0000 http://jaysprospects.com/?p=9678 Every great baseball team has utility guys – players that can play a wide variety of positions and fill numerous roles on the team. The Lansing Lugnuts have that and more in David Harris, who joined the team in June. With the ability to play anywhere on the left-side of the field, Harris displays above [...]

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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.

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David Harris takes batting practice with the Vancouver Canadians (Charlie Caskey/Vancouver Sun)

David Harris takes batting practice with the Vancouver Canadians (Charlie Caskey/Vancouver Sun)

Every great baseball team has utility guys – players that can play a wide variety of positions and fill numerous roles on the team. The Lansing Lugnuts have that and more in David Harris, who joined the team in June.

With the ability to play anywhere on the left-side of the field, Harris displays above average speed with quick hands at the plate. Excited to get to know the speedy prospect, Lansing Lugnuts hitting coach Ken Huckaby discusses what he has seen from Harris since he has arrived in Lansing.

“I’m still getting to know David Harris,” said Huckaby. “David has really quick hands and great speed. David is a clubhouse guy and an excellent baseball player. I’m looking forward to getting to know him better in the future.”

Joining the Lugnuts was exciting for Harris as well. Enjoying the opportunity to play the game with a lot of his 2013 teammates from the Northwest League is a huge thrill for the Texas native.

“It’s a blast playing in Lansing,” said Harris. “I’m more comfortable with these guys from playing the game with them last year. I know how they play and they’re all team players.”

Currently batting ..333 with three doubles, a triple, four home runs, and ten RBIs in 74 plate appearances, Harris is enjoying the facilities the Blue Jays Midwest League affiliate has to offer the players.

“Lansing is really nice,” Harris said, smiling. “It’s a great baseball town with an awesome stadium. I feel Lansing has some of the best facilities in minor league baseball.”

The utility player is also enjoying the opportunity to work with his new hitting coach Ken Huckaby. Harris really enjoys Huckaby’s approach to coaching.

“Huckaby is a great guy,” stated Harris. “Huckaby keeps it loose and makes sure you’re sticking to your approach at the plate. He doesn’t focus a lot on mechanics, but more on your swing timing.”

Harris batted .263 with nine doubles, two home runs, and 19 RBIs as a member of the Vancouver Canadians in 2013. He had a great time in the Northwest League, especially winning the championship, last September.

“Winning the Northwest League Championship was awesome,” Harris recalls. “The guys were great and it was cool being part of a winning squad. Everybody wants to be on a team that wins games and it was a great way to begin my professional career.”

Selected in the 36th round of the 2013 MLB draft, Harris has nothing but good things to say about his draft experience which he was able to share with his family.

“My draft experience was cool,” Harris said with a smile. “It was exciting having my family there. Everybody showed up at the same time when my name got called. My cousin was the first to hear the news and he went nuts. It was a really cool and memorable experience.”

Prior to playing professional baseball, Harris played college baseball at Southern Arkansas University. An experience he claims was great due to excellent coaching and advice.

“My time at Southern Arkansas was amazing,” said Harris. “Playing for Coach Browning was awesome. He’s a hard-nosed coach.”

“Coach Browning always told us to never give up and we would have a chance after college,” he added. “That message really stuck in my mind and I’m glad it worked out.”

It was while attending Southern Arkansas that Harris had his most memorable baseball game of his career when he hit a walk off grand slam in the bottom of the 9th to give the Muleriders a 13-11 victory.

“It was the bottom of the 9th inning and I came to the plate with the bases loaded. It was a 1-2 count and I fouled off a curveball for the fourth pitch. The pitcher threw another curveball for the fifth pitch and it hung up a little bit. I hit it and it left the field. It was a great feeling and a great day!”

Hopefully David Harris will continue to make memories in the game of baseball 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.

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