JaysProspects http://jaysprospects.com A Blog of Toronto Blue Jays Prospects Interviews, Evaluations and News Wed, 18 Feb 2015 05:02:44 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.9.3 Conor Fisk Preparing For 1st Full Seasonhttp://jaysprospects.com/2015/02/18/conor-fisk-bluefield/ http://jaysprospects.com/2015/02/18/conor-fisk-bluefield/#comments Wed, 18 Feb 2015 05:02:44 +0000 http://jaysprospects.com/?p=9968 Helping amateur players reach their goal of playing professional baseball is the number one focus of the major league draft. While the process is exciting for players and their families, the results can be surprising, with some players getting selected by organizations that had little to no interaction throughout the process. Such was the case [...]

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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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Conor Fisk

Conor Fisk with the Southern Miss Eagles

Helping amateur players reach their goal of playing professional baseball is the number one focus of the major league draft. While the process is exciting for players and their families, the results can be surprising, with some players getting selected by organizations that had little to no interaction throughout the process.

Such was the case for right-handed pitcher Conor Fisk.

Receiving consistent contact from numerous organizations throughout his senior season at Southern Mississippi, Fisk knew he would be selected somewhere. But he never would’ve guessed he’d be putting on a Toronto Blue Jays hat on draft day.

Surprised and humbled by his 24th round selection, Fisk was excited to begin his lifelong dream of playing professional baseball. While the news of joining the Blue Jays was shocking, Fisk is more than willing to put the work in to prove the organization made the right choice.

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

The selection looked like a solid one, as Fisk had an excellent first professional season with the Blue Jays advanced-rookie ball club in West Virginia. Appearing in 33 2/3 innings, the righty registered 36 strikeouts, maintaining an excellent 9.6 K/9 ratio.

As impressive as his K/9 ratio was in Bluefield, Fisk’s best stat was his 1.158 WHIP. The prospect achieved this while transitioning to relieving. Performing as a starter at every other level of baseball, Fisk admits this adjustment took him a little time to figure out.

“Transitioning to relieving was a little difficult at the beginning, because I was always a starter in my career,” explained Fisk. “I was used to having as much time as I wanted to warm up and in Bluefield I had to learn to get hot fast in the bullpen. It’s much different, but I have developed a routine, just as I did as a starter to help me be prepared for every game I’m available for and it’s still a work in progress.”

Preparing for professional baseball at the collegiate level, Fisk split his time between Wabash Valley College and the University of Southern Mississippi. Thankful for both opportunities; the young pitcher feels each program excelled in certain areas that made the transition easier.

“I feel college baseball prepared me extremely well,” explained Fisk. “My two seasons in junior college was as close to playing pro ball as you can get at the college level in terms of playing the game with guys from around the USA and other countries. My time at Southern Mississippi gave me more experience playing at a higher level. It also gave me the discipline to work and grind every day.”

Continually finding success on the mound comes from Fisk’s approach. Throwing from a 3/4 arm slot, the righty features four pitches: a fastball, curveball, slider, and changeup. Using four different pitches helps Fisk keep hitters off-balanced. But more importantly, it’s the speed and action he uses when winding up that keeps hitters guessing.

“I use a 3/4 arm slot because I try to use the same arm speed and arm action with all of them,” stated Fisk. “This makes all my pitches look like my fastball coming out of my hand.”

Making a lot of memories in college baseball doesn’t compare to the emotions he felt in his final season of high school baseball. After the loss of a teammate and friend, Fisk’s Grafton High School squad rallied together and reached the state finals.

“My best baseball moment was helping to lead my team to state my senior year of high school, after one of my teammates and friend died in a car crash, just before our season began,” Fisk recalled. “Even though we didn’t win the journey, what my team and I did for the community goes far beyond any single achievement I’ve received in baseball.”

The Wisconsin native also had another memorable moment after his senior season when he was selected by his hometown team, the Milwaukee Brewers in the 34th round of the 2010 MLB draft. Honored by the selection, Fisk had to make a tough decision between signing, or pursuing college.

“The Brewers were my hometown and favorite team, so being drafted by them only amplified everything about making the decision,” said Fisk. “Having to make a choice like that wasn’t easy at all. But when it comes down to it I think I made the right choice to pursue college.”

Putting the finishing touches on his off-season routine, Fisk feels he’ll be well-prepared for the challenges of his first spring training. Not knowing what to expect, the 22-year old is hoping to make a solid impact this season in hopes of earning a promotion to a full season affiliate.

“I have followed our off-season strength and conditioning program, as well as doing my own workouts that I’ve learned over the years to keep my body strong and my arm in great shape,” stated Fisk. “I don’t have any expectations for spring training. I just want to go out there and compete the best I can, as I hope to be with Lansing or Dunedin at some point this season.”

Be sure to follow Conor Fisk as he looks to make the jump to a full season affiliate 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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Scott Silverstein Polishes Skills In New Rolehttp://jaysprospects.com/2015/01/18/scott-silverstein-lansing/ http://jaysprospects.com/2015/01/18/scott-silverstein-lansing/#comments Mon, 19 Jan 2015 01:51:44 +0000 http://jaysprospects.com/?p=9502 Entering professional baseball is both exciting and nerve-wracking, because it presents a great opportunity filled with many unknowns. Players have no idea how far their journeys will carry them or what roles they will have to fill along the way. Such was the case for left-handed pitcher Scott Silverstein who has adjusted to relieving since [...]

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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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Scott Silverstein

Scott Silverstein has found a solid place as an 8th inning set-up reliever. (Wendy Smith/MiLB.com)

Entering professional baseball is both exciting and nerve-wracking, because it presents a great opportunity filled with many unknowns. Players have no idea how far their journeys will carry them or what roles they will have to fill along the way. Such was the case for left-handed pitcher Scott Silverstein who has adjusted to relieving since joining the Blue Jays organization in 2013.

Prior to beginning his professional career, Silverstein spent five seasons at the University of Virginia predominantly in a starting role. But at 6’6” and 260 pounds, the Toronto Blue Jays saw someone they felt could be an intimidating late-inning guy when they selected him in the 25th round of the 2013 MLB draft.

Many scouts view relieving as a faster path to the major leagues than starting. So putting Silverstein in this role was a perfect fit, as he was roughly two years older than the majority of his Midwest League competition. Silverstein’s health is another reason why the organization went this route, as the big lefty has had two shoulder surgeries.

Accepting his new role with an open mind, Silverstein admits he enjoys pitching in any situation. While he’ll take the ball in any inning, he really strives off the adrenaline he feels with the game on the line

“Would I prefer to be out there at certain moments with a certain score? Of course I would,” Silverstein admits. “I don’t know any pitcher who doesn’t enjoy pitching when the game is on the line. More importantly, I go whenever the team wants me to go and that is all that matters.”

As a member of the Lansing Lugnuts, Silverstein pitched 64 innings primarily in the setup and closing role. The Maryland native led all Lugnuts’ pitchers in wins with 11 while striking out 67 batters.

The lefty also had four saves on the season in 11 opportunities, an area he had a little trouble with early in the season. Once he was moved into the 8th inning role, he settled in nicely and became one of the Lugnuts’ most reliable relievers through the remainder of the season.

Lugnuts pitching coach Vince Horsman provides some insight on why the organization is high on Silverstein at the backend of the bullpen as he feels experience and age are important factors when selecting a guy for the role.

“I liked Scott in the later innings because he’s an older guy in our bullpen,” said Horsman. “I feel being an older guy he’s less likely to let the moment get to him. Scott is aggressive and attacks the strike zone. He makes the hitters beat him.”

Appreciative of all the coaching he has received from Horsman throughout his 2014 campaign, Silverstein feels he learned a lot about himself this past season, and was able to make a great connection with his pitching coach.

“Working with Vince is awesome,” said Silverstein. “Vince is very knowledgeable about the game. Guys have come through Lansing and made it to the major leagues, which speaks volumes about him as a person and he did it himself. You couldn’t learn from a better source.”

“Vince and I have similar roles from a pitching standpoint and obviously he’s a great resource to go too,” he added. “Vince knows this stuff frontwards and backwards. It’s just a matter of picking your spots and picking the right information when it comes to you.”

Truly enjoying his Midwest League experience to its fullest, Silverstein feels Lansing has some of the best facilities in the league available to their players, as well as incredible fans that support the team through thick and thin.

“The ballpark in Lansing is awesome. The facilities are some of the best in the Midwest League,” stated Silverstein. “The new grounds crew guy, Lenny, did a great job keeping our field looking nice all year. The players in Lansing are really lucky to play in a stadium this nice.”

“Another great aspect of Lansing is the camaraderie of our fans. Everybody has been very welcoming to us as outsiders to their town,” he added. “We always have over 1,000 fans a game. Our Fourth of July game was an amazing experience with over 11,000 fans. The Booster Club does a great job as well. Playing in Lansing is an amazing experience all around.”

Watch for Scott Silverstein as he takes his next step in the Blue Jays minor league system in 2015 with hopes of making it to the major 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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Ryan McBroom Pushes Forwardhttp://jaysprospects.com/2015/01/07/ryan-mcbroom-vancouver/ http://jaysprospects.com/2015/01/07/ryan-mcbroom-vancouver/#comments Wed, 07 Jan 2015 05:47:41 +0000 http://jaysprospects.com/?p=9873 One of the stars of the 2014 Vancouver Canadians’ campaign was first base prospect Ryan McBroom. The 2014 15th round draft pick was relatively unheralded when selected out of West Virginia University, but it didn’t take long before his name became well known after posting an excellent .341/.404/.512 slash line over 70 games in 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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Ryan McBroom

Ryan McBroom hit his way to an .841 OPS with the Vancouver Canadians. (Cam Tucker/Metro)

One of the stars of the 2014 Vancouver Canadians’ campaign was first base prospect Ryan McBroom. The 2014 15th round draft pick was relatively unheralded when selected out of West Virginia University, but it didn’t take long before his name became well known after posting an excellent .341/.404/.512 slash line over 70 games in Vancouver.

The Blue Jays were fortunate the 22-year-old decided to go back to school to finish college, which involved majoring in sport and exercise psychology, instead of signing with the Royals when selected a year before.

“Being selected by the Blue Jays was a special moment for my family and I. Since last year going in a later round I chose to go back to school for my senior year, get my degree, and finish college on a positive note,” stated McBroom who was originally selected in the 36th round of the 2013 draft by the Royals. “I was able to polish up my skills during my senior year and was lucky enough to get picked up by an amazing organization like the Blue Jays.”

Quickly signing his professional contract in June, McBroom joined the Vancouver Canadians for their season opener. The young first baseman appeared in all 70 regular season games for the C’s batting .297 with 23 doubles, 11 home runs, and 59 RBIs.

My power is a work in progress. I am figuring myself out as a player.

“From what I heard prior to joining professional baseball, Vancouver is the top minor league city you can play in, so after spending my summer there, I was able to experience things I’ve only seen on TV,” said McBroom. “I was extremely lucky to be placed in Vancouver, as a first year player. I had a great summer, playing for great coaches.”

One of those great coaches McBroom spoke highly of is Vancouver Canadians hitting coach Dave Pano, who didn’t just serve as McBroom’s first professional hitting coach, but as a mentor that gave great advice for the young prospect moving forward.

“Pano was one of the most consistent coaches I have ever played for,” stated McBroom. “He was constantly trying to develop my swing in the hopes of extending my baseball career later down the road and I will be forever grateful for all he was able to do for me.”

McBroom’s 34 extra base hits didn’t go unnoticed as he led his team in home runs and was tied for first in doubles with shortstop Franklin Barreto, which explains why the Virginia native had the highest slugging percentage on the team at .502.

With a major emphasis on power for a first baseman at the major league level, McBroom describes his power as a work in progress which isn’t surprising for a minor leaguer. With an unspoken rule that people expect major league first baseman to hit 30 or more home runs a year, McBroom is excited for the kind of hitter he has the ability to develop into over the next couple years.

“My power is a work in progress. I am figuring myself out as a player and hitting for power is becoming my identity as a professional,” explained McBroom. “I understand that first basemen are expected to be power hitters and I’m taking the concept to heart of turning into a guy that produces runs by hitting homers. I am more than excited to put in the work to do just that.”

Even though McBroom is an exciting young hitter, he’s very proud of his defense as he feels it is an area you have to exceed at to make it to the highest level of play. McBroom was a great fielder all season in Vancouver committing just four errors in 616 chances, maintaining an excellent .994 fielding percentage. His fielding numbers are stats that the 22-year old first baseman takes a lot of pride in.

“I was always told if you can play defense, you can play in the big leagues,” explained McBroom. “I have always prided myself on being an above-average fielder. Plus playing defense is something I’ve always enjoyed doing even growing up as a kid.”

Currently in his first professional off-season, McBroom is preparing for spring training. The young prospect doesn’t have any expectations for what his first spring training will have in store for him, but he is definitely focused on a busy off-season routine to be in the best physical shape possible for spring.

“I don’t have any expectations for spring training besides getting back to baseball and having fun all while toning and developing my game,” stated McBroom. “I will also be looking forward to seeing my friends again.”

“Lifting and conditioning are some things I will be doing this off-season to stay in shape. Another thing I will be doing is getting clean in the kitchen,” he added. “Diet can sometimes separate the average athletes from the elite ones.”

Be sure to follow Ryan McBroom as he continues to be an excellent first base option in the Blue Jays minor league system for years to come with hopes of playing in the show 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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Alonzo Gonzalez Found Relief in the Bullpenhttp://jaysprospects.com/2014/12/24/alonzo-gonzalez-lansing/ http://jaysprospects.com/2014/12/24/alonzo-gonzalez-lansing/#comments Wed, 24 Dec 2014 06:34:18 +0000 http://jaysprospects.com/?p=9842 Finding your own identity as a professional baseball player can be tough, but it’s a critical aspect for continued success at higher levels. For Lansing Lugnuts left-handed pitcher Alonzo Gonzalez 2014 was just that, a year where he found his identity. The southpaw’s new identity began with the Vancouver Canadians in 2013 after a slow [...]

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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Alonzo Gonzalez

Alonzo Gonzalez pitched in both Vancouver and Lansing in 2014.

Finding your own identity as a professional baseball player can be tough, but it’s a critical aspect for continued success at higher levels. For Lansing Lugnuts left-handed pitcher Alonzo Gonzalez 2014 was just that, a year where he found his identity.

The southpaw’s new identity began with the Vancouver Canadians in 2013 after a slow start in Lansing saw the young pitcher finish up his year in the Northwest League. While going down wasn’t his plan it became a blessing in disguise, as the C’s coaching staff thought it would be a good idea for Gonzalez to become a reliever.

The move worked out well, as Gonzalez struck out 30 batters in his 37 Northwest League innings while maintaining a 1.135 WHIP. Entering 2014 the question was whether or not Gonzalez could rebound in Lansing in his new role.

Gonzalez had a few bumps throughout his first full season relieving, but on the whole he was satisfied with his season, and why not? He led all Lugnuts relievers in strikeouts (90) and led all full season Lugnuts with a 10.2 K/9 ratio, while maintaining a 1.475 WHIP.

“I like how I finished up,” stated Gonzalez. “I started off the year pretty good then I had a rough month where it didn’t seem like I was making pitches. Everything I threw out there was getting hit really hard and that was frustrating, but by the end I was really happy. I felt good in August. I think I’m developing as a pitcher and I couldn’t be happier.”

A huge improvement from his 2013 campaign that saw Gonzalez finish his time in Lansing with just 48 strikeouts in the same amount of innings. The 2014 Gonzalez improved his K/9 ratio by nearly five points, standing at just 5.4 in 2013. The left-hander also did a better job keeping runners off the base paths by allowing 22 fewer hits and 12 fewer walks between the two seasons. The transition to the bullpen has been an excellent fit for Gonzalez and he knows it.

“Relieving is definitely different than starting,” stated Gonzalez. “Starters have their own routines and a set schedule, as a reliever it’s just whenever you throw. There’s really no set date, but I like it. I like the fact that I usually come in at important parts of the game. I strive off the big moment opportunities. It really pumps me up as a competitor.”

The young prospect feels his numbers are getting better with the development of his pitches. Since being drafted in the 18th round of the 2012 MLB draft out of Glendale Community College, Gonzalez admits he had a lot of growing to still do as a pitcher in professional baseball and he’s happy with the current results.

“I think my pitches have developed a lot,” said Gonzalez. “Coming out of a junior college I didn’t throw too hard. I was a tall guy that was left-handed. I think I was drafted more on projection. I didn’t have a breaking ball when I drafted, but since beginning pro ball my velocity has gone up every single year. My 2014 velocity was higher than it’s ever been. My changeup is really good and I also have a slider now that I’m getting a lot of swing and misses with.

“Developing that off-speed pitch has really helped me in the second half of the season,” he added. “I’m doing a good job keeping hitters off-balanced and I’m tough on left-handers. I feel all my pitches have improved a lot since I was drafted.”

Another area that stands out was working with Lansing Lugnuts pitching coach Vince Horsman for a second season. Gonzalez is very thankful for everything the former major leaguer has done for him and every other pitcher on the team.

“I really like working with Vince. He’s a guy you would have to spend a couple years with to fully appreciate what he does,” Gonzalez said, smiling. “With Vince it’s not just what he does for you personally, but for the younger guys as well. He’s the perfect pitching coach for a guy who is serious about developing into a major league pitcher because he drops a lot of pearls. “

“Vince has been involved in the game for 30 years and its great talking to him and picking his brain,” he added. “The patience he has with the younger guys being low-A is outstanding. I think I can honestly say I have never had a pitching coach that’s had a bigger influence on me as a person and a baseball player. I tell Vince thanks all the time and he thinks I’m just BSing him, but I’m really appreciative of what he has done for me. The guy really knows what he is doing. He has got this development thing down.”

Happy with the improvements he has seen from Gonzalez in 2014 Vince Horsman discusses what has made Gonzalez a more effective pitcher in the Lugnuts bullpen and what he needs to do to be even better in the future.

“Alonzo’s pitches have gotten a lot better from last year to this year,” stated Horsman. “He’s throwing a lot harder. His slider is shaper. It’s just a matter of being more consistent. Right now he’s throwing two or three good outings in a row and then he has a bad one. It’s the same mistakes where he pulls out of his glove side and his pitches are up in the zone, but when he keeps his pitches low he does a really good job. I think once Alonzo figures out how to be more consistent he’ll be a really good pitcher.”

Heading home to Santa Monica, California for the off-season, Gonzalez admits his off-season doesn’t have a lot of down time, as he stays focused on getting his body in the best shape possible for the following season.

“In the off-season I do a lot of agility before I get into any kind of weight lifting,” explained Gonzalez. “I’m usually trying to improve on my footwork. I know they say pitchers are not athletes, but I try to get my athleticism up. I also do a lot of arm, shoulder, and back care. I work on my core a lot especially the lower half. I also try to get a lot of chest exercise in just standard stuff. I do a lot of stretching, so I can stay in shape and have a full healthy off-season. I don’t want my routine detoured by any kind of injuries or by pulling a muscle.”

Hopefully Gonzalez can appreciate the improvements he made in 2014, as he is preparing for another great season.

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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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

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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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
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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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

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 Rowdy Tellez Puts Power on Display appeared first on JaysProspects.

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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
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 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

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

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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
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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