Saturday, March 31, 2012

Breaking down the 2012 Lugnuts roster

In case you haven't seen it yet, here's the 2012 Lugnuts roster press release and here's the roster PDF.

What do all of those names mean for the year?  A closer look:

The Headliners
Any conversation about the Lugnuts this year needs to start with starting pitchers Justin Nicolino, Noah Syndergaard and Aaron Sanchez, all with Major League ability and all hoping for a path to Double-A in mid-2013 and Toronto sometime in 2014 or 2015.  Expect strikeouts aplenty.

Baseball America ranks Nicolino, Syndergaard and Sanchez as the Blue Jays' #5, #6 and #7 prospects.

Their Catcher
Carlos Perez is back, and it's very likely that he'll stay paired with the NSS triumvirate all the way up the ladder in the same way that A.J. Jimenez has been placed with Drew Hutchison, Deck McGuire, Joel Carreno, Chad Jenkins and Ryan Tepera in Double-A New Hampshire.  I expect an All-Star season from Carlos this year both defensively and offensively.

BA ranks Perez as the Blue Jays' #14 prospect.

Something to Prove
First baseman K.C. Hobson is back.  Third baseman Bryson Namba is back.  Outfielders Markus Brisker and Kenny Wilson are back.  A returning player in the Midwest League should be both a leader and a difference-maker.  Enough said.

Hello and Welcome
Chris Hawkins (team MVP of Bluefield in 2011) and Kellen Sweeney have the prospect status, ranked #25 and #19 respectively.  Jorge Vega-Rosado was the MVP of his Gulf Coast League team last year.  Jon Berti was the igniter of the Northwest League champions in Vancouver.  Kevin Patterson and Kevin Pillar enjoyed outstanding professional debuts.

Of the new and returning players, expect:

1)  Someone to have a brilliant April and then cool off.
2)  Someone to have a terrible April and then get hot.
3)  Someone to be in over their head.
4)  Someone to be far too good for the Midwest League and make the game look easy.
5)  A few home runs and a ton of errors early, and a ton of home runs and less errors as the weather warms up.

The Bullpen
There's only one familiar name here, and I think Brandon Berl should be dependable, seeing as how it's his second year with the team. I don't know the rest of the crew, but since it's an older bunch, one would think that they should be just fine.

In Summary
Watch out, Midwest League!

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