Wednesday, March 13, 2013

A stab in the dark at the Lugnuts' pitchers

Behold:  Roberto Osuna!

Take these guesses with a grain of salt -- an early prediction of the 2013 Lugs pitchers:

                         Starting Rotation

                         RHP Taylor Cole
                         RHP Javier Avendaño
                         RHP Roberto Osuna
                         LHP Kyle Anderson
                         RHP Jeremy Gabryszewski


                         RHP Zack Breault
                         RHP Wil Browning
                         RHP Chuck Ghysels
                         RHP Ian Kadish
                         RHP Jonathan Kountis

                         RHP Drew Permison
                         RHP Andrew Sikula
                         LHP Colton Turner


Let's talk about some of these players.

*  Taylor Cole was sensational last year in Vancouver, putting up a 6-0 record with a 0.81 ERA.  Even better, when you remove a six-inning, four-run start from his ledger (in which he received the victory), that ERA drops to 0.30.  Good heavens.  He closed with a flourish, firing 7 2/3 no-hit innings in his final regular season start.  Bring this man to Lansing.

*  Javier Avendaño and I got along quickly when he began the season in Lansing last year, serving as a top-notch setup man for Ajay Meyer (30 1/3 innings, 1.48 ERA, 39 strikeouts).  The right-hander then moved down to Vancouver to convert to starting pitching.  The move suited him well:  He was the Canadians' R. Howard Webster Award winner as team MVP, compiling an 8-1 record with a 1.27 ERA.  A quick Javier story -- He's Venezuelan, but his grandfather is Italian, so he roots for Team Italy in international competitions.

*   In his Vancouver debut last year, Roberto Osuna struck out 13 batters in five one-hit scoreless innings.  He was nearly as good in the Northwest League playoffs, whiffing 15 batters in eight shutout frames while allowing only two hits.  If Aaron Sanchez is the Blue Jays' #1 prospect, Osuna could very well be #2.  I'm psyched to have him here.

*  We need a lefty in the rotation, so Kyle Anderson (4-2, 4.81 for Vancouver last year, and pitched well toward the end of the year) fills out the starting five.

*  I'm rushing Jeremy Gabryszewski up the ladder somewhat.  He pitched only for Bluefield a year ago, but he pitched (3-0, 2.35, 46 innings) and he has excellent control (22 strikeouts / four walks).  He's young, about to turn 20 on March 16th, so I can understand if the Jays take it slow and send Jeremy to Vancouver instead.

*  As far as the bullpen is concerned, I have Ian Kadish returning to Lansing simply because we always get a returnee or three.  (Last year, for instance, we got Brandon Berl back.)  I'd much rather see Ian in Dunedin, moving up toward the Majors.  A healthy Drew Permison, Andrew Sikula and Wil Browning should comprise the back end of the bullpen.  Zack Breault is a swing man.  Colton Turner gives the Lugs a shutdown lefty.

*  The two wildest guesses are Chuck Ghysels and Jonathan Kountis.  Ghysels was the closer for the Gulf Coast League Blue Jays a year ago, going 7-for-7 in saves with 41 strikeouts in 25 2/3 innings.  Kountis was signed out of Indy ball during the offseason after posting a dominating 6-2, 1.06 mark with the Frontier League's Lake Erie Crushers.  As a former Independent League guy myself, I'd love to see him here.

Other possibilities:  Tim Brechbuehler, Matt Johnson, Jonathan Lucas.

*  I'm hoping for top LHP prospect Daniel Norris.  There's a chance, if his spring goes well, that we see Norris in Lansing to anchor the rotation.  Near the end of the year, we might seen another touted lefty in Chase DeJong.


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