Thursday, February 27, 2014

2014 Spotlight: the Potential Starting Lineup

Yesterday was the first day of official Spring Training competition in the Grapefruit and Cactus Leagues.  The most notable highlights of the day were turned in by Oakland’s Josh Reddick, with these catches.
The Blue Jays defeated the Phillies, 4-3, in a rain-shortened game.  Among notable former Lugnuts, Ryan Goins went 0-for-2, Kevin Pillar was 0-for-1, Moises Sierra went 1-for-1 with a triple, and Chad Jenkins recorded the last out before the rain arrived.  (Also, Jose Bautista hit a ball here.)
Jonathan Diaz is an interesting player to keep an eye on.  You might not know his name, but he played for the Lugnuts back in 2007.  Last season he made his MLB debut for the Red Sox; this year he’s back with the Blue Jays, trying to earn a roster spot in Spring Training.  We wish him well.
Meanwhile, in a professionals vs. collegians tilt, the Miami Marlins defeated the Miami Hurricanes and Jake Marisnick went 1-for-2 with a single, stolen base, and run scored.  (This is my unshakable opinion:  Jake Marisnick, while playing in Lansing, was the living embodiment of Clark Kent/Superman.)
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Do you know this great man?
He’s back in the news, and for good reason.
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My educated guess at the 2014 Lugnuts lineup:
1.  D.J. Davis, CF
2.  Mitch Nay, 3B
3.  L.B. Dantzler, 1B or DH
4.  Carlos Ramirez, RF
5.  Santiago Nessy, C
6.  Matt Dean, 1B or DH
7.  Dawel Lugo, SS
8.  Dickie Thon, 2B
9.  Jacob Anderson, LF
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To take them one by one, now:
1.  D.J. Davis is rated the #3 prospect in the system by Baseball America.  A toolsy center fielder with outstanding speed, he was drafted 17th overall in 2012.  No, he hasn’t played above Bluefield, but there appears to be a common consensus that he’s coming to Lansing this season.
2.  Mitch Nay is #4 in the system.  Not bad, right?  In some places, he’s rated above Davis.  Nay was drafted 58th overall in 2012.  Everyone agrees that he should be playing third base for the Lugnuts this year.
3.  L.B. Dantzler was so good in Vancouver last season that he could very well skip Lansing and move right up to Dunedin.  The South Carolina product batted .302, drew walks, showed power, and won the C’s team MVP award.  (I have also heard exceptional things about his character.)
4.  Carlos Ramirez played for the Lugnuts last year and showed great skills, leading the team with 27 doubles, but batted a mere .228.  A second go-round might see him take the leap forward and become a consistent masher, like Gustavo Pierre before him.
5.  Santiago Nessy (BA’s #23 prospect) might move on to Dunedin, too.  I’m guessing he returns simply because of the Blue Jays’ catching prospect pattern:  A.J. Jimenez played in Lansing in 2009 and 2010, Carlos Perez was a Lug in both 2011 and 2012 — why not Nessy in 2013 and 2014?  If not Santiago, we’re looking at Mike Reeves, who was excellent in Vancouver last year.
6.  Matt Dean (BA’s #25 prospect) led the Appalachian League with a .338 batting average last year.  If Dantzler is skipped up to Dunedin, Dean gets the Lugnuts’ regular first base job.
7.  Dawel Lugo is ranked as the #9 prospect in the organization.  He didn’t walk much for Bluefield last year, but he didn’t strike out much either — and he tied for the team lead with six home runs.  If he doesn’t start the season with Lansing, we should see him at some point in the mid-summer.
8.  Dickie Thon was a prospect, then he wasn’t a prospect, and now he might be a prospect again.  Read his profile, at #37, and see if that helps explain things.  He did well in Vancouver last season, and he’s ready to move up to Lansing.  If Dawel Lugo isn’t ready, Thon will be the Lugnuts’ starting shortstop.
9.  Jacob Anderson is a mystery.  Rib surgery and a subsequent infection robbed him of his 2013 season.  Is he ready for Lansing after a struggle of a 2012 season in Bluefield?  A lot of folks seem to think he’s going to be here, regardless of whether he’s ready or not.  Here’s Blue Jays from Away on the subject.
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Wild cards
The entire 2013 starting outfield for Vancouver – Chaz Frank, Ian Parmleyand Brenden Kalfus – is ready to move up.  How many of the three come to Lansing, and who skips the MWL and heads right to Dunedin?
In 2013, INF Kellen Sweeney and OF Chris Hawkins both struggled in their second season with the Lugnuts.  Does either one come back for a third year?
Whither Andy Fermin?  He played in Lansing for 55 games in 2012, and then played in 57 games for Vancouver last year.  (He was solid, too!)  Does Andy return to the Lugnuts this season in a utility infielder role?
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Lastly, this is awesome.

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