Monday, February 24, 2014

Can the 2014 Lugnuts be as good as 2012?


That’s from a terrific singer/songwriter and a longtime friend, Joe Pug, whom I just saw at the Blind Pig in Ann Arbor.  I highly recommend that you check out his music.
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From the Vancouver Sun, we find this excellent blog post from Charlie Caskey, speculating as to the starting rotation for the 2014 Lansing Lugnuts.  Notable quotes:
…Jays GM Alex Anthopoulos told me there were no plans to piggy-back the young arms in Lansing this season, preferring to stretch them out.  He then went on to specifically name [Jairo] Labourt, [Chase] DeJong, and fellow live arm Alberto Tirado. …
For DeJong to be successful in the Midwest League, he’ll need to lower his H/9 [hits allowed per nine innings] and GB/FB [groundball-to-flyball] ratios… if DeJong continues to fill out and adds a mile or two to his fastball, we could be looking at a great year.
Tirado is going to shove it in Lansing.  With three potential plus pitches, including a mid-90s fastball and late movement on his change, how could things go wrong?
Exciting, right?
Charlie concludes that the Lugnuts’ 2014 rotation will look like this (with prospect Tom Robson skipping Lansing and starting the year in Dunedin):
Prospect ranks come from JS – John Sickels (Blue Jays Top 20), FG – FanGraphs (Top 15), BA – Baseball America (Top 30).
RHP Chase DeJong, age 20, JS #16, BA #11
RHP Alberto Tirado, age 19, 
JS #8, FG #6, BA #8
LHP Jairo Labourt, age 20, 
JS #15, FG #15, BA #12
LHP Shane Dawson, age 20
RHP Jeremy Gabryszwski, age 20
We’re not quite looking at the 2012 Lugnuts rotation, with Noah Syndergaard/Aaron Sanchez/Justin Nicolino situation of three dynamite future aces, supplemented by Anthony DeSclafani, a prospect in his own right, fringe prospect David Rollins, sinkerballing veteran Marcus Walden and near no-hit man Jesse Hernandez… and Midwest League MVP Kevin Pillar, sleeper Andy Burns and prospect catcher Carlos Perez in the starting lineup.  (Whew!)
We are looking at a group that could easily establish themselves as the next big things in the Jays’ system after Aaron Sanchez, with the potential to overtake the rehabbing Roberto Osuna and the growing Daniel Norris.  I’m especially fond of the presence of the 20-year-old Dawson, who dominated last season and has the potential to be an early stalwart in the rotation while the other pitchers work with Vince Horsman on ironing out the kinks.
And this isn’t even to touch on hitters Mitch Nay, Dawel Lugo, and D.J. Davis, all top 10 prospects in the organization, with Matt Dean and a possible returning Santiago Nessy.
(What’s more, prospect lefty Matt Smoral, righty Clinton Hollon, and righty Miguel Castro are all waiting in the wings, ready to reach Lansing in 2015-2016 along with whomever the Jays select in this June’s draft.)
Coming tomorrow… a closer look at that Lugnuts rotation.
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Tuesday:  starting rotation preview
Wednesday:  bullpen preview
Thursday:  starting lineup preview

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