In March 2013, I put together a list of ten Lugnuts alumni I expected to reach the Major Leagues next. Let’s go over that list, divided into specific categories:
The Likeliest MLBers
1. Ryan Goins
2. A. J. Jimenez
3. Nestor Molina
4. Mike McDade
5. Jake Marisnick
6. Sean Nolin
7. Sean Ochinko
8. Ryan Schimpf
9. Mark Sobolewski
And One More
10. Danny Barnes
As it turned out, six Lansing Lugnuts players did make their Major League debut last season: Ryan Goins (#1), Jake Marisnick (#5), Sean Nolin (#6), and… uh, Jonathan Diaz, Kevin Pillar, and Daniel Webb, none of whom was mentioned.
Maybe it was excusable to not see Diaz’s debut as imminent, but how could I not foresee Pillar’s ascension — especially after his 2012 MWL Most Valuable Player campaign?
Let’s try this again!
Who are the most likely Lugnuts alumni to make their MLB debut in 2014?
1. Noah Syndergaard(New York Mets): the big right-hander has vaulted to the top of the Mets’ prospect lists; a June promotion wouldn’t be surprising in the slightest.
2. A.J. Jimenez: hamstrung by injuries during his MiLB career, this is the year that A.J. finally gets the opportunity to catch in the Bigs. (He’s a whale of a defensive catcher, too, though his bat might struggle.)
3. Kenny Wilson: the speedy center fielder took a while to figure things out in Lansing, with injuries and an attempt at switch-hitting bogging down his career for a bit, but now he’s on his way. He’s on the Jays’ 40-man roster like Jimenez, so he’s an easy callup.
4/5. Justin Nicolino/Anthony DeSclafani(Miami Marlins): if they do well at the Double-A level, their ticket to the National League is punched.
6. Carlos Perez (Houston Astros):the 2011-2012 Lugs catcher made his way to Triple-A last year; this year, he plays in Houston.
7. Nestor Molina(Chicago White Sox): I’m not getting off the Molina bandwagon. If he can put together a semblance of a solid season in the White Sox system this year, he’s making the Majors.
8. Aaron Sanchez: my figuring is that Sanchez enjoys an up and down (but mostly up) year in New Hampshire and then receives a taste of the Majors in September before becoming a much larger piece in the Blue Jays’ future in 2015.
9. Ryan Schimpf: power blossomed in the Eastern League in 2013 (23 home runs), though his average dipped down to .210… potential middle infield depth for Toronto?
10. Andy Burns: gathered helium last year with a great start in Dunedin, rising up to New Hampshire; if he plays well in Double-A, why not?
Honorable Mentions… Marcus Walden/Kevin Nolan: it’s always a good sign if you get invited as a non-roster invitee to Spring Training, and both Walden and Nolan will be taking part in Blue Jays’ camp this spring. They’re not prospects but if they impress, their names will be remembered. And Tyler Ybarra/Alan Farina: you never know if a reliever might suddenly get a chance to make his impact in the Major League pen.