Tuesday, March 3, 2015

15 ex-Lugnuts who could make the Majors in 2015

Reading Material:From the Hardball Times, Jack Moore writes about "Baseball Writers, Big Business and Big Sports." He has his head and thoughts in the right place, but there's a lot going on with the piece.
* Blue Jays From Away takes an educated guess about the Lansing Lugnuts' 2015 position players. There's no Anthony Alford or D.J. Davis in his projected Lugs outfield, which I mildly disagree with. I expect we'll get one of the two.
* And, lastly, SportsLogos.net reported a story (in which I was extensively interviewed) on the origin and appeal of the Lansing Lugnuts name.
So... Lansing looks like this
snow
Photo attribute: Me, a few minutes ago.
On the bright side, welcome back, Grapefruit League baseball! The Blue Jays play their first exhibition game of 2015 against the Pirates at 1:07 p.m. The starting lineup:
shi lineup
Courtesy: @ShiDavidi
There are a number of former Lugnuts on that lineup card: starting outfielders Kevin Pillar and Dalton Pompey, starting pitcher Aaron Sanchez, reserves Anthony Alford, Ryan Goins, A.J. Jimenez, Mitch Nay, Sean Ochinko, and Dwight Smith, and relief pitcher Miguel Castro. Pillar, Pompey, Sanchez, and Goins have all made the Majors already. The others have yet to debut in the Bigs.
Who will be the next Lugs to reach the Majors?
Let's discuss.
CarlosPerez2
Carlos Perez, 2011-2012 Lugnuts catcher
Did you know? 103 former Lugnuts have made the Majors since the club's 1996 inception, six last year.
Likeliest Suspects
1.  Noah Syndergaard, class of '11-'12. He's the New York Mets' #1 prospect, one of the top pitching talents in the sport. Noah won't start the season in the Bigs, but he'll be in the Mets' rotation sometime mid-season.
2.  Carlos Perez, class of '11-'12. The Los Angeles Angels delightedly traded Hank Conger for him in the offseason and plan to slate Carlos as their #2 catcher on Opening Day. By the way: there have been 19 Carlos Perezes in pro baseball history.
3.  Justin Nicolino, class of '11-'12. Comprised the "Lansing 3" with Syndergaard and Aaron Sanchez in 2012 and now rates as the Miami Marlins' #3 prospect. Like Noah Syndergaard, likely to arrive around June or July.
4.  David Rollins, class of '12. Selected in the Rule 5 Draft by the Seattle Mariners in December. If he sticks in Spring Training, he'll be on the M's Opening Day roster. With Rollins, Syndergaard, Sanchez, Nicolino and Anthony DeSclafani (a MLBer last year in Miami), the 2012 Lugnuts starting rotation might retrospectively have featured five Major League starters. Nice.
5.  Ryan Tepera, class of '10. Tep has patiently worked his way up the ladder, spending all of last season in Triple-A Buffalo. He's now a member of the Blue Jays' 40-man roster, which allows Toronto to call him up at any time.
6.  A.J. Jimenez, class of '09-'10. Also on the Blue Jays' 40-man. Injuries have hampered the catcher's career, but he waits in the wings if Toronto needs a reserve backstop. If he stays healthy, he'll be looking at a second-string Major League role for the next 5-10 years or so.
Hey, They Could Make it
7.  Jon Berti '12. The Blue Jays need second basemen, a need so deep that they traded for Devon Travis and are converting Dwight Smith, Jr. to the position. Jon plays above-average defense, hits line drives, and run the bases with speed and intelligence. He'll start the season in Triple-A and could well earn his way forward.
8.  Andy Burns '12. Andy has a ton of tools and plays a range of infield positions. He'll be challenged in Triple-A, but like Berti is a perfect candidate to come up to the Bigs in a utility infield role.
9. and 10.  Jack Murphy '10-'11 / Sean Ochinko '10. Both are catchers, both are in Major League camp, both have Triple-A experience... heck, why not? A catcher always has a shot at an MLB call-up. Stay healthy and earn trust from pitchers, that's the key for any catcher.
11.  Marcus Walden '11-'12. He reached the MLB 40-man last year and was called up, but never served time in a game. He's now in the Cincinnati Reds' organization and likely ticketed for Triple-A. A solid performance and a Major League need punches his ticket.
12.  Tyler Ybarra '12.  Tyler is big, left-handed and throws hard. He was traded to the Rockies in the offseason, which bodes well for his future that Colorado asked specifically for him. It's not too much of a stretch to see him pop into the Rox bullpen sometime during the year.
Hey, Why Not?
13.  Dwight Smith, Jr., '13. Transitioning to second base, possessing average to above-average skills in all areas, Dwight gets his first taste of Double-A this year. September call-up potential?
14. and 15.  Roberto Osuna '13 / Miguel Castro '14. Two 20-year-olds with big time arms, both of them already invited to Major League camp. The Blue Jays are high on the young right-handers. If they prosper, Osuna in Double-A and Castro in A-Advanced, one or both could catch some helium.

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