JB: Vancouver Canadians review, Atkinson, Case, Hollon, Hurley

Andrew Case had the best strikeout rate and the third-best ERA to earn the Vancouver Canadians co-reliever of the year. Photo: Jay Blue.  

Andrew Case had the best strikeout rate and the third-best ERA to earn the Vancouver Canadians co-reliever of the year. Photo: Jay Blue.  

Vancouver Canadians 2015 Report
Blue Jays from Away Awards
By Jay Blue

The next stop in our tour of the Toronto Blue Jays’ minor league system is back in our home and native land, Vancouver.

Manager John Schneider couldn’t lead the Canadians back to the playoffs as the club missed the postseason for the first time as a Blue Jays affiliate. The Cs finished the season 34-42, falling short of their Pythagorean record of 38-38, despite actually finishing fourth in the league (out of eight) in both runs per game and runs allowed. The Cs’ hitters averaged 21.5 years of age (above the league average of 20.9) while the pitchers were right at the league average at 21.4 years old.

While it wasn’t as old a team as we might have seen in previous years, it also wasn’t as prospect laden. As usual, the Blue Jays stocked the Canadians with several, well, Canadians, with Justin Atkinson, Connor Panas, Andrew Case, Sean Ratcliffe and Tom Robson representing the Maple Leaf.

Blue Jays from Away Player of the Game Champion
For those of you who followed the minor league reports here, you’ll know that I “awarded†Player of the Game (PotG) accolades on a game-by-game basis. It should comfort you to know that I’ve been keeping track of these daily awards and my rationale for the system is as follows.

The Player of the Game Awards were determined by a number of factors that included who I thought had the most impact on the game and who might have gone “above and beyond.†Most nights, there was just one Player of the Game. If there was, he earned one point. If I thought that either a) no one stood out enough to merit a single PotG, or b) two or more players were outstanding and deserved mention, I split the point up into two, three or four shares. If two players earned PotG mention, they each received 0.5 points and if three players earned mentions, they each received 0.3 points. There were occasions that I felt that no one merited the award and therefore, I did not give out any points.

The final standings for Blue Jays from Away Player of the Game for the Vancouver Canadians:
Sean Hurley, Justin Atkinson 5
Connor Panas 4.5
Andrew Guillotte 4.3
Lane Thomas 4
Gunnar Heidt 3.1
Evan Smith, Tayler Saucedo 3
Juan Kelly, Carl Wise, Francisco Rios, Josh DeGraaf, Ryan Metzler, Rolando Segovia 2
Angel Perdomo 1.8
Earl Burl, J.C. Cardenas, Michael Kraft, Ryan Hissey 1.5
Clinton Hollon, Austin Davis, Juan Tejada, Stuart Holmes, Gabriel Cenas 1
Jon Wandling, Kevin Garcia 0.8
Brandon Hinkle, Conor Fisk, Alexis Maldonado, Travis Bergen, Turner Lee, Daniel Lietz, James Lynch, Tom Robson, Bob Wheatley, Jonathan Harris, Sean Ratcliffe 0.5

It’s another tie! Sean Hurley was one of the offensive leaders of the Canadians and Justin Atkinson did nothing but regain his hitting stroke after being sent down from Lansing. Atkinson’s resurgence allowed him to tie for the win despite coming to the plate about 60 times fewer than Hurley. It was actually very close at the top of the table this year, with five players coming within one point of the win. Honourable mentions go to Canadian Connor Panas, Andrew Guillotte and Lane Thomas who spent much of the year battling a wrist injury.

Congrats to Sean Hurley and Justin Atkinson, our co-Blue Jays from Away Player of the Game Champions!

Blue Jays from Away Player of the Year
In the offensive categories, one of my biggest indicators is OPS. While not perfect, this gives us a player who is both getting on base and hitting with some authority. The runaway leader in this statistic for the Vancouver Canadians this year was Sean Hurley and the 23 year old may just have had a breakout season after struggling through two previous seasons with batting averages that maxed out at .216. For the Canadians, Hurley hit .253/.363/.441 (for an OPS of .804), leading the club in plate appearances, home runs (9), triples (4), and slugging percentage while tying Ryan Hissey at the top of the list for OBP and finishing second in hits to Justin Atkinson and third in doubles behind Atkinson and Lane Thomas.

Congrats to Sean Hurley!

Honourable mentions: Justin Atkinson, Ryan Hissey, Connor Panas, Andrew Guillotte

Blue Jays from Away Pitcher of the Year
 
Selecting a Pitcher of the Year was tough. Really tough. I look for pitchers who are dominant at the level over the most innings. This is why starters generally have the edge but for the Canadians, few pitchers really dominated. The winner this year, in a very close race, was Clinton Hollon. Of the pitchers in contention with more than 30 innings, Hollon had the best combination of ERA (5th), FIP (2nd), strikeout rate (2nd), strikeout-to-walk ratio (3rd) and WHIP (2nd). And he did it all while coming back from Tommy John surgery last year and at 20 years of age.

Congrats to Clinton Hollon, the Pitcher of the Year!

Honourable mentions: Brandon Hinkle, Tayler Saucedo, Francisco Rios

Blue Jays from Away Reliever of the Year
This is another difficult award. There were several strong relievers in the group for the Vancouver Canadians and I was looking deeper into the peripheral stats to come up with a winner. I’m going towards the middle ground for this selection. Like my selection of Clinton Hollon for Pitcher of the Year, I’m selecting Andrew Case and Brandon Hinkle as the co-Relievers of the Year, I’m attaching value to being very good in a number of categories without necessarily having to be the best in any. That said, Case did lead the Canadians (who pitched at least 20 innings) in one category (strikeout rate) while having the third-best ERA, sixth-best FIP and fourth-best WHIP. Hinkle had the best ERA on the club (1.14) and although his 23 walks and 4.34 FIP were working against him, he only allowed 24 hits in 39 1/3 innings.

Congrats to Andrew Case and Brandon Hinkle, our Relievers of the Year!

Honourable mentions: Turner Lee, Josh DeGraaf

Blue Jays from Away Most Improved Player
Sean Hurley had an almost unbelievable turnaround from year to year winning him the Most Improved Player Award. Hurley went from hitting .157/.267/.270 (for a .536 OPS) in 2014, split between Vancouver and Bluefield, to a .253/.363/.441 (.804 OPS) in 2015. When you compare his wRC+ (weighted Runs Created plus) from Vancouver alone in 2014 with what he did in 2015, there’s a phenomenal 89 point swing (from 43 to 132). This means that he went from hitting 57% below the league average in 2014 to 32% above the league average in 2015.

Honourable Mention: Sean Ratcliffe

Blue Jays from Away Best Newcomer
Another difficult decision had to be made here. There were several hitters who were drafted this season who distinguished themselves including Connor Panas and Ryan Hissey (the Webster Award winner) while Andrew Guillotte had a solid year, getting on base and then stealing them. Tayler Saucedo was also in the running with seven strong starts for the Canadians.

On the strength of his outstanding work with the Bluefield Blue Jays (for which he wasn’t eligible for an award) in addition to the Vancouver Canadians, pitcher Tayler Saucedo is the Vancouver Canadians’ Best Newcomer.

Honourable mention: Connor Panas, Ryan Hissey, Andrew Guillotte

Starting pitchers
The Vancouver Canadians’ starting rotation had pitchers dropping in and out for most of the season, resulting in just three pitchers making 10 starts or more. The starters included this year’s first-round and 21st round draft picks, the 2013 second and fourth rounder, an international free agent from 2012, and a non-drafted free agent picked up in 2014. How did it all fit together? Let’s see.

Leading the Canadians in innings was Francisco Rios, a 20-year-old Mexican righty, pitching in his third season with the Blue Jays’ affiliates. Despite a 4.27 ERA and 1.48 WHIP, Rios had a 3.28 FIP and struck out just over 20% of the batters he faced while walking a very respectable 8.7%. There may still be some control issues particularly with his breaking ball as Rios led the Canadians with 12 wild pitches but, overall, had a very solid season and will likely be in Lansing in 2016.

Evan Smith, 20, was looking at a big season in 2015 after posting very strong numbers in the GCL and Bluefield in 2014. Smith didn’t look particularly dominant in Vancouver, logging 49 2/3 innings with a 4.71 ERA, 5.09 FIP and 1.63 WHIP. The most concerning number is his very low, 12.0% strikeout rate although his 8.0% walk rate was solid. Smith is still young and had a strong season last year and should be able to recover but I can see another season of short-season ball in his future.

Jon Harris, the Jays’ first round pick of 2015 didn’t have the best pro debut after his season at Missouri State University. The 21 year old logged 36 very carefully monitored innings, posting a 6.75 ERA, 1.92 WHIP but a much better 4.02 FIP, suggesting that there was some bad luck involved in those high numbers. Harris struck out 18.2% and walked 11.9% with both numbers leaving room for improvement. It’s tough to evaluate players in their first professional year and word is that Harris has gone through some mechanical adjustments which can also lead to some ugly numbers (just ask Daniel Norris). I don’t think there’s much to worry about here and Harris will likely be seeing action early in 2016 with the Lansing Lugnuts.

At only 20 years old and coming back from Tommy John surgery, Clinton Hollon had some great success in Vancouver before earning a promotion to Lansing, where his season was cut short by a suspension for testing positive for an amphetamine. Hollon threw 45 1/3 innings with Vancouver, posting a 3.18 ERA, a 3.32 FIP and a 1.15 WHIP, striking out 21.5% and walking 8.1%. His numbers were fairly solid in 13 1/3 innings in Lansing despite some struggles with his control and a lack of strikeouts. Hollon will probably be back in mid-May of 2016 and will rejoin the Lugnuts.

Tayler Saucedo, 22 was one of the nice surprises of the 2015 draft class. Drafted in the 21st round, Saucedo quickly proved that he wasn’t overwhelmed by the pro game, posting a 2.42 ERA and 1.20 WHIP in 22 1/3 innings with Bluefield, walking only four and striking out 18 before moving up to Vancouver where he was challenged a little more. In Vancouver, Saucedo posted a 2.52 ERA, 3.55 FIP and 1.46 WHIP, improving his strikeout rate to 20.0% while seeing a large blip in walk rate to 12.3% in 35 2/3 innings. Saucedo should also get a chance to join the Lansing rotation in 2016 after a solid first season in the pros.

Righty Jonathon Wandling has pitched a three levels in each of his two years in the organization after being signed as a non-drafted free agent in 2014. The 23-year-old logged 46 1/3 innings for Vancouver with a 4.66 ERA, 3.82 FIP and 1.42 WHIP to show for it, striking out 17.0% and walking only 5.5%. He threw 17 2/3 innings in Lansing with a 4.08 ERA but a 4.53 FIP, walking 12.7% and striking out only 10.1% while allowing three runs in 4 2/3 innings in Dunedin without striking out anyone.

Finally, Ryan Borucki, 21, made two starts in Vancouver before his injuries overtook his season yet again. Borucki only managed to get through 4 2/3 innings, allowing two runs with three walks and six strikeouts (adding an inning in the GCL) before he was shut down.

Relief Pitchers
The Canadians tend to see a lot of former college pitchers join the relief corps and 2015 was not unusual in this sense. The Canadians relief corps had several pitchers pitch very well despite a sub-.500 season.

Canadian righty Andrew Case led the Canadians in appearances, and while the 22 year old was very strong in Vancouver, he struggled in Lansing before his demotion. To start the season, Case threw 21 2/3 innings with the Lugnuts, but despite the 3.32 ERA and 1.43 WHIP, he had a 5.66 FIP to go with a 16.0% strikeout rate and 6.4% walk rate. When he arrived in Vancouver, he did better, throwing 30 2/3 innings and collecting 10 saves while leading the team in strikeout rate at 22.3% while walking 9.2%. His 2.93 ERA, 3.83 FIP and 1.21 WHIP were all improvements over his Lansing numbers. Case should be back in Lansing in 2016 and could even see Dunedin and has nothing left to prove in Vancouver.

Coming into his age-23 season, righty Michael Kraft got into action in May, rather than waiting for the short-season leagues to start. Kraft pitched one game with the Dunedin Blue Jays before heading north to Lansing where he made six appearances, throwing 6 2/3 innings and giving up seven runs (although six of them were in his final outing on June 12). Kraft finally headed to Vancouver, where he was likely slated to go in spring training, and threw 36 2/3 innings, posting a 3.68 ERA, 5.46 FIP and 2.05 WHIP. Much of his issues came from a 17.4% walk rate that was actually higher than his strikeout rate of 16.3%. Already 24, Kraft should be headed to Lansing to start next season despite his struggles with control. He’ll be expected to improve on those numbers in 2016.

Lefty Turner Lee went to Vancouver last year after a rough season in the GCL despite being a college pitcher signed as a non-drafted free agent in 2014. Lee turned things around in a big way in 2015, providing the Canadians with 34 2/3 solid innings, notching a 3.38 ERA, 3.52 FIP and 1.04 WHIP. Despite those numbers, his 14.4% strikeout rate was rather low but his 5.0% walk rate is stellar. Lee will also be considered for the Lansing bullpen in 2016 at the age of 24.

Like Lee, Bob Wheatley made the jump from the GCL to Vancouver after a less than stellar pro debut. Drafted in the 26th round in 2014, Wheatley threw 30 2/3 innings in Vancouver and while his numbers weren’t terrific, they still marked an improvement over 2014. Wheatley had a 4.99 ERA, 5.72 FIP and 1.73 WHIP with an 18.9% strikeout rate and an 11.9% walk rate. Obviously the walk rate is going to have to come down if Wheatley is to compete for a spot on a full-season roster.

Drafted out of high school in Pickering, Ontario, 2015 marked Sean Ratcliffe’s third year with the Blue Jays. Ratcliffe had been both a catcher and a pitcher but the 6-foot-4 righty has been eased into his work as a pitcher with just 22 1/3 innings over his first two professional seasons (with limited signs of improvement). Ratcliffe took a big jump in 2015, throwing 40 innings for the Vancouver Canadians as one of the youngest pitchers on the staff at the age of 20, and had a 3.60 ERA, 3.85 FIP and 1.30 WHIP with a 17.4% strikeout rate and a 9.4% walk rate. While I don’t really have a handle of his stuff just yet, I’m looking forward to seeing with this young GTA righty can do at a higher level in 2016.

Lefty Brandon Hinkle was one of our co-Relievers of the Year and the product of the University of Delaware certainly proved to be very effective with a 1.14 ERA and 1.19 WHIP. While his 21.3% strikeout rate is very good, his 14.8% walk rate is up from last year in the Gulf Coast League and that, combined with the 4.34 FIP leave some cause for concern going forward. With an unsustainable .227 BABIP and left-on-base percentage (LOB%) of over 90%, some regression is almost a certainty in 2016.

Lefty Stuart Holmes was an undrafted free agent signed this year who started in Bluefield but moved up to Vancouver after just 5 2/3 innings. Holmes went 25 1/3 innings for the Canadians and had some solid numbers with a 3.91 ERA, 3.48 FIP and 1.26 WHIP while striking out 22.2% of batters. The one downside was the walk totals as Holmes walked 12.0% of the batters he faced, marring what would have otherwise been a very good season. Holmes was among the younger pitchers in the Cs ‘pen in 2015 at 22 and will likely be considered for a spot in Lansing in 2016.

University of Florida product Daniel Young made his pro debut as a 21 year old and the lefty struggled in his time in Vancouver. In 27 innings, Young posted an ERA of 6.33 and a FIP of 5.79 with an unsightly 2.04 WHIP, striking out just 6.3% of batters while walking 9.5%. An eighth round pick, there’s probably more in Young that meets the eye and I look forward to seeing what he can do in 2016.

Josh Degraaf, 22, came to the Blue Jays in the 31st round of the draft and after a stellar, 9 1/3 inning debut with Bluefield, settled in with the Vancouver Canadians. In Bluefield, Degraaf struck out 11 batters and walked only one before moving up and struck out 15.5% and walked 8.1% in Vancouver. Still, his numbers were very good overall, as a 3.15 ERA and 4.16 FIP with a 1.34 WHIP showed. Degraaf is another pitcher who had a solid season and could be in line for a Lansing bullpen spot which, is already getting pretty crowded.

Starting the season at the age of 24, Joey Aquino had a very small window with which to make his move in professional baseball. Aquino was excellent in Bluefield last season but couldn’t duplicate those results at a higher level this year, posting a 10.57 ERA and 2.22 WHIP in 7 2/3 innings with the Vancouver Canadians before the Blue Jays released him.

Ryan Cook, 22, was another non-drafted free agent signed by the Blue Jays this year and the righty got innings in at three different levels. Cook started in the GCL and threw 14 2/3 innings with a 1.84 ERA and 2.01 FIP, striking out 26.2% of batters while walking just 7.7%. He made two appearances in Dunedin and threw another 2 2/3 innings, giving up a run with three strikouts and one walk before moving along to Vancouver where he added another 18 1/3 innings, posting a 3.93 ERA and 2.89 FIP, striking out 23.3% of batters and walking 9.3%. It’s a good sign that Cook was able to keep his FIP in the range from 2.01 to 2.89 at three different levels while maintaining a strikeout rate above 23.1%. It looks like his stuff might be able to play at all those levels and he could end up in Lansing in 2016.

2015 seventh-round draft pick Travis Bergen probably had an injury which would explain why he only threw 5 1/3 innings this year, all with Vancouver. He didn’t allow a run and gave up just two hits with one walk and a whopping 11 strikeouts in his professional debut before being shelved. Bergen was omitted from the Florida Instructional League roster which means that his injury could be very serious and, therefore, I can’t speculate as to where he’ll be next year.

Hitters
After back-to-back season with big boppers like L.B. Dantzler and Ryan McBroom and speedsters like Roemon Fields, Tim Locastro and Franklin Barreto on the club, the Vancouver Canadians had to reimagine their offense in 2015 with a lot of newly drafted players and other ones trying to put themselves on the prospect map.

We start behind the plate with Ryan Hissey, who shared the load with Kevin Garcia. Hissey won the R. Howard Webster Award for the Cs this year as the MVP of the club (as awarded by the Blue Jays) thanks to some excellent work both behind the plate and at it. Hissey showed some strong defensive instincts in his initial assignment in Bluefield, catching two of three potential base stealers while hitting .355/.462/.548 with three doubles and a home run in 39 plate appearances. After moving up to Vancouver, Hissey hit .269/.363/.372 over 179 plate appearances, hitting 11 doubles, a triple and a home run while throwing out 30% of potential base thieves. Hissey made a good case to be headed to Lansing in 2016 to catch in a full-season assignment.

2014 30th-round draft pick Kevin Garcia was the Vancouver Canadians’ other main catcher, catching 34 games. The 5-foot-9 left-handed hitter continued to put up some decent numbers but his lack of power and success throwing out runners at a high rate will probably work against him as he moves up the organization. Still, Garcia hit .255/.346/.300, hitting five doubles in 129 plate appearances. He walked more than he struck out, walking 12.2% of the time and striking out in 11.3% of plate appearances.

Infielder Justin Atkinson actually played the most games at first base for the Vancouver Canadians but the versatile (actual) Canadian can play anywhere on the infield. Atkinson started the season with the Lansing Lugnuts, ostensibly as a catcher, but he spent much more time at third than behind the plate. Atkinson, who hit .291 with Lansing in 2014, hit only .212, losing most of June to the DL, before heading back down to Vancouver. In Vancouver, he regained his stroke, hitting .294/.327/.402 but benefited from a .357 BABIP. He walked in only 3.5% of his plate appearances but kept his strikeouts much lower than they were in Lansing, at 19.5%. Atkinson is a curious player. He was looking like he was hitting the ball with much more authority when I saw him at the end of the season in Lansing but he still hasn’t been able to put a full season with very much power. He’ll probably get another shot at Lansing in 2016, his Age 22 season, and he’ll hope that the third time is the charm.

After an outstanding 2014 season, the Blue Jays were going to send Lane Thomas to Lansing for his second professional year at the age of 19 but a wrist injury kept him from joining the club and he ended up in Vancouver, working things out after a transition to second base. The 2014 fifth-rounder didn’t do much with the bat in 183 plate appearances in Vancouver (and even less in nine games with the Lugnuts before getting shut down for the season) but when he did get hits, he hit the ball with some authority, smashing 13 doubles and five home runs. He didn’t walk much (just 4.4% of the time) but didn’t strike out a ton either (18.6%). Thomas will almost certainly be playing second base for the Lugnuts in 2014 at a still young 20 years old.

Carl Wise, 21, joined the Vancouver Canadians after just seven games with Bluefield in his draft year. The Blue Jays’ fourth-round pick of 2015, Wise played 45 games at third base for the Vancouver Canadians (after six games there for Bluefield) while also playing a game at shortstop. Wise’s offensive numbers weren’t bad but they weren’t great either. He hit .231/.268/.308 for Vancouver (with modestly higher numbers in Bluefield), walking just 4.1% of the time and striking out 22.2%. For wise, it could just be a case of the draft year funk that many draftee go through and he’ll have plenty of time at fall instructs and in spring training to get up to speed. I’m sure the Jays want to see him in Lansing in 2016.

Another player who succumbed to the draft-funk was the Jays’ sixth rounder, shortstop J.C. Cardenas. Cardenas, 21, showed a good eye, walking in 16.3% of plate appearances while striking out in 20.9% but only hit .179/.316/.257 with three doubles, a triple and two home runs. Cardenas was fairly sure handed, making 11 errors in 42 games at short but could also see some improvement there. With the shortstop position in Lansing likely open next year (with Richard Urena moving up to Dunedin), Cardenas has as good of a shot as any and will look to find a groove in professional baseball there.

Ninth-round pick Connor Panas added some Canadian content to the Vancouver Canadians, coming out of Toronto and had a very smooth transition to the professional game from Canisius College in Buffalo. Panas, 22, played six games in the Gulf Coast League, terrorizing the pitchers, before getting a promotion to Vancouver where he hit .252/.341/.413 with nine doubles, two triples and four home runs. The only question mark about Panas’s game is whether he can cut down on his strikeout rate which reached 26.7% with the Canadians in 176 plate appearances. Panas played mostly left field and first base with Vancouver and could easily move up to Lansing next year.

Vancouver’s everyday center fielder was Andrew Guillotte, a 32nd-round pick in 2015 out of McNeese State University in Louisiana. Guillotte made a 13-game stop in Bluefield, hitting .229/.339/.333 before moving up to Vancouver, showing an interesting combination of patience, power and speed. Guillotte hit .251/.345/.351 with eight doubles, a triple and three home runs but, most importantly, he walked in 9.4% of plate appearances and struck out in only 11.2%, stealing 17 bases and getting caught only four times. Significantly, Guillotte also showed a good arm, throwing out 11 batters on the bases at the two levels. With most of the outfielders in Lansing slated to move up, Guillotte could be manning center field in Cooley Law School Stadium in 2016.

Our 2015 Player of the Year, Sean Hurley, was the breakout hitter of the Vancouver Canadians. Leading the club in home runs (nine), Hurley hit .253/.363/.441 with 11 doubles and four triples over 289 plate appearances. His .188 ISO was excellent, as was his 13.5% walk rate while only his 27.0% strikeout rate gives cause for worry. After three seasons in rookie ball and Short-Season-A ball, it’s time for Hurley to break out and play in April. The Midwest League will be a tough assignment for a player  who struck out as much as he did but, going into his Age-24 season, Hurley is going to have to perform there to keep moving.

Gunnar Heidt had the second most plate appearances for the Vancouver Canadians and, despite the relatively weak numbers, did appear to turn things around towards the end of the season. Heidt started his second professional season with the Lansing Lugnuts, hitting just .170/.213/.231 over 50 games. Sent to Vancouver, he hit just .233/.301/.312 but walked much more (8.6%) and cut down on his strikeout rate (to 19.3%). Heidt got hot at the end of August, hitting four doubles and three home runs in just over two weeks and he went to Lansing for the playoffs where he had three hits in the final two games of the regular season and went six-for-17 in five playoff games, hitting five doubles and driving in a pair of runs. At 23, Heidt could easily return to Lansing where he can play third and short (and probably second too in a pinch) but an impressive spring could land him in Dunedin with some other players looking to suck up playing time in Lansing at those positions.

Ryan Metzler also got a lot of playing time for the Canadians, getting into 46 games, mostly at second base. Metzler was sure-handed, only making three errors at second and one at third while vastly improving his numbers from 2014, also in Vancouver. Metzler hit .283/.341/.365 with seven doubles and a pair of home runs while walking in 6.9% of plate appearances and striking out in only 13.8%. Metzler is very likely to be in Lansing as a 23-year-old in 2016 and should be a solid utility man for the Lugnuts.

The Blue Jays’ 30th-round pick in the 2015 draft got out to a fantastic start to his 2015 campaign. The man with the best name in the system, Earl Burl III with 2/4 with two doubles, three RBI and three runs in his first game as a pro but came back to earth, hitting .216/.310/.284 the rest of the way. He showed a good eye, walking in 10.7% of his at bats but struck out in 24.9%. I’d bet that Burl heads back to Vancouver for another go-round at the Northwest League to see if he can’t get that strikeout rate down and make more hard contact.

In his Age-20 season, catcher and first-baseman Juan Kelly made an impression in 17 games with the Lansing Lugnuts but his numbers weren’t nearly as good overall as they were in 2014 with the GCL Blue Jays. Moved somewhat aggressively, Kelly hit .230/.331/.286 with the Canadians, playing catcher and first base. He started hitting for more power in 17 games in Lansing with a .286/.366/.540 slash line, hitting seven doubles and three home runs in just 71 plate appearances. This begs the question as to which is the real Juan Kelly? Is the time in Lansing just too small a sample size to get a handle on his true self? Or was he just bored in Vancouver and didn’t perform up to his potential? The 21-year-old showed that he wasn’t overwhelmed in Lansing and only saw a modest drop in walk rate (from 13.0% to 11.3%) and rise in strikeout rate (from 19.9% to 21.1%) when moving to the higher level. 2016 is going to be an interesting year for Kelly who will likely be back in Lansing.

Playing mostly outfield, Rolando Segovia got into 24 games with the Canadians, hitting .203/.253/.304 with only three walks and 22 strikeouts. Only 20, the Venezuelan will need more playing time and better rate stats to move up.

Gabriel Cenas broke out a little bit in 2013 but he’s been stymied by better pitching in Vancouver, hitting just .171/.227/.314 in 23 games in 2015. Cenas is still 21 (until October 16) but needs to start hitting after five season with the Blue Jays.

James Lynch, 23, hit .203/.250/.219 which was still an improvement over his 2014 numbers in Bluefield. In only 68 plate appearances, however, he walked just three times and struck out 29 (42.6%) which is not what you want to see from a young player.

2015 38th-round pick Josh Reavis hit very well when he was in the lineup (just 73 plate appearances total), hitting .302/.375/.349 but only two of his hits went for extra bases. He had a good walk rate both in the Appalachian League and the Northwest League but his throwing from behind the plate was far better at the lower level. He’ll need to get in the lineup more to know what he can do.

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Jay Blue

A lifelong Toronto Blue Jays fan, Jay Blue started blogging about the Jays when he was living in Berlin, Germany. He founded his own blog, Blue Jays from Away, to write about developments with his home town team, focusing on the Jays' minor league system. When he's not watching baseball, he is usually on the diamond umpiring or he's pursuing his research interests in the field of ethnomusicology.