* 2B Jon Berti, of double-A New Hampshire, is running and running ... all the way to an invite to the Arizona Fall League. .... 2014 Canadians in the Minors … Canadians in College 2015 Canadian draft list Letters of Intent
Previous weeks: Boomer Collins, Jays Prospects rankings XIII ... Nay, Weekly Rankings XII …. BA’s Jays prospect rankings XI …. Holmberg, Jays rankings X ….Sanchez, Pompey, Norris Rankings VIV … Case lone Van Canuck Prospects VIII … Romano signs, Prospects VII … Short one for Sanchez, Prospects VI Burns versatile, Prospects V …. Lawrence a cool cat, Prospects IV … De Jong II, Prospects III … Copeland picks up Janssen, Prospects II …. Pompey burning bases, Prospects I …. Matt Boyd.
By Bob Elliott
“He’ll be fine,” said Brock, an eight-time stolen base champ, “as long as he doesn’t become afraid.”
Afraid of getting injured? “Afraid of being thrown out,” Brock answered.
Speedy Jon Berti has made the long unpleasant walk from second to the New Hampshire dugout. And with help from Raines, the Blue Jays roving outfield and base running instructor, he’s trying to cut down on his long walks.
The Berti numbers: 23 steals at Vancouver in 2011, 34 at Lansing and Dunedin, 56 at Dunedin to lead the Florida State league and 38 this season for 151 career steals in 201 chances, a 75.1% success rate. He sits second in the Eastern League, 11 behind Richmond’s Kelby Tomlinson.
“I haven’t played on the same team with Anthony Gose much, but Jon is probably the best base stealer I’ve ever had as a teammate,” said Jays reliever Aaron Sanchez, a minor-league teammate. “He steals, puts pressure on the defence and squares up some balls.”
At Bowling Green, Berti went through “little spurts,” saying getting thrown out “takes a toll, there is a fear.”
An EL all-star this year and one of the Jays prospects headed to the Arizona Fall League in a few months the second baseman remembers being thrown out against Erie and how lessons from Raines helped.
“I thought I picked something up the way the pitcher came set,” said Berti from Manchester, N.H., “he had two strikes on the hitter, one out. I thought he’d go breaking ball. He threw a fastball, the hitter swung through it and the catcher threw me out.
“I didn’t lose confidence. You have to be more objective: did I get a good jump? In Erie I thought I saw breaking ball. When you do it that way, it takes the fear out of it.”
Raines has helped Berti learning and developing, big and little.
“Something small like taking a proper lead, being consistent with your lead, when not to extend, getting the proper jump and learning a pitcher’s tendencies,” said Berti. “It’s not about how to become faster, it’s about not to allowing fear to enter your mind and reading the right pitch.”
Drafted in the 18th round and scouted by Nick Manno, Berti has 19 doubles, seven triples, seven homers, 50 RBIs and a .702 OPS.
His best day in baseball? Whether it was Little League in Troy, Mich. getting a scholarship from Bowling Green coach Danny Schmitz or the minors?
“It was my first game in Vancouver, getting the chance to put on a uniform and being part of a professional team for the first time?” Berti said.
And how did he do in the game? “Didn’t start Game 1, didn’t play, but was 1-for-3 the next night.”
“He was smaller than me,” said the 5-foot-10 Berti of Eckstein, who played at 5-foot-6. “He always played the game hard.” Charlie Wilson and Doug Davis who run the Blue Jays farm system asked Berti to go to play winter ball along with outfielder Michael Crouse, infielder Shane Optiz and catcher Jack Murphy in Australia with the Canberra Cavalry this past off season.
“I never thought I’d get the opportunity to travel to Australia let alone play there,” said Berti, “Canberra is the capital of the country, so that was pretty cool. It was an awesome experience.”
And since Canberra won the previous season two weeks into the season the Cavalry headed to the Asia Series in Taiwan.
“It was fun watching him, I’ve asked him what playing in the big leagues was like,” said Berti, “I try to pick his brain, he has more experience than I do. We ask them both questions, but it’s not like Bull Durham where (Glenn) is sitting at the back of the bus playing a guitar.”
At Buffalo: LHP Daniel Norris has a 3.48 ERA in his first four starts with seven walks and 35 strikeouts in 20 2/3 innings ... OF Dalton Pompey has gone 8-for-23 (.348) with a double and four stolen bases five games at triple-A, while LHP Sean Nolin a 3.42 ERA in his first 16 starts with 67 strikeouts in 81 2/3 innings.
At Dunedin: OF Dwight Smith Jr. is batting .284 with 28 doubles, eight triples, 12 home runs, and an .818 OPS, while C Jorge Saez is hitting .248 with a .341 OBP and .717 OPS ... LHP Matt Boyd has a 1.04 ERA with 98 strikeouts in 86 2/3 innings.
At Lansing: Matt Dean is hitting .284 with 27 doubles, five triples, and nine home runs in 109 games, while Justin Atkinson is hitting .290 ... 1B Rowdy Tellez has gone 8-for-20 (.400) in his first six games for Lansing.
At Vancouver: SS Franklin Barreto is hitting .310 (84-for-271) with an .861 OPS, 23 doubles, four triples, five home runs, 58 RBIs ... LHP Matt Smoral has a 2.40 ERA in 15 innings for Vancouver, with 14 strikeouts in that time.
At Bluefield: C Dan Jansen is hitting .282 with an .874 OPS, 10 doubles, five home runs in 38 games for Bluefield. OF Josh Almonte is hitting .300 with six doubles, four triples, three home runs, 22 RBIs and 13 stolen bases in 59 games.
An American League pro scout take his turn at giving us his take on the top 10 Blue Jays prospects: 1. LHP Daniel Norris, Buffalo “Saw him early at Dunedin, so he’s always been my No. 1.”
4. OF Dalton Pompey, Buffalo. “He can run, looks like a switch hitter who has figured it out. Think Tim Raines has had some influence.”
3. OF Anthony Gose, Buffalo. “Some guys say he’s next year’s centre fielder, he’s a back up for me.”
4. SS Franklin Barreto, Vancouver. “He’s a pup and playing against older guys.”
5. SS Dawel Lugo, Lansing “They’ll leave him at short until he gets too heavy. He looks like he can hit.”
5A. OF D.J. Davis, Lansing "He was over matched and raw when I saw him early, but have heard lots of good things of late."
6. RHP Chase De Jong, Lansing. “He’ll pitch in the big leagues.”
7. RHP Alberto Tirado, Vancouver. “I saw him at Lansing and liked him, but they sent him back.”
8. C A.J. Jimenez, Buffalo “A back-up guy for me.”
9. SS Emilio Guerrero, Dunedin “He’s a project. Maybe they will put him in the outfield and he won’t look so funny. Right now a 6-foot-5, 170 pound guy at short looks out of place.”
10. C Derrick Chung, New Hampshire “He’ll be in the big leagues as a back-up.”