Dunedin Blue Jays 2015 Report
by Jay Blue
Blue Jays from Away
In 2014, the Dunedin Blue Jays made it to the playoffs on strong performances from Daniel Norris, Dalton Pompey, Dwight Smith, Jr. but 2015 was a far different season as they finished at 61-76 under manager Omar Malave.
At times, the Dunedin offense was very weak but ended up finishing in the top half of the league, with the sixth best offense in the Florida State League (one of the minor league’s worst leagues for hitters), averaging 3.70 runs per game with a group of players who were exactly the league average age at 22.6 years old. The pitching, on the other hand, was the worst in the league, averaging 4.34 runs per game allowed and an average age of 0.3 years above the league average of 23.0 years old.
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 “€œabove 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 Dunedin Blue Jays:
L.B. Dantzler 10.1
Matt Dean 8.5
Jeremy Gabryszwski 7.8
Anthony Alford 6.9
Derrick Loveless 6.8
Roemon Fields 6.75
Mitch Nay 6.2
Christian Lopes 5.3
Murphy Smith 5.05
Jairo Labourt 5
Dickie Joe Thon 4.6
Luis Santos 4.3
David harris 3.5
Mike Reeves, Jeff Hoffman 3
Brad Allen, Boomer Collins 2.8
Rowdy Tellez, Jonathan Davis 2.5
Richard Urena, Alonzo Gonzalez 2.3
Dawel Lugo 2.25
Jayson Aquino, Conner Greene, Shane Dawson 2
Martin Medina 1.3
Ian Parmley, Jorge Saez 1
Justin Shafer, Sean Reid-Foley 0.8
Matt Dermody 0.75
Emilio Guerrero, Tiago da Silva, Jason Leblebijian, Alberto Tirado, Andy Fermin, Derek Blacksher 0.5
Brady Dragmire, Conor Fisk 0.3
For someone who only joined the Dunedin Blue Jays at the end of June, Anthony Alford made a particularly noteworthy charge up the leaderboard but he just didn’t have the time to overtake our winner, L.B. Dantzler!
Congrats to Dantzler, the Player of the Game Champion. Dantlzer was the 2013 Player of the Game Champion for the Vancouver Canadians.
Blue Jays from Away Player of the Year
For Player of the Year, I went with one of the two players who spent the whole season at the Dunedin level. While his numbers look slightly weak, Matthew Dean actually had a very good season for the Dunedin Blue Jays. His .253/.313/.410 line seems mediocre but when the league average OPS is .650 and he tied for the league lead in home runs with 14, Dean’s 122 wRC+ is actually pretty good. Obviously we like to blown away by numbers like the ones that Ryan McBroom put up in Lansing but Dean’s season was the best for the whole season with the Dunedin Blue Jays.
Congrats to Matt Dean, the Dunedin Blue Jays’ Player of the Year!
Honourable mentions: Christian Lopes, L.B. Dantzler
Blue Jays from Away Pitcher of the Year
For Pitcher of the Year, we tend to go with a starter because, let’s face it, innings matter. A pitcher who can shoulder the load for more innings can be more valuable in the long run than just about any reliever. Also, we have a separate reliever category in these awards. Choosing the Pitcher of the Year is about weighing the options as well as how much he pitched and how dominant he was. This year, the award goes to Murphy Smith, who joined the Blue Jays’ organization in April and was the most consistent pitcher with Dunedin until he went down to injury at the end of July. Smith posted a 2.92 ERA and a 1.30 WHIP with 23 walks and 68 strikeouts in 83 1/3 innings and gets the nod over some other worthy candidates who either had stats that were worse than league average (remember, it’s a pitcher-friendly league), were traded away or didn’t spend enough time with this team.
Honourable mentions: Jeremy Gabryszwski, Alberto Tirado
Blue Jays from Away Reliever of the Year
In this category we’re spoiled for choice. The Blue Jays had a stellar group of relievers but I’m going to go with Webster Award winner Wil Browning, whose 0.78 ERA and tiny 0.55 WHIP showed a tremendous amount of dominance, striking out 32.3% and walking only 1.6% of batters over 34 2/3 innings. Browning also didn’t pitch more at another level, making it easier to consider him a Dunedin Blue Jays.
Honourable mentions: Chad Girodo, Arik Sikula
Blue Jays from Away Most Improved Player
There weren’t many candidates for improvement but Christian Lopes spent his first season in Dunedin in 2014 and hit only .243/.329/.350 in 394 plate appearances. Returning to Dunedin in 2015, Lopes didn’t really “light it on fire” but his numbers were well above league average, hitting .293/.368/.382 in only 278 plate appearances. He did spend some time in Double-A New Hampshire and, while he didn’t hit well there at all, he improved his OPS by 70 points at the same level as a 22-year-old in 2015.
Blue Jays from Away Newcomer of the Year
Congrats go out to Murphy Smith who joined the organization and was outstanding for 83 1/3 innings with the Dunedin Blue Jays. Our Pitcher of the Year, Smith was excellent, despite being a 27 year old playing against players approximately three years younger than him. Despite that, excellent at any level is always something to look at and Smith, until his injury, was definitely doing more for the Dunedin pitching staff and helping the win ball games.
It’s hard to know what to say about the Dunedin Blue Jays’ pitching staff, which allowed the most runs of any club in the Florida State League. The news isn’t all bad and although a couple of prospects passed through Dunedin, the best-known ones were discussed with the Lansing Lugnuts.
We start with 22-year-old Jeremy Gabryszwski who had a very solid season in Dunedin. The right-handed workhorse led the club in innings at 129 with a 3.77 ERA, 3.30 FIP and 1.37 WHIP. As usual, Gaby’s strikeout rate wasn’t stellar, at 16.6% but his control was excellent, at just 5.6%. For a contact pitcher, Gabryszwski doesn’t give up a ton of ground balls and was probably helped by pitching in the Florida State League despite the fact this at his home run rate is traditionally fairly low. Gaby should move up to Double-A at 23 years old in 2016 and, in my opinion, it’s going to be a real test for a pitcher who has never had the velocity to get away with mistakes.
The Jays signed Luis Santos right at the end of spring training and the 24-year-old righty had a disastrous start to his season, posting an 8.15 ERA in his first five games. While he had a few great outings along the way (including seven shutout innings on July 13), he gave up three or more runs in nine of his 21 appearances and went on the disabled list in mid-July, not to pitch again until the beginning of September. Over the course of the season, however, Santos’s numbers aren’t all that bad with a 4.55 ERA and 3.74 FIP with a 1.22 WHIP. His strikeout rate was very strong at 22.1% while his walk rate was also excellent at 5.6%. Was it an injury that caused him so many problems or was it just bad luck? We’ll have to see in 2016 and I can see him returning to Dunedin for a spell before moving up to New Hampshire.
Another late-spring acquisition, Murphy Smith provided enough stability to the Dunedin Blue Jays to earn our Pitcher of the Year award. Smith, 27, has actually spent quite a bit of time in the Athletics organization at Double-A but, like some other pitchers the Blue Jays brought over from other organizations, was able to dominate at a level down from where he has been for the few previous years. Smith posted a 2.92 ERA and 1.30 WHIP over 83 1/3 innings with Dunedin, striking out 19.3% and walking just 6.5%. He earned a nine-inning audition with New Hampshire but was hit hard, giving up nine runs on 12 hits with five walks and five strikeouts and hitting three batters. While he missed the end of the season with an injury, Smith is likely to get another shot at Double-A at the age of 28.
Returning from Tommy John surgery was the Blue Jays’ 2014 first draft pick (ninth overall) who made headlines when he was sent to Colorado in the Troy Tulowitzki trade on July 28. With the Dunedin Blue Jays, Jeff Hoffman showed plenty to impress despite shaking off the rust that came with his year-long layoff from pitching. Hoffman threw 56 innings with Dunedin, posting a 3.21 ERA, 3.70 FIP and 1.32 WHIP, striking out 16.7% and walking 6.6%. He moved up to New Hampshire for two starts before the trade and had a 1.54 ERA, 0.94 WHIP, eight strikeouts and just two walks in 11 2/3 innings. After joining New Britain (Colorado’s Double-A club, not far from Manchester, New Hampshire), he threw another 36 1/3 innings with a 3.22 ERA, 3.74 FIP, 1.02 WHIP, 20.3% K rate and 7.0% walk rate. So long, Jeff. We hardly knew ye.
Another player who was involved in a deadline-day trade was Jairo Labourt who went to Detroit in the David Price deal. The 21-year-old Dominican skipped over Lansing, after struggling there and finding himself in Vancouver in 2014. He rebounded to some extent in 2015, throwing 80 1/3 innings with Dunedin, posting a 4.59 ERA and 4.15 FIP but had a high, 1.58 WHIP with a 19.0% strikeout rate and a 12.0% walk rate. Despite pitching in the MLB Futures Game, Labourt particularly struggled with the walk and, while his periphrals improved after the trade (and pitching in nearby Lakeland for the Tigers’ organization), he actually pitched to a higher ERA (6.31) and WHIP (1.68) in 35 2/3 innings. More of a “lottery ticket” than his trade-mates who spent the end of the season in the majors, Labourt will still probably head to Double-A with the Tigers.
Lefty Jayson Aquino, 22, was picked up by the Blue Jays for Tyler Ybarra in the offseason but he didn’t last long with the club. Making only five starts, he posted a 2.81 ERA, 3.63 FIP and 1.29 WHIP in 25 2/3 innings before being sold to the Pirates on May 10. He had solid numbers with Bradenton before being sold again to Cleveland where he was good in another 33 innings. He closed the season with a 3.28 ERA and 1.20 WHIP across all three leagues with 30 walks and 86 strikeouts over 137 1/3 innings.
After all the trades, the Blue Jays needed some help in the Dunedin rotation, so they signed 30-year-old righty Derek Blacksher from the Sugar Land Skeeters of the independent Atlantic League. With the Skeeters, Blacksher had been 5-3 with a 2.45 ERA and 1.08 WHIP, striking out 63 and walking 16 in 69 2/3 innings. In 21 1/3 innings with the D-Jays, he had a 3.38 ERA, 3.54 FIP and 1.55 WHIP with a 15.6% strikeout rate and 4.2% walk rate.
The Dunedin Blue Jays had a very good relief pitching staff that featured a couple of guys that you might not expect to be moving up through the system.
Brady Dragmire was the unlikely leader in appearances for the bullpen in Dunedin. Dragmire, 22, had some interesting results that belie his 5.26 ERA over 63 1/3 innings. His FIP was 2.52 and his WHIP was 1.58, both well below what his high ERA might otherwise indicate. Most of Dragmire’s problems come from his high BABIP (.385) and low LOB% (57.8%) both of which are likely to regress in 2016. His strikeout rate of 20.1% and walk rate of 7.1% are both higher than his last seasons’ totals in Lansing but are still quite good. Look for Dragmire to head to Double-A New Hampshire after his upcoming stint in the Arizona Fall League.
The 6-foot-5 lefty Matt Dermody made his Dunedin debut in 2015, throwing a whopping 77 innings out of the bullpen with some respectable numbers. Like Dragmire, Dermody also underperformed his FIP, pitching to a 4.21 ERA but a 2.52 FIP and a 1.44 WHIP. Dermody showed tremendous control, walking just 3.8% of his batters while striking out 18.2%. Dermody could stay in Dunedin or it might be sink or swim for the 25 year old in Double-A.
Undrafted free agents rarely make it as far as Wil Browning has, particularly since Browning has not only been able to be dominant at almost every level of the minor leagues, but he’s earned the Blue Jays’ internal award for MVP of the Dunedin Blue Jays. Browning improved on almost every aspect of his pitching in his second stint with the Dunedin Blue Jays, with a 0.78 ERA and 0.55 WHIP with a 32.3% strikeout rate and 1.6% walk rate in 34 2/3 innings this season. Promoted to Double-A, Browning also pitched 18 2/3 innings there, with better results this time around. He had a 3.86 ERA (with a 2.68 FIP), a 1.18 WHIP, a 21.1% strikeout rate and a 9.2% walk rate. Browning is almost assured of a spot in the Fisher Cats’ bullpen in 2016 at the age of 27.
Righty Alberto Tirado, 20, had a similar jump to the Dunedin Blue Jays in 2015 as did Jairo Labourt. The Dominican struggled in Lansing last year and finished off his year in Vancouver after a demotion. Starting in the bullpen, Tirado blossomed, putting up a 3.23 ERA (and 4.08 FIP) with a 1.30 WHIP over 61 1/3 innings. Tirado still walked too many batters (13.6%) but that number was well down from either of his stops last year and had a strikeout rate above both of his figures from last year as well (23.6%). Traded to the Phillies in the deal for Ben Revere, Tirado pitched 16 innings for the Clearwater Threshers (located just a few miles from Dunedin) and had a 0.56 ERA (but a much-higher 4.92 FIP), a 1.50 WHIP and a sky-high 26.1% walk rate to go with his solid 23.2% strikeout rate.
I’ve had my eye on Alonzo Gonzalez since I saw him as a starting pitcher with the Lansing Lugnuts at the beginning of the 2013 season. In the intervening two years, Gonzalez has come a long way, increasing his velocity and improving his offspeed pitches. At the age of 23, Gonzalez pitched most of his season in 2015 with the Dunedin Blue Jays but not before starting in Lansing and giving the Lugnuts 11 2/3 innings of very solid ball, striking out 36.2% of batters and walking 8.5%. After his promotion, Gonzalez struggled a bit, posting a 4.39 ERA that was well south of league average and had a 1.57 WHIP. He struck out 18.3% of batters and walked 9.3%, showing that the walks are still somewhat of an issue. Gonzalez could easily start the season back in Dunedin, likely in the bullpen or as a spot starter. He’s come a long way and can be more than just a LOOGY, thanks to some relatively even splits between lefties and righties.
Another late pick for the Blue Jays, 36th rounder in 2011 Arik Sikula, had a terrific season for the club. The 26-year-old cracked the Double-A roster for the Fisher Cats in 2014 and enjoyed some success in the Arizona Fall League last year as well before opening the season with an injury and not joining the Fisher Cats until mid-April. Once he arrived, he struggled, allowing 12 runs in just five appearances before he was sent back to Florida. With the D-Jays, he was as good as anyone, adding 32 2/3 innings with a 2.20 ERA (3.35 FIP) and 1.07 WHIP with a 22.2% strikeout rate and 6.7% walk rate. Sikula probably wasn’t completely healthy, though, as his K rates were well below what he did in 2014 and he missed half of May and almost all of June on the DL. Look for him to make another run at the New Hampshire roster in 2016.
After pitching extremely well in Lansing last year, 26-year-old righty Brad Allen had a more average season with the Dunedin Blue Jays in 2015. Making 15 of his 21 appearances out of the bullpen, Allen posted a 4.02 ERA (3.74 FIP) with a 1.44 WHIP. He saw a big decline in his strikeout rate over last year, dropping from 26.5% in 2014 to 18.2% in 2015 while also having his walk rate rise from 7.4% with Lansing to 11.0% with Dunedin. Both of those numbers are clearly going in the wrong direction for Allen who remained with the pitching coach, Vince Horsman, who helped him get the most out of his changeup in 2014. Allen could either return to Dunedin or get a shot at Double-A, a level he hasn’t pitched at yet. It’ll be an interesting offseason and spring training for Allen.
By virtue of 2/3 of an inning, Jimmy Cordero gets discussed with the Dunedin Blue Jays. Cordero finished the season with the Reading (Double-A) Fightin Phils after being traded for Ben Revere but started the season well with Dunedin. He threw 25 1/3 innings with a 2.49 ERA (3.24 FIP), striking out 22.9% of batters and showing a huge improvement in his walk rate at 5.7%. After a promotion to New Hampshire, he threw 24 2/3 innings there, where his K-rate fell to 21.0% and his BB-rate rose to 13.3% despite a 2.92 ERA and 3.84 FIP. After the trade, in 17 innings in Reading, Cordero was outstanding, striking out 28.1% and walking 6.3% with a 2.12 ERA, 2.80 FIP and 0.88 WHIP. If the 100+ mph thrower has truly found his command, and a consistent slider, he could be in the majors in 2016.
Another pitcher who joined the Jays late in the season to help restock the shelves after the trades was Chris Smith who threw 13 1/3 innings with the D-Jays, three innings with the Fisher Cats and 36 1/3 innings in the Yankees’ organization. Smith put together a 2.05 ERA overall with just nine walks and 57 strikeouts overall and a tiny 0.76 WHIP.
Tiago Da Silva gave us minor league bloggers some minor buzz this offseason. He was a closer with a Mexican League club in 2014 before signing with the Blue Jays in the offseason. Da Silva had a 3.52 ERA with a tiny 1.01 FIP and 0.91 WHIP in 15 1/3 innings in Dunedin, striking out 35.6% of batters and walking 5.1%. He had very good numbers in just 7 1/3 innings in New Hampshire despite getting hit harder. He gave up four runs on two home runs in those 7 1/3 innings but reduced his walk rate to 3.7% and struck out 25.9%. After he was loaned back to the Mexican League, he struck out 20.7% of batters and walked 4.3% with a 3.22 ERA and 1.05 WHIP. Could Da Silva be back in 2016? If he is, look for him in Manchester New Hampshire as a 31 year old.
Lefty Scott Silverstein, 25, had some injury issues in 2015. He had a 5.93 ERA and 2.19 WHIP over 13 2/3 innings in Dunedin, walking 11 before he was eventually released.
Another lefty Griffin Murphy also missed a lot of time and ended up not pitching very effectively when he returned. The 24-year-old had a 6.10 ERA and 1.64 WHIP over 10 1/3 innings, striking out only six batters and walking six.
Righty Lendy Castillo came to Dunedin after the trades and pitched fairly well in limited time with a 3.72 ERA, a 1.14 WHIP, 11 strikeouts and just two walks in 9 2/3 innings. He had pitched both in the Texas League (Double-A) and the California League (Advanced-A) with the Rangers’ organization previously in the year to less success. The 26 year old could be in New Hampshire next year.
John Stilson, 25, had a rough year, throwing just 1 1/3 innings before getting shut down.
The Dunedin Blue Jays had quite a number of players who either played most of their season elsewhere or had injury troubles. Only five players played more than half of the club’s games with the Blue Jays and it was a mix of older players repeating the level and younger ones trying to find their way for the first time with Dunedin.
Catcher Jorge Saez got a chance to play every day with the Dunedin Blue Jays and showed off his defensive skills, throwing out 34% of batters and allowing only five passed balls despite playing 71 games at the position. Saez struggled at the plate, however, hitting .176/.263/.276 in 251 plate appearances with a solid 10% walk rate and a slightly high 22.3% strikeout rate. Saez has recently turned 25 and could head back to Dunedin for another season, probably as a backup to either Dan Jansen or Max Pentecost.
First baseman Matthew Dean led the Blue Jays in home runs and was our Player of the Year. He led the club in games at first while also playing 13 games at third and 31 as a DH, compiling 521 plate appearances with a .253/.313/.410 slash line. His 14 home runs tied for the Florida State League lead while his 27 doubles and three triples were fairly solid. The stat that stands out the most on the negative side for Dean is his 26.7% strikeout rate which is quite high despite a decent 6.9% walk rate. Look for Dean to move up to New Hampshire next year but if he continues to strike out this much, he may very well have trouble in his Age-23 season.
Second baseman Christian Lopes returned to Dunedin to start 2015 after putting up decent numbers in 2014. While his batting average went up 50 points at the same level in 2015, he saw smaller gains in his OBP and slugging percentage, putting up a .293/.368/.382 line with a pair of home runs and 16 doubles in 278 plate appearances. Lopes doesn’t strike out much, failing to put the ball in play just 15.5% of the time while maintaining a high walk rate at 10.1%. He played in 34 games in Double-A New Hampshire, hitting just .174/.262/.174 without an extra base hit despite striking out less (13.0%) and walking at almost exactly the same rate (10.2%). Lopes will probably get another shot at Double-A in his Age-23 season in 2016.
I thought that Mitch Nay, who just turned 22, was poised for a big year but it never materialized for the big slugger. Nay hit only .243/.303/.353 (for an even 100 wRC+, meaning that his offensive production was exactly average for the Florida State League) with just five home runs. While his walk rate of 7.3% was decent and his strikeout rate of 17.2% was low, his power just hasn’t been showing up in games as is evidenced by a .110 Isolated Slugging (ISO). For someone with as much raw talent as Nay has, he’s going to need to start making good on his potential soon if he wants to move to the top levels of the minors. I can see a repeat of the level to open 2016 in the cards for Nay.
Dawel Lugo played the most shortstop for the Dunedin Blue Jays, eventually getting traded to Arizona for Cliff Pennington. In 67 games for Dunedin, Lugo hit just .219/.258/.292 for a wRC+ of just 68 before getting demoted to Lansing where he was dominant, hitting .336/.348/.451 in 31 games. Lugo, still just 20 years old, still doesn’t walk much, ranging in the 3% region but doesn’t strike out a massive amount either, coming in around 18%. After his trade, he played with the Diamondbacks affiliate in the Midwest League in Kane County, hitting .333/.372/.370, showing a little more patience at the plate.
Jonathan Davis, also known as J.D., started his Age-23 season with the Lansing Lugnuts and came out of the gate (starting his season on May 1 after an injury) on fire, hitting .408/.482/.612 in 58 plate appearances. Promoted to Dunedin, he played only 47 more games for the rest of the season, hitting .230/.288/.342 with a 5.6% walk rate and 19.1% strikeout rate. Because of injuries, Davis hasn’t played much since his first pro season with Bluefield in 2013 and that is the X-factor in his development. I’m still waiting to see what we can get from Davis in a full season. I think he’ll return to Dunedin to start 2016.
Center fielder Roemon Fields rose through the organization much like Dalton Pompey did last year, although Fields is older (24) and didn’t dominate in Dunedin like Pompey did. Fields had solid, but unspectacular stats with the D-Jays, hitting .269/.312/.348 with 21 stolen bases in 30 attempts before his promotion to New Hampshire, striking out in 18.1% of at bats and walking in 5.6%. While his power numbers dropped significantly in Double-A (from an ISO of .080 in Dunedin to .035 in NH), his walk rate rose (to 8.0%) and strikeout rate fell (to 15.1%). so while he was hitting for less power, he was putting the ball in play more and stole successfully in 23 of 28 attempts with a slash line of .257/.321/.292. In a second promotion, Fields made it to Buffalo, Fields went to Buffalo and hit .217/.308/.261 in just 27 plate appearances. With outstanding speed and a matching work ethic, Fields has become a favourite of management. The question is whether he can translate those skills into production in the high minors. Look for him in either New Hampshire or Buffalo next year.
Following a very successful 2014 in Lansing, right fielder Derrick Loveless spent a full year in Dunedin as a 22 year old. Loveless, a former 27th round pick is a player without a standout tool but really figured some things out at the plate last season. This year, however, Loveless had a mixed season, showing improvement in some places and regression in others. Loveless posted a .216/.321/.345 slash line in 450 plate appearances and, in most respects, had a very similar year to 2014. His walk rate (12.9%) was excellent and just 1/10th of a point off of his rate last year, his strikeout rate 0.8% higher than last year (at 24.4% this year) and his ISO was four points higher than last year (at .130). The only thing different was that his batting average was almost 50 points lower which can be accounted for almost entirely through his BABIP, which was 76 points lower than last year (at .273). For Loveless, who had a wRC+ of 108, eight percent above league average, it was actually a very similar year to 2014 but he may start 2016 back in Dunedin just to see if he can get off to a better start.
L.B. Dantzler had a solid year for the Dunedin Blue Jays, finishing among the team leaders in playing time with 406 plate appearances. He hit a solid .251/.305/.368, posting a 105 wRC+ with a 7.1% walk rate and 15.8% strikeout rate. With a .116 ISO, he’s remained consistent over the past two years but isn’t showing the power that he did while with the Vancouver Canadians in 2013. With just five home runs in 2015 following six home runs last year, it’s looking like Dantzler is turning out to be more of a gap power threat rather than a home run threat. The 24-year-old left-handed hitter could very well be in New Hampshire next year.
Another player with significant playing time but not the most at any one position was Dickie Joe Thon. The son of the former big leaguer, Thon had 311 plate appearances over 83 games with the D-Jays, playing second base, third base, shortstop, left field and right field. Thon started his season with 15 tremendous games in Lansing, hitting .315/.403/.519 before his promotion. Following it, however, he saw a big sag in production, hitting just .180/.244/.276 in his first attempt at High-A. Thon has always been a high-strikeout player and, while his rate went down in Dunedin, he still struck out at a 26.4% rate while walking at only a 5.8% clip. Thon, 23, is still behind in his development thanks to time lost from a rare blood disorder that hampered his early career. Still, he’s showing signs of being a productive player, particularly if he can come back to Dunedin in 2016 and do what he did at the beginning of the year in Lansing.
Anthony Alford was promoted to Dunedin in late June after dominating in Lansing and he produced even better results in Florida. Alford, in his first full year of baseball, hit .293/.418/.394 to start the season with the Lugnuts, stealing 12 bases and walking at an incredible 16.8% rate while striking out in 25.9% of his plate appearances. After his promotion, Alford hit .302/.380/.444, improving his ISO and batting average despite seeing a drop in his BABIP. Alford was hitting at 53% better than the league average and stole 15 bases to go with a drop in his strikeout rate (to 19.2%) and walk rate (to a more sustainable 11.0%). Alford’s development has been nothing short of dramatic and he’s vaulted himself to near the top of the prospect list. Alford will likely be in New Hampshire next year and we’ll really see what he’s made of.
Canadian catcher Mike Reeves was the primary backup with the Blue Jays in Dunedin, hitting .219/.289/.291 after some time in Lansing. While he threw out 21% of potential runners in Lansing, that number dropped to just 9% in Dunedin with more chances.
Andy Fermin (who also has big league bloodlines) split his season between Dunedin and New Hampshire, hitting .234/.300/.344 in Florida and just .163/.217/.279 in New Hampshire.
Catcher Martin Medina was picked up by the Blue Jays from the White Sox organization, and he posted his best numbers of any of the three teams he played with in 2015 with the Blue Jays. Medina hit .281/.309/.359 in 18 games with Dunedin as compared to .130/.245/.174 in 15 games with Birmingham, Chicago’s Double-A affiliate and .182/.277/.273 in 17 games with New Hampshire.
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