Jay Blue: Urena homers as Dunedin opens, weather undeafeated

 Richard Urena homered for the class-A Dunedin Blue Jays, the only team to see action on Opening Night in the minors. Photo: Jay Blue. 

Richard Urena homered for the class-A Dunedin Blue Jays, the only team to see action on Opening Night in the minors. Photo: Jay Blue. 

April 7, 2016 Minor League Report
By Jay Blue
Blue Jays from Away

And the minor league baseball season gets off to a . . . rough start. Thanks to inclement weather all through the Midwest and Northeast, the Blue Jays’ affiliates had three of the four games of the night cancelled (while I was making my way to Lansing). That said, Dunedin got off to a winning beginning!

Buffalo Bisons, Pawtucket Red Sox
Postponed due to rain

New Hampshire Fisher Cats, Binghamton Mets
Postponed due to rain

Dunedin Blue Jays 6, Clearwater Threshers 2
The Dunedin Blue Jays got their season off on the right foot, beating the Clearwater Threshers 6-2 on the back of a strong start for Conner Greene. Greene logged five innings, allowing two runs on a two-run home run in the second and writer Chris King noted that he looked strong, despite only striking out two batters and giving up six hits and a walk.

Conner Greene works around an Alford E8 to get through 5. Velo holding steady 93-95. Sequencing has gotten better #BlueJays

— Chris King (@StatsKing) April 7, 2016

Luis Santos, likely the fifth starter for the D-Jays, gave up one hit and struck out two over his two innings of work and sleeper Tim Mayza struck out a pair in two perfect innings.

The Blue Jays had a scare as Anthony Alford left the game after a play at the plate although King didn’t feel that it was much to worry over.

Alford left the game but sounds like he’s fine. Wouldn’t worry too much just yet
— Chris King (@StatsKing) April 8, 2016

The Jays’ #1 prospect was 0-for-2 with a walk, also reaching on a fielding error and scoring twice. Richard Urena hit his first home run of the year (and apparently added a bat flip), going 1/3 with two runs. The Davises (Jonathan Davis, a.k.a. J.D., and D.J. Davis) each drove in two runs with one hit each.

Player of the Game: Richard Urena

Lansing Lugnuts, Great Lakes Loons
Postponed due to snow

Minor League Roster Thoughts
The minor league season got under way last night (for one Blue Jays affiliate whose geographic location avoided the bad weather in the north) and I’ll offer a few thoughts on the composition of some of the Jays’ full-season minor league rosters as well as some last minute roster adjustments made.

Buffalo Bisons
The Bisons have a veteran roster, consisting mostly of players brought in from outside the system, as the Blue Jays have tended to do over the past several seasons. The additions of veterans David Adams, Tony Sanchez, Humberto Castillo, Junior Lake, Darrell Ceciliani, Alexi Casilla, Matt Dominguez, and others, give the Bisons a solid chance of competing in the International League while also providing depth for the major league squad.

Only pitchers Dustin Antolin, Chad Girodo, Drew Hutchison, Chad Jenkins, Blake McFarland, and Ryan Tepera, catcher A.J. Jimenez, infielder Andy Burns and outfielder Dalton Pompey are homegrown players, drafted or signed initially by the Blue Jays. This is probably due to the fact that the Jays traded so many prospects last year but it’s also because of how difficult it is for any player to reach the Triple-A level.

Many of the newest additions to the organizations are former first-round picks including Sanchez, Dominguez, Casey Kotchman, David Aardsma, Jio Mier (Wade LeBlanc was a second round pick). These players haven’t been able to establish themselves (or, in some cases, re-establish themselves) in the major leagues on a permanent basis despite being highly-thought-of prospects.

New Hampshire Fisher Cats
The Fisher Cats have a much larger concentration of homegrown talent with players like Jeremy Gabryszwski, Rowdy Tellez, Shane Dawson, and Casey Lawrence on the mound. While Buffalo had very few homegrown hitters, the Bisons only have two position players who aren’t homegrown, catcher Wilkin Castillo and outfielder Melky Mesa. First-round pick Dwight Smith, Jr. is the only first rounder on the roster (Gabryszwski was a second rounder in 2011).

Dunedin Blue Jays
The Dunedin roster hosts the Blue Jays’ top two prospects, Anthony Alford and Coner Greene. Former first-round pick D.J. Davis is in the outfield while also hanging around are a former second-round pick (Mitch Nay, on the DL) fourth-round pick (Tom Robson) and a couple of high-priced international free agent (Adonys Cardona and Richard Urena). In terms of overall talent level, I’d say the D-Jays come out on top to start the year, although I have a feeling that Alford, Greene and Urena may not be in Dunedin for the entire year.

Lansing Lugnuts
The Lugnuts, being the Jays’ lowest-level full-season club, is the one with the most homegrown talent. The Jays also have a couple of tantalizing pitching prospects in Jon Harris and Sean Reid-Foley (who I don’t think will be around for long). There are also several 2015 draftees and signees like Ryan Cook, Josh DeGraaf, Tayler Saucedo, Ryan Hissey, Connor Panas, Carl Wise, J.C. Cardenas and Andrew Guillotte. Lane Thomas is another talented player who is trying to rebound from an injury-plagued year and is back at a position (center field) where his more comfortable than second base where he played last year.

There are also a number of familiar faces. Conor Fisk, Dusty Isaacs, Starlyn Suriel, Colton Turner, Justin Atkinson, Gunnar Heidt and Josh Almonte all spent a lot of time in Lansing last year while Jacob Anderson has been in the Jays’ organization for five years already and is also trying to rebound from injuries.
Roster Changes
The Blue Jays tweaked the rosters a little bit heading into the season. A.J. Jimenez cleared waivers and joined the Buffalo Bisons’ roster while Travis Bergen was sent back to extended spring training and Evan Smith joined the Lansing Lugnuts.


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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.