By: Jay Blue
Blue Jays From Away
As they do every year, MiLB.com released their 2016 Blue Jays Organizational All-Stars last month. It was a pretty busy time in my life so I missed it but I’m here now to rectify that! Here’s a summary with some of my own thoughts on the selections:
Ryan Hissey (Lansing) – Hissey didn’t do quite as well with the bat this year as he did in his first pro season with Vancouver, but he hit .246/.310/.337. The organization didn’t really have any catchers of note with dominant seasons and the fact that Hissey played 111 games with decent offence probably got him this distinction from MiLB.com. The club’s (arguably) best catching prospect didn’t play any defense at all last year, explaining his omission from here.
Rowdy Tellez was clearly the selection here and you’ll get no argument from me. Tellez adapted to Double-A pitching quite quickly after a poor April. MiLB quotes Charlie Wilson as saying “We look forward to him starting 2017 right where he left off at the end of 2016.”
I have to give an honourable mention to Bradley Jones who, in his pro debut, led the Appalachian League with 16 home runs (in a short-season league).
Christian Lopes is again a winner with whom I have no beef. Lopes was very strong all season and adapted well to his promotion to New Hampshire, hitting .295/.357/.401 in 108 games at the higher level. Cavan Biggio had solid numbers in his pro debut but the higher level and production in more games has me agreeing with the selection of Lopes.
Another strong selection, Vladimir Guerrero, Jr. had about as good of a season as you could ask for from a 17-year-old. He showed a lot of patience at the plate, great judgement at the plate and even decent instincts in the field. He hit .271/.359/.449 with eight home runs which is a massive number for a player so young in rookie ball.
Richard Urena had a very good year, tearing up the Florida State League but he struggled somewhat to adapt in Double-A New Hampshire. Still, Urena’s only 20 and got his first taste of advanced pitching which will likely force him to reconsider his approach at the plate. His defense is excellent and his strong arm plays well at the position.
I’ll give an honourable mention to 18-year-old Bo Bichette who only played 22 games thanks to appendix issues. Still, he was a dominant force, hitting .427/.451/.732 in the GCL.
I’m very glad to see Jonathan Davis recognized for his outstanding season. Despite a .252 batting average, he walked a ton, posting a .376 OBP and still hit 14 home runs and stole 33 bases. I’ve been high on Davis ever since seeing him in 2013 in Bluefield and it’s very satisfying to see him break out.
Dwight Smith, Jr. had a solid season, despite ups and downs. While he struggled in July, he posted some of his best numbers in August to have a .265/.332/.433 slash line with 15 home runs overall.
Second-round draft pick J.B. Woodman was also honoured by MiLB.com. He had a strong season in his pro debut, hitting a ton of doubles (20 in 271 plate appearances) while also stealing 10 bases and hitting .297/.391/.445 combined between Vancouver and Lansing.
I might have selected Anthony Alford over Smith and while Alford’s overall numbers might not have been as good, once he got into a groove, recovering from a couple of injuries, he was about as good as might have been expected. Another player who deserves mention is Connor Panas, a power-hitting Canadian who spent the season with Lansing, leading the club with 16 home runs.
Max Pentecost was probably the Blue Jays’ minor leagues only designated hitter, hitting .302/.361/.486 (with better numbers at Lansing).
Jon Harris was a bit of surprise because I would have moved Sean Reid-Foley from the “Honorable mention” category to the award. He was dominant at all levels while Harris was strong and consistent, but hardly dominant.
Angel Perdomo was excellent, striking out 156 for the Lansing Lugnuts and getting the honour from MiLB.com but I thought that Ryan Borucki, after recovering from a rocky start to his season in Dunedin, responded very well with a very consistent season.
Dustin Antolin was excellent for Buffalo, earning the award (before becoming a free agent) but I thought that another Buffalo reliever, Danny Barnes, was the best reliever in the system this year.