Vancouver Canadians 2017 Report: Blue Jays from Away Awards

 The Vancouver Canadians celebrate after winning the Northwest League championship. Photo Credit: Vancouver Canadians

The Vancouver Canadians celebrate after winning the Northwest League championship. Photo Credit: Vancouver Canadians

By Jay Blue

Blue Jays from Away

We arrive in Vancouver, home of the Canadians and one of two teams to earn a championship in 2017.

The Vancouver Canadians, under manager Rich Miller (who has since been let go by the organization) defeated the Eugene Emeralds three games to one in the finals, winning by two runs in the first game and then by a 2-1 score in each of the final two games of the series (with a 4-2 loss in Game 2).

This was after the Canadians had defeated the Spokane Indians in the semifinal series, beating them twice by a 2-1 score and after finishing with the best record in the Northwest League at 43-33. The Cs scored an average of 4.53 runs per game, lower than the league average of 4.87 runs per game, getting that job done with a roster that was 0.2 years older than the league average. On the pitching side of things, the Cs allowed 4.54 runs per game with a pitching staff that was 0.1 years younger than the league average.

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 0.33 points, etc. There were occasions that I felt that no one merited the award and therefore, I did not give out any points.

Kacy Clemens 7

Logan Warmoth 5.67

Brock Lundquist 5.33

Riley Adams 5.17

Reggie Pruitt 4.83

Kevin Vicuna 4.5

Norberto Obeso 4.17

David Jacob 4

Wilfri Aleton 3.5

Dalton Rodriguez 3.33

Bryan Lizardo 2.58

Jose Espada 2.33

Deiferson Barreto 2.08

Kyle Weatherly 2

Matt Morgan, Nate Pearson 1.83

Cullen Large 1.58

Juan Nunez, Dany Jimenez 1.5

Samad Taylor 1.33

Owen Spiwak, Jake Fishman, Zach Logue, Chavez Young, Brody Rodning 1

Mattingly Romanin 0.75

Lance Jones, Javier Hernandez, William Ouellette, Donnie Sellers, Chris Hall, Cam O'Brien, Brandon Polizzi 0.5

Travis Bergen, Justin Dillon 0.33

The Vancouver Canadians got contributions from a number of different players over the course of the season, leading the Player of the Game Championship race to be hotly contested but it was Kacy Clemens who finished the season on top with first-round pick Logan Warmoth in second place while an outstanding playoffs got Brock Lundquist into contention at the end.

Blue Jays from Away Player of the Year

Three players finished in a cluster at the top of the OPS leaderboard with catcher Riley Adams leading the way with an .813 OPS on the back of a .305/.374/.438 slash line as he hit 16 doubles, a triple and three home runs. Right behind him was Kacy Clemens at .792 with a .274/.379/.413 slash line with 14 doubles, three triples and four home runs. Behind Clemens was Logan Warmoth who had a .306/.356/.419 slash line (.775 OPS). In the long run, I'm going to go with Riley Adams who, as a catcher, was playing a very physically demanding position and still managed to get things done with the bat.

Honourable Mention: Kacy Clemens, Logan Warmoth

Blue Jays from Away Pitcher of the Year

The Vancouver Canadians had a decent enough starting rotation but no one really stood out as being dominant. We look to the bullpen and go with Chris Hall who led the 'pen in innings with 36 1/3 as well as a 1.49 ERA and 1.02 WHIP, striking out 42 and walking 11.

Honourable Mention: Dalton Rodriguez, William Ouellette, Orlando Pascual

Blue Jays from Away Reliever of the Year

Are you able to contain your excitement? Will we give the Reliever of the Year award to the same player as the Pitcher of the Year? The answer is no. We want to honour some of the Canadians' brilliant bullpen so we'll give the RotY award to the whole friggin' 'pen. Seriously. With five pitchers who had ERAs under 2.00 (and one more at 2.18) and seven more who had WHIPs of 1.07 or lower, it was a dominant bullpen full of arms who were extremely effective.

Starting Pitchers

We'll start our in-depth look at the pitching staff of the Vancouver Canadians by looking at starting pitchers. While the Canadians didn't have too many standouts in the rotation, a couple of pitchers took some big steps forward while another tantalized with potential after being selected in the first round in 2017.

 Juan Nunez. Photo Credit: Jay Blue

Juan Nunez. Photo Credit: Jay Blue

Coming back from a season-long knee injury in 2016, I had high hopes for Juan Nunez. It seemed like he had trouble finding the consistency that he's going to need along with his 97 mph fastball. Nunez, after pitching in the DSL and GCL in 2015, tossed 62 1/3 innings in Vancouver, putting up a 5.05 ERA and 1.40 WHIP, striking out 18.6% of batters and walking 10.5%. Compounding issues were his four home runs allowed (not the worst number for the high number of innings) and his 0.77 Ground-Out-to-Air-Out (GO/AO) ratio, which shows us that he's not keeping the ball on the ground as well as he might need to. Still, I think we're going to see Nunez in Lansing in 2018 as he took a big step in coming back from injury.

Jose Espada, 20, started 10 games for the Canadians, tossing 49 innings and finished with a 5.14 ERA and 1.24 WHIP over 13 appearances. He struck out 24.4% of batters (way up from last year's 14.1% strikeout rate in Bluefield) and walked 7.2% (up from 5.3% last year), giving him a solid year of work. That said, he did give up a lot of fly balls, finishing with a 0.59 GO/AO ratio with five balls leaving the park. I can see Espada in Vancouver next year to see if he can get more balls on the ground but don't rule out a trip to Lansing.

Dalton Rodriguez, signed by the Blue Jays as an international free agent all the way back in 2012 finally posted some numbers in the US that lead us to believe that there's some promise there. In his second go-round with Vancouver, Rodriguez, 21, made nine starts in 11 appearances, throwing 56 1/3 innings with a 4.15 ERA and 1.30 WHIP, generally leading the starters in effectiveness. He only struck out 15.0% of batters but that was up from 13.8% in Vancouver last year while he walked 6.9%, way down from 11.5% last year. While he doesn't strike out a lot of batters, he got a ton of ground balls, in 57.9% of balls in play, meaning that he could actually improve his numbers as he moves up due to better infield defence around him. Rodriguez moved up to Lansing for three starts at the end of the year, throwing 15 2/3 innings but he was hit hard, giving up 20 hits and 6 walks with 10 strikeouts and an 8.04 ERA and 1.66 WHIP. I think Rodriguez, in his sixth professional season in 2018, starts off in Lansing.

The Blue Jays, and Blue Jays fans, have definitely started to dream on Nate Pearson, the Blue Jays' second first-round pick of 2017. The 21-year-old (who turned 21 in late August) righty absolutely dominated the Northwest League despite the Blue Jays treating him with kid gloves and severely limiting his innings. After making one start in the GCL where he tossed one scoreless inning, striking out two and giving up a hit, he moved up to Vancouver where he started seven games and racked up just 19 innings of work. In those 19 innings, however, Pearson allowed only two runs on just six hits, walking five and posting an incredible 0.58 WHIP with a 0.95 ERA. Pearson also struck out 24 batters (35.8%) before making two strong starts in the playoffs, tossing eight innings and giving up one run on four hits with six walks and 14 strikeouts. I theorized that Pearson, who stands 6-foot-6 and can run the ball up to 100 mph, might skip Lansing next year and go right to Dunedin. He still could start in Lansing but I think the Jays might want to ratchet up the competition level he faces a little more.

The Blue Jays drafted 6-foot-1 righty Donnie Sellers out of Wake Forest University in the 11th round of this year's draft. He went to work in the Northwest League right away, starting seven of his 12 games and tossing 30 innings, posing some solid numbers in his pro debut. He had a 3.90 ERA and 1.57 WHIP, striking out 19.1% and walking 9.6% of batters, giving up a very good 55.6% ground ball rate. We might expect to see his ERA and WHIP fall a bit next year if his BABIP of .366 regresses toward the average (around .300). Overall a very encouraging debut for Sellers who will probably be in Lansing for his Age-22 season in 2018.

While he only started six of his 13 games, Wilfri Aleton racked up 55 innings for the Canadians. He struggled more in Vancouver than he did last year in the GCL and, while he dominated last year, I think the jump in competition made things a bit more challenging for the big 21-year-old lefty. We expected some big things from Aleton in his fifth professional year after his breakout last year but he ended up regressing acrossing the board. He had a 5.07 ERA, 1.58 WHIP to go along with a 16.8% strikeout rate and 7.4% walk rate. His ground-out-to-air-out ratio also fell significantly, from 1.37 in the GCL last year to 0.70 this year. Aleton had one start in the postseason, tossing five innings and giving up two runs on three hits and two walks with four strikeouts in a loss. We'll have to see more to find out what kind of a pitcher Aleton really is and I'm sure we'll see him in Lansing next year.

Twenty-one-year-old lefty Brody Rodning joined the Vancouver Canadians after one outing with the GCL Blue Jays following his selection in the 13th round of the 2017 draft. Rodning, who went to college in Minnesota, allowed a run in his only inning in the GCL and followed that with a 4.64 ERA and 1.67 WHIP in 33 innings with Vancouver. He had some control problems, walking 11.8% of batters while striking out 19.7%. Sellers will likely move up to Lansing next year.

Dany Jimenez, 23, started his fourth professional season with the Vancouver Canadians, putting together two very strong outings in his first two games, with five innings of one-run ball, striking out five in his first and six innings of two-hit, one-run ball in the second, striking out nine with just one walk. On July 1, he was charged with three runs in four innings before coming out of the game in the fifth and he promptly missed a month and a half. He allowed an earned run in his inning of work in the GCL on his road back from injury and rejoined the Canadians, working out of the bullpen down the stretch, starting August 25. He was roughed up for five runs in 2/3 of an inning in his first game and five runs (one earned) in one frame in his second game. He struck out four in two scoreless and hitless innings in his final game of the regular season. It was a bit of a lost season for Jimenez whose overall numbers are a bit deceptive. His 5.49 ERA is quite high but his 0.91 WHIP is excellent over 18 2/3 innings in Vancouver, as is his outstanding 29.9% strikeout rate and 5.2% walk rate. He made one outing in the playoffs, giving up a hit and striking out one in 2/3 of an inning. Jimenez will probably move up to Lansing next year, his Age 24 season. He's shown lots of potential this year and hopefully he's left his injury far behind him.

Relief Pitchers

The Northwest League Champion Vancouver Canadians boasted a phenomenal bullpen, featuring several dominant pitchers.

 Orlando Pascual. Photo Credit: Jay Blue

Orlando Pascual. Photo Credit: Jay Blue

With 24 appearances, righty Orlando Pascual had a share of the club lead. The 21-year-old threw 33 innings in relief for the Canadians and had a 2.18 ERA and 1.06 WHIP. Where his numbers really jump out is how he struck out 33.8% of batters, almost double his total the previous year, split between the GCL and the DSL. Pascual vastly increased his strikeout rate with a solid walk rate at 7.5% and a 53.4% ground ball rate. Pascual took huge steps in 2017 and will look to continue to make strides with Lansing in 2018.

William Ouellette, 24, was the Vancouver Canadians' closer, notching 13 saves in 15 opportunities. Ouellette also got the chance to show what he could do in Dunedin before the short-season in Vancouver got started. In three outings, he pitched 6 1/3 innings, giving up one run on three hits with three walks and four strikeouts. Once in Vancouver, he settled in nicely, posting a 3.00 ERA and 1.00 WHIP, allowing walks in just 5.8% of plate appearances while striking out 28.9% of batters. Despite being a non-drafted free agent in 2016, Ouellette will likely continue his Blue Jays career with the Lansing Lugnuts in 2018.

Vancouverite Brayden Bouchey got a chance to win a championship in his hometown, pitching for the Canadians. Bouchey, 22, was a 33rd-round draft pick out of the University of Louisiana-Monroe and followed up a very strong 2016 campaign, spent mostly in Bluefield, with another strong one in 2017 in Vancouver. Making 24 appearances, the 6-foot-6 Bouchey tossed 30 innings with a 4.20 ERA and 1.07 WHIP, striking out 30.5% of batters and walking 10.2%. Bouchey has been able to strike out at least 30.% of batters at every level while his best walk rate is 10.0%. Obviously, Bouchey will need to get his walk rate down but his strikeout rate builds a ton of confidence for how he'll do when he graduates to full-season ball in 2018.

Grayson Huffman hasn't impressed many people in his professional career since his first season with the Blue Jays' system in 2014 when he was a sixth-round draft pick out of community college. Huffman, now 22, returned to Vancouver for his second season there and improved in many areas, putting up a 3.93 ERA, 1.40 WHIP and a 17.9% strikeout rate and 12.6% walk rate. Huffman's ERA and WHIP were both significantly lower than last year at the same level but his strikeout rate was down 0.5% from 2017 and his walk rate was up 0.8%, both trending in the wrong direction. Huffman was a ground ball machine, though, getting 61.1% of his batted balls on the ground while getting 1.88 ground outs to every out in the air. Huffman should probably be ready for a chance to pitch in Lansing in 2018.

Chris Hall came to the Jays as a 14th-round pick in the 2016 draft out of Elon University and was excellent in Bluefield last year. This year, he started his season in Lansing but was shelled to the tune of a 13.50 ERA and 1.490 OPS against in 7 1/3 innings over four games clustered in late April and late May. Hall reported to Vancouver and was excellent, tossing 36 1/3 innings with a 1.49 ERA and 1.02 WHIP, striking out 28.6% of the batters he faced while walking only 7.5%. He returned to Lansing at the end of August to make two more appearances and didn't give up a run in four innings, allowing four hits and no walk with six strikeouts. Expect Hall to return to Lansing to start 2018 at the age of 24.

In our discussion of the Bluefield bullpen, we talked about Tyler Olander, who changed sports from basketball to baseball and signed with the Blue Jays. Another multi-sport athlete, Bobby Eveld, was a part of the Vancouver Canadians in 2017. Eveld, 25, who was a college quarterback, took to the mound last year and threw just 1 1/3 innings with the GCL Blue Jays. This year, Eveld, a 6-foot-5 righty who throws in the low 90s, started his season with the Vancouver Canadians, throwing 19 1/3 innings over 16 games with the Cs and had a rough go, getting handed an 11.17 ERA and 2.17 WHIP, striking out only 13.0% of batters and walking 7.0%. Towards the middle of August, he came down to the GCL where he had two scoreless outings, striking out four and walking one in three innings. He made an appearance with the Dunedin Blue Jays, striking out two in a perfect inning and made one more outing in the GCL, giving up a run on two hits and two walks. He finished his season in Lansing, allowing two runs (one earned) over five innings in two outings, striking out three and walking two. Overall, it was a mixed season for Eveld who is still trying to find himself as a pitcher. It's tough to know where he's going to land in 2018 but it could very well be in either Lansing or Vancouver.

Twenty-two-year-old lefty Miguel Burgos completed his sixth year in the Blue Jays' organization this year, pitching at three levels but spending most of his time in Vancouver. Burgos started in Vancouver and pitched until the end of July there, moved down to the Appalachian League for three outings and then came back to Vancouver. He finished the year with four appearances in Lansing, quite possibly setting himself up for a return next year. In 25 innings in Vancouver, Burgos had a 4.68 ERA and a 1.64 WHIP along with a 14.9% strikeout rate and 11.4% walk rate. In Bluefield, he was much more dominant, throwing three scoreless innings, giving up two hits with one walk and five strikeouts. In Lansing, He allowed one run on three hits over 4 2/3 innings but walked five and struck out six. 2018 will be the final year of Burgos's initial contract and I think the Blue Jays will push him a little, starting him in Lansing.

Twenty-two-year-old lefty Jake Fishman made a very positive impression in Vancouver. The Blue Jays' 30th-round draft pick last year, Fishman started his season with the GCL, tossing a scoreless inning, giving up a hit and striking out one before moving up to Vancouver near the beginning of July. In Vancouver, Fishman logged 23 innings with a stellar 1.17 ERA and 1.04 WHIP, striking out 25.3% of batters and walking just 4.4%. He was rewarded with a trip to Lansing, tossing 6 2/3 innings over four appearances, giving up three runs off of six hits (including two home runs) but he didn't walk anyone and struck out a whopping 15 batters. I think Fishman will call Lansing home at the beginning of 2018 and, as a lefty reliever, could move quickly if he continues to strike out batters so prodigiously.

The Blue Jays selected righty Justin Dillon, who just turned 24 at the beginning of September, in the 10th round out of Sacramento State in 2017. He joined the ranks of the dominant relievers for the Vancouver Canadians, throwing 23 innings in 13 outings and posted a 1.96 ERA and 0.91 WHIP, walking just 4.4% of batters and striking out 31.1%. Dillon will probably move up to full season ball next year, quite possibly in a starting role. Look for him in Lansing or Dunedin.

Zach Logue, 21, was the Jays' ninth-round draft pick in 2017 out of Kentucky and showed a lot of potential at two levels. Logue started his professional career by making three appearances in Bluefield, giving up just two hits and no runs in five innings, striking out five and not walking anyone. He moved up to Vancouver and continued his dominance, tossing another 25 2/3 innings with a 1.75 ERA and 0.97 WHIP, striking out 28.6% of batters and walking 6.1%. Logue was throwing multiple innings per outings, leading me to believe that the organization views at him as a starter long term. I'd look for Logue to start 2018 in Lansing.

Travis Bergen had his busiest year as a pitcher since being drafted in 2015. Now 23, Bergen is a 6-foot-1 lefty out of Kennesaw State who was a former seventh-round pick who has struggled with injury for the last two years. In 2017, however, Logue put together something of a full season, starting in the GCL. He threw six times there, putting in nine innings with a 3.00 ERA and 1.11 WHIP, striking out eight and walking three. Moving up to Vancouver, he pitched 9 1/3 innings in three outings, with a 2.89 ERA and 1.39 WHIP, striking out 14 and walking five. Bergen could move up to Lansing next year but the Blue Jays are sure to be careful with his arm.

The Blue Jays drafted Matt Shannon in the 12th round of the 2017 draft out of Angelo State and the 22 year old only managed to get into three games before he was not seen from again (likely due to injury) after July 7. He tossed four innings, giving up just one hit with four strikeouts over three appearances. Shannon could end up in Lansing to start the year but the lack of information we have about him and his healthy limits our ability to prognosticate.

Righty Angel Alicea had a very strong debut season last year after he was drafted out of Alabama State. The 23-year-old Puerto Rican started his 2017 season injured, only making his season debut on July 20 with the GCL Blue Jays. In three games there, he allowed four runs on three hits, two hit batters and a walk over 3 2/3 innings but struck out nine batters. Moving up to Vancouver, he made two more appearances, allowing two runs on six hits with just one strikeout and one walk in four innings. Alicea, if healthy, could start in Lansing in his Age-23 season next year.

Hitters

The Vancouver Canadians were the Northwest League champions in 2017 and they did that on the backs of some newly drafted college players who showed leadership as well as the ability to get the job done with the bat. They were also bolstered by a young outfielder who showed the first signs of being able to consistently tap into his plus tools. All in all, it was an exciting year for the Vancouver Canadians and their fans.

Catchers

The go-to catcher for the Canadians was the Jays' third-round pick in 2017, 6-foot-4 Riley Adams out of San Diego University. Adams put up an impressive debut campaign with a .305/.374/.438 slash line that included 16 doubles, a triple and three home runs. Adams got under way with a 4/4 game in just his third of season and had another four-hit game in early July. He had a solid 7.9% walk rate and a 22.0% strikeout rate but may benefit from hitting the ball in the air more: he had a 17.2% line drive rate but a 49.7% ground ball rate and a .391 BABIP which allowed him to hit as well as he did. Adams did some impressive work behind the plate, throwing out 40% of potential base stealers and committing just three passed balls in 34 games behind the plate. I can see some regression in Adams's offensive game next year, unless he can get the ball in the air more often. The 21-year-old will be in Lansing in April.

Matt Morgan caught the next most games for the Canadians, getting into 29 games overall with Vancouver and one with Lansing. He was 1/4 in Lansing, playing in early June, before the short season got under way, and eventually hit .141/.255/.261 over 92 at bats with the Cs. Morgan, a perennial project since being drafted in the fourth round in 2014 hit three doubles, a triple and two home runs. The 21-year-old catcher continued to struggle with the strikeout, going down on strikes in 39.6% of his plate appearances while walking in 11.3%. He threw out 31% of runners trying to steal in Vancouver (and one out of two in Lansing) but it's the strikeouts and lack of offensive production that are the biggest concern for Morgan.

Twenty-two-year-old Mississauga native Owen Spiwak played in his first full year with Vancouver after spending 2015 and 2016 predominantly with the GCL Blue Jays. Spiwak put up better numbers than he did in 2016, getting into 28 games and hitting .211/.312/.295 in 110 plate appearances, hitting five doubles and a home run. Behind the plate, he acquitted himself well, throwing out 38% of potential base stealers and committing just two passed balls in 117 innings. Spiwak benefitted from a high (.345) BABIP and struck out far too much (35.5% of the time) while walking in 11.8% of plate appearances. Spiwak is a useful backup catcher and he could move up to Lansing in that role next year, or he could remain in Vancouver with the hope of a little more playing time.

Finally, we get to Cam O'Brien who, after he had served his suspension for testing positive for an amphetamine, played in 11 games with Vancouver, coming to the plate 40 times, mostly as a DH, and hit .216/.275/.243. He did catch two games and allowed five runners to steal without throwing anyone out.

Infielders

First baseman Kacy Clemens's name is familiar to most Blue Jays fans as he's one of the sons of ace pitcher Roger. Clemens, drafted in the eighth round this season by the Jays out of Texas, turned 23 this summer and acquitted himself extremely well by hitting .274/.379/.413 with 14 doubles, three triples and four home runs while stealing four bases in four attempts. Clemens's mature approach likely helped him to the strong season and he walked in 14.1% of his 269 plate appearances and struck out in 19.3% for a very strong walk-to-strikeout ratio. Like Riley Adams, Clemens probably hits the ball on the ground a little too often (54.9%) and his fly ball rate is pretty low (guys like Josh Donaldson and Justin Smoak hit fly balls over 40% of the time). It wouldn't surprise if the Jays tried to tinker with Clemens's swing to get him to hit with a little more loft when they work with him in the Florida Instructional League. He's likely to start in Lansing next year.

At 6-foot, 175 pounds, Cullen Large may not be as large as some of his teammates, but the 21-year-old infielder started off his career with a bang, racking up seven hits in his first five games with the Canadians. Large tailed off a bit but only played three games in August and, while he wasn't put on the DL, I'm sure he wasn't healthy in order to have missed that much time. Large hit .246/.356/.325 in 151 plate appearances, hitting eight doubles and a triple and stealing three bases in three tries. Large walked in 11.9% of his plate appearances and struck out in 18.5%, giving him very solid ratios in his professional debut. I'd look for him in Lansing next year too.

The Blue Jays acquired second baseman Samad Taylor from the Indians in the trade for Joe Smith and he impressed in his first exposure in Vancouver. The 19-year-old right-handed hitter hit .300/.328/.467 with six doubles, a triple, and four home runs in 28 games with the Mahoning Valley Scrappers in the New York-Penn League while a member of the Cleveland organization and went to Bluefield after being traded. There he hit .250/.350/.250 in five games before heading to Vancouver to finish the season with a .294/.342/.426 slash line, hitting three doubles and two home runs in 68 plate appearances. Taylor struck out in 23.1% of his plate appearances with Vancouver and, aside from his brief time in Bluefield, that was his highest figure for any portion of the 2017 season. It looks like he might want to improve his 6.4% walk rate as he moves forward. Taylor looks like he could be a very interesting young prospect with a combination of bat skills and power. He only stole seven bases in 11 attempts leading me to believe that his base stealing skills might benefit from the tutelage of Tim Raines. Despite being still being 19 when next season opens, Taylor could find himself manning second base for Lansing.

Twenty-year-old Dominican third baseman Bryan Lizardo spent his second year in Vancouver, slightly regressing at the plate, hitting .212/.276/.276 in 222 plate appearances. While his walk rate (7.7%) was up 0.2% from 2016, his strikeout rate also rose to 29.3% (from 26.5%) while his ISO dropped from .114 in 2016 to .064 in 2017. I'm sure he started in Vancouver this year due to a couple of circumstances (the first being a rough 2016 and the second being the fact that Vladimir Guerrero Jr. leaped over him in the depth chart at third base) but the Lizardo's inability to get out of short-season ball has been due to his own performance. Without a clear third-baseman ready to take the reigns in Lansing next year, he could move up there to test him against better competition, but it may not be right away.

In six years since joining the Blue Jays' organization, Venezuelan infielder Deiferson Barreto has only managed to spend a lot of time in Vancouver. Still, the 22 year-old did play a game in Buffalo this year but 48 of his 67 games were with the Canadians where he hit .249/.280/.306. He got his season under way with the Dunedin Blue Jays, playing 18 games (around a quick jump to Buffalo for an 0/2 game) hitting .211/.224/.228 with a double. In Vancouver, he added seven doubles and a triple but home runs eluded him. Barreto doesn't strike out much (11.3% in Vancouver and 10.3% in Dunedin) but neither does he walk a lot (3.2% in Vancouver and 0.0% in Dunedin). That combined with his meagre other stats likely mean a rough road ahead for the Venezuelan.

One of the Vancouver Canadians' best performers was the Blue Jays' first-round pick in the 2017 draft, shortstop Logan Warmoth who came to the Jays out of the University of North Carolina. Warmoth played in six games in the GCL, hitting .273/.304/.409 with a home run over 22 at bats before getting into 39 games with Vancouver, improving those numbers with a .306/.356/.419 slash line, contributing 11 doubles, two triples and one home run. Warmoth didn't walk much, just 4.0% of his Vancouver plate appearances and his 19.0% strikeout rate is OK, particularly for a professional debut. One statistical area that sets him apart from what Clemens and Adams were able to do was the fact that he had a 38.4% fly ball rate, indicating that, as (if) he gets stronger, more balls will fly further, improving his ISO and power potential. Look for Warmoth to man shortstop in Lansing or Dunedin as a 22-year-old in 2018.

Despite the fact that Warmoth is a first-round pick, Kevin Vicuna, a 19-year-old Venezuelan shortstop, accrued some A-ball experience in 2017, and where the two end up in 2018 will depend as much on each other as it does on themselves. Vicuna started making waves after he notched three multi-hit games in his first week in Dunedin after being assigned there in late April. Between April 23 and June 1, Vicuna played in 26 games and had 92 plate appearances in Dunedin, hitting .202/.256/.238 overall with a double and a triple. Heading to Vancouver, Vicuna played with the Canadians from the beginning of the season to late-August, hitting .280/.333/.307 with three doubles and a triple. He played the final couple of weeks in Lansing, hitting .340/.389/.400 in a small sample of 50 at bats with a double and a triple. Vicuna also has some speed, stealing 17 bases but the fact that he was caught stealing nine times indicates that he probably needs some more work in that regard. Right now, it looks like Vicuna, who struck out 17.2% of the time in Vancouver and walked 5.3% of the time needs to figure out how to hit the ball with more authority as his tiny ISO of .034 indicates. Vicuna could start in Lansing next year, or he could move up to Dunedin. With a few quality shortstops in the organization, it will depend on where the Blue Jays send Richard Urena, Lourdes Gurriel and Bo Bichette before we know where Vicuana and Warmoth start the year.

David Jacob spend most of his time as a DH but still played nine games at first base for Vancouver. The slugger had a slash line of .267/.323/.433 with three doubles and four home runs in 99 plate appearances and also played in 18 games with Lansing, hitting .288/.358/.438 with two doubles and three more home runs. The 6-foot-4 left-handed hitting first baseman also hit a home run in his only at bat in the GCL and went 0/4 in one game in Buffalo, giving him a solid eight home runs in 43 games. With time on the DL, Jacob is likely going to need to stay healthy and get into games next year to show what he can do with the bat. I think he'll be in Lansing next year.

Outfielders

Twenty-two-year-old Mexican outfielder Norberto Obeso was a solid everyday contributor to the Canadians, hitting .252/.364/.329 with eight doubles, a triple and two home runs in 250 plate appearances. His biggest asset at this point in his career is his ability to get on via the walk as the left-handed hitter walked in 13.6% of his plate appearances and struck out in 15.2%. He'll likely be in Lansing next year.

 Reggie Pruitt. Photo Credit: Jay Blue

Reggie Pruitt. Photo Credit: Jay Blue

Looking over 20-year-old centre fielder Reggie Pruitt's numbers, one would think that the young Georgian didn't have the kind of season that he could hang his hat on with a .229/.297/.297 slash line, encompassing nine doubles, two triples and two home runs (including an inside-the-park homer). Overall, Pruitt walked in 7.4% of his plate appearances, which is on the low side considering how fast he is, and struck out in a career-high 25.8%. Pruitt also stole 28 bases in 36 attempts, not a bad ratio. But the overall is deceiving because Pruitt probably showed the most improvement of any of the Vancouver Canadians over the course of the season. In his first 18 games, Pruitt hit .118/.211/.176 and .265/.326/.336 after that. In August, Pruitt struck out a little less (24.2%) and hit both of his home runs. Pruitt has always been considered a very raw talent after he was drafted out of high school and it might appear that he's been able to polish some of those skills, giving us some hope for 2018, when he'll probably start in Lansing.

The man with the moustache, Brock Lundquist, 21, had a very solid debut professional season after being drafted in the sixth round of the 2017 draft out of Long Beach State. He hit .251/.364/.377 with a strong 12.0% walk rate and an 18.0% strikeout rate. Lundquist really shone in the playoffs, however, going 7/21 in six games, hitting three doubles and two home runs and having a 1.153 OPS. Lundquist will likely ply his trade for Lansing next year.

Brandon Polizzi, the Jays' 35th-round pick out of Cal State Dominguez Hills (Kevin Pillar's alma mater), played most of his pro debut in Vancouver, hitting .198/.270/.279 after hitting .357/.438/.571 in seven games in Bluefield, hitting four doubles and a triple in just 28 at bats. His struggles in Vancouver featured a 26.8% strikeout rate and 8.1% walk rate while his batted ball data indicates that he really is not a fly ball hitter, putting 60.5% of his batted balls on the ground in Vancouver. Lundquist, 21, could return to Vancouver next year after missing the end of the season with an injury.

Lance Jones played in eight games with Vancouver, hitting .423/.467/.500 in 26 at bats, with two doubles before he retired towards the end of June.

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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.