Monday, July 11, 2011

Midseason Report: High-A Dunedin

Team Record: 49-39 (2nd in North Division)
Number of team Top 15 prospects: 2 -- McGuire, Wojciechowski

Despite only having two of the Blue Jays top 15 prospects, Dunedin has a strong roster overall as the top prospects are complemented by many other young, talented prospects aspiring to reach their potential. Much like New Hampshire, the Dunedin Blue Jays have a balanced roster with a .730 OPS (3rd in FSL) and 3.87 ERA (6th in FSL).

Notable hitters:

C AJ Jimenez: .308/.361/.419 (.780 OPS), 15 2B, 3 HR, 25 RBI, 9 SB, 19/44 BB/K

Jimenez is yet another of the Blue Jays talented catching prospects, and the 21 year old has held his own in his first year with Dunedin. Despite seeing his batting average fall with each month, Jimenez still holds an impressive season slash line in a league filled with talented pitching prospects. Part of Jimenez' job has been to help develop some of the Blue Jays young pitchers, to which he has done an excellent job.

RF Justin Jackson: .274/.362/.386 (.748 OPS), 14 2B, 3 HR, 17 RBI, 7 SB, 32/63 BB/K

2011 has been a successful year for Jackson, and his above line doesn't truly do justice to how well he played over the first 2+ months of the year. Jackson maintained a .300+/.400+/.400+ line for much of the first half of the season before struggling mightily during a stretch in June, which saw his triple slash line fall to where it is now. Despite his midseason struggle, Jackson received a well deserved promotion to New Hampshire where he hopes to continue to revive his prospect stock.

3B Kevin Ahrens: .244/.326/.387 (.713 OPS), 16 2B, 8 HR, 33 RBI, 31/64 BB/K

The second of two 2007 1st round picks on the list, Ahrens has struggled in his 3rd try with the Dunedin Blue Jays. While the power and plate discipline have taken a step forward, his bat still hasn't developed as hoped, despite making the change from being a switch hitter to an exclusive right handed hitter. Ahrens is running out of time to make an impression on the Blue Jays front office.

LF Brad Glenn: .260/.314/.507 (.821 OPS), 18 2B, 17 HR, 56 RBI, 20/87 BB/K

Glenn was drafted as a college senior in 2009 and has shown power in each of his three minor league seasons, culminating with this year's 17 homers, which is good for 2nd in the FSL. Glenn is striking out far too much as a 24 year old to be considered a prospect, but he has been a nice story and is providing some meat in the middle of the Blue Jays lineup.

Notable pitchers:

RHP Deck McGuire: 92.2 IP, 80 H, 28 ER, 8 HR, 36 BB, 88 K, 2.72 ERA, 1.25 WHIP

The Blue Jays 1st round pick in 2010 has had a very successful debut in pro baseball, which is not surprising given his polish coming out of Georgia Tech. McGuire throws a number of above average pitches with solid command, which is more than enough to be dominant in High-A. McGuire's real test will come when he receives his promotion to New Hampshire and gets his first taste of upper level hitters.

RHP Asher Wojciechowski: 85.2 IP, 105 H, 50 ER, 14 HR, 24 BB, 62 K, 5.25 ERA, 1.51 WHIP

Woj has had an interesting pro debut with Dunedin in 2011. In the months of April and July he has been dominant (0.87 ERA and 1.50 ERA respectively), while in the months of May and June he has been a lamb to the slaughter (6.06 ERA and 10.62 ERA respectively). His biggest issue has been his lack of faith in his secondary offerings, relying at times exclusively on his fastball. This has led to some gaudy hit and home run totals in the middle months.

RHP Nestor Molina: 83.1 IP, 79 H, 26 ER, 7 HR, 8 BB, 93 K, 2.81 ERA, 1.04 WHIP

Molina entered 2011 as a starting pitcher for the first time since being signed as an undrafted free agent in 2006. He has always had impeccible command and decent strikeout rates, but has taken it a step further this year with an outstanding 93:8 ratio in his 83.1 innings. He will look to join his hometown friend Henderson Alvarez in New Hampshire before the season ends.

RHP Wes Etheridge: 30 SV, 43.2 IP, 31 H, 6 ER, 1 HR, 6 BB, 36 K, 1.24 ERA, 0.85 WHIP

While Etheridge is a non-prospect as a soon to be 27 year old in Dunedin, his season has been impressive enough that he deserves a mention. The small right hander has totalled 30 saves with Dunedin, which is ten ahead of the next closest pitcher (Kenny Faulk of Lakeland, with 20). What makes his season even more impressive is that entering this season he hadn't thrown a pitch in professional baseball since 2008, as he retired for 2 years to serve his lord as a Pastor.

Rest of the year outlook:

While the positional players have remained relatively stable -- with Justin Jackson's recent promotion being the only notable loss, the pitching rotation has been a bit of a revolving door in the first half of the season. Henderson Alvarez and Chad Jenkins, two of the original starters in Dunedin's rotation, have already been promoted to Double-A and it's likely that McGuire and Molina will join them at some point later this season. Lansing, Toronto's A-ball affiliate, has supplied reinforcements to the D-Jays, most notably Drew Hutchison. Casey Lawrence, another Lansing starter who in his last 4 starts has posted a combined 26IP/23H/5ER/2BB/23K pitching line (1.73 ERA, 0.96 WHIP), is likely not far behind. The Dunedin Blue Jays are in the hunt for a playoff spot, and despite all these roster moves they should be highly competitive team in their drive for the championship.

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