Minor League Report: Grab a seat on the prospect bus

The Minor League Report by Write Fielder Matthew Strader takes a look at a couple of up-and-comers in the Jays system. One being Chad Jenkins (pictured above). photo courtesy of Sportsnet.ca

STRADER: One thing I am religious on is scouting the minors, so I figured I would put together a “MINOR LEAGUE REPORT” every couple of days.

I considered for a moment making some attempt at a headline that somehow incorporated “What happens in Vegas…”

But let’s be realistic. Jays’ fans aren’t going to see anyone except position players in need of at bats in Vegas, and we certainly don’t want anything to stay there.

We’re pretty much clear of two starts each for all the minor league arms that are on the radar this season, so here’s a catch up on what’s happened so far with two, and being a sucker for the up and comers, the MINOR LEAGUE REPORT will become a regular part of my repertoire.

DUNEDIN:

From the Florida State League comes statistics on one of AA’s favourites. Asher Wojciechowski. AA loves this kid. There isn’t anything to be determined from an interview with Toronto’s great Greek thinker. Media must become a poker player, read between the lines, listen to inflection of voice, tone, word choices, and try to get a read.

Three weeks ago, I pounced all over a slip of the tongue from Farrell and announced to my colleague Livingstone that Drabek would be the fifth starter. (We did not get on posting that fast enough, it was announced the next day) This past weekend, there were two names that changed the inflection of AA’s voice when he spoke them.

Wojciechowski was one of them.

He loves this kid.

The 6-foot-4, 235 pound South Carolina product was selected 41st overall in the first round of the 2010 first-year player draft. The blog isn’t paying enough (yet) for us to scout these guys live, so we go from the box.

In two starts this year, Wojciechowski has been night and day, yin and yang.

April 7: IP: 4.0 H: 9 ER: 6 SO: 2 BB: 1.

April 13: IP: 6.0 H: 2 ER: 1 SO: 4 BB: 1.

Scouting reports say plenty of fastball, but were pretty down on his secondary stuff in his draft year, calling his changeup insignificant. Until I can see him myself, I go by the stats. If the secondary stuff is weak, it looks like we’re developing another quality swing man here in the ilk of Villanueva. But there is something AA really likes about this kid, so maybe the slider is coming. In 2010, it was lacking movement and averaged 83 mph. Updated reports are calling the slider a plus pitch that he controls to both sides of the plate now. Could this be a future 2-3 starter? When I know more, you’ll know more.

NEW HAMPSHIRE:

The other time, I believe, the Blue Jay GM tipped his cap this weekend was to Chad Jenkins. And here’s my first you heard it hear first!

“Chad Jenkins will get the fifth start instead of Carreno this month.”

It’s a guess, but I’m 90 per cent. Our organization has been consistent with loyalty, so after a competitive showing earlier this month, outside of two Carlos Santana home runs, Carreno could very likely get it again, and I wouldn’t be upset to see him, but I’m predicting Jenkins.

Drafted in the first round of the 2009 first year player draft, Jenkins was known for one thing. Fastball, fastball, fastball. It was heavy, downhill with sinking action and nasty. Big body, durable, strikeouts. He sounded like a first round talent, and then silently, there wasn’t much sound at all.

With the Drabek trade, the Alvarez rise, and the McGowan return, where do you reach to grab a headline as a young starting pitcher in Toronto? Well, don’t worry. Jenkins, from what is being said, appears to have focused on conditioning and begun to progress stuff-wise and mentally, the way an organization looks for a starter too.

The stories out of spring were impressive, and the numbers, at least early in this season, are looking that way too.

In his two starts: IP: 13 H: 10 ER: 6 BB: 1 SO: 7

It’s notable that in his second start he allowed 5 ER and 3 HR, but the way AA jumped to defend that start…the wind was blowing out…it was better than the line shows…this is an organization loving what they’re seeing from one of their emerging talents. I can’t wait to see him.

Scouting reports call Jenkins a power sinker guy now. His number one pitch sits in the low-90s and can reach 95-96 when he reaches for it. Look for that sinker to move the most when it’s dialed back to 92-93, and ride a steadier four seam plain when he guns it.

Jenkins also throws a plus slider, and with downward movement on both is a groundball artist. I know you’ve never heard this before, so be prepared for a shocker – he’s also working on his changeup.

In his draft year, Jenkins was called a potential “workhorse.” If the reports continue to evolve from “pudgy” to “impressive” regarding his physique, he could be a welcome addition to the back of the Blue Jay rotation by year end.

The MINOR LEAGUE REPORT will update the blog on the stats of two AA starters Drew Hutchison and Deck McGuire in the next few days and will also look at the “next wave” in Noah Syndergaard and Justin Niccolino.

 

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