Despite owning the best overall record (85-53) in the Florida State League, the Dunedin Blue Jays could not translate their success into the playoffs. The Jays suffered a two-game sweep at the hands of the Fort Myers Miracle in the first round of the postseason, putting an abrupt end to their otherwise successful year.
Many positives emerged from the 2008 campaign for Dunedin. Perhaps the most important of which was manager Omar Malave netting the FSL’s Manager of the Year award. Malave led the Dunedin squad to the best record in the league this year, which translated into the Jays reaching the playoffs for the fourth time in the last five seasons.
Another positive for the club was that four of its players were named to the FSL’s 2008 Post-Season All-Star team. Among the players chosen were right-handed starter Reidier Gonzalez, second baseman Brad Emaus, outfielder Cory Patton and designated hitter Brian Dopirak.
*In other news from Toronto’s farm system, the Lansing Lugnuts of the Class A Midwest League were also eliminated from the playoffs following a two-game sweep in the first round. The Lugnuts dropped the first game of the series, 3-1, to the Dayton Dragons and then fell, 7-3, in game two.
— David Singh
At the conclusion of the International League’s 2008 season, Blue Jays pitching prospect Ricky Romero was named Pitcher-of-the-Week for the period ending Sept. 1. The left-hander, who was Toronto’s first pick in the 2005 First-Year Player Draft, collected two wins while posting a 1.29 ERA for Triple-A Syracuse, over the season’s final week.
The 23-year-old started the year at Double-A, where he went 5-5 with a 4.96 ERA over 21 starts. However, after his promotion to Triple-A in late July, Romero was seemingly a different pitcher. In his seven starts for the Chiefs, Romero went 3-3 with a 3.38 ERA. Over 42 innings, opponents hit just .263 against the south-paw. As well, he allowed 20 walks, while striking out 38 batters.
In other news, during the Minor League regular season, Toronto’s affiliated clubs managed to collectively finish above .500, posting a combined 353-337 (.512) mark.
— David Singh
The Cleveland Indians have officially informed Major League Baseball that they would like to terminate their Player Development Contract with the Triple-A Buffalo Bisons.
On Sept. 15, MLB will inform the club of available minor league
clubs/locations for a Triple A Affiliate. Cleveland will then have a 14-day window to negotiate a deal.
The announcement has been long expected and the Indians will more than likely pony up with the Columbus Clippers, who open up a new stadium in downtown Columbus for the 2009 season. It is also expected that the Blue Jays and Bisons will collaborate.
The Indians low Class-A Lake County Captains will transfer from the South Atlantic League to the Midwest league for the 2010 season. The club formerly known as the Columbus Catfish, who will start playing in Bowling Green, Ky. at the start of the 2009 season, will also be transferred.
According to a news release, “the transfer of clubs addresses concerns over travel and provides better geographical alignments for the two Class A Leagues.”
– Andrew Gribble
Blue Jays prospect Scott Campbell was named an Eastern League end of season All-Star last week, capping off what has already been a very successful year for the 24-year-old second baseman.
Campbell, who spent all of this season with Double-A New Hampshire, was also selected to play in the All-Star Futures Game at Yankee Stadium, in addition to being named an Eastern League Mid-Season All-Star.
The strong offensive showing from the 6-foot, 200-pound Campbell was the main reason for his various accolades. Campbell hit .314 (123-for-392) with nine home runs, 21 doubles, 46 RBIs and 69 runs scored in his 106 games for the Fisher Cats this year. As well, the left-handed hitter was able to show much patience at the plate, posting an impressive .411 on-base percentage.
Campbell, a native of Auckland, New Zealand, was selected by Toronto in the 10th round of the 2006 First-Year Player Draft. He will continue his development this fall, when he will suit up for the Phoenix Desert Dogs of the Arizona Fall League.
— David Singh
There is no question that outfielder Travis Snider is one of the best prospects in the Blue Jays organization. The 20-year-old has continued to prove that since his promotion to Triple-A Syracuse earlier this month.
Entering Sunday, in his eight games with Syracuse, Snider had hit .387 (12-for-31) with one home run, three doubles and nine RBIs. His success is only a continuation of what he was able to accomplish with Double-A New Hampshire, where he hit .262 with 17 home runs and 67 RBIs in 98 games before receiving a promotion to Triple-A.
Though Snider is rapidly progressing towards the Major Leagues, Jays general manger J.P. Ricciardi recently confirmed that the outfielder would not receive a September call-up to Toronto, but instead will be headed to the Arizona Fall League.
Nonetheless, it is widely believed that Snider — Toronto’s No. 1 pick (14th overall) in the 2006 First-Year Player Draft — should be with the Major League squad at some point during the 2009 season.
One of the great positives for the 5-foot-11, 245-pound left-handed hitter is his young age. Drafted out of high school in 2006, Snider has already amassed more than 290 games in the Minor Leagues. As well, if he continues to dominate at the Triple-A level for the rest of the year, and then experiences success in the Arizona Fall League, Snider could possibly force the Jays to find a spot for him on their opening day roster next season.
Entering this year, Snider was ranked by Baseball America as the No. 11 prospect in all of baseball. It is only a matter of time before Blue Jays fans will begin to see why.
— David Singh
Though it’s just a small sample size, Triple-A starter Jesse Litsch has performed well since being demoted from the Blue Jays on July 23.
Over a pair of starts for Syracuse, the 23-year-old right hander has gone 1-1 with a 4.15 ERA over 13 innings. What has been more impressive though, is the fact that he has walked just three hitters, struck out 14, and held opponents to a .224 batting average.
Litsch, who started the season as Toronto’s No. 5 starter, went 7-1 with a 3.18 ERA over his first 11 appearances for the big league club. He struggled over the following nine games however, posting a 1-6 record with a bloated 6.12 ERA. Opposing batters managed a .318 average against the young righty over that span, during which Litsch yielded 34 earned runs on 68 hits over 50 innings.
In July, Litsch was 0-3 with a 7.85 ERA, which finally led to his demotion. The Jays sent the starter down to the Minors in order to make adjustments, which include improving his two-seam fastball and change-up. The team believes that Litsch has the ability to return to the Majors.
“He’ll definitely be back,” Blue Jays general manager J.P. Ricciardi said when Litsch was demoted. “We like him a lot and we think he’s a part of what we’re doing here. It’s just a matter of giving him a chance to take a deep breath.”
In other news concerning the starting rotation in Syracuse, left-hander Brett Cecil was promoted to the Triple-A squad last Monday. The promotion for the highly touted 22-year-old came on the same day that he earned Eastern League Player of the Week honors for his work with Double-A New Hampshire.
Cecil struggled in his first start for Syracuse though, allowing eight runs (five earned) on eight hits over just 2 1/3 innings against Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.
— David Singh
Following a strong outing on Sunday, Double-A left-hander Brett Cecil became the first six-game winner this year for the New Hampshire Fisher Cats. Cecil allowed no runs on three hits over eight innings in the 6-5 victory over Reading. He walked one while striking out eight, which matched a career high.
The 22-year-old south-paw has excelled in Toronto’s Minor League system this season. Cecil began 2008 pitching for Dunedin of the Florida State League, where he posted a 1.74 ERA in four starts.
After being promoted to Double-A, Cecil has gone 6-2 with a 2.55 ERA in 18 starts. Over 77 2/3 innings, he has walked only 23 batters while striking out 87. As well, the lefty has posted an impressive .227 opponents batting average.
There is no doubt that the six-foot-three, 220-pound Cecil is on the fast track towards joining Toronto’s Major League squad. In early July, Blue Jays general manager J.P. Ricciardi hinted that the hurler could be one of the team’s September call-ups, given his solid performance this year.
Before the season, Cecil was considered the top pitching prospect in the Blue Jays organization by Baseball America. With his stellar pitching so far this year, he has done nothing but earn his top billing.
A native of Dunkirk, Maryland, Cecil was selected by the Jays with the 38th overall pick in the 2007 First-Year Player Draft.
— David Singh