Join Jays From the Couch in reviewing the 2016 Dunedin Blue Jays. Next up, a look at the D-Jays infielders.
Next stop on my slow moving 2016 review of the Toronto Blue Jays farm system takes us to the Dunedin Blue Jays infield. Previously, we have reviewed the rise of pitching prospects Sean Reid-Foley, Jon Harris, and Francisco Rios from Lansing to Dunedin and Conner Greene from Dunedin to New Hampshire. We have also reviewed the breakout season of Jonathan Davis and the frustrating (for him) season of Anthony Alford as we reviewed the D-Jays outfielders.
Before we move up to New Hampshire we’ll review the 2016 Dunedin Blue Jays infielders. It was an infield made up of the 2015 Midwest MVP (Ryan McBroom), a promising shortstop and now Blue Jays top ranked prospect (Richard Urena) and surprise breakout candidate (Jason Leblebijian).
1B Ryan McBroom
The 24-yr-old 1st baseman is one of those prospects that never seems to get much love or respect he deserves. All he has done at every level is prove his doubters wrong, and 2016 was no different. Heading into 2016 McBroom was considered a corner infielder who lacked the power to stick at 1st or lacked the ability to make enough consistent contact make up for the lack elite power.
In 119 games McBroom collected 128 hits (6th in the FSL), 26 doubles (T-4th in the FSL), 21 HR (3rd in the FSL), 83 RBI (1st in the FSL), and finished with a .274 batting average. He got his first taste of Double-A when Rowdy Tellez landed on the DL on July 21st. McBroom needs to figure out a way to work the count more to bump up his walk totals (6.6 BB%) which should allow him to better utilize his power (.194 ISO).
McBroom was named to the Mid-Season and Post-Season All-Star teams. He won the MiLB.com FSL Player of the Month in August (.348 7HR 29RBI) and won Player of the Week on August 14th.
vs LHP- .282
vs RHP- .271
Dantzler is no longer with the club, deciding to retire on September 16th. The 25-yr-old 1st baseman burst onto the Blue Jays scene in 2013 when he hit 9 HR for the Vancouver Canadians. Since then he has missed chunks of time due to injury and was unable to show any of the power he showed in 2013. In 2016 L.B. landed on the DL 3 separate times, seeing his season and ultimately his professional baseball career come to an end on August 24th.
Dantzler played 24 games at 1st, with 5 games started in LF. He finished with a .235 BA and just a single home run in 55 games.
Good luck in your future endeavors.
vs LHP- .317
vs RHP- .213
In 2015 Leblebijian bounced between Lansing and Dunedin, with very little success during his time in the FSL. After the season was over, Jason Leblebijian headed to Australia joining the Canberra Cavalry. He quickly established himself as the Cavalry’s everyday SS, having a very successful off-season. He carried that momentum into the 2016 season, making the FSL Mid-Season All-Star team and getting called up to New Hampshire on June 4th.
During his time with Dunedin he played 38 games at 3rd, 8 games at SS and 3 at 2nd. He hit .291 and .295 in April and May while acting as the clubs clean-up hitter. His best game came on May 23rd when he went 4-for-5 with a HR, 2 RBI and a stolen base. Leblebijian proved the D-Jays with above average production (.368 wOBA) and decent power (.125 ISO) but strikes out too much (26.6 K%) to be effective.
vs LHP- .302
vs RHP- .290
3B/RF Emilio Guerrero
Guerrero’s season didn’t get started until April 17th, but it started with a bang. Guerrero went 4-for-4 with a double and 2 RBI, 2-for-5 with two doubles and an RBI, and 3-for-5 with a double and RBI in his first 3 games. Unfortunately he was unable to sustain anything close that kind production and by the end of May he was hitting closer to his career average of .257 with a .262 batting average.
Guerrero had two DL stints in 2016 but managed to be named to the FSL Mid-Season All-Star game and was named Player of the Week with hot week in June. The 24-yr-old infielder had his best game on June 25th going 3-for-5 with 2HR, 4 RBI, a walk and stolen base. Guerrero finished his time with the D-Jays hitting .284, 15 doubles, 8 HR, 36 RBI while providing the D-Jays with above average production (.397 wOBA) and career high power (.253 ISO). On July 2nd, Emilio was promoted to New Hampshire for the rest of the year.
vs LHP- .302
vs RHP- .277
The slow development of Thon took another step in 2016. He set career highs with 10 HR, 42 RBI, 35 BB, and 111 games played. Unfortunately, Thon has too much swing and miss in his game with 23.3 K% resulting in 100 strikeouts. He finished the year with a solid .344 wOBA and 116 wRC+. He added some speed to his game with 23 stolen bases, while posting a 4.67 range factor in 66 games at second.
Dickie Joe Thon spent about two weeks on the temporarily inactive list in July. He has his best game on August 21st with a 2-for-4 game, hitting 2HR and driving in 3 runs. Thon has elected for free-agency, but I’m hopeful he’ll return in 2017 and get a chance to continue his development with the New Hampshire Fisher Cats.
vs LHP- .284
vs RHP- .248
The 24-yr-old played 25 games at 2nd for the D-Jays, hitting .206 with 8 doubles, a triple, a HR and 12 RBI. Since being drafted in 2014 Attaway has yet to crack the starting lineup on a consistent basis, 2016 was no different. He saw the most playing time with 12 games in June, seeing 6 in July and 7 in August. Tough to get in a rhythm.
vs RHP- .196
SS/3B/2B Gunnar Heidt
The 24-yr-old started the year with the Lugnuts before heading to the D-Jays on June 13th. Gunnar played mostly SS for the D-Jays but also saw some time at 3B and 2B. In 50 games the 6’0″ Charleston alum hit .256 with 13 doubles and 5 HR, while driving in 24 run and scoring 28. Heidt split his time batting 3rd (13GP), 5th (17GP) and 6th (10 GP) with the most success coming out of the 6th spot with a .294 BA. His level of offense remained the same upon his promotion with a slight improvement in walks and strikeouts. Gunnar Heidt lowered his K% from 23.2 down to 21.8 and bumped his BB% from 9.1 up to 10.2.
Heidt finished 2016 on the DL after going 2-for-3 with a double and a RBI in an August 10th game. He was placed on the 7-day DL the following day.
vs LHP- .271
vs RHP- .250
SS/2B Jorge Flores
I’ve always liked Jorge Flores, so it pains me to say he struggled bad in 2016. He struggled so much it resulted in a demotion from New Hampshire on July 28th. As a member of the D-Jays he split his time between SS (20 GS) and 2B (12 GS). Throughout his minor league career the 5’5″ SS hit for a decent average, with no power, poor base stealing, and loads of hustle on defense. Unfortunately, he struggled to hit for average, thus making him an easy choice to send down when Richard Urena was on his way up.
Flores excelled with the D-Jays seeing his BABIP increase from .206 to .309, his ISO going from .056 to .119 and as a result he saw his batting average jump back up his career norm with a .263.
vs LHP- .182
vs RHP- .311
Toronto Blue Jays newest No.1 ranked prospect continues to swing and miss a lot, but saw some improvements in that area as the season entered the summer months. In May Urena walks just 6 times versus 21 strikeouts. He was walk/strikeout 9/15 in June and 7/16 in July before heading to New Hampshire on August 3rd. This increased plate discipline and pitch recognition resulted in an insanely productive July that saw him hit .371 with 4 HR and 15 RBI.
Urena spent his time with the D-Jays batting 2nd and playing short. In 97 games with Dunedin Urena batted .305 with 18 doubles, 7 triples (T-6th), 8 HR, and 41 RBI as a 20-yr-old. These numbers placed the Top Prospect on the Postseason All-Star team.
vs LHP- .258
vs RHP- .320
De La Cruz spent the season on and off the DL, spending April on Extended Spring Training. The Dominican catcher hit .241 with 6 doubles, 4 triples, 2 HR and 24 RBI. The 23-yr-old hit .324 in 12 August games.
vs LHP- .217
vs RHP- .253
The native of Peterborough played in the least among games in 2016, playing only 53 games. Despite the limited number of games, Reeves put up some decent numbers, hitting .244 with 8 doubles, 3 HR , and .713 OPS (all career highs). Reeves continues to have good at-bats, walking 15.1 BB% and 23.6 K%. His best month was in July when he hit .333 with a pair of doubles and home runs.
vs LHP- .214
vs RHP- .250
We can caulk 2016 up as yet another year this promising young catcher couldn’t stay healthy. Jansen missed most of May and all of June, being activated from the DL on July 8th. When healthy Jansen struggled with the bat, hitting just .218 with 7 doubles, a HR and 23 RBI in 54 games. His best game was on July 14th when he went 3-for-4 with a double and an RBI.
vs LHP- .222
vs RHP- .216
*Featured Image Credit: Bart Hanlon (flickr) – UNDER CC BY-SA 2.0