Jays From the Couch always listens to its readers. A look at Connor Panas and 2018 New Hampshire’s outfield
When Toronto traded outfield prospect J.B. Woodman to St. Louis for Aledmys Diaz, I decided to take a look how this changed the Blue Jays Top 5 Outfield Prospect list according to MLB Pipeline. *see full article*. I focused on the addition of Jonathan Davis to the top 30 prospect list and possible candidates to replace Woodman in Dunedin.
The question came up, was Connor Panas snubbed by MLB Pipeline?
The problem, thank you Ewan for pointing this out, is that I completely ignored all the potential 2018 Double-A outfielders. In doing so, I may have also snubbed Panas, who was one of the system’s hottest prospects over the final two months.
Panas had an amazing July and August. If he can bring these results with him to the next level, Panas will quickly become one of the system’s top power hitters. However, the answer to my question materializes when we look at the body of work for Jonathan Davis and Connor Panas and what each player brings to the table.
Davis has now put together two seasons which he showed the ability to make things happen with his speed and with his bat. Davis can also play all three outfield positions and bat at the top of the lineup.
On the other hand, Panas only has two months (albeit bloody outstanding months) on his resume. While he doesn’t look out of place in RF, Panas is not a superior fielder.
In conclusion, MLB Pipeline did not snub Panas, rather, they played it safe with Jonathan Davis. I find minor league players not drafted with much hype need to build a resume to earn the ‘Top Prospect’ label. Davis has the resume. Panas is still building his.
Fisher Cats 2017 Outfield
Last year, the Double-A Fisher Cats were home to top prospect Anthony Alford and Harold Ramirez, and Jonathan Davis. New Hampshire also welcomed the highly versatile Andrew Guillotte, OBP machine Jake Thomas, and returnee Derrick Loveless while saying goodbye to Roemon Fields.
Anthony Alford made his MLB debut, missed a bunch of time after breaking his hamate bone, and finished the year with 3 games with the Triple-A Buffalo Bisons. Alford will compete for a spot in Toronto’s outfield but will likely spend most of 2018 with the Bisons.
Harold Ramirez had a lackluster season and enters 2018 at a crossroads of sorts. The possibilities for where Ramirez will play in 2018 are endless. Ramirez could return to Double-A for a third season or head to Triple-A (my option) or head down to Dunedin to hopefully figure stuff out (japster’s option). (Ramirez 2017 Hi/Lo)
Despite, posting a low-ish batting average, the 25-yr-old Jonathan Davis showed off top of the order speed/ and OBP while producing surprising power for his frame. Davis starting the year in Buffalo is a no-brainer. (Davis 2017 Hi/Lo)
Andrew Guillotte spent much of 2018 with the Fisher Cats, playing 47 games in the outfield. Guillotte will likely return to NH in a utility role but getting regular AB’s.
Jake Thomas had a breakout season, of sorts, in 2017. He started the year in Lansing and looked as though he would finish with a OBP of .500. Afer 37 game with the Lugnuts, Thomas joined the D-Jays where he bounced between Dunedin and NH before finishing the year in Dunedin. While Thomas has a good eye at the plate, it appears that he lacks any other plus tools and should settle into a 4th outfielder in either Dunedin or NH in 2018.
Lastly, Derrick Loveless. The 24-yr-old has the tools to become a solid minor league outfielder; however, he’s been unable to conquer Double-A in two attempts. He spent most of 2017 with the Fisher Cats but after hitting 10 HR in 2016, Loveless managed just one in 2017. Loveless is now a free agent and I don’t expect him to return.
Fisher Cats Possible 2018 Outfield
Now, let’s look to the future. I’ve already stated that Guillotte, Thomas, and Ramirez are all possible candidates for the Fisher Cats outfield in 2018. Are there others?
Glad you asked.
Power has never been an issue when discussing Panas’ tools. Many viewed him as a two outcome player (HR or K). He did nothing through the first three months to change this perception. Panas made some adjustments at the plate which allowed him to hit for average and power while cutting down his K-rate. The 24-yr-old Toronto native split his time between RF (56 GP), LF (34 GP), and 1B (13 GP). With a crowded NH outfield, I expect that Panas will see more time at 1st or DH in 2018.
Davis is a very toolsy player who is gifted in every aspect of the game; unfortunately, Davis has yet to put it all together. D.J. looked much better in a D-Jay uniform in 2017 but the 23-yr-old still strikes out way too much. Davis hit .258, stole 32 bases (career high), and split his time between LF (60 GP) and CF (39 GP). Many hope that the enigmatic OF turned a corner in his development in August when he batted .333 in 21 games. After two seasons with the D-Jays Davis is ready to move up a level.
Pinto came to the Blue Jays organization in exchange for RP Jason Grilli. The 22-yr-old has split his minor league career between LF and RF. He hits for a high batting average and puts the bat on the ball with some regularity. Pinto doesn’t possess much power or speed. I am 50/50 on whether he starts the year in NH but I am 100% he will finish the year there.
New Hampshire fans can expect to see an outfield of D.J. Davis in LF, Connor Panas in RF, and Andrew Guillotte in CF. With Panas being a better option at 1st base than either Emilio Guerrero or Matt Dean, the Fisher Cats outfield would consist of Davis, Guillotte, and Thomas/Pinto.
Of course, this could all change if Harold Ramirez returns for a 3rd Double-A season or this quiet offseason becomes less so.
PS. I will be doing a Highlight and Lowlight piece for Connor Panas shortly, just need to work through the other prospects on the MLB Pipeline list.
*Featured Image Courtesy Of DaveMe Images. Prints Available For Purchase.
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