2019 Blue Jays, In the Rearview: Vicuña and Núñez

Join Jays From the Couch as we highlight the 2019 season of Dunedin’s Kevin Vicuña and the Gulf Coast League’s Rainer Núñez

 

 

 

SS Kevin Vicuña

B/T: R/R

Age: 21

 

Kevin Vicuña finished his 4th season in the Toronto Blue Jays system. He was originally signed as an International Free Agent on July 2nd, 2014. Vicuña spent 2015 and 2016 playing short-season before getting a taste of A-Ball in 2017 with 38 games between Dunedin and Lansing. In 2018, Kevin Vicuña spent the entire year as a member of the Lansing Lugnuts where batted .266 with 16 doubles, 6 triples, and two home runs. Those were the first home runs of his professional career. Kevin was named to the 2018 Midwest Mid-Season All-Star team.

 

Kevin Vicuña was assigned to the Dunedin Blue Jays of the Florida State League in 2019. He played 112 games with the D-Jays, getting into 3 games with the Triple-A Buffalo Bisons near the end of August. The slick-fielding, light-hitting infielder put together a decent season with the D-Jays. He didn’t set any records or anything but he did show some decent extra-base pop, some speed, and good fielding. In the first two months of the season, Vicuña batted .267 with 7 doubles, two triples, one home run, 20RBI, and 9SB in 47 games.

 

Unfortunately, Kevin Vicuña struggled to hit for average and get on-base consistently in June and July. He batted just .229 and .194 while collecting 7 doubles, a triple, 9RBI, and 8SB in 44GP. In the final month of the season, the D-Jays infielder returned to form by batting .290 with 5 doubles, a triple, 7RBI, and 2SB in 21 games.

 

His 1st half and 2nd half numbers weren’t all that different. In the 1st half, Vicuña finished with 10 doubles, 2 triples, 1HR, 23RBI, 10SB, and .648OPS in 58 games. In the 2nd half, Vicuña finished with 9 doubles, 2 triples, 13RBI, 9SB, and .631OPS.

 

Overall, Kevin Vicuña was a below-average offensive player in his first full season at the A-Advanced level posting a .302wOBA and 93wRC+ with a .076ISO and .311BABIP. He finished with a .250BA, 19 doubles, 4 triple, 1 home run, 36RBI, 30/82 BB/K, 19SB, and 55 runs scored in 112GP.

 

The Puerto La Cruz, Venezuela native spent some time batting leadoff (30GP) for the D-Jays. He only batted .202 with a .300OBP as the leadoff hitter. He also spent 24 games batting 2nd (.257BA and .299OB) and 22 games batting 8th (.254BA and .333OBP). The D-Jays also penciled him in at 6th (8GP), 7th (12GP), and 9th (14GP).

 

The 21-yr-old posted an 18.6K% which was up 14.2K% he posted with Lugnuts in 2018. He posted a career-high 6.8BB%, over 2.0% higher than 2018. Kevin Vicuña improved his FB% from 24.6 to 32.3% while his GB% remained steady at 52.3%. His LD% declined from 21.6% to 15.5%. Vicuña pulled the ball 44.8%, using the opposite field 32.5% and going up the middle 22.7%.

 

In the field, Vicuña spent most of the season as the D-Jays primary SS. In 94 games, he committed 21 errors and posted a .943FPCT. He played 13 games at 2B (3 errors) and 5 games at the hot corner (0 errors).

 

Splits

Home: .278BA with 13 2B, 4 3B, 1 HR, 23RBI, and a .752OPS

Away: .223BA with 6 2B, 0 3B, 0HR, 13RBI, and .531OPS

LHP: .198/.233/.256

RHP: .265/.335/.345

 

Most Productive Game

On May 19th, Kevin Vicuña went 4-for-4 with 6 total bases, two runs scored, a triple, and 2RBI. It was a season-high in total bases. It was the first of two 4-hit games and one of nine 2RBI games.

 

Future

Kevin Vicuña is eligible for next month’s Rule V Draft but it is extremely unlikely he will be selected or be added to the Blue Jays 40-man roster. He should move up to New Hampshire in 2020 but that will depend on where Kevin Smith is placed. He will need to start showing a little extra power in 2020. If he can push his ISO slightly north of .100 and continue to his strong play in the field and basepath, Vicuna will enter the conversation as future Major Leaguer.

 

1B Rainer Núñez

B/T: R/R

Age: 18

 

After playing 61 games at the hot corner in his rookie season in 2018, the 6-foot-3 native of La Romana, Dominican Republic transitioned to 1st base in 2019. Signed as an International Free Agent on July 5th, 2017, Rainer spent 2018 batting .247 with 12 doubles, a triple, 2HR, and a .626OPS in 64 games with the DSL Blue Jays in 2018.

 

He was moved up a level in 2019, playing 39 games with the GCL Blue Jays. The young man batted just .111 (5GP), .211 (17GP), and .155 (17GP) over the summer in his first taste of baseball on American soil. He did hit two HR in the final month but he was never able to find a consistent stroke. He finished with 6 doubles, 3HR, 20RBI, 12/32 BB/K, 0-for-4 SB, .173BA, and .534OPS.

 

Rainer production was well below league average with a .260wOBA, 55 wRC+, .113ISO, and .194BABIP. His plate discipline was okay, posting a 20.9K% and 7.8BB% for a 0.38BB/K. Núñez finished with 51.0GB% and 37.3FB% while posting a lowly 11.8LD%. He pulled the ball 54.3%, using the opposite field 30.5% and going up the middle just 15.2%.

 

In the field, Rainer Núñez played 37 games at 1B where he committed 2 errors for a .992FPCT.

 

Splits

Home: .138BA with 2 2B, 0 3B, 0 HR, 9RBI, and .456OPS

Away: .200BA with 4 2B, 0 3B, 3 HR, 11RBI, and .589OPS

LHP: .125/.217/.150 (40AB)

RHP: .194/.262/.344

 

Most Productive Game

On July 3rd, Rainer Núñez went 3-for-5 with 7 total bases, three runs scored, a double, a home run, an RBI, and a strikeout. He had two 4TB games, three 2-hit games,  two 2RBI games, and three games where he crossed home plate twice.

 

Future

I would be surprised to see the 18-yr-old Núñez join the Bluefield Blue Jays to start the 2020 season. Núñez should remain in the GCL until he can hit for a better average and barrel the ball up better than 11LD%.

 

 

 

 

Featured image credit: R.Mueller

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Ryan Mueller

Lover of all things Toronto Blue Jays. Blue Jays MiLB fanatic. I strive for average while stumbling onto above average. Rogers isn't cheap. Baseball is a business. Your right, but I'm more right.