The Blue Jays Double-A New Hampshire Fisher Cats will have an infield filled with former 2017 Draft picks
The 2017 Draft should be known for more than the year Toronto picked a large right-handed pitching prospect, Nate Pearson.
Toronto grabbed Big Nate with the 28th selection that year and in 2019 Nate reached Triple-A. Some might argue Pearson would have made his MLB debut in 2019 had it not been for an unfortunate incident with a line drive which shattered his elbow and cost him the 2018 season.
The Blue Jays did some damage in the 2017, maybe not in the form of multiple future Major League All-Stars but there remains some potential future major leaguer. The Double-A New Hampshire Fisher Cats are setup to field an infield stacked with 2017 Draft selections. This is how I see it:
2nd Base: Logan Warmoth
Shortstop: Kevin Smith
3rd Base: Cullen Large
Kacy Clemens’ stock has fallen since being selected in the 8th round (249). Clemens put up decent numbers in his rookie season as a member of the Vancouver Canadians. In 2018, Clemens made quick work of the Midwest, posting a .301BA with 5 doubles, 2 triples, and 7 home runs in 27 games as a member of the Lansing Lugnuts. This resulted in a promotion to the Florida State League.
It’s been downhill since.
After starting the 2019 season at Double-A, Clemens returned to Dunedin on May 15th. Over two seasons (181 GP) in the FSL, Kacy Clemens owns a .208BA, .293OBP, and .620OPS with 15HR. He may end up back with the D-Jays but the organization could decide to push him up to New Hampshire to serve as the backup/platoon with Ryan Noda.
Ryan Noda, selected in the 15th round (459), has been a bit of a mixed bag. The 23-yrs-old Noda absolutely racked in his rookie season (.364BA, 18 2B, and 7HR in 66GP). He then put up impressive numbers as a member of the Lansing Lugnuts in 2018. Noda batted .256 with an outstanding .421OBP, walking 109 times in 124 games. He also picked up 24 doubles and 20HR.
In 2019, Noda was assigned to Advanced-A and saw his BA and OBP drop to .238 and .372. He still hit his share of doubles (27) and home runs (13) but needs to work on that BA. Noda may continue to see time in the OF (RF-23GP and LF-30GP) while spitting time at 1st (49GP).
Infielder Logan Warmoth, drafted six spots ahead of Nate Pearson at 22, has not developed according to plan. On Draft Day, Warmoth was described as an infielder who can field his position and hit. Warmoth was not highly regarded coming out of high school but matured nicely in College. Scouting Director Steve Sanders suggested that Warmoth may have some untapped power in his bat, possesses an excellent makeup, and has a chance to stick at SS.
The 24-yr-old posted some good numbers in his rookie season, posting a .306BA with 11 doubles, a pair of doubles, and a HR in 39 games with the C’s. He struggled in 2018 after being fast-tracked to A-Advanced. Logan batted just .248 with a .322OBP while collecting 13 doubles, a pair of doubles, and a home run.
Warmoth also struggled to stay on the field in 2018, playing 75 games. In 2019, Logan had much better results in 36 games with the D-Jays (.292BA, .380OBP, 7 2B, and 3HR). In Double-A, Warmoth struggled hard with a .200BA, .290OBP, 11 2B, 3 3B, and no HR in 65 games.
Kevin Smith put up such good numbers in 2018, Baseball America put his name on the Top 100 Prospect list. Just goes to show you that prospect lists aren’t worth very much. Blessed with a powerful swing, Smith strikes out as his life depends on it.
The 23-yr-old infielder spent 2019 trying to work through it but still struck out 151 times in 116GP. He still knocked out 19 home runs and collected 22 doubles so if he can cut down the number of swings and misses he should be fine.
In the field, Smith started 87 games at SS, 18 games at 3rd, and 5 games at 2nd so there is some flexibility here.
Due to injury-shortened seasons in 2017 and 2018, Cullen Large, selected in the 5th round (159), was largely (sorry) a forgotten commodity. Assigned to the Dunedin Blue Jays roster, the organization was just hoping for a full season from the 24-yr-old. He responded with a .269BA and .360OBP while collecting 23 doubles, 3 triples, and 4HR in 84 games. Large finished 2019 as a member of the New Hampshire Fisher Cats where he batted .234 with an ugly .273OBP, 3 doubles, 3 triples, and no home runs in 24 games.
The excitement or hype surrounding this group is a far cry from when Vladimir Guerrero Jr., Bo Bichette, and Cavan Biggio were expected to man the Fisher Cats infield. A far cry, like zero. With that said, Kevin Smith is still a legit high ceiling prospect with exciting power tools, excellent fielding, and continues to be ranked high on many prospect lists. Organizationally, it’s an accomplishment to have this many picks from the same Draft class make it to the upper minors.
It will be interesting to see if Warmoth and Large can find some power in their swings and success after getting a taste of Eastern League pitching. Warmoth could find him filling a utility role if he doesn’t find early-season success. Despite struggling with the D-Jays in 2019, Samad Taylor could overtake the former 1st rounder on the Blue Jays depth chart.
Ryan Noda should continue to post excellent OBP numbers but he will be expected to post a better BA than .230-ish and I expect he will hit 20 plus home runs with a bunch of doubles. Left-handed batters thrive at Northeast Delta Dental Stadium and the FSL is widely known as a pitchers league.
With a little bit of luck, maybe I will be doing a follow-up piece later in the season highlighting the success of this group. Who knows, you might be reading an article next year at this time titled Buffalo Bisons Infield and the 2017 Draft.
*Featured Image Courtesy Of Roy W.
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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.