Jays From the Couch review the New Hampshire Fisher Cats 2016 roster
The Fisher Cats roster doesn’t have too much to get excited about with many of the sexy top prospects still a few weeks/months/year away. That is not to say that there are no top prospects on the Opening Day roster. Rowdy Tellez tops the group, followed by Matt Dean, Dwight Smith Jr., Roemon Fields and a surprise addition of Shane Dawson.
The jump for A-ball to Double-A is the hardest jump. Pitches need to have a plan and know how to execute it. They can’t just rely on pure talent as this level. For hitters, pitchers below Double-A will pump in fastball and tend to struggle with their secondary offerings. Double-A is where pitchers begin to show polish on the secondary stuff and this is where good hitters will continue to shine and less hitter will shrink back to Hi-A.
Big, durable, and command are good words to describe Gabby. Jeremy is a former 2nd round pick and has steadily ascended the Blue Jays minor league system since 2011. He’s a flyball pitchers who pitches to contact, gives up greater than a hit per inning, but very rarely issues a free pass. Home runs may become an issue in Eastern League.
RHP Casey Lawrence
The 28-yr-old Casey take the mound for the Fisher Cats for a 4th start season, during which he has pitched his way to a 21 and 23 record with a 4.16 ERA. Like Gabby, Lawrence isn’t a flamethrower, rather he relies on command and trusting in his defense. Where Gabby is a flyball pitcher, Casey is a wormkiller with 1.22 GO/AO in 335.1IP with New Hampshire.
RHP Jason Berken
Hasn’t played below Triple-A since 2009, where he’s posted some decent numbers. Pitching to Double-A competition should produce some good results, but that’s not what he’s in NH for. Berken will provide a veteran presence for young finesse pitchers such as Dawson and Gabby.
LHP Shane Dawson
The 22-yr-old Dawson comes from Drayton Valley, Alberta. He gets a promotion to NH after just 5 Hi-A starts with the D-Jays at the end of 2015. He dominated with the Lansing Lugnuts and could end up as the Ace of the staff….if he can handle the advanced hitters. Another control guy, Dawson has shown the ability to rack up some K’s with nearly 9K/9IP.
RHP Murphy Smith
Smith is new to the organization, spending 2009 to 2014 in the Oakland A’s minor league system. In his first season in the Blue Jays system, the man with 2 last names (opposite of Ricky Bobby) put up strong numbers in Dunedin before getting roughed up in 2 starts with the Fisher Cats.
LHP John Anderson
Anderson will start the year in the bullpen, but will be the Fisher Cats swingman in ’16. A truly inspiring story, Anderson continues to fight his way back from multiple arm injuries. He made 20 starts and 10 relief appearances in ’15 with mixed results.
RHP Taylor Cole (DL-7)
The 26-yr-old Cole will return the Fisher Cats rotation once he’s healthy. He got off to a slow start in ’15 with 0-2, 6.52ERA April in 4 starts, but finished strong with ERA of 3.48 and 3.38 in July and August. He continued to rack up the K’s with 128 in 164IP, but fell victim to the long ball with 18. He did a good job of generating groundball (1.36 GO/AO) but will need to show better control after walking 55 and hitting 7 batters.
RHP John Stilson
I recently wrote about the value that a healthy Stilson will have for the system, so this is a guy that I will be providing many an update this season. Once he proves he is fully recovered from labrum surgery that cost him a year and half, manager Bobby Meacham will like start using him as the teams setup man or even closer.
RHP Brady Dragmire
The 23-yr-old Dragmire was a surpise addition to Toronto’s 40-man roster, especially after posting a record of 2-2 and a 5.26 ERA in Hi-A Dunedin. The organization likes his fastball and his ability to produce groundball outs (2.71 GO/AO).
RHP Wil Browning
Don’t you just love sidearm pitchers? Thats what you get from Browning. He’s been compared to Chad Girodo, but from the right side and more velocity. Browning closed out games last year with 25 saves in 27 opportunities between Hi-A and Double-A. A return to the closer role seems likely.
RHP Danny Barnes
Barnes returns to NH after throwing 60.2 innings in 40 appearances for Bobby Meacham in 2015. He posted a record of 302 with a 2.97ERA and over a strike out an inning with 74K. He showed good command with only 19 walks and one HB.
LHP Colt Hynes
After getting a cup of coffee with the Blue Jays to start the year in 2015, Hynes split his time between Buffalo and NH. A solid reliable veteran lefty, but not a situational lefty.
LHP Daniel Schlereth
The former 1st round pick of the Arizona Diamondback should be the situational lefty, as he has held LHB opponents to a much lower BA than RHB over the past couple seasons. He’s got 93 innings of major league experience, but was released by two teams in 2015. He has a good mid-90’s FB which has some life to it and a good lo-80’s curve. Control is another story all together, as he’s walked almost as many as he struck out.
RHP Chris Smith
Smith came to the Blue Jays from the New York Yankees organization, and performed well. He split time between Dunedin and NH and could do the same in 2016.
Castillo is a 13-yr MiLB veteran of 879 games, with 22 games of MLB experience back in 2008 and 2009. Don’t expect much.
Saez is a 32nd round pick of the Blue Jays from 2012. He is a defensive catcher who calls a good game and has gotten excellent reviews from his pitchers for his receiving skills. In 71 games in Dunedin, Jorge hit .176 with a .539OPS.
Once healthy, Chung and Medina should share the load with Saez heading back to the D-Jays. Chung enters his age 28 season. He can hit some, albeit with no power. He’s got a cannon behind the plate and shows good mobility behind the plate.
1B Rowdy Tellez
Ryan will be the primary first baseman, getting his first taste of Double-A after a successful 2015 campaign that saw his prospect status skyrocket. The burly power hitter should bat clean-up for the Fisher Cats and hit double digit home runs.
1B/DH K.C. Hobson
The 25-yr-old Hobson had a decent year with the Fisher Cats in 2015 hitting double digit home runs for the 3 straight year. Hobson has power but hasn’t been able to make enough contact to produce consistently with batting averages below .250 in the past 3 seasons.
3B Matt Dean
Dean hit 14HR in a pitcher friendly league, but saw hit batting average drop and K-rate increase for the year. It’ll be interesting to see if Dean can hit Double-A pitching, but at 23-yrs-old he still has time. After spending the past 3 years mostly playing 1st base, Dean will return to the hot corner. Matt has a strong arm but lack the footwork to be an effective 3rd baseman; however, there was no other choice what with Tellez being considered more of a sure thing.
2B Jon Berti
Berti’s got nothing left to prove in Double-A but here he is again. The 2014 NH MVP had some injuries to deal with in 2015, which saw his SB total take a hit. He will need to show that speed if he hopes to return to Buffalo at some point in 2016. Berti will also spend time in the OF and over at 3rd if Dean falters.
SS Jorge Flores
I really thought that this was the year that the 5’5″ Mexican would start the year in Triple-A; however, Flores will return to NH after a flurry of MiLB veteran INF signings. The 24-yr-old Jorge Flores will once again provide Meacham with good defense, a grinder at the plate, and solid BB/K rate. If Flores showed an ability to steal 15-20 bases he may be considered for a MLB job despite his lack of power.
Utility Shane Opitz
Optiz don’t be surprised to see Optiz throw on some catching gear in 2016. Shane played at every position, but catcher in 2015, with most of his time being seen at 2nd. After playing just 32 games in 2014 due to injures, Shane appeared in 108 games with the Fisher Cats in 2015. He posted a .240BA with 15 doubles, 5 triples, 3HR, 22BB, and 49K.
LF Dwight Smith Jr.
Smith Jr. struggled a bit in his first go at Double-A. He struggled to hit LHP batting .235 versus .276 off RHP. Smith had some leg issues that limited his power and speed on the basepaths. Look for a better showing from him in 2016. At 23-yrs-old, Smith has some time to figure things out, but he’ll need to show something in 2016 if he hopes to be added to the Blue Jays 40-man roster in the off season.
Fields started the year in Dunedin and ended up in Buffalo. The 25-yr-old speedster will bat lead-off and should spend the year at one level. Look for another 40SB season and a batting average north of .250. The slap hitting Fields can handle the bat and knows how to lay a bunt.
RF Melky Mesa
The former Yankee has return to the Fisher Cats and will patrol RF until Anthony Alford is ready to take the next step in his development.
OF Ian Parmley
Ian hit .278 in 43 games in NH, but with very little power or stolen bases. Parmley will provide the Fisher Cats with a serviceable 4th outfielder who can play LF (25GP), CF (30GP), and RF (16GP).
The Fisher Cats open their season on Thursday against the New York Mets Double-A Binghamton Mets. Starters are TBD.
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*Featured Image Credit: Wade Black
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