Jays From the Couch takes a look at some key players from the 2018 Lansing Lugnuts season
The A-Ball Lansing Lugnuts had a tremendous season. The club made the playoffs for the 14th time, thanks to a strong 1st half which saw them go 43-27, good for 2nd place. The Lugs would finish in 2nd place in the second half with a record of 37-33 for a combined record of 80-60. Unfortunately, the Lugnuts were eliminated in the first round of the playoffs, losing the series to Bowling Green. Lansing fell 4 to 3 in both games in games which could have gone either way.
Lansing will continue as the Toronto Blue Jays A-Ball affiliate through 2020. The franchise won its 1600 game and held the 2018 All-Star game.
All-Stars and Awards
The Opening Day roster had five of Toronto’s top-rated prospects (Kacy Clemens, Samad Taylor, Ryan Noda, Kevin Smith, and Kevin Vicuna). Two of the five (Young and Vicuna) represented the Lugnuts at the Mid-Season All-Star game. Young and Vicuna were joined by SP Maximo Castillo and SP Maverik Buffo.
Several Bolts won awards this season.
- Kevin Smith won Player of the Week honors twice as a member of the Lansing Lugnuts, the week of April 23-29 and the week of May 6-13. He was promoted to Dunedin on May 28th.
- Ryan Noda won Player of the Week honors for his performance between June 4-10, batting .500 with four HR. Noda won it again, June 18-24, batting .438 with three doubles, nine RBI, a triple, and a pair of long balls.
- Jesus Navarro won Player of the Week honors for his performance between August 6-12. Navarro batted .650 (13-20) with four doubles, and seven runs scored.
- Yennsy Diaz won Pitcher of the Month for April (3-0, 0.31 ERA in 5 starts) and was promoted on May 22nd.
The Lugnuts possessed a very good offense and a so-so pitching staff. The offense lead the league in runs scored (720), walks (561), stolen bases (203), and on-base percentage (.341). The club finished tied for 2nd with 609 RBI, 3rd with 45 triples and 254 doubles, 6th with 95 HR, and 7th with a .255 batting average.
The pitching staff lost two of its better pitchers to promotion in May (Yennsy Diaz and Zach Logue). Donnie Sellers, Graham Spraker, and Turner Larkins spent time on the DL which resulted in a few ugly bullpen days. These two factors may have contributed to some less than inspiring stats.
The Nuts pitching staff finished with the 2nd highest ERA (4.18 ER) in the Midwest. They tied for the least amount of shutouts (5). The Lugs allowed the 2nd most hits (1284) and runs (659). Lansing allowed more HR (115) and struck out the least (998). This resulted in the 3rd highest WHIP (1.40). They did save the 2nd most games with 46.
Chavez Young crossed the plate more than any other prospect in the Midwest league with 88 runs. He finished 2nd with 33 doubles, 9 triples, and total bases (209). Young swiped 44 bases (4th) and collected 134 hits (6th). His slash line was among the top 10 in the league .285 (9th)/.363 (7th)/.445 (8th). He also walked 55 times (10th).
Ryan Noda walked 109 times (1st) and finished with a .421 OBP (1st). He finished the 2nd most RBI (80), 3rd more HR (20), and 5th best SLG% (.484). Noda in the Top-10 with 78 runs scored (7th) and 195 total bases (6th).
Samad Taylor finished 32 doubles (2nd), 7 triples (t-4), 44 SB (t-4), and scored 67 runs (9th).
Kevin Vicuna finished with one top-10 stat with 6 triples (t-5). Brock Lundquist tied for 9th with 13
HR and Reggie Pruitt swiped 37 bases (t-5).
Maximo Castillo won 10 games (3rd), pitched 131.1 innings (7th), and struck out 115 batters (t-9)
Maverik Buffo tied for 4th with 9 wins and Dany Jimenez finished with 13 saves (5th).
Samad Taylor set a franchise record when he stole 4 bases on July 1st in a 8-4 win over the Great Lake Loons. Taylor went 1-for-3 with a run scored, 2-RBI, and a walk. Despite a low batting average, Samad Taylor took great strides in his development. Taylor improved a tonne in the field and with his pitch recognition.
Dany Jimenez is a pitcher who should move quickly through the system in 2019.
The Lugnuts roster experienced a high turnover in 2018, starting with the promotion of Kacy Clemens on May 7th. Kacy was followed by these notable prospects: RP Ty Tice (May 10th), SP Diaz (May 22nd), SP Zach Logue (May 25th), Smith (May 28th), OF Brock Lundquist (July 3rd), Maverik Buffo (July 6th), and Chad Spanberger (August 6th).
Lastly, Cullen Large is a forgotten man thanks to injuries. Had Large been healthy, I am sure that his name would be appearing on several top prospect lists this season.
Feature photo credit: Ryan Mueller
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