Join Jays From the Couch as we highlight the 2019 season of Lansing’s Rafael Lantigua and the Dominican Summer League’s Leonel Callez
INF Rafael Lantigua
Rafael Lantigua was signed as an IFA on August 22nd, 2016. He just finished his 3rd season in the Toronto Blue Jays system. He started the 2018 season with the Gulf Coast League Blue Jays but was quickly promoted to Bluefield where he carved up Appy League pitching. Lantigua batted .303 with 7 doubles, a triple, a home run, 30/33 BB/K, and .798OPS in 48 games. I supposed his somewhat advanced age caused the organization to accelerate his development as he was assigned to the Lansing Lugnuts roster on May 3rd, 2019.
The light-hitting Lantigua looked overmatched at the plate through May and June. He batted just .189 with a double and two triples in 22 games in May. His batting average increased to ..26 with three doubles and two more triples in 19 games in June. On July 1st, the Puerto Plata native owned a .206 batting average.
A six-game hit streak to start July pushed his batting average to .241. Lantigua would finish the month with a .249 batting average. In 26 games, 5-foot-8 infielder batted a healthy ,315 with 9 doubles, a triple, 7RBI, and 5SB. Lantigua’s batting average dipped back down in August but he started to display some power with 3 home runs over the course of week. He would finish with 4HR in the month and bat .252 with 3 doubles, a triple, 12RBI, and 3SB in 27 games.
Overall, Rafael Lantigua finished with a .254 batting average, 16 doubles, 6 triples, 4HR, 36 runs scored, 31RBI, and 9-for-17 in stolen base attempts. His .314wOBA and 95wRC+ put his production slightly below league average. His .119ISO was helped out by a strong 2nd half (60GP) which saw Lantigua bat .270 and slug .396 after posting a .221BA and .327SLG in the 1st half (35GP).
Lantigua mostly batted 5th (24GP) and 6th (26GP) with over 40 games being split between leadoff (1GP), 2nd (5GP), 3rd (1GP), 4th (1GP), 7th (7GP), 8th (13GP), and 9th (17GP). Lantigua had the most success batting 6th with a .330 batting, 6 doubles, a triple, 2HR, and a .867OPS.
The 21-yr-old posted a 15.9K% which was an improvement over his 16.5K% he posted with Bluefield in 2018. Unfortunately, Lantigua’s BB% dropped hard in 2019 from 15.0% to 6.3%. Rafael Lantigua improved his FB% and GB% from 20.8GB% to 38.6GB% and 53.8FB% to 43.0FB%. His LD% declined from 25.4% to 18.4%. Lantigua sprayed the ball nicely, pulling 44.3% and using the opposite field 30.1% or going up the middle 25.5% on balls in play.
In the field, Rafael spent much of the season as the Bolts primary 2B. In 55 games, he committed 8 errors and posted a .970FPCT. He played 18 games at 3B (2 errors) and 23 games at SS (3 errors).
Home: .245BA with 6 2B, 4 3B, 3 HR, 15RBI, and a .696OPS
Away: .261BA with 10 2B, 2 3B, 1 HR, 16RBI, and .658OPS
Most Productive Game
On August 16th, Rafael Lantigua went 2-for-4 with 5 total bases, four runs scored, a home run, 2RBI, a walk, and a stolen base. It was season-high in total bases and runs scored. On June 8th, Lantigua drove in a season-high 3RBI and on July 10th he collected 4 hits.
Rafael Lantigua did enough to move a level and should be the Dunedin Blue Jays everyday 2nd baseman if Samad Taylor moves up to Double-A. Lantigua will be challenged by SS Luis De Los Santos, 3B Ronny Brito, Cameron Eden (drafted as a SS but played CF in 2019), 2B/SS Tanner Morris, and INF Trevor Schwecke who could all make the jump from Vancouver to Dunedin in 2020.
Rule V Eligible: 2021
1B/3B Leonel Callez
Callez was signed as an IFA on July 2nd, 2018 and made his professional debut on June 1st (0-for-4, K). He got off to a good start with a .296BA, 3 doubles, a triple, 7RBI, 2/12 BB/K, and a .700OPS in 21 games in June. His success carried over into July where he batted .298 with two doubles, his first career home run (July 17th), 8RBI, 5/9 BB/K, and a .765OPS in 17 games.
Callez appeared in 12 games in August but was unable to sustain the high .290 batting averages from June and July. He managed to bat .200 with 4 doubles, 3RBI, 3/8 BB/K, and a .569OPS. Leonel Callez finished with a .272 batting with 9 doubles, a triple, a home run, 18RBI, 10 walks, 29 strikeouts, 6-for-11 stolen bases, and a .688OPS in 50 games.
Callez’ production was around league average with a good .340wOBA and a decent 96wRC+. His .081ISO was a little low for a corner infielder, even for an 18-yr-old. His plate discipline was okay, posting a 14.9K% and 5.2BB% for a 0.34BB/K. Callez finished with 44.6GB% and 42.6FB% while posting a lowly 12.8LD%. He pulled the ball 51.4%, using the opposite field only 26.0% and going up the middle just 22.6%. The native of La Victoria, Venezuela, spent much of the year batting 6th (26GP) and responded with a .344BA and a .864OPS.
In the field, Leonel Callez played 37 games at 1B where he committed 4 errors for a .983FPCT. He played 15 games at 3rd base but committed 10 errors in just 120.1 innings.
Home: .291BA with 2 2B, 1 3B, 0 HR, 10RBI, and .684OPS
Away: .253BA with 7 2B, 0 3B, 1 HR, 8RBI, and .691OPS
LHP: .250/.278/.500 (16AB)
Most Productive Game
On July 17th, Leonel Callez went 2-for-4 with 5 total bases, a run scored, a 3-run home run, and 4RBI. He had four 4TB games, three 3-hit games, one 2RBI game, and two games where he crossed home plate twice.
The 5-foot-11 corner infielder may need another season in the DSL before making the jump to the GCL.
Featured image credit: R.Mueller
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