Minor League Roundup: Starting Rotations

In the minor leagues, the term starting rotation can often be taken literally. Arms come and go, but for the first time in recent memory the Jays have some pitchers poised to make a major league impact. Lance checks out the starters in AAA and AA and who among them figures to take the next step.

The theory is good pitching can beat good hitting. Just don't tell the Atlanta Braves that. None the less, good pitching is certainly a must for any championship team. Although the Blue Jays World Series teams may have won via the bat, they were certainly aided by good arms. Without their young studs Guzman and Hentgen, with Morris and Stewart being the top veterans, those teams would have lost. The quality supplements of Key, Stottlmyre and the likes were what pushed that team over the top. However, later years saw losing records, the staff was anchored by Al Leiter, and supplemented by revolving doors.

General Manager JP Riccairdi has gone to great lengths to see the future of this ball club will be full of talented young arms. Only now are we starting to see what arms might be worth the shot, while what arms are not worth the hype. Here is a look at what Syracuse and New Hampshire have to offer in the latest position roundup. For this we will look at the arms that are currently in the rotation. Minor league rotations are a rotation literally, they rotate arms faster than...well fill in your own cheesy analogy.

Syracuse

The Rotation was to be anchored by Jason Arnold. Arnold came to The Jays in one of the myriad of deals with Oakland. It was only fitting Ricciardi nabbed Lilly, and I still expect Jeff Weaver to come over. Arnold has been projected anywhere from a staff ace to a closer. I don't get it when "arm chair" managers come up with a plan like Arnold at closer, when he hasn't done it, yet we expect him to magically transform once he makes the show. True Arnold has closed at a collegiate level, but if you use that logic, John Olerud would have been a heck of a pitcher. Arnold is notoriously a slow starter, and that is being displayed again with Syracuse. His velocity has dropped, and the time for Arnold is now, or else he will see a Doug Linton-esque career.

Arnold - 2004 Syracuse
W-L G GS CG SV IP H R ER HR BB SO ERA
0-1 2 2 0 0 8.33 11 10 7 3 5 7 7.27

Arnold - 2003 Syracuse
W-L G GS CG SV IP H R ER HR BB SO ERA
4-8 21 20 1 0 120.67 121 69 58 16 46 82 4.33

Justin Miller is the solid veteran of the staff, and a find in the Oakland A's onslaught. Miller comes with the raw package, and a fastball slider combo that is pure filth at its best. After coming over in the Billy Koch trade, Miller has battled a shoulder problem. My take is that Miller needs to be concerned less with his tattoos and more concerned with his pitching. Miller was supposedly going to petition MLB so he could get a tattoo on his face. Justin, you might be better served holding off on that plan.

Miller - 2004 Syracuse
W-L G GS CG SV IP H R ER HR BB SO ERA
1-1 3 3 0 0 16.67 16 6 4 2 4 21 1.93

Miller - 2003 Syracuse
W-L G GS CG SV IP H R ER HR BB SO ERA
Injured - Did not play

David Bush is the three man, and probably the best on the staff. Bush who was drafted as a closer was predicted by some to be in the Toronto bullpen next year. Instead, Bush might find himself in the rotation. Odd isn't it how prognosticators project players at one position and the organization has another plan. Bush is a master of control, and after a first shaky start in Syracuse he has settled down to dominance. He is learning a changeup, which will only increase his chances of consistently getting major league hitters out. He dropped in the draft due to a blood clot issue, but it has not resurfaced.

Bush - 2004 Syracuse
W-L G GS CG SV IP H R ER HR BB SO ERA
2-1 3 3 0 0 18 18 9 8 1 4 14 4.00

Bush - 2003 New Haven
W-L G GS CG SV IP H R ER HR BB SO ERA
7-3 14 14 1 0 81 73 26 25 4 19 73 2.78

Chris Baker is the name I have been watching. Baker has gone unnoticed by virtually everyone, and even snuck onto a few baseball cards as a prospect, which is not always the best sign. This is Baker's "now or never" season in the minors. He is not a flashy pitcher, no tools to make a scout drool, but merely gets his job done. What is it most staffs need, another flash in the pan, or one who just does the job? I'd take Baker myself.

Baker - 2004 Syracuse
W-L G GS CG SV IP H R ER HR BB SO ERA
0-0 2 2 0 0 12 3 0 0 0 1 14 0.00

Baker - 2003 New Haven
W-L G GS CG SV IP H R ER HR BB SO ERA
9-6 25 25 0 0 147.67 158 74 64 10 37 95 3.90

Sean Douglass rounds out the rotation. Initially this report would have had Bruce Chen but Chen, the forever top prospect, is hurt. Douglass, despite putting in a solid if unspectacular major league performance so far, was sent down to stretch out his arm to be a starter. Douglass responded by getting shellacked in his first start. Historically, when this is done with Douglass (bouncing him between pen and rotation) he has not respond well, but apparently Jays' front office thinks differently. Douglass lacks one knockout pitch.

Douglass - 2004 Toronto
W-L G GS CG SV IP H R ER HR BB SO ERA
0-0 2 0 0 0 4 2 0 0 0 3 4 0.00

Douglass - 2004 Syracuse
W-L G GS CG SV IP H R ER HR BB SO ERA
0-1 1 1 0 0 0.67 7 6 6 0 0 1 81.00

Douglass - 2003 Ottawa
W-L G GS CG SV IP H R ER HR BB SO ERA
10-8 27 27 0 0 143 142 67 54 6 58 118 3.40

New Hampshire

Dustin McGowan is the ace. No more questions please. Coming out of high school, the local press called him the next Roger Clemens. Sure, laugh at it, till you watch him pitch. He is a strike out ace, whose time is now. Both administrations he has served have taken him slowly, methodically rising him through the ranks. Many thought he would start the year at Syracuse, but it made sense he begin in AA. He has to improve his walk rates, as his peroidic lack of control is the only thing holding him back, but he has a plus slider and throws downright unadulterated smoke. The problem with throwers of smoke is they tend to think they can just blow it buy hitters, and when they face big leaguers heat alone won't cut it anymore. If McGowan has the head I think he has, with his talents Halladay one day may be rivalled for the shoes of the ace. Expect to see him promoted to Syracuse sooner rather than later.

McGowan - 2004 New Hampshire
W-L G GS CG SV IP H R ER HR BB SO ERA
2-0 3 3 0 0 16.33 9 2 2 1 6 12 1.10

McGowan - 2003 New Haven
W-L G GS CG SV IP H R ER HR BB SO ERA
7-1 14 14 1 0 76.67 78 28 27 1 19 72 3.17

Gustavo Chacin is the lone lefty in the upper levels. Chacin has done the reliever gig, and may be best served there. He is wild at times, and brings nothing overly impressive to the table. He may be a lefty version of Chris Baker. If he progresses he is back end of rotation material at best.

Chacin - 2004 New Hampshire
W-L G GS CG SV IP H R ER HR BB SO ERA
1-0 2 2 0 0 9 5 2 1 1 4 6 1.00

Chacin - 2003 New Haven
W-L G GS CG SV IP H R ER HR BB SO ERA
3-4 46 2 0 2 69.33 78 39 34 1 29 55 4.41

Cameron Reimers has been around. This 35th round draft pick has seen time in Knoxville, New Haven, and now New Hampshire. Normally travels like that are good for a pitcher, but in this case he is stuck in the mud starting his fourth season in AA. Reimers may never get anywhere, unless the new team in Manchester doesn't work out, which is too bad.

Reimers - 2004 New Hampshire
W-L G GS CG SV IP H R ER HR BB SO ERA
2-0 2 2 0 0 11 10 4 4 1 3 3 3.27

Reimers - 2003 New Haven
W-L G GS CG SV IP H R ER HR BB SO ERA
10-5 28 26 0 0 163.67 170 68 56 10 38 96 3.08

Todd Ozias mostly brings a "who" to any prospect report. Ozias, taken from the Pittsburgh organization, has been a reliever throughout his career, but for some reason seems to be in the rotation. I am thinking it has to be a temporal thing, he is just filler until a Josh Banks or the like comes up. Drafted by the Giants, Ozias has 73 minor league saves, and will return to the pen shortly.

Ozias - 2004 New Hampshire
W-L G GS CG SV IP H R ER HR BB SO ERA
0-1 1 1 0 0 4 6 2 2 1 1 4 4.50

Ozias - 2003 Altoona
W-L G GS CG SV IP H R ER HR BB SO ERA
2-2 51 0 0 21 61 47 14 11 2 17 52 1.62

Derek Lee is an example to all that perseverance may not pay. Now in his sixth season of AA ball, Lee is a worker, and the kind of guy you like on a staff. His effort is admirable, and he can fill a useful role for the Fisher Cats, but a future major leaguer he is not.

Lee - 2004 New Hampshire
W-L G GS CG SV IP H R ER HR BB SO ERA
0-2 2 2 0 0 10 10 7 7 3 0 2 6.30

Lee - 2003 Huntsville
W-L G GS CG SV IP H R ER HR BB SO ERA
11-3 20 13 1 0 87.33 85 36 32 6 28 59 3.30

The minor league rotations will change by the month, but that's it for now. You don't think minor league rotations change? I won't do a listing of them individually, but look at who made a fair amount of starts for the top two levels ten years ago.

Syracuse: Travis Baptist (short tenure for the Twins), Scott Brow (made it up a few times), Joe Ganote (never saw the Show unless it was a Lethal Weapon movie), Randall Phillips, and many many more.

Knoxville: Gio Carrera (saw a few games in different organizations), Dennis Gray (hey he had a baseball card too), Jose Silva (went to Pittsburgh after a threatening accident), Aaron Small (made it to the show as a reliever for a brief time), Paul Spoljaric (I always said he was a one inning pitcher, but did anyone listen?), Jeff Ware (collegiate great), and Ben Weber.


Lance@JaysTalk.com

FutureJays.com Recommended Stories


Up Next


Forums


0 Fans online
    Join The Conversation

    Tweets