Monday, April 20, 2009

Jays prospect watch: catcher J.P. Arencibia

Much has been hyped upon the next Blue Jays "catcher of the future" in J.P. Arencibia after he was selected with the 21st pick in the first round of the 2007 draft. After failed experiments in both Robinzon Diaz and Curtis Thigpen as the "next big thing" at catcher, the Jays hope that Arencibia can fulfill the expectations heaped upon him after his collegiate career at Tennessee.

The book about the 6 foot Arencibia is that he has a good bat, but below average skills behind the plate. The early word in the 2009 campaign, however, is that his defense is improving, but his bat has been lagging behind. In 28 at bats over 8 contests, he has an average of only .214, with 3 doubles and 3 RBI (just 1 in his past 7 games.) Arencibia has struck out 5 times, so there is not a huge concern over his ability to make contact, as it will take some time to get adjusted in his first tour of AAA. After catcher Michael Barrett went down with a shoulder injury, the Jays opted to call up veteran Raul Chavez instead of Arencibia. Don't be surprised, with more seasoning, to see the prized prospect called up as the season wears on.

Jays prospect watch: pitcher Brad Mills

Toward the end of spring training, the 5th and final spot in the rotation came down to Canadian Scott Richmond and lefty prospect Brad Mills, a 4th round selection in 2007. The Blue Jays decided to go with Richmond to ensure Mills had some more experience at the minor league level, considering he had never pitched in a level above AA. After two years in the Jays system, Mills has sported a gaudy 15-5 record, which shows he has potential to be a starter with the big club.

In his two starts in Las Vegas, the southpaw has gone 0-1 with an E.R.A. of 4.82. He improved upon his debut performance in his 2nd outing, lasting 5.2 innings, allowing 2 runs on 8 hits to go along with 4 strikeouts. In the first start, Mills was yanked after 3.2 innings and 3 runs surrendered. Not horrific numbers by any means, but nothing spectacular either. The clubs brass decided against promoting him when Jesse Litsch was shelved with forearm tightness, opting to elevate Brian Tallet to the rotation because they felt Mills needed more time. After his first two starts in AAA, that appears to be the case.