Friday, May 22, 2009

Toronto Blue Jays Prospect: J.P. Arencibia

After a slow start to his season with the Las Vegas 51's, the Blue Jays "catcher of the future" J.P. Arencibia is tearing the cover off the baseball in his last 10 contests, looking very impressive as he adjusts to playing at the AAA level.

Arencibia has 5 home runs and 14 RBI in his last 10 games, putting together a scorching .389 average in just 36 at bats. On the campaign, he has 7 dingers and 26 RBI. Always lauded for his offensive prowess, Arencibia has improved on his once perceived weakness, his defense. It's still a work in progress, however, as he has 7 errors this season.

Originally selected 21st overall in the 2007 draft out of Tennessee, the 23 year old backstopper has elevated in the Jays system. With Raul Chavez now the back-up catcher for the Jays (after Michael Barrett went down in April with a shoulder injury), it might just take one injury to either himself or incumbent Rod Barajas for the organization to give a look to their #1 prospect behind the plate.

Axe falls on Cecil, Snider, Ray; three called up

The Toronto Blue Jays made a flurry of roster moves following their embarrassing three game sweep of the Red Sox, sending down two pitchers and their top hitting prospect.

As reported last night, Snider is packing his bags for AAA Las Vegas after struggling mightily the past couple of months. With three upcoming series in National League ball parks, the club has brought up utility man Joe Inglett, and they'll benefit from his versatility.

Brett Cecil and Robert Ray were shaky in their starts at Fenway Park, so they were optioned down to AAA to make room for Casey Janssen and Ricky Romero. Janssen has not pitched in Toronto since 2007, but is ready to jump back into the rotation, posting a minuscule 0.76 ERA in 5 minor league starts.

Romero will be back Monday and will try to build on his impressive start to his major league career. Before going down with his oblique injury, he posted a 2-0 record and a 1.71 ERA. He had a rather rough 3 starts in the minors since returning from injury, posting a 6.91 ERA.

These are good moves that the Jays made. The rotation is more steady, and Inglett provides a lot of options for the ball club, particularly his ability to bat lead-off and play multiple positions.

Ray knocked around in Boston; time for a demotion?

The Blue Jays were swept at Fenway park, losing the finale 5-1 as Robert Ray allowed 5 runs in 4.1 innings of work. The rookie has looked fairly decent in four starts in his big league career, but appeared shaky in Boston. Unfortunately, the Toronto bats could not support him, pushing his record to 1-2 on the campaign.

It's time to send Ray back down to AAA. He has been decent in four starts, particularly his last outing against the White Sox, where he didn't allow an earned run in 8 innings of work, but he doesn't have great "stuff." With so many young pitchers pushing to get back into the rotation, it would benefit the Jays to have a more major league ready pitcher in the starting five.

The two likely candidates are Casey Janssen and Rickey Romero. The lefty Romero was brilliant in his first 3 starts of his career, going 2-0 with a 1.71 ERA. However, since an oblique injury sent him to the disabled list, his results in the minor leagues since returning have been less than inspiring, with a 6.91 in three starts. Janssen, on the other hand, has an E.R.A. of 0.76 in 5 games between single A Dunedin and AA New Hampshire, including 4 starts. There's no way the organization can afford to let him rot in the minor leagues much longer. Janssen should be the guy replacing Ray in the starting rotation.

Snider sent down; Inglett to return?

As expected, the Toronto Blue Jays have sent struggling left fielder Travis Snider down to AAA Las Vegas to work on his stroke at the plate. After an sizzling start to the season, the Jays top prospect fell on hard times and wasn't able to work out of his funk.

Since Snider stroked a pair of home runs in Minnesota April 13th, he has zero dingers and just 3 RBI, seeing average drop from .316 to .242. Snider will be a cornerstone of this franchise for years to come, and this demotion shouldn't be treated as a question of his skills. However, Snider was rushed to the big leagues, so it's no wonder he struggled at the dish. It's only a matter of time until he's back with the Jays.

Now that Snider is gone, the question remains, who will replace him? I discussed yesterday that his best replacement would be Joe Inglett, but mentioned that he was on the disabled list. As fortune has it, Inglett was activated from the D.L. last night and played in a game for Las Vegas. It's almost a formality for Inglett to return to Toronto, especially with his versatility in interleague play.

My boy Russ Adams could be a surprise call up, but he's on the disabled list, so a return to Toronto seems unlikely, at least for now. By tomorrow afternoon, the odds on favourite to re-join the big club is Inglett.