Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Jays prospect Wallace tearing up AAA

Maybe there is a reason why Lyle Overbay has suddenly woken up and realized the season has started. If he has continued his dismal play any longer, his starting role could have been in serious jeopardy because Jays prospect Brett Wallace has been scorching hot at the plate with AAA Las Vegas.

Wallace, acquired in the deal that sent Roy Halladay to Philadelphia in the off-season, hasn't disappointed in his brief tenure with the organization. In just 19 games, he has already smacked 8 home runs, driven in 13, hit for a solid .286 average to go along with a .375 on base percentage. Suffice to say, our first baseman of the future is clearly showing he wants to be tabbed the 1st baseman of the present.

Overbay, meanwhile, has finally picked up his play considerably, going 6 for his last 12 with 2 HR's and 6 RBI in the last 3 games. However, even with the hot stretch, his average still sits at .183. Prior to the aforementioned three contests, he hit just .119 with only 3 RBI. Overbay, on the final year of his contract that will pay him $7 million this season, can keep his job if he swings the bat like he has recently. Any more massive lulls like he had at the start of the campaign, and he might not have to peer over his shoulder any longer, because Wallace will have taken over. The highly touted prospect has shown he's ready to make his debut in the show.

Tattered Jays bullpen receives shakeup

A taxed Blue Jays bullpen that has been totally annihilated the past four games has been given a face lift, as the organization has demoted two struggling hurlers and purchased the contract of a pair from AAA Las Vegas. Hard throwing Josh Roenicke and lefty Rommie Lewis (who?) are in, with the little used Merkin Valdez joins Jeremy Accardo as the relievers that are out.

Accardo has really fallen on hard times, allowing all six inherited runners to score this year, putting up a ghastly 8.10 ERA, which, though awful, is actually worse than the number suggests. Valdez, was brought to the team in the off-season from San Fran, but mostly only made the cut because he was out of options and the Jays didn't want to expose him to waivers. He wasn't effective in the two contests he entered, so Toronto now has 10 days to release him, trade him or try to pass him through waivers to AAA.

As for the call-ups, the 26 year old Roenicke is back with Toronto after playing down the stretch in '09 following the trade from Cincinnati in the Scott Rolen deal. He hasn't allowed a run with the Las Vegas 51's this year in 8 2/3 innings. The 27 year old Lewis, who impressed Cito Gaston in spring training, receives the promotion and will make his long awaited debut in a major league uniform after being drafted way back in 2001. He's been solid in the minors, posting a 2.35 ERA in 7 outings following a dazzling 1.50 ERA over 6 innings in the spring.

What does this mean for the Jays bullpen? It allows the team to bring in fresh arms after cycling through countless pitchers the past four games, however these two shouldn't be leaned upon too heavily going forward. Roenicke has the most upside, and if he can consistently find the strike zone could find himself a bigger part of the relief corps. Lewis will need to impress early in order to stay with the team for any length of time.