Sunday, August 22, 2010

AA meeting

My name is Craig Ballard, and I am a Jays fan...

Around here we have our own AA meetings...not the Alcoholics Anonymous kind of AA, but the Alex Anthopoulos kind of AA...Anthopoulos has been the General Manager of YOUR TORONTO BLUE JAYS for just under 11 months now and today we are going to have an AA meeting and take a look at a couple of players in particular that he has brought into the Jays organization recently...you may not know these gents now, but you will...

Anthony Gose...6'1" CF...just turned 20 years old and currently playing for Dunedin at the Class A level...The Jays traded 1B-of-the-future Brett Wallace to the Houston Astros on July 29 in exchange for the speedy Gose...The Astros had just acquired Gose as part of the Roy Oswalt trade (Oswalt traded to Philly)...this was the umpteenth attempt by AA to land Gose who he has been enamoured with for a while now - as have several teams...

Gose is a left handed hitting speedster who actually was also a left handed pitcher with a 90+ mph fastball, but his MLB position projects as an everyday CF and lead-off man...the type of dynamic top-of-the-order guy the Jays have not had since...well...ever...The only guys I can think of that compare are Dave Collins, Otis Nixon, currently Fred Lewis, and of course Devon White...Devo being the best of that group, but we know Devo was a reluctant lead-off man and only did it as it was what Cito Gaston requested from him...all of the above had speed, but not like Gose...White likely had the best power from this group, and was a very good defensive CF as well, but Gose has potential to patrol the outfield too...actually this is one area where he, at only 20, already shines...his speed and good glove allow him to be a menace in the alleys running down sure doubles/triples and turning them into outs...truly a Gold Glove talent on defense...these next few years in the Minors need to provide improvement as far as his route-taking and footwork to get to the ball even better, but his upside on D is great
Gose off-and-running
His speed of course has led to his passion for stolen bases...his base running IQ does have to improve...more experience will have him understanding when to attempt to steal a bag, and on what pitcher/catchers/pitch count/game scenario etc...this is just his second full season of pro-ball and he is already at 120 (wow) steals...the but is that he has been caught stealing a whopping 52 times which tells the story that he does need improvement...since coming to the Jays organization he has 7 steals, but already 5 caught stealing

He already knows how to work a deep pitch count, but there is a ton of room for improvement in the batters box...he strikes out 3 times for every walk (opposite of a good lead-off hitter's #'s) and his batting average so far in his early career is .261 which will surely improve, but his on base percentage of only .326 is somewhat alarming...both of those #'s will have to greatly improve, and Gose has the talent to do so...he does require tweaks to his swing (especially the mechanics of his arms during his swing) but he does hit the ball on the ground pretty well which will play to his speed...every scouting report that I have seen has this guy at 15-20 HR power...he is already a Doubles threat, and with his speed he turns Doubles into Triples often (last 2 seasons a whopping 22 Triples and counting)

At only 20 Gose already has a pretty good build, but you can see that it will improve as he works on that...as a Major League player in a few years looks to me like Anthony Gose will be somewhere between a Juan Pierre and a Carl Crawford...AA certainly did not trade Brett Wallace for a Juan Pierre...he believes in Gose's upside as a game changer...ever since this trade I have now had Gose on my radar as we will want to watch his progression very closely...my thoughts are in 1-2 years when Gose is ready to be the every day CF and lead-off man the Jays can trade Vernon Wells and get a nice asset(s) back for Wells, plus rid themselves of his huge contract which expires in 2014...if you try to trade Wells now that is a tough sell with still 4 years remaining on his 7 year $126 million contract, but in 2011 or 2012 when there is now only 2 or so years left then Vernon becomes attractive again to teams looking for a CF that can help them win now

The final word on Gose goes to a former Jays GM Pat Gillick...when Gillick talks baseball - I listen... “On a scale of 80, he’s probably a 65-70 runner. He’s above average, he’s like Mickey Rivers — just as fast, with a little more power and a better arm,” ...also “Anthony plays with enthusiasm. If he does develop, he will be a very solid centre fielder,”

My name is Craig Ballard and I am a Jays fan...

Deck McGuire...6'6" right handed pitcher from the Ramblin' Wreck of Georgia Tech...Deck was AA's first ever draft pick...we remember that Russ Adams was the first JP Riccardi pick and here's hoping that McGuire is a significantly better MLB career than did Adams...

6'6" Deck McGuire
McGuire already is battle-tested and has ACC pitcher of the year and All American awards to his credit...his college career finished at 28-7 with more strikeouts than innings pitched...more strikeouts than hits too, and strikeout-to-walk ratio of 3 to 1...his very good career era of 3.48 in 2008 and 2009 lowered to 3.28 on the strength of a 2.96 2010...he throws 4 pitches, and 3 of them look like they may be MLB ready now...a fastball that is in the low 90's with very good command...he will need to improve his arm angles, or ball grip to try to create more movement though...MLB ready, mid-high 80's mph slider could prove to be his best friend in the Big Leagues...already good command of his changeup and that will only get even better...he throws a complementary curveball for strikes too

Deck McGuire has the type of makeup typical of a Jays pitching prospect which is he throws strikes, has an above-average mound presence, and is a competitor...this innings-eater does not project as a #1 or #2 starter, but should have the potential to figure in the Jays rotation at some point soon...Romero/Marcum/Drabek/Cecil are the names that AA will count on to be his top-of-the-rotation guys but McGuire will surely get a shot to be in the rotation as well...his skills are there, plus as AA's first ever draft pick McGuire is certain to get a legit opportunity to contribute to the Big Club...we remember the numerous (failed) opportunities the J.P. Ricciardi era gave to Russ Adams

The MLB upside of McGuire is said to be similar to a John Lackey type of pitcher...final word on Deck goes to Jays amateur scouting director Andrew Tinnish "In between the lines he's an ultra competitor, he's a bulldog," ..."We think he's a durable guy who's going to be able to log a lot of quality innings for us down the road."..."This is a big physical, right-handed starter, he's had a lot of experience in a big conference, the ACC, so he's been pretty battle tested."

AA has his sights set on being a legit contender year in/year out  from 2012+ and these 2 guys are going to be a big ol' part of that

Thus concludes this addition of our AA meetings...scroll down to see previous AA meetings and certainly more will soon follow... craig.ballard@hotmail.com