New Hampshire Fisher Cats 2009 - AA

As you climb the minors ladder towards the big club, you get a better sense of what is to come for the franchise. In their AA franchise, the Jays have more promising players than most recent years. A few are big surprises, and many are late round picks, which would indicate that maybe most of us Jays fans are in fact a little too hard on JP Ricciardi and his draft record. Here they are as they stand today in 2009.

Notable Pitchers

RHP Reidier Gonzalez - 5'9" 215 lbs - Born Nov 1st 1985 in Cuba
Drafted in 2005, 19th round, 566th overall out of St-Petersburg College
Thus far in 2009: 4 GP, 4 GS, 26.1 IP, 17 HA, 6 BB, 15 SO, 1.37 ERA
Analysis: one of many pitchers that could make the jump to the big club if necessary on this team, Reider can go deep into games and pitches to contact. He isn't overpowering, but gets the job done efficiently. His stature may question his longevity as a starter, but he has a very strong lower body which allows him to maintain the power he needs throughout long outings.

LHP Luis Perez - 6'0" 205 lbs - Born Jan 20th 1985 in the Dominican Republic
International Signing
Thus far in 2009: 4 GP, 4 GS, 22 IP, 14 HA, 10 BB, 20 SO, 2.45 ERA
Analysis: the second of a very strong SP lineup, Perez has walked too many batters early on and has not lasted as long into games as Gonzalez due to his inefficiency. However, his stuff is better and once he trusts it enough to pitch to contact, or for swing a miss, he will be a better pitcher. If injuries keep hurting the Jays, there is a chance Perez could see some MLB action this season and he is mature enough to handle the pressure.

RHP Fabio Castro - 5'7" 180 lbs - Born Jan 20th 1985 in the Dominican Republic
International Signing
Thus far in 2009: 4 GP, 4 GS, 21.2 IP, 15 HA, 3 BB, 24 SO, 0.83ERA
Analysis: the little train that could, that's how I feel about Castro. He shares a birthday with countryman Perez, but unlike him is unafraid to put the ball over the plate. His outstanding K to BB ratio is unlike any other SP in the organization and he has a lot of promise. Whether he is seen as durable enough to start for the Jays is unknown, but he sure has the stuff to help the big club out in any way he can. As we can see thus far, the AA Jays are not short on pitching talent.

RHP Marc Rzepczynski - 6'1" 205 lbs - Born Aug 29th 1985 in California
Drafted in 2007, in the 5th round, 175th overall out of the University of California
Thus far in 2009: 4 GP, 4 GS, 19.2 IP, 20 HA, 14 BB, 27 SO, 4.58 ERA
Analysis: if this is the worst pitching line of the AA SP squad, we'll take it! Marc has the stuff to SO as many guys as he wants, but he may want to watch Roy Halladay pitch. Marc walks too many batters because he tries to strike every one of them out! Roy gets more excited about a 1 or 2 pitch ground out than a strike out for a reason: it's more efficient and allows him to reach for more stuff when needed. Marc will move to AAA at some point this season and may have the best chance to become an MLB starter long term, but he needs to throw strikes, as many minors pitchers do.

RHP Randy Boone - 6'0" 200 lbs - Born Aug 6th 1984 in Texas
Drafted in 2007, in the 7th round, 235th overall out of the University of Texas
Thus far in 2009: 3 GP, 3 GS, 18.2 IP, 16 HA, 6 BB, 8 SO, 2.41 ERA
Analysis: the least likely to make the big club as a starter, and the oldest of the 5 AA SP, Randy is still effective enough to help the pen out at some point in the future. He is efficient in his outings, lasting 6+ innings on average, but struggles against lefties who hit over .300 against him. He still has room to grow and may be the first called up to AAA at some point this season to see if he can become the Jays version of Chris Jakubauskas.

RHP Leon Boyd- 6'5" 209 lbs - Born Aug 30th 1983 in the Netherland Antilles
International Signing
Thus far in 2009: 5 GP, 0 GS, 5.1 IP, 1 HA, 1 BB, 5SO, 0.00 ERA
Analysis: the Jays brought Leon on board after they saw his World Baseball Classic performance where he was thrown to the wolves on some occasions and helped the Netherlands out of some really tight spots. He earned 1 save and 1 win for his team and is seen as someone who can step up to the big club at any moment and help the Jays out if needed. The Jays have one of the best pens in MLB, so it may be a while before he gets that call, but he is a valuable asset to have when the season begins to wear down the pen.

Notable Hitters

1B Brian Dopirak - 6'4" 230 lbs - Born Dec 20th 1983 in Florida
Drafted in 2002, in the 2nd round, 56th overall by the Cubs via Mets
Thus far in 2009: 71AB, .324 AVG, 8 XBH, 3 HRs, 12 RBI, 0 SB, .364OBP, .521 SLG, .885OPS
Analysis: one of the older hitters on the team, Brian also has one of the most powerful strokes on the team. He hit 29 HRs last season between Dunedin and NH and could make the jump to AAA at some point this year. With Overbay and Millar ahead of him in the bigs, he may have to bide his time to get a shot at the bigs, but he's proving he can hit for average AND power this year, something that is hard for any club to resist.

C Brian Jeroloman - 6'1" 195 lbs - Born May 10th 1985 in New York
Drafted in 2006, in the 6th round, 180th overall out of the University of Florida
Thus far in 2009: 62 AB, .323AVG, 6 XBH, 1 HRs, 6 RBI, 0 SB, .382 OBP, .452 SLG, .834 OPS
Analysis: Arencibia is still seen as the C of the future for the Jays, but Jeroloman has shown his potential to become a starting C. He may lack some power but can develop enough as he matures to smack 6-10 Hrs in the bigs. He may end up backing up Arencibia one day and will most likely remain the entire season in AA unless Arencibia gets the call up from AAA.

2B/3B Bradley Emaus- 5'11" 210 lbs - Born Mar 28th 1986 in Michigan
Drafted in 2007, in the 11th round, 355th overall out of Tulane University
Thus far in 2009: 72AB, .278AVG, 6 XBH, 1 HRs, 6 RBI, 2 SB, .366 OBP, .389 SLG, .755 OPS
Analysis: the second coming of Aaron Hill, put a big giant star beside Emaus's name, because you will see him on the big club roster very soon. In 49 AB during spring training he hit .309 with 4 dingers and 10 XBH. Should injuries require it, he would be one of the first called up due to his versatility in being able to play all 4 infield positions. He may begin his career with the Jays as a super utility player, but he hits the ball with such authority that I have to believe he'll become a regular 2B or 3B at some point. He plays hard every single day and is a luxury for the Jays to have in the system.

1B David Cooper - 6'0" 200 lbs - Born Feb 12th 1987 in California
Drafted in 2008, in the 1st round, 17th overall out of the University of California
Thus far in 2009: 66AB, .242AVG, 5 XBH, 1 HRs, 6 RBI, 1 SB, .333 OBP, .348 SLG, .682 OPS
Analysis: David is one of the youngest players in AA and has the luxury of sharing time with and learning from Dopirak. They are sharing 1B/DH duties and the fact that David is starting out in AA shows the kind of talent the Jays believe he holds. He may be the future of the Jays at 1B as was shown in a short period last season when he hit .333 in 273 AB with 5 dingers. He'll need the entire year to adjust to AA pitching and to find his power stroke, but he should make the jump to AAA in 2010 and compete for a spot on the MLB roster sometime that season.

Overall, the strength of the AA New Hampshire franchise is in its pitching and they lead their conference in wins as a result with an 11-7 record. Should the hitting catch up to the hitting, this team could have a very successful season and provide much needed depth to an injury prone MLB roster. The AA affiliate shows the most promise of any affiliate for the Jays and chances are you will see many of these names on the big league score sheet sometime soon.

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