Las Vegas 51s 2009 - AAA

The Vegas 51s have some players attempting comebacks, some who are trying to avoid beings busts, and others who are AAA mainstays. Even though I would rather cover the young prospects since they are more fun to cover, I will also touch on the 'possible impact' comeback players that could make it to the Jays this season.

Notable Pitchers

LHP Bret Cecil - 6'2" 225 lbs - Born Jul 2nd 1986 in Maryland
Drafted in 2007, 1st round, 38th overall out of the University of Maryland
Thus far in 2009: 4 GP, 4 GS, 17.1 IP, 22 HA, 8 BB, 9 SO, 8.31 ERA
Analysis: Arguably the most intriguing pitching prospect the Jays have had since Roy Halladay, Cecil has had a rough beginning to the season in AAA. Not only is he proving to be very hittable, but he has also only made it passed the 5th inning once. Thankfully, his latest start was his best with 6 IP, only 4 hits, 3 ER and 5 Ks. While it's not exactly a masterpiece, it allows for the hope that he will progress as expected and make the jump to the Jays at some point in the season or in 2010. He progressed from Dunedin to the old AAA Syracuse levels in 2008, so it was expected that there may be bumps in the road as he learns to pitch at higher levels.

LHP Brad Mills - 5'11" 185 lbs - Born Mar 5th 1985 in Arizona
Drafted in 2007, in the 4th round, 145th overall out of the University of Arizona
Thus far in 2009: 4 GP, 4 GS, 21 IP, 22 HA, 12 BB, 10 SO, 4.71 ERA
Analysis: the second lefty in AAA for the Jays, Mills is also highly touted and expected to perform well enough to make the jump to the big leagues this season. While his start to the season has not been as rough as Cecil's, it's obvious that he is also struggling to adjust in the early going. Like Cecil, Mills made progressed through the system in lightning fashion last season, going from Lansing to Dunedin, so his performance in AAA is encouraging due to his inexperience at this level. There is no doubt he'll regain his dominent self once he akes the appropriate adjustments and I look forward to seeing what his mid-season stats look like.

RHP Wade Miller - 6'2" 210 lbs - Born Sep 13th 1976 in Pensylvannia
Thus far in 2009: 4 GP, 4 GS, 19.2 IP, 15 HA, 13 BB, 13 SO, 4.12 ERA
Analysis: Miller is attempting a comeback from many shoulder injuries that have hurt his career performances thus far. Will he won't strike out many guys, he knows how to pitch and has been surprisingly consitent thus far in the season. He lasted exactly 5 innings in his last 3 starts, but may need to improve to 6 or 7 before the Jays even think about calling him up for spot starts of the 5th starter role. A more likely scenario would have Miller throwing out of the pen in a long-relief role that would provide the Jays with an alternative to Shawn Camp. There is still a chance Miller could get a chance to start, but he'll have to avoid injuries and stretch himself out before it happens.

LHP Brian Burres - 6'2" 175 lbs - Born Apr 8th 1981 in Oregon
Thus far in 2009: 3 GP, 2 GS, 10.1 IP, 11 HA, 2 BB, 7 SO, 6.97 ERA
Analysis: I included Burres only because he will get starts, and has already been called upon for 2 starts thus far. Not only were those 2 starts the uglliest starts they could possibly be, bu they pretty much assured us that 5-7 pitchers will get a chance to prove themselves before Burres is ever called upon again. The absolute truth is that Burres is about as hittable a pitcher as there is and he cannot perform effectively at the MLB level.

RHP Jeremy Accardo - 6'1" 190 lbs - Born Dec 8th 1981 in Arizona
Non-drafted signee in 2003 (SF)
Thus far in 2009: 7 GP, 0 GS, 10 IP, 8 HA, 2 BB, 6 SO, 1.80 ERA
Analysis: any Jays fan knows that Accardo has great stuff when he's on and that he is a big asset to the bullpen. He is in AAA because the Jays have such an excellent pen and because he needed to refine his mechanics after a rough spring. With BJ Ryan reeling and losing some effectiveness, it is possible that Accardo will one day close for the Jays. Either way, he will find his way to the Jays at some point this season.

RHP Jonah Bayliss - 6'0" 205 lbs - Born Aug 13th 1980 in Massachussetts
Drafted in 2002 by KC, in the 7th round, 198th overall out of Trinity College
Thus far in 2009: 8 GP, 0 GS, 15 IP, 7 HA, 7 BB, 19 SO, 0.00 ERA
Analysis: although the Jays have a proven pen alternative in Accardo at Las Vegas, they also have the possibility of using Bayliss who has had a very impressive start to the season. Bayliss saved 5 games in AAA last season and has been used for 2-3 innings in the majority of his outings this season. Not only can the Jays use another long reliever now that Tallet is starting, but they could use one that is effective vs lefties and righties, which Bayliss has prven to be this season. If he keeps his performances to this level, he will get a chance to prove himself very soon.

Notable Hitters

3B Scott Campbell - 6'0" 190 lbs - Born Sep 25th 1984 in New Zealand
Drafted in 2006, in the 10th round, 300th overall by the Jays
Thus far in 2009: 72AB, .236 AVG, 3 XBH, 0 HRs, 5 RBI, 0 SB, .313OBP, .278 SLG, .590OPS
Analysis: the beginning to 2009 has not been kind to Campbell who performed much better in AA last season. While he has never displayed the type of power you'd want or expect for a 3B, he is versatile enough to play 2nd, so a utility role is feasible for Campbell. As a side note, he was the first ever New Zealand player drafted in MLB.

C JP Arencibia - 6'0" 215 lbs - Born Jan 5th 1986 in Florida
Drafted in 2007, in the 1st round, 21st overall out of the University of Tennessee
Thus far in 2009: 67 AB, .224 AVG, 9 XBH, 0 HRs, 9 RBI, 0 SB, .257 OBP, .358 SLG, .615 OPS
Analysis: Catchers have the steepest learning curve as they progress through the minors and learn how to call games as well as how to hit big league pitching. JP is young for a AAA catcher and has struggled to adjust his hitting to the AAA level, but it is very early and he should recover to display his prodigious power. The Jays are counting on JP to provide some pop and excellent offense from the C position in the near future, something they have never really had since Darin Fletcher was with the club. He will never hit for average, as he likes to swing freely, but chances are he will be a valuable RBI and HR producer for the Jays in 2010 and beyond.

1B Brett Harper - 6'2" 245 lbs - Born Jul 31st 1981 in Arizona
Drafted by the Mets in 2001, in the 45th round, 1343rd overall out of Desert Mountain HS
Thus far in 2009: 74AB, .338AVG, 8 XBH, 4 HRs, 17 RBI, 0 SB, .375 OBP, .554 SLG, .929 OPS
Analysis: the feel good story of the Vegas squad thus far in 2009, Harper did hit 20 HRs last year for AAA Fresno in only 352 ABs with an average above .300, so his performance this season is not all that surprising. When you are drafted 1343rd overall, it can mean that it is that much harder for you to get a chance in the big leagues, and it seems to be the case with Harper. He's a mammoth of a man at 245 lbs and would serve the Jays well as a DH should injuries arise this season that prompt Adam Lind to return to the OF.

INF Joe Inglett - 5'9" 185 lbs - Born Jun 29th 1978 in California
Drafted in 2000 by Cle, in the 8th round, 246th overall
Thus far in 2009: 24 AB, .333AVG, 1 XBH, 0 HRs, 2 RBI, 0 SB, .407 OBP, .375 SLG, .782 OPS
Analysis: Inglett is not a flashy guy or someone that draws rave reviews, but he is an important depth player for the Jays since he can play all infield positions. He is the super-utility player in waiting for the Jays and proved his ability to perform last season when he hit .297 in 344 ABs with the Jays, even homering 3 times while adding 7 triples and 9 stolen bases. He will most likely be called upon to fill that role again some time this season if unfortunate injuries occur.

Overall, there is positional depth for the Jays in AAA along with a few young and extremely talented pieces they hope will come to fruition this season. The Jays need their young guys to perform in order to compete in the AL East, so it is critical that guys such as Cecil, Mills and Arencibia learn to perform at a high level this season. We'll be watching and hoping that they do!

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