* Jay Blue had the chance to watch LHP Andrew Albers (North Battleford, Sask.) throw his bullpen at the Bobby Mattick Training Center. ….
Spring Training Notes
By Jay Blue
Blue Jays From Away
I’m starting to catch up with my spring training observations now that I’m back in Toronto and this post will recount what I saw on Wednesday’s “camp day” workouts as well as some of the BP sessions that I saw on Thursday morning.
The first things that I saw on Wednesday were the bullpen sessions by Conner Greene, Mark Biggs and Andrew Albers. I particularly watched Greene and Biggs since they’re the younger of the two and far less established in the baseball world.
Greene is almost 20 and has been pitching in the Jays organization for two seasons. He had some excellent results last year in the GCL before being moved up to Bluefield where he struggled a bit but still managed to put together some solid numbers. From what I could tell in the bullpen session, Greene was throwing three pitches and working on spotting them for strikes. While he was hitting his spots with his fastball, the changeup and curve were more inconsistent but the change had some movement when it was down in the zone. Greene was having trouble getting his curveball over the plate for strikes.
Biggs, on the other hand, was throwing everything for strikes. An eighth-round pick out of high school in 2011, Biggs hasn’t had the most success so far in his time in the pros, he was throwing a fastball with arm-side run (with less zip on it than Greene), a changeup that had both downwards and lateral movement and a late-breaking slider.
I also saw Denny Almonte working out, taking BP on a tryout with the Jays. Almonte is a 26-year-old outfielder who played in the Mariners system for seven years after being a second-round draft pick in 2007. Almonte reached Triple-A with the Mariners but was plagued by high strikeout totals and falling offensive production as he rose through their system. Playing in the independent Atlantic League last year, Almonte hit just .200 with 124 strikeouts in 96 games. From what I could see, Almonte, a switch-hitter, wasn’t really using his lower body when taking cuts in BP but started to improve after Mike Barnett worked with him a little bit.
On Thursday, there were a few things I saw that included second basemen Lane Thomas and Ryan Metzler working on double-play balls while going to their left, planting and throwing back to second base (with Richard Urena covering). In this exercise, Metzler, a college player, looked far smoother and polished, making all the plays. Thomas struggled with his footwork. 2015 is his first year playing second base and he’s also a high school player who will have to adjust to the new position after playing both the outfield and third base with the Jays’ system last year.
In batting practice sessions, I was impressed with Dan Jansen who seems to hit everything hard. Another catcher, Peterborough native Mike Reeves, also seemed to be really doing well at the plate, hitting long line drives consistently. Catcher Matt Morgan, the Jays’ 2014 fourth-round pick, was making loud contact with a quick swing.
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