Go Nuts! Lugnuts!

We are happy to report that our boy Jesse will be back in the booth calling some baseball for his third season with your Toronto Blue Jays low A affiliate Lansing Lugnuts.

Hopefully we can get our hands on some top prospect interviews - before anyone else - for you all to celebrate and rejoice in after the roster gets assigned.

This right here is a straight re-post from The 2-2 Pitch which was originally written in September of last year.

When given the chance to make an update Jesse chose to stand behind his original prediction but adds:

"I’m sure that the rumors will start up about whether Deck begins the season with us or Dunedin this year, and there may very well be other fluctuations to come, but I still feel comfortable with that guess – regardless of how wrong it turns out to be~!"

This came about because of a terrific question sent in by a fan on the final LugCast of the regular season.

Here are my predictions for the 2011 Lansing Lugnuts...

C Carlos Perez
1B K.C. Hobson
2B Oliver Dominguez
SS Gustavo Pierre
3B Andy Fermin
LF Marcus Knecht
CF Jake Marisnick
RF Michael Crouse
DH Lance Durham

Key question: Lance Durham and K.C. Hobson are both left-handed hitting first basemen. They shouldn't both be here, and yet Hobson is a virtual Lugnut lock while Durham has spent the last two years with Auburn. Where else would you send him?

C Jack Murphy
OF Stephen McQuail
OF Markus Brisker

Key question: How many struggling 2010 Lugnuts -- i.e., Ryan Schimpf, Balbino Fuenmayor, Eric Eiland -- return for 2011?

RHP Deck McGuire
RHP Drew Hutchison
RHP Daniel Webb
RHP Casey Lawrence
RHP Asher Wojciechowski

Key questions: This is a prospect-laden rotation, albeit totally right-handed. Does Sam Strickland slide into the rotation to give the Lugs a left-handed arm? Will we see talented 18-year-olds Aaron Sanchez and Noah Syndergaard sooner or later?

LHP Sam Strickland
LHP Michael Kelly
RHP Scott Gracey
RHP Danny Barnes
RHP Milciades Santana
RHP Dayton Marze
RHP Drew Permison

Key questions: Once again, these are all newcomers with the exception of Gracey and late addition Barnes. Who else returns from the disappointing 2010 bullpen? A recommitted Brian Slover? A healthy Dustin Antolin? Aaron Loup or Matt Wright, just to make sure there are some more lefties in the pen? By the way, the numbers were just brilliant for Marze, Santana, and Permison last year. Hopefully they'll keep it up.

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  1. I would argue only a couple possible changes - Deck McGuire could very well get pushed to Dunedin to start. It used to be commonplace for 1st round college players to start in high-A, and I believe that there is a good chance he will just due to the fact there isn't enough rotation spots in Low-A.

    Also, Michael Kelly was released so he won't be in the bullpen. Not really much of a surprise, they signed him for filler, but he performed well enough that he should've been given a shot.

    Not looking forward to another year of Milciades Santana. Do we know when Dustin Antolin is back? He was really coming around before surgery.

    Matt Wright more than deserves to be in Dunedin. He's my favourite under-the-radar reliever from Lansing last year, I wrote about him after the 2008 draft and I thought he had the potential to be a strikeout machine at the very least.

    Lansing is a bit more exciting than last year. I would prefer to see Kellen Sweeney or Chris Hawkins get a shot at the 3B starting job, especially Sweeney, who demonstrated a solid batter's eye and I believe he could use the reps.

  2. Daniel, excellent perspective.

    Matt Wright definitely deserves to be in Dunedin. The scouts loved him, but I'm not sure if he was well appreciated by the Toronto baseball braintrust -- his stuff doesn't jump out at you. He was the most consistent arm in the pen all year long.

    I'd love to get Kellen Sweeney at third base.

    No idea about Dustin - the injury was devastating.

  3. I stand by my previous suggestion that it makes sense to bump Durham to Dunedin, I tend to agree with McGuire starting out in Lansing until Jenkins moves up (assuming each starts strong which I'm expecting)

    My guess for third was filler - Nolan and Scwartz or something, until one of Sweeney or Hawkins moved up but I've come around to the idea that maybe Sweeney is advanced enough to win the assignment this spring.

    I had Egan Smith as a candidate for the Lansing rotation, albeit I also had the five you named for six total...kind of presuming on potential injury or something.

    I'll be looking forward to news concerning Antolin's health and, finally, I'm sure that Aaron Sanchez and possibly others (Syndergard, Murphy, maybe Estrada?) will be giving gracing your field in August.