Stewart Focused on Return to Majors

TRENTON, NJ- It was a quick cup of coffee with the Toronto Blue Jays for Zach Stewart, but after being reassigned to the Double A New Hampshire Fisher Cats on Tuesday, he's had a taste of the good stuff and wants more.

Originally selected in the 3rd round of the 2008 draft by Cincinnati, Stewart was acquired in a trade that sent Scott Rolen to the Reds in 2009. Since then, as one of Toronto's top pitching prospects, the Texas native has posted a 12-6 record and a 3.86 ERA in 49 games in the Blue Jays developmental system.

In his Major League debut on June 16th, Stewart held the Baltimore Orioles to 7 hits and 2 earned runs in 7 innings pitched, while striking out 4 and walking 1 batter.

The length of Stewart's stay with the Blue Jays was clearly brief, but his time spent in the home city of the Blue Jays was blink-and-you-missed-it short. The 24-year-old's arrival to Toronto, his first Major League start and the team's departure for a road trip all occurred within about a 24 hour period, so Stewart didn't get to particularly become familiar with the city he hopes to call home for a long time.

"I had never been there before. It was my first trip there. I got (to the Rogers Centre) at 6:30 for a 7 o'clock game, then went to the hotel to sleep and get ready for my start the next day. And as soon as (my) game was over, we left and went (on the road), so I really didn't get to see much of Toronto," Stewart explained in an exclusive interview.

However, the Toronto fans left Stewart feeling quite welcome and he describes the day as a dream come true.

"It was definitely good to throw at home and have that atmosphere (for my Major League debut)," Stewart said. "It was awesome. It was a great experience and everything I hoped it would have been."

Five days later, against the Braves, the 6-foot-2-inch 205-pounder struggled, allowing 5 earned runs and 10 hits in 3 2/3 innings. Knowing that the games at the MLB level carry more weight, Stewart asserts that his mental approach, to try to bounce back following the poor start, was the same he has used in the minors. He stuck to what has worked for him throughout his professional career and wiped his slate clean to come back out for his third start.

"At that level it's more magnified, but I didn't take (my outing against the Braves) to heart, or anything. There's bound to be bad starts, or bad breaks, so I just tried to let it go, keep my mental focus and forget about it.

"I'm not going to change my approach. I feel like I have a good manner of preparation that I take into every game. So, I'm not going to change it just because I went to the big leagues," Stewart said.

The righty hurler came back strong this past Monday at Detroit. In 6 innings against the Tigers, Stewart allowed 9 hits and let up just 2 earned runs, while striking out 4 and walking 1.

Unquestionably, Stewart enjoyed his time at the highest level of baseball. He credits the entire Blue Jays club with immediately making him feel like part of the team, which is great for a youngster that is asked to jump up two levels in order to help a team that has had shaky pitching this year.

"Everybody, from the manager to the players to the trainers and everyone, treated me well," Stewart stated. "No one made me feel like I was out of my element or uncomfortable. It was was a great experience all around. I was happy with my time there."

But while Stewart is able to reflect on his brief stint in the Majors with some pleasure, the move back to the Fisher Cats roster has left him dissatisfied, with a full focus on getting back in a Toronto uniform.

In a sense, (having been there) does make me more hungry, so now that I did have a taste of it, I want to get back."

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1BJW Interview: Chad Jenkins

Through three starts with the Double A New Hampshire Fisher Cats, righty hurler Chad Jenkins has posted a 1-1 record with a 4.05 ERA. Prior to joining the Fisher Cats this month, Jenkins had gone 4-5 with a 3.07 ERA with the High A Level Dunedin Blue Jays.
Last year, in his first full season of professional baseball, Jenkins was named as a mid-season all-star, as a member of the Class A Lansing Lugnuts, prior to joining Dunedin in June. Combined at those two levels in 2010, Jenkins had a 7-10 record and a 3.94 ERA.

The 23-year-old Jenkins was drafted with Toronto's top pick in the 2009 draft (20th overall) out of Kennesaw State University.

On Wednesday, Jenkins is slated to make his fourth start in the Double A Eastern League and he will be faced by rehabbing Yankees pitcher Phil Hughes at Trenton's Waterfront Park.

At this rate of progression, it won't be long before the 6-foot-4-inch 235-pound Jenkins is effecting the odds on props betting for the Blue Jays.

This week, I spoke with Chad about adjusting to the Eastern League, the draft process, personal hobbies, his new home town in Manchester, New Hampshire and plenty more. Check out the media player below to listen to the full interview.


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Marcus Knecht interview and not much else!

Here is a pic courtesy of Twitpic and it's ridiculous track back rules!

Here is the boxscore from the All Star game that he participated in!

Here is a whole bunch of older video from the glory days!

Here is where you can find some statistical information!

Here is to hoping he wears the number 4 in the future!

Here is a quote from our boy Jesse when asked about his D in the outfield!

He can stick in left field, no problem at all.  Arm is average, but pretty darn accurate, and he has good instincts despite average range.  Plays the ball well off the carom, too.
And finally!

Here is an interview from last week!


1BlueJaysWay.com Interview: John Tolisano

22-year-old IF/OF John Tolisano has proven himself as a valuable contributor for the Double A New Hampshire Fisher Cats this season. The Florida native has become a key contributor for the team, able to play multiple positions and offer consistency at the plate.

A 2nd round draft pick in 2007, Tolisano has slowly, but steadily, ascended upwards in the Toronto organization. In his first two seasons as a pro, Tolisano batted .234 in 169 games at two levels. Two seasons ago, in 2009, Tolisano mashed 12 homeruns and drove in 58 runs, while batting .232 for the High A level Dunedin Blue Jays. Last year, he missed time due to injury, but is back trying to continue his climb toward the big leagues.

Hot lately, in 15 June games, the 5-foot-11-inch 190-pound Tolisano has posted a .311 batting average with a .996 OPS.

Recently, I spoke with John about his progress, his team and plenty more. Check out the media player below to listen to this full interview.


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NH Hitting Coach Justin Mashore Interview

In his playing days, Justin Mashore was a 3rd round draft pick of the Detroit Tigers and was a career minor leaguer. Mashore played outfield and dabbled in the infield during his minor league career in the Tigers, Red Sox, Mets, Padres and Rockies organizations.

Since 2003, Mashore has been a coach in the Blue Jays organization, where he has been working his way up from the Rookie level Appalachian League.

Currently, along with manager Sal Fasano and pitching coach Pete Walker, Mashore is in charge of guiding the young careers of Toronto prospects assigned to the Double A New Hampshire Fisher Cats club.

Recently, I spoke with coach Justin about top prospects like Anthony Gose, Adeiny Hechavarria and Travid d'Arnaud, as well as his own career, his transition into coaching and plenty more. Check out the media player below to listen to the full interview.


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A quote from the Silent Assassin

"I've seen it happen too many times with players where they get hurt or they don't perform and things change. You can go around the league now and see a lot of young players that look like they're on their way to great careers, and all of a sudden, things change."

Just throwing it out there but I'm thinking he maybe referring to this guy.


Jesse Does Lansing

Photo courtesy of Nathan Denette/Canadian Press 

Bottom 1st:
  • Struck out the lead off man swinging on an offspeed pitch
  • Got the second hitter to ground out to the SS
  • Induced another ground ball, this time to the 2nd baseman
Top 2nd:

Our boy Jesse gives 1 Blue Jays Way a shout out on air. Solid.

Bottom 2nd:
  • Struck out the clean up hitter looking on 3 pitches
  • Got the next guy swinging on another offspeed pitch. Just missed outside on a 0-2 count with a 90MPH heater
  • The third hitter of the inning worked it to a full count and singled just past the 3rd baseman
  • Next guy hits a tapper to the 1st baseman for the 3 unassisted
Top 3rd:

The Lugnuts pound out a bunch of hits and score 3 runs in a very long half inning. Might be the reason why this happened.....

Bottom 3rd:
  • Lead off walk. Somewhere April loses her shit
  • Comebacker is smoked at Jesse and he shows off his cat like reflexes. Then proceeds to launch a tailor made double play ball into center field. It was ruled a fielder's choice and an E1
  • Speedster Billy Hamilton squares up a fastball and lines a triple into the right field corner
  • Jesse uncorks a wild pitch which brings in Billy from third and then gives up a single just for good measure
Final Line:

2IP + 4 batters, 3 hits, 3 runs, 2 earned runs, 1 walk, 3 strikeouts, 1 wild pitch, 1 error

Bonus Coverage:

Here's our boy Jesse chatting it up with Jesse yesterday. Check it.

Easy on the cliches there tiger. Kinda makes you appreciate the interviews we get from the true prospects/guys who never had a microphone stuck in their face.


Got Zach Stewart? We Do!

Hey, there Blue Jays fan! Perhaps you know about the Major League debut of 24-year-old right-hander Zach Stewart. And maybe you are aware that 1BlueJaysWay.com is a solid source for Zach Stewart content. Well, if no one has congratulated you and/or told you that you are wonderful and gorgeous today, allow me to...

Thanks for stopping by the site and checking out 1BlueJaysWay.com's excellent Zach Stewart content, you fine little ray of sunshine that lights up our day.

Firstly, check out our interview with Zach from last season by clicking HERE....then, listen to our interview with Zach from a couple weekends back by clicking HERE....then, be sure to check out the media player below to enjoy some new bullpen footage of Zach that was shot by us along with an exclusive quote where Zach answers a question about whether or not he pondered being promoted to the big leagues during his most recent starts with the Double A New Hampshire Fisher Cats.

Enjoy. We hope you like us as much as we like you.


1BJW Exclusive: Anthony Gose Answers Fan Questions

Outfield prospect Anthony Gose is rising fast within the Blue Jays system. Acquired last July from Houston for Brett Wallace, almost immediately after he was sent to the Astros by the Phillies as part of a package for pitcher Roy Oswalt, the 6-foot-1-inch 190-pounder is regularly ranked as a top 5 prospect within the Toronto organization.

Originally acquired by the Phillies in the 2nd round of the 2008 amateur draft, Gose quickly developed a reputation as a speedster, when in 2009 he led all of pro baseball in stolen bases, swiping 76 as the lead-off hitter for the Class A Lakewood BlueClaws in the South Atlantic League.

Gose is having a bit of an up and down 2011 campaign with the Double A New Hampshire Fisher Cats. Fresh off a strong month of May (.296 avg, 4 HR, 18 RBI, 14 SB in 31 games), the California native has hit a bit of a slump during the month of June (.135 avg, 1 HR, 7 RBI, 7 SB in 10 games).

As was reported on Monday, Gose has been suspended for 3-days after he made contact with the opposing catcher during a disagreement at home plate in a recent game.

Prior to the incident last week, I caught up with Anthony and asked him questions directly from you, the fans. Check out the media player below to hear Anthony speaking about his speed, his progress, his future and plenty more.


Be sure to follow 1BlueJaysWay.com on Twitter by clicking here.


So you wanna play with the big boys?

I'm just gonna go right out on a limb here and say that Kyle (the strike thrower) Drabek doesn't match up so well against the free swinging Red Sux line up.

As Yoda once said: “Pain, suffering, death I feel. Something terrible has happened. Young Skywalker Drabek is in pain. Terrible pain”


D'Arnaud in a Groove Following Concussion

NH hitting coach Justin Mashore working with Travis d'Arnaud last week

Sidelined in late April with a concussion, suffered when he was hit with the swing of a batter, catching prospect Travis d'Arnaud began the season in quite a slump. Through 13 games in April with the Double A New Hampshire Fisher Cats, d'Arnaud had posted a .188 batting average with 1 HR and 5 RBI.

However, since returning from the disabled list in early May, d'Arnaud has been on a hot streak, ripping into Eastern League pitching to the tune of a .378 batting average with 9 doubles, 5 homeruns and 12 RBI in 27 games.

The 22-year-old California native asserted that he hasn't changed anything in his approach or mechanics, confirming that sometimes a hitter can just get into a groove and capitalize on that.

"I've been slowing everything down and I feel like the ball looks like a softball right now. I can see it really good," d'Arnaud stated. "When I got on a roll, I was just seeing the ball well and putting good swings on it."

In regards to his slow start and an increase of power (.928 OPS through 40 games played, while a previous season high in OPS was .831 in a 2008 season he split between short-season Williamsport and Class A Lakewood in the Phillies organization), the righty hitting d'Arnaud feels that he's steadily showing the type of hitter he's developing into.

"This year I've hit stretches where my timing's off a little bit, but I've made no changes and gotten some good results," d'Arnaud said.

d'Arnaud was originally drafted in the supplemental round (37th overall) in 2007 by the Phillies. He was later traded to Toronto among a trio of player dealt for ace pitcher Roy Halladay in December, 2009. Last off-season, d'Arnaud was ranked as the 4th best prospect in the Toronto system by Baseball America.

Defensively, d'Arnaud has always shined, earning nods from his pitching staff at every level he's played for assisting in their success and progress.

His ability to lead will certainly help d'Arnaud advance in the professional ranks and even his coaching staff has sees a bright future for the 2010 Class A Florida State League All-star. Fisher Cats hitting coach Justin Mashore is pleased to be working with such talented prospects in New Hampshire and has worked closely with d'Arnaud. Mashore agrees that d'Arnaud is going about hitting the same way since arriving in Double A.

"(His) consistent work and his approach is what's allowing (d'Arnaud) to drive the ball more," Mashore said. "Travis has got phenomenal hands. Hopefully, (he) can continue to climb where we hope he goes."


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A retweet from Bobby Elliott

So, right before it was time for bed a thought came over me.....Vernon has been on the DL for quite some time now. I remembered Vernon was making $23 million dollars to play baseball this year but decided to head over to Cott`s just to be sure. Yep I was right.


With some simple arithmetic I was able to determine that works out to $141,975.31 a game.


I then multiplied that figure by the number of games Vernon (at the time) was out with his leg/groin injury. That would have been 21 games. That's how I got the total of $2,981,481.48

Not bad for 4 o'clock in the morning eh?

Right back to Cott's I went and noted that that figure is higher then most of our current Blue Jays' salaries, for the whole year.


I tweeted it out and my head hit the pillow all in one motion. When I got up I had about 15 e-mails, 90% of which was new followers which pushed me up over 6 bills.

Thanks Bob.


Mr. Elliott is a total night owl and normally only ventures on Twitter between the hours of 2AM to about 5AM.


NH Pitching Coach Pete Walker Speaks on Alvarez & Stewart

The Double A level New Hampshire Fisher Cats have a pair of pitching prospects that plenty of folks around the Blue Jays organization should be excited about.

Righty hurler Henderson Alvarez, a Venezuelan product, has been turning heads through just four starts with the Fisher Cats. Despite taking his first loss at the Double A level on Sunday, against division rival Trenton, Alvarez made a big impression with his fastball, regularly reaching 96-98 MPH and hitting 101 MPH on the gun at least one time.

Through 4 starts with New Hampshire, the 21-year-old Alvarez has posted a 2-1 record with a 3.22 ERA with a .256 batting average against.

Another right-hander impressing people is Zach Stewart, who was acquired by Toronto from Cincinnati in the 2009 Scott Rolen trade. In 11 starts the season for the Fisher Cats, Stewart has posted a 3-3 record with a 4.66 ERA.

Remove Stewart's worst start (an outing at Portland on May 23, when he allowed 7 earned runs in 4 innings pitched) and his output this season is a much improved 3-2 record with a 3.92 ERA.

Stewart, a 24-year-old that many feel could be in the Majors next season, regularly throws his fastball in the low-to-mid 90's.

Recently, I spoke with New Hampshire Fisher Cats pitching coach and former Blue Jays pitcher Pete Walker about both of these pitching prospects. Check out the media player below to hear the full interview.


Be sure to follow 1BJW on Twitter by clicking HERE.


Fisher Cats' Alvarez Sizzles Despite Loss

In an area behind home plate populated by pitchers who were charting pitches for both teams, disbelief took over in the 2nd inning, as the likes of Kei Igawa, Zach Stewart, Rey Gonzalez and others all looked at one another to confirm what the radar guns some of them were holding had just displayed.

Making his 4th Class AA start for the New Hampshire Fisher Cats, 21-year-old Henderson Alvarez had his electric fastball register at 101 MPH. It may have been his fastest pitch of the day (others reach 96-98 MPH, but cracking 100 wasn't a regular occurrence) and the impact of Alvarez's fastball definitely missed the 4,707 in attendance at Trenton's Waterfront Park, as the facility is not equipped to post such data for the paying crowd to see, but plenty of folks have started to take notice of the right-handed Venezuela native anyway.

Alvarez, who stands 6-feet-1-inch tall and weighs 195 pounds, gave up 5 runs in the opening 2 frames of Sunday's contest against Eastern League East Division rivals the Yankees affiliate Trenton Thunder. After serving up a 2-RBI single to designated hitter Cody Johnson in the home half of the second inning, Alvarez settled down considerably, retiring 8 straight Thunder batters, before a single by Johnson in the 5th and a rising pitch count forced Fisher Cats manager Sal Fasano to make a call to the bullpen.

On the day, Alvarez took the loss, allowing 5 earned runs, 7 hits and 2 walks while striking out 3 batters in 4 1/3 innings.

Last season, Alvarez was recognized as a Florida State League All-star when he went 8-7 with a 4.33 ERA in 23 games as a member of the Class A advanced Dunedin Blue Jays, and represented the Blue Jays in the MLB Futures Game.

This year, Alvarez began the season on the disabled list. After being activated, Alvarez made 2 starts with Dunedin, prior to being promoted to New Hampshire. Overall, in his 4 starts with the Fisher Cats, Alvarez has posted a 2-1 record with a 3.22 ERA, 6 walks and 16 strike outs in 22 1/3 innings pitched.

With the help of righty hurler Rey Gonzalez, who translated, I spoke with Henderson after Sunday's defeat in Trenton. Check out the media player below, to listen to the full interview.


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Zach Stewart Interview, June 2011

In his most recent outing, Zach Stewart showed flashes of the talent that has earned him high praise throughout his minor league career. Fresh off his best start of the season, in which he allowed just 3 hits to the New Britain Rock Cats while striking out 6 and walking only 1 over 8 shut out innings, Stewart had a tough time with the Yankees affiliate Trenton Thunder on Friday night in New Jersey's capital city.

Stewart, originally a 3rd round pick by the Reds in 2008, looked solid, striking out 4 batters, through the opening two frames against division rival Trenton. In the 3rd inning, however, Stewart hit a rough patch and surrendered 5 singles and 3 runs to the Thunder offense.

After working through a 5th inning bases loaded, no out jam, allowing just a sacrifice fly, Stewart's night was complete. The final line for the Texas Tech product was quite different from his previous outing...5 innings, 11 hits, 4 runs- all earned, 1 walk and 6 strike outs.

The end result on the night was a 7-6 loss for the Double A Fisher Cats and a no decision for Stewart, who left the game with a 5-4 lead.

After the contest, I spoke with the 6-foot-2-inch tall 205-pound Stewart, who was acquired from Cincinnati as part of the 2009 Scott Rolen trade, about his ups and downs, his potential to change roles as he advances toward higher levels, his pitches and plenty more. Check out the media player below to listen to the full interview.


Be sure to follow 1BJW on Twitter by clicking HERE!


More Adeiny Hechavarria Footage

So, you heard that highly touted Blue Jays prospect Adeiny Hechavarria is batting .318 over his last 10 games for the Double A New Hampshire Fisher Cats and you wanted to see some footage of the Cuban import swinging the stick?

Well, lucky for you...1BlueJaysWay.com's got that.

And don't forget to check out our exclusive interview with Adeiny by clicking HERE.


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