Prospect Footage: Henderson Alvarez

Eastern League All-star Henderson Alvarez has become one of Toronto's top pitching prospects. The right-handed fire baller, who has reached 101 MPH with his fastball this season, has been solid since joining the Double A New Hampshire Fisher Cats in May. Through 13 games, the Venezuelan born Alvarez has posted a 6-4 record with a 2.84 ERA.

Prior to his promotion, the 21-year-old Alvarez wasn't as sharp, going 0-1 with a 6.48 ERA in 2 starts with Class A Advanced Dunedin.

Since signing with Toronto in 2006, Alvarez has progressed steadily upward in the Toronto developmental ranks. After pitching in the Venezuelan Summer League in 2007, Alvarez pitched for the Gulf Coast League Blue Jays in 2008. That year, the 6-foot-1-inch 200-pound Alvarez produced a 1-4 record in 12 games (11 starts) and a 5.63 ERA. In 2009, Alvarez took great strides, posting a 9-6 record and a 3.47 ERA in 23 starts for Class A Lansing. Then, in 2010, Alvarez earned recognition as a Florida State League All-star with Dunedin. He sported an 8-7 record and a 4.33 ERA in 23 games (21 starts) over the full season.

With an electric fastball and developing command of his secondary pitches, a slider and a change up, Alvarez appears to have a bright future.

Check out the media player below for footage of Alvarez's mechanics while he warms up, prior to a recent start.


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A (failed) attempt at some new nicknames!

 "Chef" Eric Thames

This one came about after a night of heavy drinking whilst sitting on a beach recuperating with my bestest friends. You see Eric does the cool ass shit with respect to facial hair. As a dude, I respect this. But I also realize he is still very young and by the time he turns 30 something, the ambition to keep shit looking tight becomes pretty much non existent.

I was downright shocked at how few people my age know this song from South Park.

I'm still trying to figure out if Chef Eric is telling AL pitching OR the haters to suck on his chocolate salty balls.

This one I can't claim as my own. Our boy Jay came up with it after Wash pulled our savior from the All Star game.


Fisher Cats Hosting Eastern League All-star Game

On Wednesday night in Manchester, NH, the Double A affiliate of the Blue Jays, the New Hampshire Fisher Cats will host the Eastern League's All-star Game at Northeast Delta Dental Stadium.

The 2011 Eastern League All-star Game will feature the top prospects from the Western Division (Erie, Altoona, Akron, Bowie, Richmond and Harrisburg) taking on the best from the Eastern Division (New Britain, Portland, New Hampshire, Binghamton and Trenton). Each team is comprised of 24 players, with all of the league's teams being represented by at least 1 pitcher and 1 offensive player.

Also included in the All-star festivities will be a pre-game homerun derby which will feature two Fisher Cats All-stars, outfielder Moises Sierra and switch-hitting first baseman Mike McDade. First place in the homerun derby wins $1,000 and second place is awarded $500, so the drive will certainly be there for the participants to put on a good show.

New Hampshire skipper Sal Fasano, who will manage the Eastern Division team was pleased with his clubs collection of players that were named to play in this year's exhibition match up in front of their home fans, especially his derby participating sluggers.

"McDade's had a heck of a first half," Fasano said in an exclusive interview. "He's probably been our most consistent hitter. He just keeps improving daily. It's fun to see him get a little bit of notoriety, because he's kind of worked his way into prospecthood. He wasn't a highly touted guy, but he keeps producing every year."

"Sierra, he's been hitting behind (McDade) for the whole year and so if they didn't pitch to 'Mac', then Mo made them pay," Fasano added. "Defensively he's been playing great too. He's been a pleasure, because he plays with such youthful enthusiasm. He really loves to play."

Other New Hampshire players honored as All-star were shortstop Adeiny Hechavarria, catcher Travis d'Arnaud as well as pitchers Henderson Alvarez and Joel Carreno. Additionally, righty pitcher Zach Stewart, who made a few starts at the big league level with the Blue Jays in June, was added to the Eastern Division roster last week to fill the spot of Alvarez, who will attend the event but will be unavailable to pitch.

Current Blue Jays that have played in the EL All-Star game include Travis Snider, Adam Lind and Aaron Hill.

Game time is 7:05 PM and the game can be heard on the Fisher Cats' radio home WGIR.

More notes-

On Hechavarria, Fasano says: "Hech is about as good a shortstop as you'll ever see, probably in your lifetime. He's pretty good. He keeps learning how to hit. He's taking better passes and stuff.

Asked how close he thinks Hechavarria is to the Majors, Fasano said: "He could go to the big leagues tomorrow. I mean, he's that good defensively. It's just whether he could produce, or not, offensively. He's still got a lot to learn about the game, but the more games he plays, the better it is."

On d'Arnaud, Fasano says: "d'Arnaud, he's had his good, he's had his bad. He battled a concussion early (this season), but he's proved enough."

Fasano on Carreno: "Carreno had probably the worst four most miserable starts that you probably could have (to begin the season). His ERA was up at 9, he gave up a lot of homeruns- he gave up 8 homeruns in his first four starts. And if you take those four starts out of the equation, he's been unbelievable. He's just been outstanding, he gives us a chance to win every time out."

On Carreno's improvements: "For him, he got beat up enough that he finally put his foot down and said, 'No! That's it! I'm gonna learn to make an adjustment at this level.' And he did."

Fasano on Alvarez: "Henderson is probably our most highly touted pitching prospect and he's touched 101 (MPH) this season, so he's got some kind of arm."


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1BJW Exclusive: Travis d'Arnaud Answers Fan Questions

This season, Blue Jays catching prospect Travis d'Arnaud is having a very solid season in the Double A Eastern League for the New Hampshire Fisher Cats. Thus far in 2011, d'Arnaud has posted a .308 batting average with 11 homeruns and 32 RBI. He'll represent the Fisher Cats in the Double A All-star Game this coming week.

The 22-year-old California native spent time on the disabled list during April and May with a concussion, but he's been scorching hot since his return to the NH lineup. In 53 games since his injury, d'Arnaud has gone 64-for-189 (.339 batting average).

d'Arnaud, who was among the trio of players acquired from Philadelphia in 2009 for Roy Halladay, was ranked as the 4th best prospect in the Toronto system last off-season by Baseball America.

Over the past couple of years, we've caught up with d'Arnaud to learn about how he spends his off-season, how he deals with injuries and more. Last week, Travis again took time to speak with 1BlueJaysWay, however this time we let our readers, the fans, ask the questions. Check out the media player below to listen to the full audio and see if your inquiry made the cut.


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1BJW Interview: Yan Gomes

Over the weekend, Blue Jays minor leaguer Yan Gomes was promoted from Double A New Hampshire to Triple A Las Vegas. Prior to the move upward, Gomes had spent the season as a back up to Travis d'Arnaud with the NH Fisher Cats. In 36 games with the Cats, the 23-year-old posted a .238 batting average with 5 HR and 27 RBI.

A 10th round draft selection by Toronto in 2009, the righty batting Gomes is among the Blue Jays' collection of well regarded catching prospects.

In 2010, Gomes played 75 combined games at Class A Lansing and High A level Dunedin, while posting a .270 average with 9 HR and 48 RBI.

Gomes, who stands 6 feet 2 inches tall and weighs around 215 pounds, made his pro debut after signing in 2009 and played in 64 games combined between the Gulf Coast League and the short season New York-Penn League. That season, Gomes posted a combined .300 average with a solid .809 OPS.

In his Triple A debut with the Las Vegas 51s on Monday night, Gomes went 1-for-5 with an RBI single.

Last week, prior to Yan's promotion, I caught up with the man who grew up as a Blue Jays fan and we spoke about the New Hampshire pitching staff, playing for former Major League catcher Sal Fasano, his personal progress and plenty more. Check out the media player below to listen to the full interview.


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Jon Rauch just took #beastmode up a notch

Major props to Jay's pals over at TheFightins.com for the .GIF file.

 daylife captures the moment in time when Mr Umpire begins to rethink his strikezone.

From where I was sitting he received the largest cheer of the day on Saturday in the process. 

Louder than Bautista taking Doc off windows.

Louder still than the 1 minute 39 second standing ovation Doc received while he warmed up for the bottom 1st inning.

Maybe there is a glimmer of hope for us fans after all.