It’s a Good Thing the Blue Jays didn’t Trade Alejandro Kirk, as he’s the Best Catcher in Baseball

If I’m being completely honest, I probably wouldn’t trade Alejandro Kirk for Jose Ramirez straight up.

Before the start of the season, I wrote an article titled “The case against trading Alejandro Kirk”. In that article, I go over what the 23-year-old catcher excels at, why he’s so good at hitting, the fact he’s average defensively, and why Moreno’s potential shouldn’t push Kirk to the wayside.
One comment read: 
“You can’t be serious about keeping Kirk over Moreno are you? Moreno given half a season could replace anyone of our current Catchers. CLE will want a few roster players and some future talent in any package. They are giving up a lot of proven production  by trading Ramirez so they will want some back in any deal.”
Well, I can say without a doubt, thank god the Jays didn’t trade Kirk.
Kirk’s hitting is better than expected:
Even when Kirk was “struggling” early in the season, he still hit the ball rather well. It just so happened that he wasn’t hitting for extra bases, as he hit 14 singles before his first extra base hit.
Fast forward to June 8th, and the 23-year-old catcher is slashing .322/.401/.477 (I used his SLG this time, don’t yell at me) with five homers in 172 plate appearances. His wRC+ of 153 is the 16th highest in the MLB and the best on the Blue Jays, with Springer’s 140 in second.

Here’s the hardest hit ball that left the yard yesterdayAlejandro Kirk off Dylan Bundy 110.1 mph, 21°Home Run #NextLevel pic.twitter.com/wopPrY7Yrn
— MLB Barrels (@mlb_barrels) June 6, 2022

Not just that, but Kirk has a BB% of 12.2% and a K% of 9.3%, which is utter …

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Author: Brennan Delaney / Blue Jays Nation

Blue Jays win a pitcher duel (and the series)

The Blue Jays won a pitcher’s duel, 1-0. If I’m being honest, Alek Manoah is about to win the Cy Young award in late April.

Alek Manoah, ace:
In his last outing, I said that Manoah “bullied” the Astros, as he had a line of 6 IP, 7 H, 2 ER, 0 BB, 5 K. Big Puma didn’t just bully the Boston Red Sox, he beat the living crap out of them with a line of 7 IP, 3 H, 0 ER, 1 BB, 7 K.

Alek Manoah, 92mph Sinker and 79mph Slider, Overlay.
Sinker = 16″ of RunSlider = 19″ of Break
Good luck. pic.twitter.com/MJr3jOcXpY
— Rob Friedman (@PitchingNinja) April 28, 2022

Although pitcher wins don’t matter, he now has four wins in all four games that he’s started. Moreover, this win is the 12th straight win when Manoah has pitched.
A more important stat however, is earned run average. Through 25 innings pitched this season, Manoah has an incredibly low ERA of 1.44. He also brings his K/9 up to 9, while his BB/9 sits at 2.52, a significant decline from his 3.22 BB/9 last season.

Alek Manoah’s 4 Consecutive Ks. pic.twitter.com/6Xqya13U4y
— Rob Friedman (@PitchingNinja) April 28, 2022

With Alek Manoah and Kevin Gausman fronting the rotation, this team will do damage. Add in Jose Berrios as their #3 and wow, this team is going places.

Alek Manoah, Filthy 86mph Changeup…and K hop.
My dude is light on his feet.
And, a freakin’ Ace. pic.twitter.com/ClhRpaZ63V
— Rob Friedman (@PitchingNinja) April 28, 2022

Blue Jays are now 13-7:
The Jays have also not lost a game back to back dating back to late September last season. In fact, they haven’t lost a series this year. Out of their six series this season, they’ve one five and drawn one. This was also their seventh …

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Author: Brennan Delaney / Blue Jays Nation

Ryan Borucki is back on the Injured List with a blister

Just a week-and-a-half after being activated, Ryan Borucki is right back on the 10-day Injured List.

Borucki was sidelined at the start of the season because of a hamstring injury suffered during spring training, but this time it’s a blister that’ll be keeping him out of games.
This is really unfortunate timing because Borucki put together a really solid pair of outings and appeared to be rounding into form as a key member of the Blue Jays bullpen. Borucki came into Saturday’s 3-2 win over the Houston Astros and struck out Michael Brantley in a key spot and he tossed a scoreless ninth inning in Tuesday night’s comeback win over the Boston Red Sox.
Injuries have been a problem for Borucki for years now. After a breakout showing in 2018 as a starting pitcher, he missed most of 2019 due to injury, and he was limited to just 16 2/3 innings and 23 2/3 innings in 2020 and 2021 respectively just as it appeared as though he was developing into a quality relief pitcher.
Coming up in Borucki’s absence will be another lefty in Andrew Vasquez, who impressed during spring training while on a minor-league contract. Vasquez tossed 3 2/3 innings in Grapefruit League play and struck out five batters. So far in six-and-a-third innin …

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Author: Cam Lewis / Blue Jays Nation

Getting to know the Blue Jays new #20 prospect, Adrian Pinto

Despite being prospect #6 about to be released, we must track back all the way to prospect #20. 

Originally, Zach Logue ranked 20th on my prospect list. However, he was sent to the Oakland A’s along with Kevin Smith, who would have been #3, and Gunnar Hoglund, who would have been #9 on my list. 
To compensate for this move, Adam Kloffenstein filled in at #11  while Yhoangel Aponte ranked #10. While neither of these guys are where they were supposed to be on my list, I’ll be reduxing the #20 prospect, who is the newly acquired Adrian Pinto.
Background:
I guess you could say this is striking while the iron is hot. On March 24th, the Jays sent long-time Jay, Randal Grichuk to the Colorado Rockies in exchange for 28-year-old Raimel Tapia and 19-year-old prospect, Adrian Pinto. 
The 19-year-old second baseman was signed for $120,000 out of Venezuela in 2019. As you probably know, the 2020 minor league season was canceled, meaning that Pinto didn’t make his professional debut until 2021.
Pinto’s 2021:
Pinto played the entirety of the season with the Rockies’ Dominican Summer League (DOSL). He was 18-years-old for the majority of the 2021 season, which is about average for the age. However, he was far from average in the DOSL, as he won the MVP award for the league.
Pinto’s bat:
Firstly, his bat was insane. The then 18-year-old slashed .360/.486/1.029 in only 224 plate appearances. The 5’6, 156 pound second baseman also added an additional three home runs, which is quite a lot for the level. For context, he would have ranked second on the DOSL Blue Jays, one behind noted power hitter Cristian Feliz, and a head of #9 prospect, Manuel Beltre. Pinto also finished the season with 22 extra base hits, including four triples and 15 doubles.
While the homers are impressive, especially for his smaller stature, Pinto also walked 17% of the time while only striking out 8% of the time. If you’ve been keeping up to date with these prospect reports, you know I look highly on prospects who walk more than they strike out, and Pinto is no exception. 
Batted balls:
In terms of his batted balls, 19.4% went for line drives. This is a solid percentage for line drives, as that is the type of b …

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Author: Brennan Delaney / Blue Jays Nation

WATCH: What’s going on with Pavel Gogolev?

On Friday, it was announced that Pavel Gogolev was being sent to the Newfoundland Growlers of the ECHL.
After a strong season last year, he’s struggled to  find his game this time around.
I discuss that, Curtis Douglas’ good cause for mental health, when Dmitry Ovchinnikov might be coming to Canada, and a clip from my Q&A with Alex Steeves!
I hope you enjoy, and don’t forget to subscribe!

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Author: Nick Barden / The Leafs Nation

Know Your Enemy: How the Maple Leafs match up against a slumping Devils team in a back-to-back

While being one of the best teams in the league usually means the matchups are going to be easier by default, the Toronto Maple Leafs find themselves in another matchup against a significantly inferior opponent in the New Jersey Devils. They had slightly higher expectations after a big offseason, bringing in Dougie Hamilton, Jonathan Bernier, and Tomas Tatar, as well as the growth of two first overall picks in Jack Hughes and Nico Hischier but have struggled mightily due to injuries and, well, being the Devils. They come into tonight’s game having lost seven of their last eight, a slump that has kept them behind even the Philadelphia Flyers when they were losing 13 in a row. They’ve only made it to the playoffs once since their Cup Finals run in 2011-12 ten years ago, and it doesn’t look like that’ll be the case this season, but that doesn’t mean they don’t have something to prove either.
It should be noted that because the Leafs play the Devils in back to back nights, this will probably cover both tonight and tomorrow’s games, unless there’s a big change in the lineup for either team, or something injury related (ie. someone significant gets hurt tonight or …

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Author: Scott Maxwell / The Leafs Nation

Jarome Iginla looks back on illustrious career, and what he would tell himself at the beginning of it

Jarome Iginla looks back on illustrious career, and what he would tell himself at the beginning of it

“I never dreamt of being in the Hall of Fame. I dreamt of being in the NHL.”
As a young child, Jarome Iginla was just having fun playing the game of hockey. The thing is — everywhere he played — he dominated.
Growing up, Iginla played a lot of sports. But he loved hockey the most. One of his biggest supporters was his late grandfather, who was at nearly every practice and game when he was young.
Iginla cherished those moments.
“He was amazing. I spent a ton of time with him.” Iginla said of his late grandfather. “He was very, very intense sports wise. The way he did it was, he never ever said like, ‘Oh, tough game.’ Or you know, ‘play hard,’ or whatever. He didn’t give me any advice. But the way he let it out, he’d politely, if the goal got scored on the other team, he’d be yelling ‘There goes the shutout!,’ And if the other team got a penalty, our big rivals, he would be yelling, like, ‘Crying doesn’t pay!’”
“He was a fan favourite amongst our team, and when I was younger it was a little bit embarrassing. But as …

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Author: Nick Barden / The Leafs Nation

The huge risk the Leafs take in shopping one of their defencemen

Being reported by multiple Leafs beat writers is that Toronto is shopping one of their defencemen.
Whether that be Justin Holl, Travis Dermott, or even both of them, I don’t think it’s a logical idea. One of the things the Leafs have echoed for years is why depth brings success. And if you trade one of Holl or Dermott, doesn’t that defeat the purpose of depth?
If you trade either of those players, it leaves a hole. Not one within the lineup, but one if there’s an injury.
I’m sometimes on the side of the player because it’s tough being the odd man out. It’s hard for hockey players to miss games, especially when they know they can be better. Holl is the most prominent example of that.
Eight months ago, the 29-year-old was the key to shutting down Connor McDavid in three-straight games. It wasn’t Jake Muzzin.
I say that only because a lot of people see Holl and think his success is from Muzzin. If he didn’t have the Stanley Cup Champion defender on his left side, Holl wouldn’t be effective. At times I buy it, other times …

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Author: Nick Barden / The Leafs Nation

Raptors: Scottie Barnes wanting to play in Toronto is perfection

Raptors: Scottie Barnes wanting to play in Toronto is perfection

Since being drafted fourth overall by the Toronto Raptors, Scottie Barnes might be batting 1.000. The numbers in Summer League were great. The physical tools and videos of his distractive defensive ability have Raptors fans wondering how opposing teams are ever going to score in the triple digits. He’s proven that his winning qualities go […]
Raptors: Scottie Barnes wanting to play in Toronto is perfection – Raptors Rapture – Raptors Rapture – A Toronto Raptors Fan Site – News, Blogs, Opinion and More

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Author: Avishai Sol / Raptors HQ

1 advantage the Toronto Raptors have over every Atlantic rival

1 advantage the Toronto Raptors have over every Atlantic rival

The Toronto Raptors are not only being doubted by the larger basketball media because of the fact they lost Kyle Lowry in free agency, but also due to their misfortune of being grouped in with some of the best teams in the game in the ultra-competitive Atlantic Division. The Raptors must contend with two of […]
1 advantage the Toronto Raptors have over every Atlantic rival – Raptors Rapture – Raptors Rapture – A Toronto Raptors Fan Site – News, Blogs, Opinion and More

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Author: Mike Luciano / Raptors HQ