Blue Jays Farm Report: Groshans’ adjustments pay dividends

Shi Davidi gives an update on some players in the Toronto Blue Jays farm system.

ARLINGTON, Texas – Jordan Groshans is a determined baseball player and over the off-season, he worked on a number of different areas to improve his game. He started by going to bed earlier, by 10 p.m. every night, and waking up at 8 a.m. to start his workouts after breakfast.

“That’s key – got to rest your body,” the Toronto Blue Jays prospect, who was selected 12th overall in 2018 says in a recent interview. “My sleep routine was awful. I would get tired halfway through my workouts, get exhausted out there. Getting on a good sleeping program was the biggest thing for me.”

Through his first 19 games with low-A Lansing, he’s leveraging those improved workouts along with the extra 18 pounds he packed on, batting .342/.429/.507 in 84 plate appearances as a 19-year-old in a league where the average age is 21.2.

Groshans’ progress was paused this week when he was placed on the injured list with what the club described as “general soreness in his left foot,” but it’s not considered serious and isn’t expected to cost him significant time.

The jump in performance comes after a solid debut in rookie ball last year, where he posted a cumulative OPS of .799 in 48 games between the GCL Blue Jays and Bluefield. Transitioning directly to pro ball from high school can sometimes be difficult, but Groshans handled the increased velocity he faced at the plate without much issue.

Adjusting to the pace of the game defensively at shortstop has required more effort, and he worked tirelessly with infield co-ordinator Danny Solano and now-Bluefield manager Luis Hurtado to slow himself down.

“It’s mostly my body, but I get a little bit [sped up] mentally, too,” he explains. “It’s mostly just knowing the runner, knowing the situation, knowing what you have to do. If you don’t know any of those things, it’s really hard because you can get it, panic, freak out, get in a rush, make an error. When I say slow it down, it’s know the situation, know who’s up to bat, know their tendencies, stuff like that. It makes the play and the situation easier.”

Also making things easier is getting used to life on his own. In the 11 months since being drafted, Groshans went from playing high school baseball in Magnolia, Texas to fending for himself in Florida.

“Laundry – I’m used to my mom doing that for me,” he says laughing when asked what’s been the biggest adjustment. “A lot of responsibility. I’m not in high school anymore, I’m not around my parents and everything, got to be on my own now. Learning to live on my own, live with a roommate, stuff like that, how to manage my money, be responsible with my money, working out off the field, that’s the biggest challenge.”

Triple-A Buffalo Bisons

Pitching has been an issue at Buffalo all season, exacerbated by big-league needs and injuries to Jon Harris (shoulder) and T.J. Zeuch (lat). Both are on the mend, with Harris now throwing sides and Zeuch beginning a throwing progression. … Jonathan Davis returned to the Bisons about two weeks ago after missing the start of the season with an ankle injury and has come out the gate hot, posting a 1.137 OPS through his first 11 games. Once the Blue Jays grow weary of the Socrates Brito experiment, Davis would certainly make sense for the big-league roster. … Also hot right now is Lourdes Gurriel Jr., who has a 1.106 OPS in 11 games while working through his issues throwing. Once he’s comfortable in the field, the Blue Jays would be wise not to waste those hits in Buffalo.

Bo Bichette, SS
Acquired: 2nd round, 2016 draft
Season to date: 59 PA | 1 HR | .250/.310/.404 | 5 BB | 10 K

Richard Urena, SS
Acquired: Signed as international free agent in 2012
Season to date: 44 PA | 0 HR | .313/.333/.406 | 1 BB | 8 K
Season to date (Majors): 35 PA | 0 HR | .310/.295/.452 | 0 BB | 15 K

Cavan Biggio, 2B
Acquired: 5th round, 2016 draft
Season to date: 105 PA | 6 HR | .338/.486/.613 | 24 BB | 18 K

Reese McGuire, C
Acquired: Trade with Pirates in 2016
Season to date: 71 PA | 0 HR | .190/.257/.270 | 6 BB | 17 K

Anthony Alford, OF
Acquired: 3rd round, 2012 draft
Season to date: 85 PA | 3 HR | .149/.250/.311 | 9 BB | 34 K

Sean Reid-Foley, pitcher
Acquired: 2nd round, 2014 draft
Season to date: 10.42 | 19 IP | 20 BB | 27 K
Season to date (Majors): 13.50 ERA | 2 IP | 2 BB | 3 K

Ben Nicholson-Smith is Sportsnet’s baseball editor. Arden Zwelling is a senior writer. Together, they bring you the most in-depth Blue Jays podcast in the league, covering off all the latest news with opinion and analysis, as well as interviews with other insiders and team members.

Double-A New Hampshire Fisher Cats

In some ways, now that Vladimir Guerrero Jr., is up in the majors, no Blue Jays prospect is as important as Nate Pearson, who was promoted Thursday to New Hampshire after a month of dominance at high-A Dunedin. Coming off what was essentially a lost season due to a broken forearm, Pearson is on an alternating five-inning/two-inning outing program “in an effort to monitor his innings, intensity and recovery in what is really his first full season of pitching,” says farm director Gil Kim. “We will continuously assess where he is at from a physical and developmental perspective, and make adjustments as needed.” Given Pearson’s triple-digit velocity, he’s expected to move up the ladder quickly, although for workload reasons he may not break through until next year. … Joining him in New Hampshire from Dunedin is catcher Riley Adams, a third-round pick in 2017.

Kevin Smith, SS/3B
Acquired: 4th round, 2017 draft
Season to date: 103 PA | 2 HR | .181/.245/.287 | 8 BB | 27 K

Riley Adams, C
Acquired: 3rd round, 2017 draft
Season to date (Dunedin): 83 PA | 3 HR | .277/.434/.462 | 14 BB | 18 K

Nate Pearson, pitcher
Acquired: 1st round, 2017 draft
Season to date (Dunedin): 0.86 ERA | 21 IP | 3 BB | 35 K

Yennsy Diaz, pitcher
Acquired: Signed as international free agent in 2014
Season to date: 3.81 ERA | 26 IP | 11 BB | 24 K

Hector Perez, pitcher
Acquired: Trade with Astros in 2018
Season to date: 10.69 ERA | 16 IP | 15 BB | 24 K

Patrick Murphy, pitcher
Acquired: 3rd round, 2013 draft
Season to date: 4.55 ERA | 31.2 IP | 10 BB | 32 K

Advanced-A Dunedin Blue Jays

Right-hander Maximo Castillo is a name to keep an eye on, as the 20-year-old Venezuelan is gaining steam in the system while he plays catchup on the mound after converting from third base as an amateur. “He doesn’t have the innings or the experience that other pitchers have at this stage, yet he shows an ability to throw strikes and make adjustments,” says Kim. “He’s shown positive progress with developing a curveball that will be able to complement a good fastball/changeup mix. He’s a hard worker with a strong, durable frame and we’ve been excited with what we’ve seen so far.” … In the wake of Adams’ promotion to New Hampshire, fellow catcher Alejandro Kirk was moved up from Lansing. The 20-year-old Mexican is built like Dioner Navarro and put up big offensive numbers in rookie ball last year and low-A this season, and is on the organizational radar. “He continues to show an advanced approach, power and solid defensive abilities,” says Kim. “We expect him to continue to develop his game-calling and leadership abilities now at a higher level.” … Right-hander Joey Murray is also bound for Dunedin from Lansing after showing a fastball that plays and an effective changeup.

Logan Warmoth, SS
Acquired: 1st round, 2017 draft
Season to date: 82 PA | 2 HR | .247/.329/.356 | 8 BB | 18 K

Kevin Vicuna, SS
Acquired: Signed as international free agent in 2014
Season to date: 97 PA | 0 HR | .241/.337/.277 | 11 BB | 23 K

Alejandro Kirk, C
Acquired: Signed as international free agent in 2016
Season to date (Lansing): 96 PA | 3 HR | .299/.427/.519 | 18 BB | 8 K

Maximo Castillo, pitcher
Acquired: Signed as international free agent in 205
Season to date: 2.93 ERA | 30.2 IP | 5 BB | 28 K

Joey Murray, pitcher
Acquired: 8th round, 2018 draft
Season to date (Lansing): 3.82 ERA | 30.2 IP | 12 BB | 40 K

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Low-A Lansing Lugnuts

Eric Pardinho, another top Blue Jays pitching prospect, was expected to open the season in Lansing, if not Dunedin, but elbow soreness in the spring shut him down. He’s throwing side sessions without issue now, and is progressing well. … Right-fielder Griffin Conine will head to a full-season team once his 50-game suspension for using a banned stimulant expires and in the interim, he’s working on his game with Vancouver hitting coach Aaron Matthews at the club’s Dunedin complex. … Infielder Otto Lopez is another guy to watch, a plus athlete with a strong work ethic who controls the strike zone and is an above average runner. … Centre-fielder Reggie Pruitt is reaping the rewards of some swing adjustments to make more consistent contact. He remains a gifted runner, with 11 steals in 14 attempts.

Jordan Groshans, SS
Acquired: 1st round, 2018 draft
Season to date: 84 PA | 2 HR | .342/.429/.507 | 11 BB | 17 K

Hagen Danner, C
Acquired: 2nd round, 2017 draft
Season to date: 77 PA | 4 HR | .203/.273/.478 | 4 BB | 23 K

Reggie Pruitt, CF
Acquired: 24th round, 2015 draft
Season to date: 113 PA | 1 HR | .306/.389/.418 | 13 BB | 27 K

Otto Lopez, IF
Acquired: Signed as international free agent in 2016
Season to date: 106 PA | 1 HR | .283/.349/.380 | 11 BB | 22 K

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