The Lansing Lugnuts roster includes six top-30 Toronto Blue Jays prospects, but it’s another player who is most likely to turn fans’ heads simply because of his name: Kacy Clemens.
The son of MLB pitching great Roger Clemens, Kacy arrives in Lansing one year after the Lugnuts featured the one-two punch of fellow big-league sons Bo Bichette and Vladimir Guerrero Jr. But unlike Bo and Vlad Jr., Kacy doesn’t come with as much surrounding hype. Still, the 23-year-old first baseman hopes to surprise people with his bat. Last year he batted .274 with 4 HR and 45 RBI in 62 games in the short-season Northwest League. (Despite possessing similar mechanics to his Cy Young Award-winning dad, Kacy gave up pitching after his sophomore year in college because of arm issues related to injuries.)
The six prospects who are ranked among Toronto’s top 30 by MLB Pipeline and/or Baseball America are second baseman Samad Taylor (ranked No. 13 by MLBP), first baseman/outfielder Ryan Noda (No. 18 by MLBP, No. 13 by BA), Kevin Smith (No. 19 by MLBP, No. 26 by BA), middle infielder Kevin Vicuna (No. 23 by MLBP, No. 25 by BA), RHP Maximo Castillo (No. 24 by MLBP) and RHP Yennsy Diaz (No. 30 by BA).
Taylor split the 2017 season between the Indians and Blue Jays organizations, cumulatively batting .294 with 6 HR, 30 RBI and 7 SB in 52 games with short-season teams. He has very good speed and excellent range defensively, and could develop more power as he continues to grow.
Noda is a below-average runner, but an above-average hitter. He batted .364 with seven home runs, three triples, 18 doubles and 39 RBI in 66 games in the rookie-level Appalachian League. He is considered an extremely patient hitter; he drew 59 walks last season.
Smith played in the Appy League last season, too. He batted .271 with eight homers, 25 doubles, 43 RBI and nine stolen bases in 61 games. He is considered a good defensive shortstop with an above-average arm.
Vicuna is also considered a good defensive infielder, and is fast on his feet, too. He has below-average power, but showed potential as a hitter for average in the short-season Northwest League (.280 in 46 games) and the Midwest League (.340 in 12 games with the Lugnuts). He didn’t fare as well at the plate in High-A, though, batting only .202 in 26 games with the Dunedin Blue Jays.
At age 18, Castillo is the youngest player on the Lugnuts roster. This will be the Venezuela native’s third pro season. He is coming off a strong year in the Appy League, where he went 6-0 with a 3.80 ERA, 52 strikeouts and seven walks in 47.1 innings/10 starts for the Bluefield Blue Jays.
Diaz, a 21-year-old from the Dominican Republic, returns to Lansing after spending the entire 2017 season with the Lugnuts. He went 5-2 with a 4.79 ERA, 82 strikeouts and 41 walks in 77 innings/16 starts in the Midwest League last year.
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