Monthly Archives: September 2021

Toronto Blue Jays Jake Lamb Jersey

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The Blue Jays have designated infielder Jake Lamb for assignment, according to a team announcement. His spot on the 40-man roster was needed for fellow infielder Breyvic Valera, who has been reinstated from the COVID-related IL. Additionally, left-handed pitcher Tayler Saucedo was optioned to Triple-A and right-handed pitcher Thomas Hatch recalled to take his place.

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Lamb was picked up off waivers by the Blue Jays on September 3rd to help add some depth at third base in the wake of injuries to Cavan Biggio and Santiago Espinal. Since that time, he’s been sharing time at the hot corner with Valera. He hasn’t been able to help the Canadian birds too much, in a small sample of just 12 games, slashing .129/.256/.290, for a wRC+ of 49. Since Lamb was claimed after August 31st, he wouldn’t have been playoff eligible, and is also headed to free agency at the end of the season. Those factors, combined with the fact that Biggio and Espinal are both on rehab assignments and nearing returns, edged him out of Toronto’s plans.

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He had a better showing for the White Sox earlier in the season, when he slashed .212/.321/.389 over 43 games, a wRC+ of 99. But even that wasn’t good enough to hold onto a roster spot, as the Pale Hose opted to give that playing time to Romy Gonzalez instead. Lamb had two excellent campaigns for the Diamondbacks in 2016 and 2017, hitting .248/.345/.498, production that was 12% better than league average, according to wRC+. However, after undergoing shoulder surgery in 2018, he hasn’t been able to reach that same level of production, although his walk rate is still good. From 2019 to the present, his line is .193/.309/.358, wRC+ of 81. He’ll now see if any team is intrigued enough to give him some at-bats down the stretch, though any team doing so wouldn’t be able to use him in the postseason.

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As for Valera, he’s back after just a single day on the IL. It was a precautionary placement on account of a family member testing positive. Since he’s back so quickly, it can be assumed that he himself did not test positive. In 36 games with the Jays this year, the switch-hitter has a line of .253/.308/.361, for a wRC+ of 81.

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Before the 2018 season, Corey Dickerson made a choice. He wanted to strike out less.

The year prior Dickerson hit 27 homers, raised his batting average 37 points, and earned the only all-star nod of his career. But the outfielder wasn’t satisfied with the strikeouts.

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He sacrificed some power and average, but as intended, his punchouts plummeted from 152 to 80. Dickerson choked up more, implemented his two-strike approach regularly, and cut down the swing-and-miss in all counts. It’s an approach he carries with him to the Blue Jays — his fingers climbing the bat nob at any point in the at-bat to put barrel on the ball. But Dickerson has refined the strategy, picking his spots, and finding the middle-ground on his old-school approach.

“It’s just beautiful,” manager Charlie Montoyo said of Dickerson’s approach. “We gotta get back to that, baseball in general.”

Dickerson developed a two-strike approach in college, but his hands didn’t start drifting up the bat until 2017, his final year as a Tampa Bay Ray. The goal isn’t just to make contact, sometimes Dickerson will choke way up if he thinks the opposing pitcher is coming inside, or he’ll move down the handle if he’s expecting something slow. If there’s a man on third and all he needs is contact, Dickerson will climb the handle and smack the ball in play. Two strikes or none, it doesn’t matter, Dickerson is willing to choke up whenever he thinks it’s to his team’s advantage.

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“It’s like the chess game that’s going in your head during the bat,” Dickerson said.

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Montoyo calls it a “professional at-bat,” but Dickerson admits it’s a tradeoff. When he halved his strikeouts in 2018, his homers halved too. At the end of the 2018 season, former Pittsburgh Pirates General Manager Neal Huntington and Dickerson sat down to discuss the year. The GM explained the team would rather Dickerson take the strikeouts with the power sometimes — with the state of modern pitching, slapping around four or five singles in a row just isn’t on the table anymore.

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Most guys still have a two strike approach, and even Bo Bichette and Vlad Guerrero Jr. still choke up sometimes, but the classic two-strike strategy is fading. Teams value slugging, driving in runs, and homers, Dickerson said. Up two runs in the second inning, Dickerson choking up at the cost of power isn’t what’s best for the team. It changed the outfielder’s perspective, Dickerson said. He still chokes up, but now he chooses his spots.

In late August, Dickerson dug in for an extra-inning at-bat against the Detroit Tigers while Vlad Guerrero Jr. bounced off second as Toronto’s ghost runner. Dickerson flared two singles into the Comerica Park outfield during the first nine innings, and he just needed another — no extra-base hit required to cash the leading run.

So, Dickerson slid his hands up the bat-grip and swung at the first pitch he saw, a hanging off-speed delivery the outfielder hacked into left field. The bloop dropped in front of Akil Baddoo, registering Dickerson’s third hit of the game and scoring the eventual game-winning run.

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In an era when the sacrifice ground-out and bloop single aren’t valued in an arbitration hearing, Dickerson is willing to forgo the big slash sometimes. Choking up is just who Dickerson is as a hitter, and he won’t stop anytime soon.

“I think the basis of it all is the fact that he’s a competitor,” Toronto hitting coach Guillermo Martínez said. “If it means winding down and choking up, he’s willing to do whatever it takes.”

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The University of North Florida baseball program finally has a Major League player from the NCAA Division I era.

Bryan Baker, who pitched for the Ospreys from 2014-16, was called up from the Toronto Blue Jays Triple-A team in Buffalo on Wednesday after posting impressive numbers for the Bisons this season.

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Baker, a 6-foot-6, 245-pounder right-hander, was 4-1 with a 1.32 ERA, striking out 40 batters and walking only 16 in 34 innings. He appeared in 33 games, all in relief, and had nine saves. Baker did not allow a home run.

His career minor-league numbers are 22-16, with a 3.24 ERA and 276 strikeouts in 241.2 innings.

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When Baker makes his first appearance, he will be the first UNF player to wear a Major League uniform since Mike Wood on Aug. 21, 2003, with Oakland. And it was bound to happen at some point: UNF has had 47 players drafted or signed to a pro contract since 2004.

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Baker is the seventh former UNF player to reach the Major Leagues, and the sixth pitcher.

Baker was 14-10 with a 3.67 ERA and 144 strikeouts in 186.1 innings for UNF. His best season was in 2016 when he went 6-4 with a 2.27 ERA in 14 starts.

Soccer off to quick starts
The soccer programs at UNF and Jacksonville University have gotten off to a collective fast start.

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The men’s and women’s programs at each school are a combined 9-3 as of Sept. 1. The JU women are 4-1 and the UNF women are 3-1, while both men’s teams are 1-1.

The Osprey women are living on the edge a bit but thanks to graduate senior goalkeeper Mercedes Sapp, they won their last two games 1-0, against Florida International and Mercer. Grad senior Thais Reiss, the returning ASUN player of the year, scored both goals and has four for the season.