"Keep throwing strikes."
"Your call will come."
"That rotation won't be the same all season."
These are some of the buzz phrases of encouragement minor-league starters give each other on bus trips.
And the words about the rotation changing couldn't be more accurate to describe what remains of the Blue Jays starting staff.
Down went Brandon Morrow, down went Kyle Drabek, and down went Drew Hutchison.
The calls for help went to Joel Carreno, Brett Cecil and Jesse Chavez.
Aaron Laffey and Carlos Villanueva have started games.
And Ricky Romero is not Ricky Romero.
Meanwhile, two former No. 1 picks remain at double-A New Hampshire and are taking their regular turn for manager Sal Fasano: Chad Jenkins, selected 20th over-all in North America in 2009 from Kennesaw State University -- 445 picks ahead of high schooler Hutchison -- and Deck McGuire, selected 11th overall from Georgia Tech University.
They haven't received the call.
McGuire threw 91 pitches working five innings Monday allowing three runs on two hits and four walks in a 6-3 win over Reading.
"He's pitched with mixed results, he has to pitch with a mixed repertoire," said Jays manager John Farrell, who mentioned both as possibilities this spring to start if a need arose.
Said another evaluator: "Their numbers speak for themselves."
Both have allowed more hits than the number of innings they have pitched:
McGuire has allowed 93 in 851/3 innings, while walking 37 and striking out 54. He's 4-9 with a 6.22 ERA in 17 starts.
Jenkins allowing 91 hits in 77 innings, walking 23 and striking out 33. He's 4-7 with a 4.91 ERA in 14 starts.
Opponents are hitting .280 against McGuire, who has a 1.46 strikeout/walk ratio.
Opposing hitters are batting .293 against Jenkins, who has a 1.6 strikeout/walk ratio.
"His last four starts have been solid, after starting off with mixed results," said Farrell of Jenkins who has registered wins over Reading and Harrisburg, had a no-decision against Richmond and a loss against Portland.
Jenkins has a 2.08 ERA in the four outings (six earned runs in 26 innings) walking nine and fanning 11.
That four-game, stretch followed a four-game losing streak to Binghamton, New Britain, Trenton and Bowie in which Jenkins allowed 28 hits, six walks and 18 runs in 171/3 innings (9.35 ERA).
Farrell said Jenkins has a "dependable sinker."
"They're still on our radar," Farrell said.
A year ago, Jenkins made 16 starts at New Hampshire and fared better, going 5-7 with a 4.13 ERA, walking 27 and fanning 74 in 1001/3 innings.
McGuire made three starts at New Hampshire last year and was 2-1 with a 4.35 ERA, walking seven and striking out 22 in 202/3 innings. This was after he impressed by opening the season at Dunedin, where he was 7-4 with a 2.75 ERA in 18 starts, walking 38 and striking out 102 in 1042/3 innings.
Whitby's Stephen Wickens hit .529 (9-for-17) during his first week of pro ball at class-A Elizabethton with two RBIs. The Ontario Blue Jays grad was drafted in the 33rd round of the 2011 draft by the Minnesota Twins from Florida Gulf University. With short-season leagues beginning, the total number of Canadians in the minors is 101.
The Jays promoted Vancouver's Trystan Magnuson to New Hampshire ... The Cubs promoted Toronto catcher Justin Marra from rookie-class Arizona to class-A ... London's Brock Kjeldgaard was activated by the Brewers from disabled list at class-A Brevard.
Walt Burrows, Canadian director of the Major League Scouting Bureau, will stage three open workouts next month. On Aug, 7, he'll be at Blackwell Park in Sarnia, on Aug. 14 he'll be at the Welland Sports Complex in Welland and on Aug. 25 he'll be at Connorvale Park in Etobicoke, where Joey Votto used to hit line drives. All camps begin at 10 a.m., and are open to players 15 and older. To participate, players must have a signed waiver form which can be obtained at mlb.com.
DOWN ON THE FARM
- RHP Aaron Sanchez pitched five scoreless innings as Lansing beat South Bend 6-1 to highlight Sunday play in the minors. Sanchez has allowed an earned run in three of his 16 games, holding opponents to a .157 average. He has struck out 62 in 57 innings. The staggering numbers of the Lansing starters: Justin Nicolino (3-1, 1.74), Jesse Hernandez (4-4, 2.29), Anthony DeSclafani (6-2, 2.93), David Rollins (5-1, 3.10), Marcus Walden (5-2, 3.11), Noah Syndergaard (4-2, 3.35) and Sanchez (7-0, 0.63).
- RF Moises Sierra hit his 14th homer in the Las Vegas 51s' 8-6 loss to Reno. In his previous nine games, six have been multi-hit games, including three doubles, three home runs, 13 RBIs and an OPS of 1.056. Sierra also threw out a runner at second base.
- 3B Mark Sobolewski continued his nine-game hit streak with two hits, including his 15th homer, and two RBIs in a 7-5 New Hampshire win over Reading. He has 16 hits during his streak with three doubles, four home runs, and seven RBIs. John Stilson worked five innings, allowing a run for the win, as Sam Dyson gained the save. Sobolewski was chosen for the Eastern League all-star game along with Dyson, infielders Mike McDade and Ryan Goins, and pitcher Yohan Pino.
- Casey Lawrence allowed one run in six innings and Boomer Potts worked three scoreless innings before the Tampa Yankees scored three batters into the bottom of the 10th to edge Dunedin 2-1. Catcher Koby Clemens and shortstop Kevin Nolan had three hits apiece.
- 1B Art Charles is looking for a promotion from Bluefield. He hit a solo homer in a 4-3 loss to Pulaski for his fourth in 13 games, giving him an OPS of 1.203. Kevin Comer pitched four innings allowing one run, holding opposing hitters to a .143 average.
One evaluator's look at the top five prospects in the Blue Jays system:
1. SS Adeiny Hechavarria
(.314 average, six homers, 56 RBIs, .810 OPS in 76 games at Las Vegas).
"What separates him from the others at Vegas is that he has the best at-bats of the three guys at Vegas. He has an idea. He takes pitches. The others are like a lot of young guys: they'll swing at anything. Then, there is his defence which is major-league ready."
2. C Travis d'Arnaud
(.333, 16, 52, .975 in 67 games at Las Vegas).
"I know he hurt his knee on a double-play ball and will miss time, yet long term I still think he's one of their better prospects. He was injured this winter and came back strong."
3. OF Anthony Gose
(.295, three, 36, .797, 29 steals in 82 games at Las Vegas)
"His defensive abilities are AMAZING -- and that should be in capitals. I know he's bounced around from reading your weekly rankings, but I think he's been in there every week."
4. 1B Mike McDade
(.297, 13 homers, 42 RBIs .845 in 78 games at double-A N.H.).
"First off, he's the best defensive fielding first baseman in the organization. And he's getting better as a switch hitter, over .300 from the left side and three homers from the right side."
5. 3B Matthew Dean
(.257, seven RBIs in 10 games at class-A Bluefield).
"They did a real good job, talking him into signing and turning down the University of Texas. I know they gave him $737,500, but usually when you are a Longhorn, you are a Longhorn for life."