Smashing Debut For Arencibia

BEST PLAYER: Catcher J.P. Arencibia earned Triple-A Pacific Coast League MVP honors after hitting .301/.359/.626 with 32 homers and 85 RBIs for Las Vegas.
Arencibia's biggest splash may have come in his major league on debut on Aug. 7, however, when he hit the first pitch he saw for a home run before finishing the game 4-for-5 with two homers and a double against the Rays.

Arencibia, 24, a 2007 second-round pick out of Tennessee, went 1-for-15 over his next four games with Toronto before returning to Las Vegas when John Buck came off the disabled list. Arencibia was called up again in September, and while Toronto intended to give Buck most of the starts behind the plate, he firmly established himself as the catcher of the future.

BEST PITCHER: Toronto appears to have landed an ace when they acquired righthander Kyle Drabek from the Phillies as part of the deal for Roy Halladay last December.

Drabek was pitcher of the year in the Double-A Eastern League after going 14-9, 2.94 with 132 strikeouts and 68 walks for New Hampshire. The 22-year-old yielded just 126 hits in 162 innings and threw the first nine-inning no-hitter in Fisher Cats history.

Drabek, the 18th overall pick by the Phillies in the 2006 draft, took the loss in his major league debut against the Orioles on Sept. 15.  He yielded three runs on nine hits over six innings.

KEEP AN EYE ON: Outfielder Eric Thames finished his regular season in New Hampshire batting .288/.370/.526 with 27 homers and a franchise-record (and league-high) 104 RBIs. The lefthanded hitter finished second in voting for Eastern League MVP to Trenton's Brandon Laird.

Leg injuries hampered Thames, 23, in 2009 but he still managed to hit .313/.386/.487 in 195 at-bats with high Class A Dunedin. He tore his right quad just before the 2008 draft, but the Blue Jays still took him in the seventh round out of Pepperdine. After signing, he had surgery on the quad, which delayed his professional debut until 2009.


• The Blue Jays added a seventh minor league affiliate after signing a player-development contract with Rookie-level Bluefield in the Appalachian League for four years. Dennis Holmberg, who managed short-season Auburn this year, will take over as skipper in Bluefield, which became available after the Orioles ended their 43-year affiliation.

• The Blue Jays extended their affiliation agreement with low Class A Lansing through 2012.