#BlueJays callups (first wave) are Michael Saunders, Teoscar Hernandez, Carlos Ramirez and Richard Urena and Luke Maile.— Gregor Chisholm (@gregorMLB) September 1, 2017
With the pursuit of a playoff appearance all but gone, the idea of the future will give us a reason to give a damn as the season dwindles to a close. After Thursday’s win in Baltimore, the Blue Jays announced their “first wave” of additions to their club as rosters are set to expand on Sept. 1.
And it’s an interesting group! Old friend Michael Saunders will be back to try to rejuvenate his career in the same place he appeared to be enjoying a breakout just one year ago, Luke Maile will return from a lengthy disabled list trip, and prospects Teoscar Hernandez, Carlos Ramirez, and Richard Urena will get their first cup of coffee with the Blue Jays.
Michael Saunders (LF)
I don’t think I need to go into too much detail about this familiar face. Michael Saunders was an All-Star in 2016 after a great first half, but the wheels fell off down the stretch. The Blue Jays opted not to qualify Captain Canada and the Phillies inked him to a one-year deal. He lasted just 61 games in Philly, slashing a paltry .205/.257/.360 line before getting released.
The Jays inked Saunders to a minor league deal on June 28 and he’s been playing for the Triple-A Bisons ever since. After a slow start, Saunders caught fire in August, and joins the Blue Jays with a .725 OPS in 35 games with Buffalo. It’s hard to say what the future has in store for Saunders, but giving him a chance to rejuvenate his a career is a classy move for an old friend of the organization.
Luke Maile (C)
The backup catcher position has been a complete disaster for the Blue Jays this season. Right now with Russell Martin on the shelf, the catching duties are being handled by Raffy Lopez, who started the year in Double-A, and Miguel Montero, who was released by the Cubs.
Maile has been on the DL since early July with a tear in his right knee. His offensive numbers have been terrible, but of all the backup options, Maile is far and away the best defensively. He’ll be auditioning for a role with the organization next season in September.
Carlos Ramirez (P)
Perhaps the most interesting prospect set to join the team is the 26-year-old failed outfielder converted pitcher Carlos Ramirez. Ramirez started pitching in 2014, but this season was his first exclusively as a pitcher. And holy hell it was a good one.
Ramirez started the season in Double-A but was promoted mid-way through the season. Overall, the 6’5 righty has tossed 37 2/3 innings at both levels and hasn’t allowed a single run. Not. A. Single. Run. He’s striking out 10.8 batters per nine, isn’t walking anyone, and has only allowed 16 hits all season. He’ll be auditioning for a spot in Toronto’s bullpen next season.
Richard Urena (SS)
Richard Urena had a pretty ugly season at the plate in Double-A, slashing a .247/.286/.359 line through 551 plate appearances with New Hampshire. That said, he’s only 21 years old and his best tool is his glove. Regardless of how Urena performs in September, he won’t be on the Blue Jays next season, but, as with any prospect in the advanced levels of the minors, it’s worthwhile to give him a cup of coffee to see big league pitching and the pressures that come along with everything.
Teoscar Hernandez (OF)
Acquired from the Astros in the Francisco Liriano deal, Teoscar Hernandez will be auditioning for a role with the team sooner rather than later. Hernandez had a slow start after moving from Houston to Toronto’s system, but he’s been lighting it up in Buffalo as of late. For the season, the 24-year-old has slashed a very impressive .265/.351/.490 line in Triple-A.
Many already have Hernandez penciled into a fourth outfielder role next season, but with Kevin Pillar, Steve Pearce, Zeke Carrera, and multiple other outfield prospects, he isn’t a surefire bet just yet. That said, a strong showing in September would certainly out Hernandez in a good position heading into spring training next year.
The second wave…?
The Buffalo Bisons’ season comes to an end on Sunday, so the second wave of players will likely join the Blue Jays on Monday. We’ll likely see familiar faces like Chris Rowley, Leonel Campos, and Nick Tepesch added to the team, and prospects like Ryan Borucki, Anthony Alford, and Dwight Smith Jr. who are already on the 40-man roster.