We’re getting close! Pitchers and catchers report to lovely, muggy, disgusting Florida in just over a week and the first full-team workout of the spring is just under two weeks from now. Winter is almost over, thank fuck!
Speaking of spring training, TD Ballpark, the new and improved Florida Auto Exchange Stadium in Dunedin, received a major facelift over the winter. If you’ve ever made the journey down south to the swamp, you’ll know that the Blue Jays’ facility in Dunedin was, uh, pretty subpar.
Beyond upgrading the fan experience (more space, more seats, more coverage from the sun, and so on), the key behind this renovation was giving the Blue Jays one of the most advanced developmental facilities in baseball. The Jays use Dunedin for spring training, their Single-A affiliate, and for rehabbing players during the season.
The players complex and training centre will be updated to become approximately 3x bigger, more technologically advanced, and geared towards high performance and player development.
There will be a grand total of 6 full fields when construction is done, with 1 of those fields being made of synthetic turf like the Rogers Centre. There will also be a half field, 5-bay and 7-bay batting cages, and 2 sets of 10 pack mounds for pitching and player development. A turfed and covered agility field will also be built to allow players to train during inclement weather throughout the year. – Call to the Pen
Here’s a timelapse video of the project…
So, that’s that. We’re into the dead zone of the off-season in which we’re talking about upgrades to a minor-league complex. Please, for the love of fuck, let’s just get things going already. The news is so slow around these parts that we’re talking about how bringing Kevin Pillar back for another tour of duty is a good idea.
Pillar, of course, is still a free agent after being non-tendered by the San Francisco Giants. He managed to earn himself an MVP vote for his play with the Giants last season, but surprisingly hasn’t yet found a gig for 2020. The same goes for Aaron Sanchez, who’s also waiting for someone to give him an opportunity as a bounce-back candidate.
Meanwhile, Edwin Jackson has managed to find himself another gig next season, as he’s inked a minor-league deal with the Arizona Diamondbacks. Jackson has already played in Arizona before (he threw a no-hitter with eight walks there!) so this signing won’t give him an opportunity to expand on his 14-team resume.
Probably the most interesting thing to follow right now is the Mookie Betts situation in Boston, as a trade appears to be imminent. We can probably narrow it down to Betts being dealt to either the Padres or Dodgers, but it’s up in the air as to whether or not this deal will involve the Red Sox also unloading David Price’s contract or not. As I’ve said before, as a rival of the Sox, the best-case scenario here is Boston putting an anchor on their best player by attaching an albatross contract to his leg in a trade.
There hasn’t been anything new on Brock Holt since we heard last week that the Jays had some interest in signing him. I have a feeling him sticking around in Boston could be a reality if the Sox do end up shedding Price’s contract in a Betts deal. A deal like that would piss off their fanbase so much that they could use the goodwill of bringing back a fan favourite, as minor as that is.
17. Nate Pearson
An 80-grade fastball, a slider that flashes double plus at its best, and a curveball that’s working toward plus combined with strong extension come together to form one of the few pitchers with true ace potential. A lack of athleticism that leads to high effort still hasn’t erased a future in a bullpen, but rest assured Toronto will debut him in 2020 in the rotation and do everything possible to ensure he stays there.
46. Jordan Groshans
If not for an injury plagued 2019 the Jays 2018 first rounder may have broken out in a big way last season. Instead he impressed in the Midwest League in a truncated 23 game season that ended in mid-May due to a stress fracture in his navicular bone of his left foot. At the time of the injury, Groshans was displaying improved plate discipline and pitch recognition from his rookie ball debut in 2018. Groshans is strong and athletic, with the ability to add good weight onto a prototype frame, leading many to project Groshans to provide plus in game power at maturation.
73. Simeon Woods Richardson
An extremely prolific strike thrower, especially for his age, Simeon Woods-Richardson skyrocketed up lists for his incredible performance in 2019. With an elite 23.1 K-BB%, he’s one of the most mature 18 year old pitchers I’ve ever seen in my life. With a repertoire of four pitches grading at least average, and a projectable 6-foot-4 frame, Woods-Richardson has all the tools to be a frontline starter, and he will look to build towards that in 2020.
91. Alek Manoah
The big righty was drafted in the 1st Round by the Blue Jays last June after a stellar senior season at WVU that saw him win Big 12 Pitcher of the Year. He saw limited action in the Northwest League due to his workload during the college season but he averaged 14.3 strikeouts per nine innings and walked just five across 17 innings. With a fastball that sits in the mid 90s to compliment a slider and changeup, Manoah has the makeup up of a future frontline starter.
98. Orelvis Martinez
One of the best prospects in the 2018 J2 class, the Blue Jays got aggressive with their $3.5 million man, sending him straight to the Gulf Coast League for his debut. Despite being 17 for the entire season, Martinez more than impressed in his debut, putting up a 150 wRC+. While his average speed will likely force him to 3B long term, Martinez’s plus bat speed and advanced feel for hitting will play there, and he has the potential to skyrocket up this list.