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Grapefruit Notes: Danny Jansen is raking, Matt Shoemaker is dealing, and more!

After an ugly week, the Blue Jays are on a three-game winning streak! It’s amazing how quickly things can flip around when the games mean absolutely nothing!

Things worth mentioning…

  • After an excellent debut in his long-awaited return to the mound, Matt Shoemaker again tossed a dazzling outing, this time against the Phillies. Shoemaker went four innings, collecting four strikeouts, and the only blip on the radar came in the form of a walk. Through his first two outings, Shoemaker has surrendered just one hit and one walk over six-and-two-thirds of work while picking up nine strikeouts. I know, I know, it’s only spring, but that’s a reaaaaaal good sign for one of the biggest wild cards heading into the season.
  • I mentioned yesterday that I thought that Jordan Romano was in a position to capitalize on Rafael Dolis being sidelined due to his emergency appendectomy. On the same day, Romano tossed yet another scoreless inning against the Phillies, putting him to five innings pitched in Grapefruit play without surrendering a run. Best of all, Romano was apparently hitting 97 and 98 miles-per-hour on the gun. Also, other bullpen hopefuls A.J. Cole and Thomas Pannone threw scoreless frames against the Phillies, picking up a couple of strikeouts each.
  • On Monday, the Jays played a split-squad game. Against the Pirates over in Bradenton, we got to watch Anthony Kay redeem himself after an ugly start last week. Kay tossed three scoreless innings, scattering three hits and a couple of walks while striking out four. The fact he struck four guys out (and is up to nine strikeouts in seven-and-a-third innings this spring) is a good sign, but the fact Kay was walking the tightrope by frequently falling behind in counts is worrying. There’s obviously a wild amount of upside here, but Kay needs some work. It’s hard to see him cracking the team over Trent Thornton at this point.

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  • There were quite a few pitching performances to like in this game, actually. Probably the best one came from Thomas Hatch, who tossed two perfect innings while picking up a couple of strikeouts. Hatch reached 96 mph on the gun, had pinpoint command, and utilized a breaking ball that made the Pirates look really bad. I think we could see him rise through the system really quickly. It wouldn’t shock me if he was on the Blue Jays before the end of the season.
  • Also worth mentioning, Jacob Waguespack tossed another scoreless frame. He hasn’t allowed a run yet in spring training. Where does he fit in? Is he a swingman on the Blue Jays? Is he starting in Triple-A? Is he in the ‘pen down there? It’s difficult to say. It seems the long-term projection for Waguespack is becoming a swingman out of the ‘pen, but there might not be space for him on the big league club with Shun Yamaguchi and Sam Gaviglio in the mix. There also might not be room for him to start in Triple-A, either. Speaking of the Bisons’ rotation, Sean Reid-Foley had another scoreless relief frame. Boy oh boy, he certainly does look good chucking gas for one inning, right?
  • In the other game, Hyun-Jin Ryu made his third start of the spring in Dunedin against the Rays. This one, unfortunately, wasn’t televised, so we didn’t get to see Toronto’s ace mow down the Rays (he went four-and-a-third innings, scattering three hits and striking out four batters) Thankfully, there’s some random clips out there we can watch…

  • The Jays would kick the shit out of the Phillies 9-0 thanks largely to homers from Bo Bichette, Travis Shaw, and Alejandro Kirk. Kirk really has been the breakout Large Adult Son this year. I mean, most would suggest Nate Pearson has been that guy because he’s been making Major Leaguers look like Little Leaguers, but everybody knew Pearson was good. Kirk is putting himself on the map this spring. After that homer (and another hit and a walk against Tampa), Kirk is now 4-for-8 with two walks and no strikeouts.

  • The Jays also kicked the shit out of the Rays on Monday. They did so by making Blake Snell look really bad. Snell walked four batters before allowing a grand slam to Danny Jansen. Quietly, Jansen has been the Jays’ top performer so far in spring. He’s 6-for-14 with three homers and he’s only struck out once. After a pretty forgettable season at the plate last year, it would be great to see Jansen return to where he was offensively when he broke into the league in 2018.
  • Finally, enjoy the Jays executing a double play at home plate against the Phillies!