The Minor League Baseball season is right around the corner!
It’s been quite some time since we had Bisons or Fishers Cats or D-Jays or Canadians box scores to fawn over as the past year-and-a-bit has seen all minor-league ball streamlined into Alternate Training Sites.
This year will be a little different for the minor leagues. The Bisons will be playing in Trenton, the Fisher Cats will remain the same in New Hampshire, the Dunedin Blue Jays are now a Low-A team, and the Vancouver Canadians, who are playing in Oregon, are the new High-A team. There also isn’t Rookie League anymore and the Bluefield Blue Jays no longer exist.
We don’t yet know the full rosters that the Blue Jays farm teams will be operating with, but we learned yesterday about where a few key names will start their seasons.
Simeon Woods Richardson and Jordan Groshans will start with the Fisher Cats in Double-A. The last time Groshans played was all the way back in May of 2019 with the Low-A Lansing Lugnuts while Woods Richardson made six starts for High-A Dunedin after being acquired from the Mets in the Marcus Stroman trade.
And then there’s Alek Manoah, the team’s first-round pick from the 2019 draft, who will make the jump all the way to Triple-A. The highest level Manoah has pitched professionally was Rookie League for Vancouver in 2019 but he was wildly impressive during Spring Training and the Blue Jays have raved about what he did while at the Alt Site.
Based on this, I wouldn’t be shocked if Manoah is with the big-league club at some point this summer. Woods Richardson is probably a bit more of a stretch.
Finally, there’s no word yet on 2020 first-round pick Austin Martin. He’s a very advanced bat and is said to have the best hit tool from his draft class but Martin doesn’t have any professional reps yet. That said, he has three years of experience playing for Vanderbilt’s baseball factory in the SEC, so the Blue Jays might be comfortable starting him at Double-A.
It turns out that Martin will also be joining Woods Richardson and Groshans in Double-A. Boy, the Fisher Cats are going to be a fun watch this season.
The Blue Jays, with the No. 5 pick in 2020, somehow ended up with the second-best player in the draft in Austin Martin. The Vanderbilt product had the best hit tool of any player in that draft, and by a large margin. Versatility is the best part of his game; he can play second base, shortstop, third base, center field and left field. This gives the Blue Jays a lot of flexibility. But his best fit is at second base, and I won’t be surprised if Martin takes over the big-league job as early as 2022 Opening Day, if Marcus Semien departs in free agency after this season. Martin has tremendous bat speed, athleticism and plate discipline, along with off-the-charts pitch recognition. He has a high baseball IQ and special instincts. He is a flat-out winner, with the swag to match his future teammates such as Bo Bichette, Vladimir Guerrero Jr. and Lourdes Gurriel Jr.
High-A Vancouver will feature an interesting pair of pitchers, Adam Kloffenstein and CJ Van Eyk, while Low-A Dunedin will have Orelvis Martinez and Miguel Hiraldo.
The Bisons, Fisher Cats, Canadians, and D-Jays all start their seasons on May 4.