Farm Notes as the Blue Jays Minor League Season gets started
By Tammy Rainey1 year ago
Just a quick rundown here of some notes and observations about the farm system teams’ opening weekend rosters and maneuvers. Very little of this will be about actual on-field results, for that I recommend the notebook published at Future Blue Jays, featuring much more insightful observations than I’d come up with. But given my series of roster predictions, it seemed worthwhile to comment particularly on the important bits I missed.
Triple-A Buffalo Bisons
On the pitching staff, when one factors in the 40-man roster guys and the players who were traded, or are injured (specifically Jose De Leon and Fitz Stadler) the predictions look pretty solid. The big misses are Joey Murray getting squeezed out and the confidence in Nick Allgeyer as a starter even with many alternatives.
Before last year I was enthused about his future and if the organization sees enough in his progress to give him a prominent starting role, that’s encouraging. The Bisons, like the Fisher Cats, have a lot of good options at the back of the bullpen (Vazquez, Johnston, Eisert, and Spraker) which should help make them dangerous, even with Stadler out for an extended period. Offensively, Gabby Moreno was just activated yesterday and will presumably make his debut Tuesday night.
Jordan Groshans opens with an injury and is possibly still in Florida. The only thing that really surprised me is they opened with a crowded bench of guys who probably aren’t ready for AAA. With Katoh demoted, someone like Nick Podkul may be in New Hampshire by the time you read this. When Groshans and Otto Lopez are activated others will be squeezed.
Double-A New Hampshire Fisher Cats
The rotation here is very much as I expected, or so I thought until yesterday. Yes, Murray is here, and though he came on in relief Friday he threw 4 innings so they clearly are not moving him to the bullpen. The surprise is that they started Hayden Juenger on Sunday, and he was dominant over three IP.
I had mused earlier in the winter that I couldn’t rule out that someone who’d been so good in his first pro work might be moved into a starting role in his first full season but I wouldn’t have predicted it would happen as he moved up to AA. There’s no reporting on it so I can’t be sure if this wasn’t just a sort of “opener” situation, it bears watching though. Among the hitters, it’s predictable but necessary to note that while I was on the fence about whether Orelvis Martinez would make this team when I wrote the preview a month ago, he spent all of the spring convincing the decision-makers that he was ready for it.
The name that really surprised me is Will Robertson. Nothing about his 2021 said to me “here’s a dude ready for AA” – yet here he is. Otherwise, this roster is largely what I expected.
High-A Vancouver Canadians
The starters are pretty much exactly what I discussed, and while I was thinking maybe I was too aggressive to project Yosver Zulueta for this rotation, he’s here now (he wasn’t on the initial roster but he was added over the weekend, and placed on the IL). Still, I give myself a point on that one because the reporting didn’t suggest this was the team’s thinking.
The bullpen here, and at lower levels, is mostly a jumble of guys most of whom don’t distinguish themselves so it’s early – and will be a month from now – to try and guess who, if anyone here, really matters in terms of prospect status. Offensively Robertson’s promotion leaves the outfield kind of thin with no one who’s an obviously promising hitter.
The offensive production to pay attention to is almost entirely among the infielders. But there’s no big power bat that jumps out at you. Leo Jimenez is here as expected, I’ll be watching to see if Miguel Hiraldo bounces back and whether Riley Tirotta is for real after a nice but brief run after last year’s draft.
Low-A Dunedin Blue Jays
My guesses for this rotation included recent draftees Ricky Tiedeman and Irv Carter – the former is with the team but the latter remains back in the complex along with Eric Pardinho who might have made the cut. I wasn’t sure a month ago whether Rafael Ohashi would end up working out of the bullpen since there’s no shortage of SP candidates in Florida, as it turns out, he not only started yesterday but struck out 10 in 4 no-hit innings. He was up and down last year but there’s definitely something here.
It’s also worth noting that many of the names I reviewed previously, both fringe hangers-on and actual interesting prospects, opened up on the IL. Between Vancouver and Dunedin, 12 pitchers are on the 7-day list and another nine are on the 60-Day list That’s one way to clear up roster crowding. As with the other teams, on the offense side, there are not many surprises or head-scratchers. There are some “big names” in extended, such as Manuel Beltre, but they are young enough they were not expected to make any of the full-season teams. Still, there are several well-regarded IFA prospects on this team, most notably Rikelbin De Castro and Esteban Machado are both top 15 guys and will be out there up the middlemost days.
We’ll take a first look at how things are are shaping up after a couple more weeks of games have been played.
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