News and Notes: Former Blue Jay Jacob Waguespack made the Tampa Bay Rays, looking at prospect Carson Pierce’s changeup, and more!

Photo credit:Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports
Ryley Delaney
17 days ago
Spring Training is over, but there’s still room for some News and Notes.
The Blue Jays have an intriguing arm in the minor league, a former Blue Jays has made a big league roster, and who doesn’t love top 100 lists? Moreover, we’ll look at some happenings regarding the roster.

Jacob Waguespack has made the Tampa Bay Rays

This is a pretty feel-good story, even if Jacob Waguespack will pitch for a divisional rival. According to Jayson Stark for The Athletic, Waguespack has made the Tampa Bay Rays’ roster.
At the 2019 trade deadline, the Blue Jays sent Aaron Loup to the Philadelphia Phillies in exchange for a prospect named Jacob Waguespack. The Jays also traded Marcus Stroman and Aaron Sanchez, opening a few spots in the rotation, where Waguespack got his first opportunity.
That season, he finished with a 4.38 ERA and a 4.91 FIP in 78 innings pitched, along with an 18.8 K% and an 8.7 BB%. The 2020 season didn’t go as well, as he posted an 8.15 ERA and a 4.72 FIP in 17.2 innings before being designated for assignment.
Waguespack wasn’t picked up and remained in the Blue Jays organization in 2021, posting a 2.86 ERA and a 2.87 FIP in 69.1 innings pitched, along with a 25.3 K% and a 7.2 BB%. Afterwards, he went overseas to pitch in Japan alongside Yoshinobu Yamamoto before a velocity jump caught the eyes of the Rays.
This Spring Training, Waguespack finished with a 4.15 ERA and a 4.45 FIP in 8.2 innings pitched, along with a 21.6 K% and an 8.1 BB%. It’s awesome seeing a former Blue Jay get a second shot in the big leagues, regardless of the team.

Just Baseball’s Top 100

Most publications usually have two Blue Jays on their “Top 100 Prospects in Baseball” list. However, Just Baseball has a whopping four Jays’ prospects on their list. Here’s where they rank:
Ricky Tiedemann, 35th
Orelvis Martinez, 77th
Arjun Nimmala, 80th
Addison Barger, 90th
Tiedemann is to be expected, he’s the best left-handed pitching prospect in baseball with an upper-90s fastball and devastating off-speed pitches. Martinez ranks in the top 100 on most lists as well, as he’s made some adjustments that have helped his hit tool grow without sacrificing power.
Nimmala isn’t too much of a stretch, as the 18-year-old has some serious raw power, with Fangraphs giving him a 55 current value and 70 future value in that regard. However, Addison Barger ranking on a top 100 list is way out of right field.
It wouldn’t be much of a shock if this were early 2023, as Barger slashed .309/.379/.557 with 26 homers between High-A, Double-A, and Triple-A. However, Barger had a pretty rough season in 2023 slashing .251/.353/.396 with eight homers in 456 plate appearances with Single-A Dunedin (rehab) and Triple-A Buffalo.
There’s a lot to like with Barger. His swing is a majestic hack, and the strikeout rate has dropped. Defensively, he uncorked a 103.8 mph throw from right field, and once he learns the position better, he could be a good defender. But a top 100 prospect? I’m not too sure about that.

Carson Pierce is nasty

After the 2022 draft, the Blue Jays signed Devonte Brown as an undrafted free agent. The 24-year-old ranked as my 42nd-best Blue Jays prospect prior to the start of this season after a terrific start to his professional career. It’s quite impressive for an undrafted free agent.
It looks as if the Blue Jays have another interesting undrafted free agent. They signed right-handed pitcher Carson Pierce to a deal after the 2023 draft. I recently wrote an article about Trevor Richards, and Pierce has a somewhat similar changeup.
Like Richards’ changeup, Pierce’s sits between 2,400-2,500 RPM, which was only achieved by Richards and Devin Williams in the big leagues last season. The fastball sat 92-93 mph, which is up from the 90.5 mph average in Dunedin last season.
The 22-year-old pitched a season at the University of Oklahoma, posting a 3.94 ERA in 29.2 innings pitched, along with a 15.3 K% and a 10.2 BB%. Interestingly, he had a 4.91 ERA and a 1.21 FIP in 7.1 innings pitched with the Blue Jays in 2023, which saw him post a 35.5 K% and a 3.2 BB%.
Of course, it’s a small sample size, but with how interesting the changeup is, you never know.

Other notes:

It appears that the Blue Jays will be without Jordan Romano and Erik Swanson to start 2024, which is not good. Yimi García is likely to fill in as the closer, but the bullpen is an area of concern to start the season.
Some better injury-related news is that it appears Joey Votto will return to action in the coming days. As you may recall, he hit a homer in his first plate appearance as a Blue Jay but later rolled his ankle on a loose bat in the dugout. He’ll head to extended Spring Training before eventually Buffalo.
The Blue Jays will need to make a 40-man transaction, as Daniel Vogelbach (along with Davis Schneider and Ernie Clement) have been informed they’ve made the team. Vogelbach slashed .229/.341/.543 with three homers in 41 plate appearances, along with a 14.6 BB% and a 19.5 K% for a 130 wRC+ during Spring Training.
With all that being said, the Blue Jays will open their season on Thursday against the Tampa Bay Rays at the terrible Tropicana Field. José Berríos is set to start that game.

As always, you can follow me on Twitter @Brennan_L_D.


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