Ryan Tepera Added to 40-man Roster (And What it Means)

Ryan Tepera
Ryan Tepera

Ryan Tepera

 

While the spotlight was on Russell Martin and his unveiling as a Toronto Blue Jay yesterday, the Blue Jays made a quiet move to fill their 40-man roster.

 

 

Last year, the Blue Jays added former first-round draft pick Deck McGuire and outfielder Kenny Wilson to the 40-man roster in order to protect them from the Rule 5 draft, held on the last day of the Winter Meetings in December. This year, the Blue Jays did things a little differently, calling up some of the players who would have had to be added during the season which left very little roster movement for the roster movement deadline yesterday.

 

In general, players with four years of minor league experience are eligible for the Rule 5 draft every winter (unless they were 18 or younger when they signed their first pro contract, in which case, they get five years) and this year, players like Aaron Sanchez and Dalton Pompey would have been eligible. Since the Blue Jays added them to the 40-man roster during the season, they are already protected and the Blue Jays aren’t really speculating about whether they want to use a roster spot for them. Daniel Norris, also put on the roster, was still one year away from eligibility while Marcus Stroman and Kendall Graveman were both still a couple of years away from eligibility.

 

Players have to be on the 40-man roster in order to be protected and the Blue Jays made one small, unsurprising move to clear one more spot for Ryan Tepera, the only player added to the roster at the November 20 deadline. Very quietly, the Jays had designated Juan Francisco for assignment and he was claimed on waivers by the Boston Red Sox. This little move tells us a lot about how the Blue Jays would have treated Juan Francisco when it came time to offer him a new contract. Eligible for arbitration and estimated to make about $2.2 million, Francisco was tagged by MLB Trade Rumors’ Tim Dierkes as a non-tender candidate, meaning that the Jays weren’t likely offer him a contract, making him a free agent.

 

Since the Jays weren’t planning on bringing him back, Francisco was DFA’ed now in order to make room for Tepera. Ryan Tepera is a hard throwing righty who had a very solid year in Buffalo. The 27-year-old was eligible to be selected last season but wasn’t protected (or selected) and responded with a 3.66 ERA, 1.41 WHIP and 24 walks and 67 strikeouts in 64 innings for the Buffalo Bisons. Josh Norris at Baseball America says that he has a “plus fastball that sinks and cuts” but his “high-80s slider . . . is below-average.” If you’re a loyal reader, you’ll know that I wrote about Tepera last year because he was tapped by Marc Hulet as being a guy that could be selected in the Rule 5 draft. This year, after a successful season at the highest minor league level, the Blue Jays aren’t going to take any chances.

 

These moves now have two more cascading effects. The first is that the Blue Jays, with a full 40-man roster, will be unable to select anyone in the Rule 5 draft, so you won’t see a move like the Jays made last year, selecting Brian Moran from the Mariners and then flipping him to the Angels for cap money in the international free agent bonus pool.

 

Andy Burns

Andy Burns

 

The second effect is a little more interesting when we look at who the Blue Jays didn’t protect in the draft. The biggest name that comes to mind is Andy Burns, a versatile infielder who has played all of the infield positions (although he’s been moved off of shortstop somewhat permanently) and a couple of outfield positions over the last couple of years. Defensively, he is capable of excellence although when I’ve seen Burns over the past two seasons, he’s had a tendency to run hot and cold. He sometimes looked Brett-Lawrie-esque at the hot corner and sometimes looked disinterested. I did see him play a game at second base and he made all of the plays and looked fine there.

 

Offensively, Burns is really intriguing. While he hasn’t had a truly outstanding full season at any one level, Burns made Double-A in 2013 when he came out of the gate hammering the ball in High-A Dunedin, posting a .907 OPS in 64 games. In another 64 games in Double-A New Hampshire, Burns’ OPS dropped to .728 but he still managed to put together some solid numbers with a .253/.309/.419 that included 19 doubles, two triples and seven home runs after a slow start adjusting to the higher level. In 2014, Burns started slowly, hitting just .213/.292/.330 in April and May but rebounded well with the bat, hitting .280/.328/.492 with 11 of his 15 home runs and 24 of his 32 doubles in the final three months of the season. With the combination of solid power, speed (18 stolen bases) and decent contact ability, Burns could offer a team a good player off the bench if he’s selected in the Rule 5 draft. I don’t think he’ll be back.

 

John Stilson

John Stilson

 

The other players who were left off the 40-man roster include pitcher John Stilson and second baseman Jon Berti. Stilson is coming back from shoulder surgery and would be a risky pick for a team. Still, he could be selected, placed on the 60-day DL and activated when healthy. Remember that players selected in the Rule 5 draft have to be on the major league roster all season and must be active for 90 days of that. However, there are cases (Brian Moran is one) where a player who is injured can spend a full season on the 60-day DL and then must be on the 25-man roster for the full year the following season. I think Stilson is just about major league ready, having seen him (and interviewed him) in Spring Training in 2014 and he could be a somewhat risky pickup with the upside of being a fairly high leverage arm in the bullpen.

 

Jon Berti

Jon Berti

 

Jon Berti is also a curious omission. Has he become expendable now that Devon Travis is in the organization? Berti, a two-time winner of the Jays’ R. Howard Webster award for being the MVP of his minor league team, has hit Double-A so far and has been classified as a hard-nosed player who has great speed and defense but may not make it with the bat. Berti will be 25 next year and could very well be in Buffalo. Travis, incidentally, has one more year before he’s eligible to be selected in the Rule 5 draft and the Blue Jays will get another chance to see what they’ve got in him before they have to decide whether or not to put him on the 40-man roster. There is also a likelihood that, like Sanchez and Pompey, Travis will join the Blue Jays at some point in 2015, making his protection in the 2015 Rule 5 draft automatic.

 

Whatever happens, it’s going to be an interesting Rule 5 draft for the Blue Jays, primarily to see if any of the non-protected players find new homes on other teams.

 

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Who are these players? Find out in The 2014 Toronto Blue Jays Minor League Handbook, now available as an ebook at Smashwords.com for $7.99 US. You can purchase and preview the book at our Smashwords.com page!

The All-Star Break Supplement to the Minor League Handbook is also available at Smashwords.com for only $2 US! Get an update on how your favourite players have been doing this season as well as a report on the 2014 draft!

All photos are copyright Blue Jays from Away (2013-2014) and may not be used without permission.

Justin Jackson Signs with Atlanta Braves

Justin Jackson
Justin Jackson

Justin Jackson

 

It’s the end of an era for the Toronto Blue Jays. Former first rounder Justin Jackson has left the organization to sign a minor league free agent contract with the Atlanta Braves.

 

 

Taken in the supplemental round of the 2007 draft by the Blue Jays as a shortstop, Jackson never really got his mojo working with the bat and his arm strength eventually had enough power that he and the Blue Jays decided to give him a try on the mound, where he had spent some time in high school.

 

As a pitcher, Jackson spent two seasons, working his way up from Lansing and finishing the 2014 season with New Hampshire. His pitching career, as I wrote previously, has been a work in progress but Jackson’s 94-95 mph fastball is tantalizing and it looks like the Braves made him an offer he couldn’t refuse.

 

Jackson, who is very adept at the social media game, announced his signing with typical style.

#NewBeginnings

A video posted by Justin Jackson (@jaxchillinone) on


Jackson has been one of my favourite players to talk to and he was one of my first interviews for the Blue Jays from Away Podcast and I interviewed him the day after he made his professional pitching debut.

 

We wish Justin the best of luck with the Braves in 2015!

Blue Jays Trade Anthony Gose for Devon Travis

Anthony Gose

 

Anthony Gose

Anthony Gose

 

I was sitting in a bar in Pittsburgh, checking my Twitter feed tonight, enjoying the mild buzz from a nice, 9% alcohol beer and lo and behold, the Blue Jays actually did something to warrant me staying up and putting fingers to keyboard to produce a blog!

 

 

What did the Blue Jays do, you ask (if you haven’t heard already but, if I may be blunt, the fact that you’re reading this blog means that you’ve probably already heard). The Blue Jays traded long time project and former highly touted prospect, center fielder Anthony Gose to the Tigers for current Tigers top prospect (according to Baseball America), second baseman Devon Travis.

 

First, let’s talk about Anthony Gose. I’ve seen Anthony play several times in person and the tools have always been there. With a swing that can produce line drives, speed to burn, tremendous range and instincts in the outfield and a cannon of an arm, Gose should have been able to put things together. But he didn’t, at least at the major league level. In about a season’s worth of plate appearances (over 202 games across three seasons), Gose hit .234/.301/.332 for the Blue Jays and stole 34 bases in 45 attempts with 170 strikeouts. Obviously, not the type of offense that you want from your every day center fielder. There was talk about the Blue Jays going into the 2015 season with Gose and Kevin Pillar platooning in center field although Gose’s platoon splits weren’t tremendous either, hitting .241/.316/.350 in 483 plate appearances against right-handed pitching (he’s a left-handed hitter).

 

Having seen Gose play a fair bit in Buffalo as well as in Toronto, my biggest concern is that he never walked enough and really seemed to struggle against breaking balls. While he did seem to have a better idea of what he was doing at the plate in 2014 (posting a solid walk rate of 9.1%, the best in his major league career), he still struck out 27% of the time, up from his 2013 Blue Jays stint in which he struck out 24.2% of the time.

 

Devon Travis, on the other hand, gets very solid scouting reports from MLB.com, which ranks him as the Tigers’ fourth-best prospect (although he’ll probably come in around 8th in the Blue Jays’ system, which is far better stocked in terms of minor league talent) while Baseball America ($) ranks him first. MLB likes his hit and run tools the best, giving them both 60 grades (on the 20-80 scale with 50 being major league average). Travis posted very solid numbers in 100 games in Double-A Erie, hitting .298 with a very good .358 OBP and a .460 slugging percentage, hitting 20 doubles, seven triples and 10 home runs. What impresses me is the 60 strikeouts in 441 plate appearances to give him a very low 13.6% rate. To compare, against similar competition at the Double-A level, Anthony Gose struck almost twice as much.

 

I really like Travis’ “hit” tool from what I’ve read about him with Ben Badler at Baseball America giving him a 60 grade for that tool as well. The criticism that I’ve seen a few times is that nothing really stands out about him but that doesn’t mean that he’s not going to become a major league player. There are many major leaguers that don’t have a particular tool that stands out but they’re able to use solid, major league average tools that play up because of a high intelligence and good baseball sense. Ben Badler’s optimism is pretty encouraging as he says that “even if Travis doesn’t hit that upside, he still has a chance to turn into a steady, average everyday player.” That’s better than anything the Blue Jays have at second base in their system right now.

 

The other thing that this trade means is that Dalton Pompey, unless the Jays make another move, moves to the front of the line to be the Opening Day 2015 center fielder. While he’s not as good of a pure center fielder than Anthony Gose is, that’s hardly a criticism because almost nobody is. Pompey certainly has the defensive resume, having won a minor league Gold Glove in 2013 as the best defensive center fielder in all of minor league baseball. He’s also got much more baseball savvy at the plate. As a switch hitter, he can play against both righties and lefties and, is one of the most mature base stealers in the Blue Jays’ organization with plus speed. He’s far more likely to have a better stolen base percentage than Gose as a major leaguer when both of their careers are all over with. Oh, and he’s Canadian.

 

Travis will likely man second base in Buffalo to start the year, moving Ryan Goins back over to shortstop and putting Jonathan Diaz into a utility role. The Blue Jays haven’t hesitated to promote their players in the last couple of years and if Travis comes out hitting well, he could make the big league squad by June.

 

If you like us here,“like” us on Facebook!

Who are these players? Find out in The 2014 Toronto Blue Jays Minor League Handbook, now available as an ebook at Smashwords.com for $7.99 US. You can purchase and preview the book at our Smashwords.com page!

The All-Star Break Supplement to the Minor League Handbook is also available at Smashwords.com for only $2 US! Get an update on how your favourite players have been doing this season as well as a report on the 2014 draft!

All photos are copyright Blue Jays from Away (2013-2014) and may not be used without permission.

Blue Jays Minor League Free Agents, Part 3: Dunedin Blue Jays

Efrain Nieves
Efrain Nieves

Efrain Nieves

 

This third part of the minor league free agent listing is going to be the shortest as the Dunedin Blue Jays only had two minor league free agents going into the offseason. We’ll also update you on the news that the Blue Jays re-signed a few of the minor league free agents discussed in previous posts.

 

 

First, the update. The Blue Jays have announced that they have re-signed righty Scott Copeland to a minor league contract with an invitation to major league spring training. The Fisher Cats also tweeted out that the Blue Jays have resigned righties Austin Bibens-Dirkx and Mike Lee (in addition to Bobby Korecky who had re-signed earlier). It’s very likely that Bibens-Dirkx and Lee will spend at least some time with the Fisher Cats in 2015 while I expect Copeland to start with Buffalo.

 

Lefty reliever Tony Davis is one of the free agents coming from the D-Jays’ roster at the end of 2014. Originally drafted by the Twins in 2009, Davis fits the free agent category because the Twins released him in 2011 and he came to the Blue Jays in 2012 after stings with Quebec and Fargo-Moorhead in independent leagues. Davis, 26, has been very effective in Dunedin but struggled when he was given a chance with the New Hampshire Fisher Cats in 2014, posting a 5.70 ERA through 23 2/3 innings, walking 22 and striking out 17. While in Dunedin, he had a 3.53 ERA with a 1.31 WHIP and 16 walks and 53 strikeouts in 43 1/3 innings.

Probability of re-signing: 25%

 

24-year-old lefty Efrain Nieves (who turns 25 on Saturday), came to the Blue Jays in the 2012 minor league Rule 5 draft after having been drafted by Milwaukee and spending 2012 with Detroit. The Puerto Rican spent 2014 in Dunedin and was outstanding, posting a 2.29 ERA and a 1.17 WHIP while throwing 86 1/3 innings, mostly in relief. He had an excellent walk rate but a rather low strikeout rate (2.2 BB/9, 5.9 K/9). Nieves is quite deceptive, getting a little more out his 84-86 mph fastball than he otherwise might and his side-arming action also allow his stuff to play up.

Probability of re-signing: 40%

 

If you like us here,“like” us on Facebook!

Who are these players? Find out in The 2014 Toronto Blue Jays Minor League Handbook, now available as an ebook at Smashwords.com for $7.99 US. It’s coming soon to Amazon, Apple iBooks, Kobo and other fine retailers. You can purchase and preview the book at our Smashwords.com page!

The All-Star Break Supplement to the Minor League Handbook is also available at Smashwords.com for only $2 US! Get an update on how your favourite players have been doing this season as well as a report on the 2014 draft!

All photos are copyright Blue Jays from Away (2013-2014) and may not be used without permission.

Blue Jays Minor League Free Agents, Part 2: New Hampshire Fisher Cats

Sergio Santos
Sergio Santos

Sergio Santos

 

Moving down a level to the Double-A New Hampshire Fisher Cats, we now take a look at the minor league free agents who will be able to choose their own destiny in professional baseball this offseason.

 

 

Austin Bibens-Dirkx

Austin Bibens-Dirkx

 

Austin Bibens-Dirkx has, like Scott Copeland (discussed last time), been one of the Blue Jays’ great soldiers, going wherever he has been needed and getting the job done. Bibens-Dirkx, 29, moved up a level (collectively) from last season when he pitched to a 2.48 ERA at Dunedin and New Hampshire. This year, the numbers regressed a little bit but he was solid in Buffalo, pitching 39 1/3 innings with a 3.89 ERA and 1.30 WHIP over 17 appearances (including four starts). In another 17 appearances (with 74 innings) in Double-A New Hampshire, “The X-Man” pitched to a 3.16 ERA and 1.07 WHIP. Bibens-Dirkx is a 50-50 type of guy, I think. He’s done well in the Blue Jays’ organization but with the young pitchers probably starting the year in Triple-A, there may not be much room for him and he could go somewhere that will give him a chance to pitch at that level.

Probability of re-signing: 50%

 

30-year-old Randy Boone is exactly the kind of guy that more Blue Jays fans should know about. A Blue Jays’ lifer, he’s spent most of his career at the upper levels of the minor leagues, first tasting Triple-A in his second season (2009) but has never made more than two appearances at that level in any given year. Still, Boone has a lifetime 3.86 ERA in five seasons and 390 1/3 innings at the Double-A level and last year was his best yet. Starting in Buffalo, Boone only pitched two innings for the Bisons before heading back to New Hampshire and throwing 56 innings out of the bullpen with a 2.89 ERA, a 1.16 WHIP and an excellent 55 strikeout to 17 walk ratio. Boone could very well go elsewhere but might also come back the way two minor league free agents (Bobby Korecky and Jonathan Diaz) have already done.

Probability of re-signing: 50%

 

Scott Gracey, 28, regressed in 2014, pitching to a 5.50 ERA and 1.41 WHIP over 52 1/3 innings. While he had a very solid strikeout total (53 Ks) and decent walk rate (19 walks — 3.3 BB/9 IP), Gracey saw his home run rate balloon to the highest of his career at 1.2 HR/9 IP. 2014 was one of the worst seasons in Gracey’s pro career and it couldn’t come at a worse time. With room needed in Double-A for guys like Taylor Cole, Matt Boyd and Arik Sikula, Gracey is unlikely to re-sign with Toronto.

Probability of re-signing: 5%

 

Justin Jackson

Justin Jackson

 

Justin Jackson, a 2007 draftee, actually re-signed with the Blue Jays last year in his first opportunity to become a free agent. 2014 was the second year of the experiment to turn the former shortstop into a pitcher and the jury is definitely still out. While his numbers in 2014 betray much more polish than they did in 2013, Jackson is still walking a lot of batters and is getting hit hard. That said, 95-mph fastballs don’t grow on trees and there is a lot to be said for a guy who was solid in High-A Dunedin in only his second year as a pitcher despite getting roughed up (in only 8 2/3 innings) in Double-A. Jackson’s age (he’ll only be 26 next season) and positive energy in the clubhouse work in his favour and I can see him coming back to Toronto if the price is right.

Probability of re-signing: 70%

 

When I say that Mike Lee is going to be a free agent this offseason, I’m sure your reaction will be “who?” The 27 year old was brought in to the Jays’ system after starting 2014 with the Arizona Diamondbacks. The journeyman righty has pitched in four organizations with a career 4.16 ERA. In 32 innings with New Hampshire, Lee posted some excellent numbers including a 2.25 ERA and 0.97 WHIP with 30 strikeouts and just seven walks. Lee could be back with Toronto but, some experience at Triple-A already, he could be in demand as a guy who can fill out an organization.

Probability of re-signing: 30%

 

Sergio Santos, 31, became a free agent after the Blue Jays declined his 2015 option that would have paid him $6 million. The 2002 first-rounder, who started his career (like Justin Jackson) as a shortstop, had a disastrous 2014 campaign that saw him post an 8.57 ERA in 21 innings with the Blue Jays (walking an alarming 18 batters and giving up five home runs). Santos didn’t allow an earned run in 10 2/3 innings in Buffalo but walked six in 10 2/3 innings despite striking out 16. Santos will catch on elsewhere and could even come back to the Blue Jays if he takes a deeply discounted contract and finds his control.

Probability of re-signing: 15%

 

Richard Bleier

Richard Bleier

 

Richard Bleier, a 27-year-old lefty, came over to the Jays in the minor league portion of the 2013 Rule 5 draft after being in the Texas organization since being drafted as a sixth rounder in 2008. Bleier had a strong season in New Hampshire, posting a 3.93 ERA and 1.31 WHIP with just 11 walks in 84 2/3 innings. He had a taste of Buffalo with two innings in one outing but otherwise was in Double-A for the rest of the season. Bleier started five games and was a solid arm in the pen but I don’t think that the Blue Jays will really have much space for him going forward.

Probability of re-signing: 15%

 

Yusuf Carter

 

Yusuf Carter, a catcher and utility man, was signed by the Blue Jays out of independent ball over the offseason but the 29 year old didn’t really play enough to make much of an impact. Upbeat and energetic, Carter (who’s the nephew of former Blue Jay Joe Carter), hit only .183/.224/.225 in 76 plate appearances all season and the fact that he saw limited action makes him a candidate to not return.

Probability of re-signing: 5%

 

Mike McDade was drafted by the Blue Jays and came back to the organization after signing a free agent contract in spring training. Still only 25, McDade hit .250/.307/.366 with the Fisher Cats in 303 plate appearances, hitting 11 doubles and seven home runs. The switch-hitting first baseman was better from the left side of the plate (with an 80-point swing in OPS) and, with the trade of Adam Lind and Dan Johnson a free agent, McDade could find a spot in Triple-A Buffalo in 2014 if he re-signs. Like for Brett Wallace, there could be an opportunity here for.

Probability of re-signing: 40%

 

Cory Aldridge

Cory Aldridge

 

Outfielder Cory Aldridge has had a well-traveled career and is currently playing in Venezuela looking for a new contract for 2015. Having spoken to him during his stay in New Hampshire, I can tell you that Aldridge appeared to really enjoy his time with the Jays’ organization after getting purchased from a Mexican League club early in the year. That said, the 35 year old only played in 22 games in New Hampshire (hitting five home runs) and the question of whether there is a spot for his veteran presence in the system is a legitimate one.

Probability of re-signing: 35%

 

Michael Crouse

Michael Crouse

 

Seeing B.C. native Mike Crouse‘s name on the free agent list was somewhat surprising. Not even 24 years old (his birthday is on November 22), Crouse was a 16th-round pick in the 2008 draft. In his first year in Double-A, Crouse continues to show glimmers of promise and flashes of brilliant athleticism but hasn’t really been able to put things together in a spectacular fashion. Hitting .243/.321/.405, Crouse hit 17 doubles, six triples and nine home runs for the Fisher Cats this year while stealing 15 bases. I think the Blue Jays would really like to have Crouse back in the fold and if he’s willing, there’s a spot on the Fisher Cats for him to start 2015.

Probability of re-signing: 75%

 

Melky Mesa came the Blue Jays in a trade with the Royals mid-season and the 27-year-old former Yankee had some solid numbers in just 35 games with the Fisher Cats, hitting .256/.304/.434. The big question is how he sees himself and whether he feels like he’ll get a better opportunity to play at higher levels (like he did with KC) in another organization.

Probability of re-signing: 20%

 

If you like us here,“like” us on Facebook!

Who are these players? Find out in The 2014 Toronto Blue Jays Minor League Handbook, now available as an ebook at Smashwords.com for $7.99 US. It’s coming soon to Amazon, Apple iBooks, Kobo and other fine retailers. You can purchase and preview the book at our Smashwords.com page!

The All-Star Break Supplement to the Minor League Handbook is also available at Smashwords.com for only $2 US! Get an update on how your favourite players have been doing this season as well as a report on the 2014 draft!

All photos are copyright Blue Jays from Away (2013-2014) and may not be used without permission.

Blue Jays Minor League Free Agents 2014, Part 1: Buffalo Bisons

Scott Copeland

Scott Copeland

 

Matt Eddy at Baseball America does a fantastic job compiling all kinds of information about the minor leagues and he just released his list of 2014 minor league free agents sorted by team and the Blue Jays have 22 players whose minor league contracts are up.

 

 

Here are those free agents whose last team listed was the Buffalo Bisons:

 

Right-handed pitcher Scott Copeland is a really interesting player now that he’s a free agent. Copeland has only been with the Blue Jays’ organization since 2012 (after he was picked up when the Orioles let him) but he’s been outstanding at every level since then, rising through Dunedin, New Hampshire and reaching Buffalo last year. Copeland will be 27 next year but he’s a guy who can log a lot of innings in the high minors despite low strikeout numbers. He gets a lot of ground balls (2.52 ground-outs per air-out over his minor league career) and can work really efficiently, posting WHIPs in the 1.3s since coming to the Jays.

Probability of re-signing: 50%

 

Radhames Liz was signed to a minor league deal and was injured for most of the year and was shuttled between Double-A and Triple-A when he wasn’t hurt. Making 12 starts, Liz was outstanding in his eight outings in New Hampshire, posting a 1.93 ERA but struggled a lot in his 19 innings in Buffalo, walking 13 in 19 innings pitched.

Probability of re-signing: 15%

 

Mike Nickeas

Mike Nickeas

 

Mike Nickeas is a career minor-league backup catcher who has a cult following in Buffalo. At 31, Nickeas has 191 plate appearances in the major leagues with a .180 average and his numbers over the past few years in Triple-A aren’t that much better (hitting .166 in 2013 and .207 in 2014). The Canadian-born catcher doesn’t make his living with his bat, however, and the fact that he was traded from the Mets to Toronto (in the R.A. Dickey deal) means that he’s actually spent parts of the last five seasons with the Buffalo Bisons. Nickeas is a great character guy and, unless he retires from playing to become a coach, I think he’ll come back for another season.

Probability of re-signing: 75%

 

First baseman Brett Wallace came over to the Blue Jays in July when he was purchased from the Baltimore Orioles. Wallace did what he’s done at the Triple-A level for the past several years and that’s mash: he hit .323/.404/.519 with seven home runs in 38 games after having much more mediocre numbers (.265/.329/.389) with Baltimore’s Triple-A affiliate in Norfolk. Wallace could be an interesting guy to re-sign, particularly considering that the Blue Jays now have only Justin Smoak to fill the gap that Adam Lind has left. A left-handed hitter, Wallace is a significantly better hitter against righties than lefties in his major league career and could slot into that role in 2015.

Probability of re-signing: 50%

 

Jared Goedert

Jared Goedert

 

Jared Goedert had a quiet season, despite being one of the most consistent Buffalo Bisons with the bat. A 29 year old, Goedert hit .250/.340/.384 with 10 home runs for the Herd and could easily return to Buffalo but my thoughts are that he’s headed elsewhere.

Probability of re-signing: 10%

 

Andy LaRoche

Andy LaRoche

 

Another third baseman who is unlikely to return to Buffalo is 31-year-old Andy LaRoche. LaRoche saw a downturn from his solid 2013 season with the Bisons and hit only .248/.309/.396 in 60 games, playing only 34 games at third base. My gut feeling is that LaRoche looks for another team, particularly since the Blue Jays are probably ready to take a look at some younger guys at the hot corner.

Probability of re-signing: 5%

 

Coming over from Houston mid-season was Adron Chambers, a 28-year-old outfielder who played in only 25 games. Chambers hit very well, hitting .286/.347/.407 with three home runs. He could be back or he could take his services somewhere else. It’s hard to tell since I don’t have a good read on his situation.

Probability of re-signing: 50%(?)

 

Ricardo Nanita

Ricardo Nanita

 

Finally, Ricardo Nanita is, again, a free agent and while he was under contract with the Blue Jays in 2014, he spent most of the season in the Mexican League, playing for Quintana Roo where he hit .344/.398/.502 with six home runs in 55 games. Obviously Nanita has some skill but it seems like the window on his major league possibilities are all but closed. Still, I wouldn’t be surprised to see him back in a Jays’ uniform come spring training.

Probability of re-signing: 40%

 

If you like us here,“like” us on Facebook!

Who are these players? Find out in The 2014 Toronto Blue Jays Minor League Handbook, now available as an ebook at Smashwords.com for $7.99 US. It’s coming soon to Amazon, Apple iBooks, Kobo and other fine retailers. You can purchase and preview the book at our Smashwords.com page!

The All-Star Break Supplement to the Minor League Handbook is also available at Smashwords.com for only $2 US! Get an update on how your favourite players have been doing this season as well as a report on the 2014 draft!

All photos are copyright Blue Jays from Away (2013-2014) and may not be used without permission.

November 1 Arizona Fall League Update

Roberto Osuna
Roberto Osuna

Roberto Osuna

 

Yesterday was a big day for several Blue Jays’ farmhands in the Arizona Fall League, topping off an otherwise quiet week. In the “Fall Stars” game going tonight, Roberto Osuna and Dalton Pompey will see some action and both were kept off the field yesterday.

 

 

In Monday’s game, Dalton Pompey was back in action, going 1/6 with a double while Jon Berti was 0/5, striking out twice. Tuesday featured another 0-fer from Berti (0/5, 2 K), while Pompey was 1/3 with two walks and two stolen bases. Blake McFarland went two scoreless innings, allowing two hits and a walk but striking out two.

 

On Wednesday, October 29, Sean Ochinko was went 3/5 with a double, two RBI and a run scored and he threw out a runner trying to steal. Dwight Smith, Jr. went 2/4 with a run scored and an RBI. Arik Sikula threw a perfect inning in relief, earning the save and striking out a batter.

 

On Thursday, Dalton Pompey added two more hits including a triple and a walk, stealing two more bases. Ochinko played as the DH and was 0/3 with a walk.

 

Finally, in  Friday’s piece de resistance, Sean Nolin got the start and went five innings of scoreless ball, allowing only two hits and walking one, getting nine ground outs to just two fly outs. Blake McFarland added a scoreless inning, walking one and striking out two while Arik Sikula allowed two runs on three hits (including a home run). Dwight Smith, Jr. was 3/4 with two runs, an RBI and a walk while Jon Berti was 1/4.

 

Who are these players? Find out in The 2014 Toronto Blue Jays Minor League Handbook, now available as an ebook at Smashwords.com for $7.99 US. It’s coming soon to Amazon, Apple iBooks, Kobo and other fine retailers. You can purchase and preview the book at our Smashwords.com page! If you like us here,“like” us on Facebook!

The All-Star Break Supplement to the Minor League Handbook is also available at Smashwords.com for only $2 US! Get an update on how your favourite players have been doing this season as well as a report on the 2014 draft!

All photos are copyright Blue Jays from Away (2013-2014) and may not be used without permission.

Blue Jays Bring Liam Hendriks Back, Trade Santiago Nessy to Kansas City

Santiago Nessy
Santiago Nessy

Santiago Nessy

 

Liam Hendriks, the Buffalo Bisons’ top pitcher in 2014, is coming back to the Blue Jays organization.

 

 

Thanks to a tweet by the Blue Jays, we now know that Santiago Nessy, the Venezuelan minor league catcher, was the price they had to pay in order to bring the 25-year-old Australian righty back into the fold. Originally joining the Blue Jays as a waiver claim in February, Hendriks was dominant in the Triple-A International League for the Bisons, posting a 2.33 ERA and a miniscule 0.91 WHIP in 108 1/3 innings for the Herd, going 8-1 and striking out 91 with just seven walks.

 

While Hendriks had a 6.08 ERA in 13 1/3 innings with the Blue Jays, he did a bit better after getting traded to the Kansas City Royals (along with Erik Kratz in exchange for Danny Valencia), posting a 4.66 ERA with a 2.20 FIP thanks to 15 strikeouts and three walks in 19 1/3 innings. Hendriks was also excellent with Omaha, the Royals’ Triple-A club in the Pacific Coast League, with a 2.83 ERA and 1.11 WHIP in 35 innings. Hendriks will likely be more depth in Triple-A for the Blue Jays and will be available in case of injury or a traded pitcher.

 

Santiago Nessy, 21, has been a source of frustration for some Blue Jays fans, having been anointed a “Catcher of the Future” after a breakout 2012 season in Bluefield that saw him club eight home runs and eight doubles in just 45 games. Nessy struggled in Lansing in 2013, hitting .241/.393/.375 with just five home runs in an injury-shortened 61 games but the real lowlight in his season came from a baserunning mistake that cost the Lugnuts a victory.

 

Nessy split 2014 between Lansing and Dunedin, showing some improvements in Lansing but falling off a lot in Dunedin and only playing in 69 games over the course of the whole season. With defensive concerns and Rule 5 draft eligibility coming up, the Blue Jays probably got what they could for the young, right-handed hitting catcher.

 

While the book is nowhere near closed on Nessy (who will be in his Age-22 season next year), after drafting two catchers early in 2014, the Blue Jays will need to give a large group of players every day playing time. 2014 first-rounder Max Pentecost headlines this group and will likely get everyday reps in Lansing while Matt Morgan (2014 fourth rounder) should probably move up to Bluefield. 2013 16th rounder Dan Jansen probably will get a shot to be the everyday catcher in Vancouver and Jorge Saez will probably stick around in Dunedin after showing that he could handle a regular turn behind the plate. With Derrick Chung and A.J. Jimenez as the other every day players, Nessy was going to have to really prove he could be better than any one of the other players in order to earn his way onto the field.

 

Who are these players? Find out in The 2014 Toronto Blue Jays Minor League Handbook, now available as an ebook at Smashwords.com for $7.99 US. It’s coming soon to Amazon, Apple iBooks, Kobo and other fine retailers. You can purchase and preview the book at our Smashwords.com page! If you like us here,“like” us on Facebook!

The All-Star Break Supplement to the Minor League Handbook is also available at Smashwords.com for only $2 US! Get an update on how your favourite players have been doing this season as well as a report on the 2014 draft!

All photos are copyright Blue Jays from Away (2013-2014) and may not be used without permission.

 

More Minor League Honours for Pompey and Norris

Daniel Norris
Daniel Norris

Daniel Norris

 

I know I’m coming a little bit late to the party but hey, the season’s over (mostly) and I’m firmly in “Git ‘er done!” mode for all of the other things going on in my life. But don’t worry, Blue Jays fans! I’ll have you covered with these newsy tidbits!

 

 

The MILBYs are MILB.com’s yearly awards that they give out for various achievements in minor league baseball and a couple of Blue Jays’ farmhands have won some hardware this year.

 

In the “Breakout Prospect” category, two Blue Jays took home awards with Dalton Pompey earning the fan’s award and Daniel Norris getting the nod from the MiLB.com staff. Both players had meteoric rises, reaching the major leagues after starting in High-A Dunedin. Props go to the Canadian fans who must have voted en masse for their outstanding hometown prospect, getting him 42% of the vote. Second place was Kevin Ziomek of the West Michigan Whitecaps (Detroit) with 29%, who I interviewed earlier this season.

 

Daniel Norris, who also rose from Dunedin to the Blue Jays, grabbed 6% of the vote but must have impressed the staff to earn their choice. Norris wasn’t even a top-100 prospect coming into the season but is now ranked #25 by MLB.com and was dominant at every level other than the major leagues where he held his own. He had offseason surgery to remove bone chips from his elbow and that could be why he flagged in September as a member of the Toronto Blue Jays. Norris was also voted the Best Starter in the MILBYs by the fans with 51% of the vote.

 

Garnering second place in the Best Starter category was the Blue Jays’ Kendall Graveman who came from even lower in the system (Class-A Lansing) to reach the bigs in 2014. I think that both Graveman and Norris will start 2014 in Triple-A Buffalo and will be excellent as insurance for what could be a young Toronto rotation.

 

Dalton Pompey

Dalton Pompey

 

In more minor league news, two Blue Jays were selected for the Arizona Fall League’s Fall Stars game that will be held on Saturday, November 1. Dalton Pompey, now the #88-ranked prospect by MLB.com, was chosen along with Roberto Osuna, the 19-year-old who has struggled so far this year in the Arizona Fall League. Osuna is still in his first season coming back from Tommy John surgery.

 

Who are these players? Find out in The 2014 Toronto Blue Jays Minor League Handbook, now available as an ebook at Smashwords.com for $7.99 US. It’s coming soon to Amazon, Apple iBooks, Kobo and other fine retailers. You can purchase and preview the book at our Smashwords.com page! If you like us here,“like” us on Facebook!

The All-Star Break Supplement to the Minor League Handbook is also available at Smashwords.com for only $2 US! Get an update on how your favourite players have been doing this season as well as a report on the 2014 draft!

All photos are copyright Blue Jays from Away (2013-2014) and may not be used without permission.

Blue Jays Play Big Role in Huge Mesa Solar Sox Win

Dalton Pompey
Dalton Pompey

Dalton Pompey

 

The Mesa Solar Sox wrapped up a 14-0 win against the Surprise Saguaros in Arizona Fall League action  yesterday thanks to the outstanding efforts from four Toronto Blue Jays’ minor leaguers.

 

 

Sean Nolin had, by far, his best outing in the AFL this winter, throwing three almost perfect innings, facing only 10 batters and hitting one, retiring nine others with five strikeouts. 19-year-old righty Roberto Osuna followed him and had his best outing, throwing three scoreless innings, giving up two hits and striking out a pair. Nolin brought his ERA for the AFL down to 6.48 over 8 1/3 innings while Osuna, still coming back from Tommy John surgery last summer, brought his down to 12.27 in 7 1/3 innings.

 

Leading the 25-hit attack for the Solar Sox was another pair of Blue Jays. Dalton Pompey, who made the big leagues in September after a stellar year at three minor league levels, was 4/6 with two doubles, two runs scored and an RBI while Dwight Smith, Jr. (who turns 22 today!) was 2/5 with a triple, two RBI and a run.

 

The Blue Jays’ two relievers, Blake McFarland and Arik Sikula also got into the action and both kept their ERAs at 0.00 with McFarland adding an inning of no-hit, one-walk relief and Sikula throwing one shutout inning, allowing a hit.

 

All in all, it was a great day to be a Mesa Solar Sock in general and a Toronto Blue Jays farmhand in particular!

 

Who are these players? Find out in The 2014 Toronto Blue Jays Minor League Handbook, now available as an ebook at Smashwords.com for $7.99 US. It’s coming soon to Amazon, Apple iBooks, Kobo and other fine retailers. You can purchase and preview the book at our Smashwords.com page! If you like us here,“like” us on Facebook!

The All-Star Break Supplement to the Minor League Handbook is also available at Smashwords.com for only $2 US! Get an update on how your favourite players have been doing this season as well as a report on the 2014 draft!

All photos are copyright Blue Jays from Away (2013-2014) and may not be used without permission.