A Look At the Bluefield Blue Jays Opening Day Roster

Josh Winckowski

The Bluefield Blue Jays opened their season last night so it’s time to look at the roster for the Jays’ Appalachian League affiliate. There are a lot of newly drafted players and it’s going to be tough to see how the starting rotation shakes out so we’ll divide our pitchers by handedness.

 

 

Righthanded Pitchers

 

Maximo Castillo

Maximo Castillo
Joel Espinal
Alvaro Galindo
Yonardo Herdenez
Colton Laws
Mitch McKown
Graham Spraker
Ty Tice
Josh Winckowski

 

The biggest name on this list is “Maximo” as Maximo Castillo is probably the biggest name that prospect hounds might recognize. Castillo is an 18-year-old Dominican with a big arm (mid-90s) who should be drawing some attention.

Espinal is returning to Bluefield after finishing his season there last year. He was a starter last season and could very well be back in that role after throwing three innings in relief in the opener.

Galindo is 19 and worked out of the bullpen in the GCL last year.

Yonardo Herdenez is returning to short-season ball after getting a couple of appearances with Lansing.

Laws, Spraker and Tice were all 2017 draft picks.

McKown was just awful last year in the GCL.

Winckowski was a 2016 draft pick and looked fairly decent in spring training but was hit for four runs (two earned) as the Opening Day starter.

 

 

Lefthanded Pitchers

 

Kelyn Jose

Jordan Barrett
Joe DiBenedetto
Kelyn Jose
Zach Logue
Jose Nova
Tyler Olander
Randy Pondler
Elio Silva

 

Barrett, DiBenedetto and Logue are all 2017 draftees getting their first taste of pro ball.

Jose, as you may know, is a fireballer who throws 100 mph but doesn’t know where it’s going half of the time. Jose is already 22 and will be returning to Bluefield after spending 2016 there.

Jose Nova, 22, is one of the pitchers I saw in spring training. Throwing in the high 80s, Nova got an appearance in Dunedin this year but returns to Bluefield after spending part of 2016 there.

Tyler Olander heads to Bluefield for the first time in his chase of the big league dream. The former professional basketball player has had his pro baseball career marred by injury but the 6-foot-9 lefty could be a solid arm for Bluefield.

Randy Pondler, 20, moves up to Bluefield in his second pro year, throwing 30 2/3 solid innings in the GCL last year.

Elio Silva, 21, is probably my biggest dark horse on this pitching staff. Silva was dominant in the DSL for two years and was rewarded by skipping over the GCL.

 

Catchers

 

Yorman Rodriguez

Ryan Gold
Reilly Johnson
Yorman Rodriguez

 

I really liked what I saw of Ryan Gold in spring training this year and his bat shows some extra-base pop in his second pro year after being drafted last year out of high school. Johnson is a 2017 draftee and is 20 years old while Rodriguez has a very nice looking bat and will probably play some infield too.

 

Infielders

 

Jesus Severino

Sterling Guzman
Jesus Navarro
Ryan Noda
Jesus Severino
Kevin Smith

 

With just five infielders, it’s very conceivable that another infielder selected in this year’s draft might join after he signs or come up from the GCL early in the season. The Blue Jays have third baseman Sterling Guzman who struggled in the GCL last year.

Navarro moves up from the GCL last year where he struggled to hit while Severino showed me great hands in the field at shortstop but is returning to Bluefield for the second year.

Noda and Smith were both 2017 draftees and Smith, the Jays’ fourth rounder this year, is likely to get a lot of time to show what he’s got.

 

Outfielders

 

McGregory Contreras

Mc Gregory Contreras
Antony Fuentes
Tanner Kirwer
Brandon Polizzi

 

There are two 2017 draftees in this group so far. Alberta-born Tanner Kirwer and Cal State Dominguez product Brandon Polizzi were both later round selections this year.

Mc Gregory Contreras is probably the most prominent name here. The 18-year-old athletic center fielder is jumping over the GCL after having an excellent first year in the DSL last year.

Fuentes, 21, moves up to Bluefield after playing in the GCL last year where he hit a decent .246/.301/.404.

 

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