The Year of the Beard: First Impressions of Blue Jays Minor League Camp

J.A. Happ

This is definitely not the Yankees’ spring training camp. Beards are proliferating and there’s long hair aplenty. Now, I’m more interesting in seeing what these gentlemen do on the baseball field but the beards definitely obscure their faces and make some of the fellas difficult to recognize, especially when there’s dozens of them around with about half sprouting some kind of facial hair.

 

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That said, I did learn numerous things here at minor league spring training on Day 1. If you’re interested in scouting reports, that’s reserved for our premium subscribers and the “Quick Hit” scouting reports will come a little later today or (more likely) tomorrow. We’ll open up sales of our 2017 Yearly subscription, and you’ll be able to purchase that, and get a copy of the 2017 Toronto Blue Jays Minor League Handbook for free when it released, likely next week. You can still use your 2016 Yearly subscription until it runs out as well as monthly subscriptions to access our Premium Content.

 

 

The first thing of note that I saw when entering the park was that Max Pentecost was taking ground balls at first base. He played in the game later on and took BP but still isn’t fielding much. He was warming up a pitcher later in the afternoon but wasn’t throwing back.

 

Also on the injury front, Mitch Nay is back and hitting but I didn’t see him in either game.

Taylor Cole has reported a recurrence of his shoulder impingement and is undergoing treatment but doesn’t expect to be back by June. It’s a frustrating time for the minor league veteran, but, as is usual for him, his outlook is very positive and he’s one of the most encouraging teammates I’ve seen.

Lourdes Gurriel is back in minor league camp and taking instruction, mostly in baserunning at this point. He’s also recovering from an injury and isn’t back hitting yet.

 

When it comes to spring training, there are always some positional changes. Andrew Guillotte is trying second base and actually looks quite good. I saw make a play or two in the game and when taking ground balls, he has soft and quick hands and more than enough arm for second.

Two new catchers are taking shape with Mattingly Romanin and Shane Opitz putting on the tools of ignorance. I noticed Opitz hitting with catchers in BP.

 

I had a great conversation with Zach Jackson so if you stay tuned to the Blue Jays from Away Podcast, you’ll be able to catch that interview once I’m back in Toronto and able to record and edit the audio.

 

A few guys came over from big league camp with J.A. Happ and Roberto Osuna starting their respective games and Jarrod Saltalamacchia catching Happ. Happ was hit fairly hard in the Triple-A game where he threw for five innings and was followed by Chris Smith for two. Conner Greene finished with three innings. On the Double-A side, Osuna toyed with batters flashing a terrific changeup and didn’t throw all out, hitting maybe 93 on the radar gun. The mainstream media presence wasn’t very strong, since we didn’t have Josh Donaldson there yesterday.

 

Today, I have a big decision to make. I’ve been told that Jordan Romano is pitching for the Double-A squad in Tampa at the Yankees’ complex but that’s a horrible place to really watch what’s going on. The younger two groups are in Dunedin today so I’ll probably end up staying there, but I’ll take a look at the pitching schedule before I make my final decision.

 

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