Spring training has now concluded and the veteran Blue Jays roster did not provide any real opportunities for prospects to win a spot in camp. As the team set it sights on a 3rd consecutive post-season appearance they broke camp without any rookie eligible players.
First baseman Rowdy Tellez (#4 on my top 50) was the talk of camp this year as he appeared in 20 spring games. He only managed to hit 1 HR and struck out 11 times but he did hit .281 and showed a good eye at the plate with a .378 OPS. Much of the fan base was hoping he would beat out Justin Smoak for the first base job however he still needs some time at AAA. He is poised to be a big left-handed bat in the future and hopefully will get his opportunity sooner rather than later.
A couple of older prospects who were not included in my top 50 prospect list had strong camps and made a good impression on the coaching staff. On RHP Casey Lawrence Blue Jays manager John Gibbons said “He’s really got our attention,”.
RHP Casey Lawrence
Age: 29 (DOB: 10/28/87)
Lawrence threw 16.1 innings in 7 spring games making 4 starts. He is a 29 year old starter who signed after going undrafted for the second time in 2010. He has slowly worked his way up through the system with very little fanfare. Over seven seasons he has a career record of 63-60, 3.83 ERA. He started 2016 with three rough starts in AAA before being demoted back to AA. In New Hampshire he made some adjustments to his delivery working with pitching coach Vince Horsman. His fastball went from 88-89 mph up to 92-94 mph and his fortunes turned from thinking the end of his career was near to now possibly being in the conversation for a role on the Blue Jays at some point this season.
IF Jon Berti
Age: 27 (DOB: 01/22/90)
Berti had impressive spring numbers hitting .308/.386/.385 with 9 runs scored and 2 SB in 22 spring games. He is a 27 year old infielder who can play multiple positions. He was drafted in the 18th round in the 2011 draft. In 6 minor league seasons he has worked his way up through the system batting .257 with 222 SB’s. His speed and versatility will benefit him at the major league level in a utility role and could earn him a call-up at some point this season.
MINOR LEAGUE AFFILIATES
Opening day rosters for the full season minor league affiliates have been announced and many of the players from my top 50 prospect list will get their season underway in the coming days.
AAA Buffalo Bisons
Making their AAA debuts will be 1B Rowdy Tellez (#4), OF Dwight Smith (#18) and 2B Christian Lopes (#37). Coming over from the AAA Cardinals team is C Mike Ohlman (#25). Another player to watch is Bisons returnee RP Danny Barnes (NR)
AA New Hampshire Fisher Cats
Seven of my top 12 prospects will begin in New Hampshire. Making their AA debuts will be OF Anthony Alford (#1), RHP Sean Reid-Foley (#2), RHP Jon Harris (#7), RHP Fransisco Rios (#17) and Jonathan Davis (#24). Returning to the Fisher Cats are infielders SS Richard Urena (#5) and 1B Ryan McBroom (#40), outfielders Harold Ramirez (#8) and Roemen Fields (#30), catcher Reese McGuire (#12) along with starters RHP Connor Greene (#11), LHP Shane Dawson (#29) and reliever LHP Tim Mayza (#32).
2B Tim Lopes (#41) comes over from the Seattle AA team. Another player to watch is 3B Emilio Guerrero (NR) also returning to the Cats.
High-A Dunedin Blue Jays
Making their Hi A debuts will be 2B Lourdes Gurriel (#6), RHP T.J. Zeuch (#10), LHP Angel Perdomo (#14), RHP Jordan Romano (#35), 2B Cavan Biggio (#38) and OF Lane Thomas (#42). Returning players to Dunedin are catchers Max Pentecost (#13) and Danny Jansen (#33), 3B Matt Dean (#28), CF D.J. Davis (#20) along with pitchers LHP Ryan Borucki (#19), RHP Tom Robson (#36) and RHP Adonys Cardona (#44). 3B Mitch Nay (#21) will begin the season on the DL. Another player to watch is 1B Juan Kelly (NR) also making his Hi A debut.
Low-A Lansing Lugnuts
All eyes will be on young phenoms 3B Vlad Guerrero (#3) and SS Bo Bichette who will making their A ball debuts. Others debuting at the level will be RHP Zach Jackson (#23) and SS Yeltsin Gudino (#43). Returning to the Lugnuts are CF J.B. Woodman (#16) along with pitchers RHP Justin Maese (#15) and RHP Patrick Murphy (#34). A couple other players to watch are newcomers 1B Bradley Jones (NR) and RHP Osman Gutierrez (NR)
TOP 50 UPDATE
A spot has opened up on my top 50 list after the release of RHP Evan Smith (#47). The next guy on my list to add in would be
LHP Travis Hosterman
Age: 18 (DOB: 08/19/98)
Hosterman is a left-hander who was drafted out of high school in the 11th round in last season’s draft. He began his minor league journey making 5 starts and 9 appearance in the GCL in 2016. He had a 4.91 ERA, 1.58 WHIP, 14 K/10 BB in 18.1 IP. The projectionable 6’3” lefty has a fastball in the 90-91 MPH range with a good curveball for his age.