Ok, I’ll admit it. I’m a little late this year getting my roster predictions out. Predicting rosters is like trying to hit a moving target, standing on a waterbed with one eye closed. I don’t have the information that Charlie Wilson, Doug Davis, Gil Kim and the minor league staff have. I just have what I’ve seen, what I’ve heard and the patterns that I’ve deduced about how the Blue Jays make decisions. And those deductions are all up in the air with a new sheriff (Mark Shapiro et al) in town.
Of the starting pitchers who I had predicted would start with the Lugnuts last year, a grand total of three (of eight) actually started the season with the club. Ryan Borucki and Matt Smoral had injury issues, Alberto Tirado and Jairo Labourt jumped up to Dunedin while Evan Smith didn’t make it to Lansing, staying back in extended spring training.
2016 Lansing Lugnuts Projected Starters
This group is not nearly the star studded group that we’ve seen in the past, but there are a few potential sleepers here. Borucki has had a horrible time with injuries but, if healthy, could have a breakout season. Jon Harris struggled in Vancouver, but I think that with a new year and rest from a heavy college workload last year, he’ll be poised to start the season in Lansing. Perdomo and Saucedo are coming off excellent years in short-season ball and should be ready to jump to a full season while Smith and Smoral had rough times last year but could very well be ready for a bigger challenge. I also think that Chris Rowley is going to get into full-season action in his first year back in professional baseball after serving two years in the army.
Other Possible Starters
Keep an eye on Bergen. Last year’s seventh-round draft pick was hurt for almost all of last year but, if he’s healthy, should be ready to go in Lansing as a 22 year old. Hollon, of course was suspended at the end of last year but he’ll be with the Lugnuts when he returns in May.
2016 Lansing Lugnuts Projected Bullpen
As far as the bullpen went last year, I had a slightly better number when it came to my prediction. Injuries robbed me of a much better success rate. This year there are going to be a couple of guys returning (hopefully) from injury who project to make the Lansing bullpen.
There are going to be a few hard throwers coming out of the pen this year with Adonys Cardona (hopefully) recovered from his arm woes over the lat few years. Jordan Romano is a Tommy John survivor who should be back either for opening or for very early in the season. He had his surgery around mid-March last year which puts him on track for game action in early April. New signing Gabe Noyalis (check out our interview with him here), throwing in the high-90s, should also be on the Lugnuts’ squad.
Miguel Burgos is my dark horse to make the squad. He had a very good season with Bluefield but isn’t a hard thrower. As a lefty and with four seasons in the Jays’ organization already, he’s a prime contender to take the step up to Lansing. Francisco Rios is another player who’s going to be 21 this year who should be ready to jump to Lansing although Rios has had just three seasons in the pros but with a strong season in Vancouver in the books, should move up to Lansing.
Canadian Sean Ratcliffe also had a good year in Vancouver and will be entering his Age-21 season. The Pickering native shouldered his biggest professional workload and with some good numbers could be ready for a full-season assignment. Turner Lee is another guy who is way under the radar but had success in Vancouver last year.
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The 2016 Toronto Blue Jays Minor League Handbook is coming April 3! Visit the Handbook page for more information!
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