The Toronto Blue Jays’ minor league teams got their seasons under way on Thursday and there are always interesting players to watch who consistently fly under the radar of prospect watchers. Here is one hitter per team who you would benefit watching.
There aren’t a lot of “under-the-radar” players on the Buffalo Bisons. Most of the players are older and have probably maxed out their development. But someone to watch is Patrick Cantwell. The catcher had an .819 OPS in 40 games with the Fisher Cats and is a veteran minor league receiver to back up Reese McGuire. Cantwell, 28, offers a little more with the bat than McGuire and had a knack for timely hits last year.
For the New Hampshire Fisher Cats, keep an eye on Joshua Palacios. Palacios was a strong performer in Advanced-A Dunedin last year and offers a speedy center fielder with gap power and a strong on-base percentage. He hit 30 doubles last year and, while stealing bases hasn’t really been a huge part of his game, he did swipe 15 bags last season and had a .355 OBP and a .416 slugging percentage. Palacios was also seen at the end of a lot spring training games, getting 16 at bats in 11 games. He also has some MLB bloodlines with his uncle Rey Palacios a former big leaguer.
There are a number of interesting players on the Dunedin Blue Jays roster this season. While Ryan Noda, Cal Stevenson, Demi Orimoloye, Samad Taylor and Kevin Vicuna are all intriguing players to look at, I’m going to write about someone I really liked last year who has fallen even further under the radar because of injuries. Cullen Large, 23, was dominant in Lansing last year before he got hurt, hitting .316/.411/.568 slash line in 27 games before his season was ended. Large is healthy and I’m really looking forward to seeing what he can do if he can stay on the field.
You know that Anthony Alford played college football for a few years before he committed to baseball, but quick, who else in the Blue Jays organization did the same thing? It’s D.J. Neal, an outfielder for the Lansing Lugnuts. Neal, 22, made the transition to baseball a little sooner, playing a year of college baseball before getting drafted by the Blue Jays but, like Alford, he’s considered to be very raw with a lot of potential. He’s got a lot of pop that I’ve seen first hand, but he’s also going to strike out a lot (he struck out twice in his first game with the Lugnuts, going 1/4) but he hit seven double, nine triples and four home runs in Bluefield last year, stealing 15 bases. While there are a lot of exciting prospects on the Lugnuts right now (like catcher Alejandro Kirk, 2018 first-rounder Jordan Groshans, and Dominicans Otto Lopez and Mc Gregory Contreras, few players have the tools that Neal has and it will be interesting to see how he deploys them this season.
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