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It’s March and spring training in full swing! That also means that it’s time to try to play the roster projection game! Over the next week or so, I’ll give my projections on the rosters of all four full-season teams in the Toronto Blue Jays organization, continuing with the hitters of the Lansing Lugnuts!
I think the hitters will be a little easier to predict than the pitchers for the Lugnuts so here we go!
Philip Clarke was the Blue Jays’ ninth-round pic of the draft in 2019 and the Vanderbilt catcher will probably be the #1 guy in Lansing in 2020 after hitting .257/.359/.333 with Vancouver last year.
Sharing the catching duties are probably going to be a couple of others. Hagen Danner struggled at times but showed off some big raw power for the Lugnuts last year and I can see him returning.
Ryan Sloniger just hit wherever he went last year. Putting up strong numbers in Bluefield and Vancouver and hitting 10 home runs in 43 games combined. I think he moves up to Lansing.
Finally Jesus Lopez was acquired when the Jays traded Kendrys Morales last April. Lopez was an infielder in the A’s organization but the Jays were converting him to be a catcher and he may get some more time behind the plate this year.
PK Morris had a great year in Bluefield, hitting eight home runs in 190 at bats, and I was hearing great things about him from the Blue Jays’ brass as one of the most improved players on the team. He’s had a few years of short-season ball and I think he graduates to Lansing.
Miguel Hiraldo was heralded for his bat last year in Bluefield although his defense is behind his hitting. Could he be the everyday second baseman in Lansing?
Leonardo Jimenez was likewise in Bluefield last year and had solid numbers with the bat and, although he doesn’t show the same power that Hiraldo does, he is far ahead with the glove and is a natural shortstop.
Jordan Groshans will likely return to Lansing, at least for a bit, on his ascendancy through the minors, particularly if he continues to hit the way he did last year as he comes back from injury. He could start in Dunedin, however.
Tanner Morris, the Blue Jays’ fifth-round pick in 2019 was one of the few 2019 draftees to have a strong year at the plate as he hit for a .730 OPS in Vancouver. If Groshans starts in Dunedin, Morris can play short or second.
Trevor Schwecke was selected in the 13th round for the Blue Jays and struggled a bit for the Canadians, finishing his debut season with a .648 OPS. He played all over the infield with time at first, second, third and short.
On the Bubble
Spencer Horwitz was the Jays’ 24th-round pick in 2019 and had strong numbers in Bluefield, posting an .866 OPS but struggled in Vancouver (.513 OPS) in 42 at bats. I think he could be in Lansing but might wind up in extended spring training for a bit.
LJ Talley, the Jays’ seventh-round pick in 2019, was the only 2019 draftee to play for Lansing last year, getting into 52 games after a strong senior season with Georgia. Talley didn’t respond well to the Midwest League, posting a .599 OPS. While I think the Lansing infield is going to be crowded, he could be moved up to Dunedin to start the year if he’s not going to get playing time for the Lugnuts.
Nick Podkul will be 23 on the opening weekend of the season and split time between Lansing and Dunedin last year. I have a feeling he’ll be in Dunedin but there’s a chance he’ll start in Lansing.
Ronny Brito came over to the Blue Jays in the Russell Martin trade and was underwhelming in his Age-20 season with the Vancouver Canadians, posting a .614 OPS. He could spend another season in extended spring training or he could start in Lansing, where he finished 2019.
We’ll start with Cameron Eden. The Jays’ sixth-rounder in 2019 played mostly in center field for the Vancouver Canadians last year but also struggled at the plate, hitting for a .576 OPS.
Rightfielder Will Robertson, the Jays’ 2019 fourth rounder, had a rough start to his season in Vancouver but finished well, hitting six home runs (in a tough ballpark to hit the ball out) and had a .769 OPS before it was all done. He’ll be in Lansing to start.
Dominic Abbadessa will likely get another chance in Lansing to start the season. But after a strong 2018 season in Bluefield in which he hit over .300, Abbadessa got off to a tough start in Lansing, hitting for a .571 OPS and, when he went to Vancouver, he did even worse, posting a .468 OPS in 163 plate appearances. He’ll need a good spring to get a spot on the Lugnuts.
On the Bubble
D.J. Neal struck out a lot in Lansing and hit for just a .601 OPS in 307 plate appearances. He could be back but, if there isn’t room in Lansing, he could move up to Dunedin, especially with a good spring.
Mc Gregory Contreras, 21, had a breakout year in Vancouver in 2018 but couldn’t match it in 2019, posting a .593 OPS in Lansing before going back to Vancouver and struggling both offensively and defensively, striking out 88 times in 270 plate appearances and posting a .579 OPS.
Justin Ammons was a non-drafted free agent who signed with the Blue Jays and played in Bluefield, tearing the league up with a .933 OPS. He’s got an outside chance to start his Age-22 season in Lansing.
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