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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 New Hampshire Fisher Cats!
I think the hitters will be a little easier to predict than the pitchers for the Fisher Cats so here we go!
Few position players who will not even be close to the major leagues come Opening Day are getting as much press as Alejandro Kirk, the rotund catcher from Mexico. Just 21, Kirk put up excellent numbers in both Lansing and Dunedin last year and got into 71 games in Advanced-A with an .841 OPS, priming him for Double-A. He gets good reviews from pitchers who love to throw to him and coaches who love his athleticism despite his size. He’ll play at least half the games at catcher for New Hampshire.
Mac James was just signed by the Blue Jays recently (you can check out our interview of him here) And while he’s reached Triple-A in parts of the last two seasons, I think the Jays will have him in Double-A to start the year. He’s a defense-first catcher who will be a solid backup to Kirk.
Kacy Clemens really struggled offensively last year, hitting just .145 in 24 games in New Hampshire before he was sent back to Dunedin where he just barely got his batting average over the Mendoza Line, hitting .204 with some solid power numbers (10 home runs in the Florida State League in 294 at bats). He’ll get another chance to see if he can hit Double-A pitching.
Vinny Capra didn’t produce much offensively after jumping directly from Lansing to New Hampshire last year but the 24 year old gets good reviews for his grit, hustle and solid work ethic. He posted a .605 OPS in 388 plate appearances last year and has some gap power and speed on offer.
Kevin Smith had a disastrous 2019 after a breakout 2018. Moved up to Double-A, he had retooled his swing and things just didn’t work out. He hit .209/.263/.402 with 151 strikeouts in 116 games and though he hit 19 home runs and had strong power numbers when he put the ball in play, that strikeout total is going to have to drop significantly for Smith to become the productive shortstop he can be and move up to Triple-A.
Logan Warmoth, 24, rebounded after a rough 2019 starting in Dunedin, hitting .292/.380/.423 in 36 games there before he was promoted to New Hampshire. In Double-A, he didn’t fare as well, hitting just .200/.290/.277 in 65 games around an injury. Warmoth has been getting time in the outfield in spring training and in the Arizona Fall League and will probably become more of a utility player in 2020, hoping the bat comes around.
Cullen Large played 84 games in Dunedin, hitting a solid .269/.360/.408 with 23 doubles and those totals dropped quite a bit in 24 games in with New Hampshire, falling to a .234/.273/.330 line with three doubles and three triples. I think he’ll be back in New Hampshire.
Backing up at first base will likely be Christian Williams. Williams, 25, played 29 games to great success in Dunedin while struggling more in New Hampshire with a .228/.276/.342 slash line in 79 games. While he’s shown power in the past, it hasn’t really translated in game action with just four home runs in 281 at bats last year.
On the Bubble
I already mentioned Kevin Vicuna could be in Dunedin or New Hampshire.
I think Ryan Noda will move up from Dunedin to start his Age-24 season, playing mostly in the outfield (although he could see time at first base). Noda is known most for his patience and had a strong, .372 on-base percentage last year while hitting 27 doubles, a triple and 13 home runs in 117 games. He does need to bring his strikeout rate down but he’ll be hitting in a friendly home ball park for lefthanded hitters which could increase his home run total in 2020.
Brock Lundquist moved to Double-A for his first exposure at that level last year and his numbers fell overall as he hit .232/.308/.351 in 108 games. I think the rightfielder is going to repeat the level.
Demi Orimoloye, 23, had a phenomenal June, winning the Florida State League Player of the Month award but he wasn’t that great for the rest of the season. He finished with a .240/.291/.386 slash line with 18 doubles, three triples and 12 home runs but is likely to move up to Double-A after a year and a half at the Advanced-A level.
On the Bubble
This group of outfielders doesn’t have any real center fielders leading me to believe that Chavez Young will be in New Hampshire if he’s not back in Dunedin. Reggie Pruitt is another option for a center fielder if Young stays in Dunedin but Pruitt has even less time at the Advanced-A level.
Josh Palacios had a solid season in New Hampshire last year and was one of the more consistent hitters for New Hampshire in a year that saw the club have a lot of inconsistent hitters. Palacios hit .266/.371/.416 in 82 games. He could be back in New Hampshire if there isn’t enough room in Buffalo.
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