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As we wrote the other day, the Blue Jays (along with most other major league teams) had released a bunch of players as May finished up. Baseball America has furnished us with a list of 26 players who were released.
Going by level, the highest level-players were Christian Williams and Kacy Clemens, both of whom have reached Double-A while pitcher Turner Larkins reached Triple-A Buffalo last year with another outing in Double-A although he spent most of the year in Dunedin. I’ve always liked Williams’s swing from the left side of the plate but that sweet swing and solid contact that I saw in spring training didn’t translate into solid production as he hit .228/.276/.342 in 79 games in Double-A last year. Clemens, the son of former Blue Jays (and Red Sox and Yankees and Astros) pitcher Roger Clemens, really struggled last year in both Dunedin and New Hampshire, hitting in the low .200s at the lower level.
Another first baseman, Jake Brodt, was released and the 24 year old spent most of the season in Lansing, putting up decent numbers with a .238/.330/.407 slash line, hitting 13 home runs.
Jesus Navarro spent 2019 in Dunedin, hitting under .200 and has been in the Blue Jays organization since July 3, 2014 when he signed as an international free agent, only reaching A-ball in 2018 with Lansing.
Hunter Steinmetz, a 23-year-old outfielder who was drafted in the 11th round of the 2018 draft, hit .216/.311/.305 in 75 games in Lansing last year and saw five games in Dunedin in 2019.
Most of the other players released come from the Jays’ short-season leagues. First baseman Pedro Hurtado hit .154/.256/.205 with the GCL Blue Jays last year in his second year as a pro.
Jose Zepeda, also spent one season in the DSL and one in the GCL, hitting .225/.406/.324 in 27 games last year.
Shortstop Gustavo Gutierrez didn’t get much rope at all, getting one season at the DSL level and hitting .227/.301/.311 in 2019 while Francisco Ruiz, a Puerto Rican catcher, has a combined .165/.243/.237 line in two seasons in the GCL. Junior Ramos also got just one season of action in the Blue Jays’ organization, hitting .184/.232/.228 in the DSL last year.
Aldo Ovando was an interesting case. He played for three seasons as an outfielder, including two years in the GCL (with a career slash line of .218/.276/.286) and then switched over to pitching last year, going to Bluefield and having an 8.89 ERA and 1.94 WHP with 18 strikeouts and 17 walks in 26 1/3 innings as a 22 year old.
The Blue Jays released 19-year-old outfielder Yeison Jimenez who hit .252/.338/.407 with some solid numbers in the DSL last year while D.J. Daniels, 22, a former sixth-round pick in 2016, showed promise in 2019, hitting .210/.281/.442 with seven home runs in 41 games.
The Blue Jays released three lefties including Juan Diaz who peaked in Vancouver last year, posting a 4.31 ERA and 1.31 WHIP over 62 2/3 innings. Junior A. Guzman threw 25 1/3 innings in the DSL with a 5.33 ERA and 1.62 WHIP, striking out 29 and walking eight while Warnel Valdez pitched in just three games in his career, all three last year with the GCL, giving up six runs in two innings.
Among the lower-level righties released by the Blue Jays were Brayan Aquino, a 19-year-old Dominican, and 18-year-old Joneivy Polonia who had a 630 ERA in 20 innings last year, walking 23 and striking out 10.
Jorman Gonzalez, 18, had a 10.55 ERA with 20 walks and 16 strikeouts in 21 1/3 innings in the DSL last year while Juan Acosta, 20, reached Bluefield last year and struggled, posting a 7.49 ERA and 1.66 WHIP with 16 walks and 28 strikeouts in 33 2/3 innings.
Juan Martinez threw 31 innings in the DSL as a 20 year old, striking out 16 and walking 24 with a 4.35 ERA and 1.48 WHIP while Miguel Olivo threw 13 innings in the GCL last year, his second in the organization and had a 0.69 ERA and 0.77 WHIP with just three walks and 12 strikeouts.
Ronald Govea was just 18 in 2019, his second year in the system and just threw 4 2/3 innings last year after a strong pro debut in 2018 in the DSL. Santos Moreno, a 20-year-old Mexican who had some decent results in two pro seasons. Moreno threw 70 2/3 innings with the DSL Blue Jays in 2018, posting a 2.04 ERA with a very strong 16 walks to 69 strikeouts. In 2019, he moved up to the GCL and threw 34 1/3 innings with a 3.41 ERA and 1.17 WHIP, striking out 25 and walking only five.
Yunior Hinojosa reached Lansing for five outings in 2018 but spent 2019 in Bluefield, throwing 30 innings with a 5.10 ERA and 1.43 WHIP, striking out 27 and walking 15.
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