Blue Jays Minor League Depth Chart: Part 5, Third Base


Andy Burns
Andy Burns


Third base is another area of depth for the Blue Jays, from the major league squad all the way down to Lansing. Additionally, within two or three years, there could be even more young players playing the hot corner in the minor leagues for the Blue Jays since several shortstops may well be moved to third as they develop.



That said, the low minors don’t look all that deep, with most of the best young third basemen clustered between Double-A and Class-A.


2014 Toronto Blue Jays Organizational Depth Chart (projected) — Third Base


1. Brett Lawrie – ML
2. Brent Morel – ML/AAA
3. Andy LaRoche – AAA
4. Jared Goedert – AAA
5. Andy Burns – AA
6. Ryan Schimpf – AA
7. Gustavo Pierre – A+
8. Mitch Nay – A
9. Kellen Sweeney – A+
10. Justin Atkinson – SS-A
11. Edwin Fuentes – R+
12. Ronniel Demorizi – R
13. Bryan Lizardo – FR


So, we can start our discussion at the top but everyone knows that Brett Lawrie is the de facto third baseman for the Toronto Blue Jays. Brent Morel will be the first backup in case Lawrie hasn’t learned how to back off the Red Bull injections just a little bit and Andy LaRoche, who re-signed a minor league deal, will likely come in if a couple of other options don’t work out (see below).


Andy LaRoche
Andy LaRoche


LaRoche will get the everyday reps in Triple-A while Andy Burns is the go to guy in New Hampshire until he shows that he’s outgrown Double-A and gets a promotion, which will occur no earlier than mid-season. I’m not sure what the long-term prognosis is going to be for Burns. He’s got great defensive skills and can rival Lawrie in terms of raw athleticism and has shown some good work with the bat so far in his minor league career. If he has another good year in 2014, the Blue Jays may be well served moving him off third base to second to get more value out of him at the major league level.


Ryan Schimpf
Ryan Schimpf


Ryan Schimpf is lower than Burns on the depth chart because of the fact that the Jays basically moved Schimpf off third base to let Burns play there once he was promoted from Dunedin. He’s a decent fielder but Burns offers plus defense and there’s no way that Schimpf plays the position over Burns regardless of how he hits.


In Dunedin, you’ll see a lot of Gustavo Pierre. Pierre still needs to do a lot of work on his approach: he only walked four times all season last year. It also looks like he’s settling in to third base, making fewer errors in about as many chances in the second half in Dunedin as he did in Lansing. The mental game makes me question how far he’ll get in the long term but he has the tools.


Mitch Nay
Mitch Nay


Mitch Nay supersedes Kellen Sweeney despite the fact that I anticipate that Sweeney will be at a higher level next year mainly because Nay has far more potential with the bat and has yet to really fail at the professional level. Nay could be put on the fast track if he can dominate in Lansing and the only person who is really “in his way” would be Burns who is much more versatile defensively. Nay may end up at first base or in right field as well.


Moving down the line, there aren’t as many clear cut third basement. Justin Atkinson wasn’t very impressive with the bat in Vancouver but he was the youngest player on the team to start the season and he’ll certainly be given another chance to show what he’s got. Demorizi had a good season in the Dominican Summer League last year and will likely be forced to third base (like he was last year) with the depth and quality of the shortstops that the Jays have in the system. Bryan Lizardo is a 16-year-old free agent from the Dominican who appears to be a natural third baseman so you can expect to see him begin his pro career in the DSL this year.


Auxiliary Third Basemen


1. Maicer Izturis – ML
2. Edwin Encarnacion – ML
3. Jonathan Diaz – AAA
4. Steven Tolleson – AAA
5. Jack Murphy – AA
6. Shane Opitz – AA/A+
7. Jason Leblebijian – A+
8. Matthew Dean – A
9. Andy Fermin – A
10. David Harris – SS-A/A
11. Angel Rojas – R+/SS-A
12. Koby Kraemer – R/R+
13. Andrew Florides – R
14. Dean Bell – R/R+
15. Deiferson Barreto – R
16. Juan Kelly – R


Most of these names have appeared on other lists, either as their main positions or as auxiliary position players. A lot of these guys are utility men. I probably wouldn’t want Edwin Encarnacion to play third base too much but if it’s a last-ditch effort, then it’s better than some other options.


Matt Dean
Matt Dean


I put Matt Dean on the list because he can play third and did so as recently as 2013 (for four games). I think it would take an emergency to get him there again in 2014 mainly because I heard really good reports about his defense at first and the Blue Jays will want to keep him there.


As for the others, it’s a case of low-minors utility guys. A couple might be interesting if they get a chance to play more but are likely going to be role players for 2014.