The Bluefield Blue Jays get their season going today and have released their roster. It’s an interesting one that features a lot of newly drafted college players: far more than they had last year.
RHP Joey Aquino – 23 years old – 35th round, 2014 draft – San Diego Christian College (CA)
RHP J.T. Autrey – 22 years old – 32nd round pick, 2014 draft – Lamar University (TX)
LHP Ryan Borucki – 20 years old – 15th round pick, 2012 draft – Mundelein HS (IL)
LHP Oscar Cabrera – 20 years old – International Free Agent (2011) – Dominican Republic
RHP Conor Fisk – 22 years old – 24th round pick, 2014 draft – University of Southern Mississippi (MS)
RHP Alberto Guzman – 21 years old – International Free Agent (2012) – Dominican RepublicRHP Dusty Isaacs – 22 years old – 18th round pick, 2014 draft – Georgia Tech (GA)
LHP Michael Kraft – 22 years old – 37th round pick, 2014 draft – University of Texas – San Antonio (TX)
LHP Daniel Lietz – 20 years old – 5th round pick, 2013 draft, Heartland Community College (IL)
RHP Chase Mallard – 22 years old – 14th round pick, 2014 draft – Alabama – Birmingham (AL)
RHP Carlos Ramirez – 23 years old – International Free Agent (2008) – Dominican Republic
RHP Francisco Rios – 19 years old – International Free Agent (2012) – Mexico
LHP Matthew Smoral – 20 years old – Supplemental round pick, 2012 draft – Solon (OH)
RHP Jesus Tinoco – 19 years old – International Free Agent (2011) – Venezuela
RHP Chase Wellbrock – 22 years old – 33rd round pick, 2014 draft – University of Houston (TX)
As you can see, there are a few names that you’re going to want to keep an eye on here. It’s generally an older pitching staff, mostly selected lower down in this years draft, but there are a few pitchers to keep an eye out for. Ryan Borucki is probably the name that is most under the radar. Borucki didn’t pitch last year after an injury kept him out of action (Tommy John surgery if I’m not mistaken). He’s a hard-throwing lefty that many people really love and reports are that he did really well in extended spring training.
The surface numbers don’t really support it but Lietz performed all right in the GCL last year showing some good control with a healthy 3.18 K/BB ratio with almost a strikeout per inning. He could put himself on the map with a good season in Bluefield.
Matt Smoral is another name everyone should know by now. Smoral missed playing in his draft year due to injury but had some pretty awful numbers in the GCL last year. It’s time for the big (6-foot-8) lefty to take some forward strides with those big limbs of his.
The final name that I’m going to be watching carefully is Carlos Ramirez. You’re probably wondering who this guy is. He’s actually a converted outfielder who started the year with the Lansing Lugnuts and struggled at the plate for the second year in a row. He’s always had a cannon of an arm and he’s going to try to harness that on the mound.
Gabriel Cenas – 20 years old – International Free Agent (2010) – Venezuela
Dan Jansen – 19 years old – 16th round draft pick, 2013 draft – Appleton (WI)
Andres Sotillo – 20 years old – International Free Agent (2012) – Venezuela
Of the three catchers on the roster, there are a couple of exciting names. Cenas has been converted into a catcher from third base but is best known for his bat, taking huge strides for the GCL Blue Jays last year at his second go-round at the level. He’s still not “old” but needs to start moving through the system although there’s a lot more competition for roster spots behind the plate this year than there were last year.
Dan Jansen was talked about as a guy who could very well turn out to be a front-line catcher in a few years. He’s another guy who might very well be be relegated to the back of the line if he doesn’t step things up. He’s younger than everyone else behind the plate on this team but the Jays drafted Max Pentecost and Matt Morgan in the early rounds this year and, while Jansen is likely going to only have to compete with Cenas this year, next year Morgan could be making a run if he has a good year in the GCL.
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SS Aaron Attaway – 22 years old – 20th round pick, 2014 draft, Western Carolina (NC)
3B Austin Davis – 21 years old – Undrafted Free Agent (2014), Southeastern University (FL)
1B Lydell Moseby – 23 years old – Undrafted Free Agent (2013) – Benedict (SC)
2B Angel Rojas – 21 years old – International Free Agent (2009) – Venezuela
Another interesting mix of players but there are really just the two younger guys that we’re going to really watch carefully. Tellez impressed a lot of people in spring training and extended spring training and got some playoff experience in Bluefield at the end of last year. He has the potential to be one of the best power bats in the system and he has been showing more maturity in being able to go the other way.
Urena makes people drool over his defense. Of the shortstops that the Jays have signed in the international free agent pool over the past several years (Dawel Lugo, Franklin Barreto, Urena and Yeltsin Gudino), Urena’s the one that people think will stick at shortstop. He’s also shown some patience at the plate and some solid hitting, posting a .300 average last year at the DSL and GCL levels. The youngest player on the team, there may be an adjustment period for him.
I can see Aaron Attaway being the every day second baseman for the club, much in the way that Tim Locastro moved to second base after being a college shortstop last year. This would probably leave Austin Davis to handle the bulk of third base duties.
Anthony Alford – 19 years old – 3rd round, 2012 draft – Columbia (MS)
Josh Almonte – 20 years old – 22nd round pick, 2012 draft – Long Island (NY)
Jacob Anderson – 21 years old – Supplemental round pick, 2011 draft, Chino (CA)
Jesus Gonzalez – 19 years old – International Free Agent (2011) – Venezuela
James Lynch – 22 years old – 39th round pick, 2014 draft – Pima CC (AZ)
Trent Miller – 22 years old – 40th round pick, 2014 draft – Middle Tennessee State (TN)
This group has some fascinating names including Anthony Alford. Playing in extended spring training for two years now, he hasn’t gotten out of the Gulf Coast League yet and didn’t play particularly well in extended spring training.
Jacob Anderson was looking good and needs to have a big season in order to make up for time lost due to injuries. He had a .930 OSP in extended spring training and a very low strikeout rate and could be primed for a big step forward.
From talk around spring training when I was there, Josh Almonte is a guy that the Jays are pretty high on and I’d pick him to be my dark horse in the outfield. He made some big strides beneath the surface last year and could emerge with a solid season in Bluefield.
Who are these players? Find out in The 2014 Toronto Blue Jays Minor League Handbook, now available as an ebook at Smashwords.com for $7.99 US. It’s coming soon to Amazon, Apple iBooks, Kobo and other fine retailers. You can purchase and preview the book at our Smashwords.com page! If you like us here,“like” us on Facebook!
All photos are copyright Blue Jays from Away (2013-2014) and may not be used without permission.