We’re following up on our projected roster for the Lansing Lugnuts by moving up the ladder to Dunedin. I think the Dunedin roster gets a little easier to project than Lansing but there are always surprises as the Blue Jays make their own evaluations.
On the pitching side, Dunedin will have some big name starters leading the way but the predictions do get a little dicey. When looking at Dunedin, we have we have to consider who isn’t getting promoted even though they may merit moving up because of a trickle-down effect. Players from big league camp will get sent to Buffalo, pitchers who might be ready for Buffalo might get sent to New Hampshire, and those pitchers who have already spent most of a year (or more) in Dunedin and could be ready for Double-A get stuck in Dunedin. Here’s our prediction of who might be on the mound for Dunedin to start the year.
Harris was absolutely dominant coming out of the gate with the Lansing Lugnuts last year and continued to pitch very well in eight starts with the Dunedin Blue Jays. The Jays’ 2015 first-round draft pick, Harris will start his Age-23 season with New Hampshire and will get a little more seasoning before hitting Double-A at some point.
Perdomo has little left to prove in Lansing after leading the Midwest League in strikeouts last year. Still, I think the Jays will be a little more cautious with him as he gains consistency in Dunedin at the age of 23.
Like Harris, Francisco Rios started in Lansing but was promoted after just six starts, getting 19 outings in Dunedin. His innings were controlled a bit at the end of the year due to his rising innings total (he threw 120 2/3 last year, almost double the year before) but his strikeout rate dropped precipitously in Dunedin. Rios is getting great reports and pitched in the MLB Futures Game last year but he’s a little younger than some of the other pitchers who I think will be in Dunedin and Rios probably gets at least a couple of months there.
Romano spent the year in Lansing where he was outstanding returning from Tommy John surgery. He maintained almost a strikeout-per-inning ratio while walking 3.3 per nine after missing a year. Romano will be 24 in April and will be tested in Dunedin.
On the Bubble
These two guys, Shafer and DeGraaf are on the bubble mainly because they may or may not be in the rotation. Shafer has not been great in Dunedin in parts of two years, but has a heavy sinker and a solid slider. Josh DeGraaf is a guy with some helium. I’ve heard good things about how much the minor league staff like him and he moved into the Lansing rotation last year. Either could be a swingman for the Dunedin Blue Jays.
I think Maese could start here after some strong outings in Lansing last year.
Robson has struggled since returning from Tommy John surgery a couple of years ago with some extra velocity. I’ve seem him touch 97 mph but he hasn’t really been able to control his pitches as much, leading him to be used out of the bullpen. Robson is in his Age-24 year.
Rowley returned to the Blue Jays last year after two years in the army. He was very solid jumping to Dunedin (after pitching in the GCL in 2013) but I don’t think there’s going to be room for him in New Hampshire to start the year. Because of his military service, Rowley is 26.
Ramirez is also a little older (he’ll be 26 in April) but has fewer miles on his arm as he only started pitching full time in 2014 after coming up to Lansing through the Jays’ system as an outfielder. Ramirez had some solid stats for Dunedin last year but I think he’ll get a little more time for seasoning but he could go to New Hampshire, I just think the NH roster is getting a little crowded (by my estimation).
Suriel came out of nowhere in 2014 but hasn’t been able to get into more than one game in Double-A since. Suriel, 23, had a very low strikeout rate in Dunedin and will probably repeat the level.
Case was the closer for the Lansing Lugnuts and went to Australia to pitch down there this winter. While he missed half of 2016 with a suspension, Case is 24 and needs to be tested at the Advanced-A level this year.
Encina is one pitcher who I think will be skipped up a level. Last year, he made 10 appearances in Vancouver, two more in Lansing and one in Dunedin. Still, his command in Vancouver (four walks in 26 2/3 innings) was so good that I think that a strike thrower like him will jump a level. Call it a hunch.
A 22-year-old lefty, Lietz started the year atrociously in Lansing and was sent to Vancouver where he found himself and returned to Lansing where he was much improved after returning. I think Lietz moves up to Dunedin in 2017.
On the Bubble
I saw Snead last year in Lansing and he’s a side-arming lefty who could move quickly. He’s got a high-80s fastball with a ton of movement and a solid slider and reminds me a lot of Chad Girodo. Obviously, he could return to Lansing but I think he’s going to start in Dunedin.
Villegas was signed this offseason and he could return to the Florida State League after spending all of last year with the Brevard County Manatees (the Brewers’ FSL club). He could also move up to New Hampshire. Walby was also signed in the offseason and has struggled at the Advanced-A level for some years before putting up some decent numbers for Tampa last year. He has walked a lot of hitters historically and could pitch in Lansing.
With a lot of people talking about Zach Jackson, he could move up quickly.
Saucedo could also move up to Dunedin last year after a full year in Lansing, particularly if he has a good spring.
He missed all of last year with an injury but I think he could move up to Dunedin if healthy and he pitches will in the spring.
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