If you’re anything like me (and you probably are, if you’re reading this), the return of minor league baseball is a welcome sight. Usually we get notification of the Opening Day minor league rosters a little earlier than the day before the season starts, but at this point, after close to two years without minor league baseball, I’ll take it!
So here we go with our annual preview of the Opening Day rosters for our Toronto Blue Jays minor league affiliates, continuing with the Dunedin Blue Jays, now the Blue Jays’ Low-A affiliate.
We’ve got 16 pitchers here for the Dunedin Blue Jays and we’re going to have some really interesting guys to follow. Who the starters are going to be is open for debate although I’m sure Dutch righty Sem Robberse is going to get starter’s innings. I can also see Concepcion and Roither Hernandez starting. I saw both in Bluefield in 2019 and Concepcion has more polish when I saw them although Hernandez did clock a 100 mph fastball in spring training that I witnessed. It’s a good bet that Winder Garcia will get starter’s innings after reaching Vancouver in his first professional season in 2019. Juan De Paula, who had a pretty disastrous season with Lansing in 2019, cut short because of injuries, is another guy who should work as a starter. Brandon Eisert could also start.
Of the more interesting folks, Cuban fireballer Yosver Zulueta will also get a chance to prove himself although I don’t know if the club sees him as a starter or a reliever. Brazilian righty Rafael Ohashi, recently signed (although it had been reported quite a while ago on GloboEsporte.com, and he should be 18 or so, although there is no age listed for him. There are a lot of Latin American pitchers here including Willy Gaston (Cuba), Adrian Hernandez (Mexico), Naswell Paulino (Dominican Republic) and Rafael Monsion (Venezuela) with Americans Thomas Ruwe (non-drafted free agent in 2020), Gabriel Ponce (2019 draft), and Grant Townsend (2018 draft) joining the roster.
Britton was selected in the fifth round of the 2020 draft and is the “newest” Jay in the catching roster. Anthony Morales was a third-stringer in 2019 in Bluefield and Ryan Sloniger quickly became one of my favourite players on the 2019 Bluefield Blue Jays, posting a 1.031 OPS in 30 games before moving to Vancouver.
The biggest prospects on the team are infielders with Miguel Hiraldo and Orelvis Martinez. Martinez, 19, will likely get the bulk of the time at shortstop and has the potential to be an impact bat, moving up from the Gulf Coast League. Hiraldo comes from the international free agent class of the year prior to Martinez and will spend his Age-20 season in Dunedin. He had a big season in Bluefield in 2019 with an .829 OPS and he’ll probably get the most reps at third base. PK Morris had another big season in Bluefield in 2019 and he’ll likely get a lot of time at first base while Harry Ray and Zac Cook were both non-drafted free agents after the 2020 draft and they’ll make their pro debuts in Dunedin. Davis Schneider had a rough start to 2019 in Vancouver but thrived in Bluefield, posting a .930 OPS in just 34 games. Addison Barger returns to action in 2021 with Dunedin. He also played for Bluefield in 2019 but only played 13 games.
Are there any sleepers here? Well, I loved seeing Justin Ammons play the game in Bluefield in 2019. The non-drafted free agent gets a shot at a full-season league after posting a .933 OPS in 25 games as a non-drafted free agent. Mack Mueller was another non-drafted free agent signed by the Blue Jays after the 2020 draft and Eric Rivera also had a solid season in Bluefield in 2019, posting a .729 OPS. Finally Jhon Solarte is a 20-year-old Venezuelan (and the youngest outfielder on the club) and had a couple of solid seasons in rookie ball before coming up to Dunedin in 2021.
Let us know who you’re excited about on the 2021 Opening Day roster for the Dunedin Blue Jays!
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