Day 5: Sunday, March 17, 2019
Happy St. Patrick’s Day! I was planning to get out of Dunedin to take a look at the Blue Jays’ “Double-A” and “Triple-A” minor leaguers heading to Lakeland to play the Tigers. I put the “Double-A” and “Triple-A” in quotations because the fact is that most of the players will be pushed down a rung in the organization once the the big league camp breaks and the final cuts are made. Even thought it says “Buffalo” and “New Hampshire” on the lineup cards, those guys are probably going to be with New Hampshire and Dunedin respectively when the season opens.
So I got my day under way in the usual way, writing. All the days are merging into each other and when I’m generally only able to tell them apart by where I was to see baseball. So Sunday is Lakeland Day, but otherwise, my days are pretty much all the same. Wake up, write, work on the website, write some more, watch baseball, edit photos, write more, go to sleep.
That said, some pretty big news in the minor league baseball world broke on Sunday with Emily Waldon and Ken Rosenthal reporting at The Athletic that the Blue Jays would increase pay to minor leaguers by approximately 50% this coming season.
As I mention in the article I wrote here about it, Emily has been one of the loudest voices in the wilderness about the conditions that player in the minor leagues live in and it seems that her banging the can for improved conditions has found some receptive ears in the Blue Jays organization.
I had drive to Lakeland in the morning and arrived around 11am. I found the stadium and, looking on Google Maps before my drive, had found that the minor league complex was attached. My job was to figure out where to park. I drove into the main parking lot and asked for media parking. The attendants and security folks were terrific, directing me to where I had to go. I found the administrative offices and went in, getting myself a “guest” wristband that is available to the public who want to go see the Tigers’ minor league complex.
I went for lunch to the closest place I could find (McDonald’s) and that’s where I found out about the Blue Jays raising the pay of their minor leaguers. I wrote up my article and reached out to the Blue Jays for comment before heading back to the ballpark.
I was actually quite pleased with the lineup of players that I got to see that day. There were a lot of high minor leaguers, particularly pitchers who I either hadn’t seen in a while or hadn’t seen at all. I got to see Zach Logue carve up the strike zone, Yennsy Diaz throw some heat and Jackson McClelland throw even more heat. I got to see some new folks including Chad Spanberger, Forrest Wall and Demi Orimoloye, who hit a home run.
The Tigers’ facility is nicely set up although there are somewhat limited angles for photos. On one diamond in particular, there’s nowhere to shoot down the first base line because that’s where the bullpen that the Blue Jays were using was located, right past the benches. Then on the other side was the Tigers’ bullpen but there was a gap between some metal stands for fans that I could shoot through. While I could watch from behind the plate, there was black, see-through netting (more like a liner over the fence) to make photography through anything but a small window where the pitchers who were charting the game sat all but impossible. So while I got some good photos, I was quite restricted in where I could shoot from. It started to rain towards the end of the games so I kept my camera packed away to keep it dry but some really cool photos came about because of the rain.
After the games, I stayed in Lakeland so I could get the article on the minor league pay increase up, and was happy to see that I had gotten a reply from Ben Cherington. Then, I began writing, editing photos, working on the website, etc., etc. Drove back to Clearwater and went to bed!
Let me remind you that The 2019 Toronto Blue Jays Minor League Handbook is available now! You can also get a yearly subscription to our premium content section with profiles, photos, scouting reports and more! Giddy up! I’m still getting content online for the Premium Content section and that will take a few more days to get fully operational. It’s a slow process that involves me going in manually to update each individual profile, so a lot of time is spent doing that.
The Premium Content subscription gets you access to scouting reports like this one and more that will be coming soon!
Coming up next: Day 6 – Blue Jays from Away goes to Tampa!
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All photos are copyright Blue Jays from Away (2013-2019) and may not be used without permission.