Day 6: Monday, March 18, 2019
Well, the grind is real. Another day, another ballpark, another city. I stayed in the Dunedin area in the morning to do some writing because I knew that a) the drive to Tampa to see the Jays’ minor leaguers at the Yankees’ complex wasn’t very long and b) I already knew where it is having been there years before.
Let me tell you about my first experience with the Yankees’ minor league complex. I first went there about four years ago and the Yankees severely restricted guests’ views of the game. The diamonds are set up in a traditional cloverleaf design (all four home plate are in the center with the outfields spreading out around it) but when walking in from the parking “lot” (a field that is used for parking for football games in Tampa), you walked between foul-line fences for two of the diamonds and you could go no further than the dugouts on either side. If you needed to use the restroom, you needed to be escorted by security. You couldn’t get behind the plate and I don’t remember there being any stands.
Since then, I’ve avoided the Yankees’ complex like the plague but I had been told that they had renovated and made things more fan-friendly. Because of the construction at the Blue Jays’ facility I was forced to go there if I wanted to see any baseball at all, so here I was, four years later, giving the Yankees another chance.
And let me tell you, it’s a WAY better experience for fans! Now there are covered stands around home plate, there’s a water fountain, unencumbered access to the washrooms and the Yankees provide not only the home lineups and rosters but the away lineups and rosters too! Well done, Yankees. While I couldn’t recommend anyone visit there before, I have no problems recommending it now. If you ever want to come down during the season to see the GCL Blue Jays, find a date when they play the Yankees (there are only seven teams in the division, the Blue Jays, two Tigers teams, two Phillies teams and two Yankees teams) and head on over to Tampa.
As far as the baseball action, I saw some of the lower-level players — those who will likely start the season either in Lansing or in extended spring training. One of the youngest (who definitely looked the youngest) was righty Nathanael Perez who showed a lot of poise on the mound despite looking like he’s 12 or 13 years old (he’s 20). I also had a chance to see 2018 draftee Joey Murray‘s “invisiball” and the poise and efficiency of another 2018 draftee, Nick Allgeyer. Unfortunately, many of the pitchers throwing on Monday were guys whom I had seen on Friday including Josh Almonte, Mike Pascoe and Troy Murray. Luke Gillingham was on the list but he didn’t get into a game, so that was a little disappointing.
On the hitting side, I got to see more of Jordan Groshans, lots of Reggie Pruitt (who put on a clinic again in getting on base, and what to do once there), more Dom Abbadessa, Griffin Conine, D.J. Neal and more.
Following the games in Tampa, I headed back to Clearwater to meet up with someone whose voice may be familiar to many of you out there . . . Jesse Goldberg-Strassler, the voice of the Lansing Lugnuts and, for Monday, the voice of the Toronto Blue Jays! We caught up on baseball, talked Lugnuts, Blue Jays, broadcasting and many other topics over dinner.
After that, it was photo editing and writing . . . you know, the usual!
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 8 – Blue Jays from Away goes to Clearwater! Okay, I’m staying in Clearwater. And what! I missed a day? Well, the rains came on Tuesday, so the scheduled game between the Blue Jays minor leaguers and the Canadian Junior National Team had been cancelled (of course, after I had driven to St. Petersburg to check it out), so Day 7 is to be stricken from the record.
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All photos are copyright Blue Jays from Away (2013-2019) and may not be used without permission.